When developer and house flipper Rudy Dvorak purchased a property in Atwater Village this summer, one of the lots came with a tiny, 460-square-foot bungalow about only 18-feet wide. It would be tough to fix up and then find a buyer for such a tiny house, so an expansion was an order. But instead of adding a second floor or gobbling up most of the lot, Dvorak undertook a more modest approach. The result, still under construction, more than doubled the size of the Atwater Avenue house with an airy new addition while retaining and reusing many of the original elements of the old structure, including its windows, flooring and even a fold-down, Murphy-style bed.
“That would have been the easy route – to make it a modern box,” said Dvorak of Reinhabit. “Part of the fun is to use parts people were going to throw away.”
The old house, which was built in 1925 at the back of the lot, needed some heavy fixing up. In fact, in addition to a new foundation, wiring and plumbing, new walls had to be built to replace the 3/4-inch wide wood boards that served as dividers, Dvorak said. From the street, the basic shape and width of the expanded house resembles the old. Even the placement of the front window – which came from the old house – and front door mirror the design of the original structure.
However, the approximately 500-square foot addition that now welcomes visitors does not to try to fool anyone by looking like it was built 80 years ago. Instead of wooding siding, the new addition is clad in industrial metal sheeting that contrasts with the wood clapboard on the old house, now located behind the new expansion. Inside, the new part of the home features a loft-like space with a combination living and dining area and kitchen located under a soaring ceiling and exposed wood beams.
Just past the kitchen, where the old house begins, a wide hallway leads to the bathrooms, bedrooms and master suite, where the original wood windows were retained. Inside one of the rooms, a space-saving Murphy-style bed will remain in place. In addition to reusing building materials from the old home, Dvorak also incorporated materials salvaged from other buildings – including tile, metal kitchen cabinets and a glass, roll-up door – salvaged from a commercial building in Beverly Hills – that allows the dining and living area to flow into and outdoor deck.
The mixing of old and new materials makes for some unexpected contrasts. Old wood window moldings stand out against the sheet-metal gray of the new siding, for example.
“We tried to rescue everything,” said John Douglas, who works as creative director Reinhabit. “We tried to have fun with it.”