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STYLE / HOME RENOVATION : Split Personality

June 07, 1992|BARBARA THORNBURG

With the cost of new construction starting at about $100 a square foot and soaring to $250 on Los Angeles' West Side, many Southern Californians are keeping their existing homes and adding on only the space they need. Retaining the "footprint" of the house saves money, while not worrying about old matching new guarantees some unique architectural hybrids amid an already eclectic mix. Here are five home expansions, plus the hows and whys of choosing a partial renovation over a total redo.

Built in 1927, this small Santa Monica bungalow had been in the owner's family since his grandparents purchased it in the 1940s. He thought about scrapping it--"The house was termite-ridden, the roof was about ready to fall through and the plumbing and electrical were shot"--but decided it was cheaper to renovate and add another story. Besides, he grew up in this house and it held precious memories.

The owner and his wife are artists and wanted the renovation to provide plenty of light and wall space. So Beverly Hills architect Ruben Ojeda removed most of the interior walls and reconfigured the space. He combined the former living and dining rooms to make an artist's studio, raised the ceiling to 22 feet and built a 775-square-foot second floor for two new bedrooms, a bath and an alcove study.

The addition makes subtle references to the original Mediterranean-style house without imitating it--a red composition-like roof echoes the old Spanish tile and exterior walls have a gray-colored plaster finish similar to the beige stucco. The owner notes that neighbors fell ominously silent when the project began to take shape but that now visitors say they are impressed with his home's new-found abundance of light and space. "We kept the best part, the front facade," he says. "But design-wise, we wanted to move into the present."

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