Clay Tile, Wood and Stucco – Owners Are Reviving LA’s Spanish Colonial Style Homes

Room by room, it took over a decade

A decade or so ago, Brandi Garris began taking her Spanish Colonial home back to its 1927 roots, taking it room by room and doing much of the work herself.

Owner of Los Angeles-based company Respectful Restoration, Ms. Garris, a production designer focused on historic styles, has worked on numerous restorations in the Los Angeles area, including five Spanish Colonial housing projects.

In 2010, she and her husband, Christian, bought their 3,500-square-foot home that includes a conservatory, library, dining room with a coffered ceiling, a living room with a fireplace, and a Moroccan room. owners in its nearly century-long life.

“It’s a rarity because the original footprint has remained and there were no later additions,” she said, adding that she chose to keep the only change — a door leading from the breakfast room to the original maid’s room to open a contemporary family create room.

However, the house had some major issues that needed to be addressed before she could even move in.

A few mature trees in front of the house had pushed the house off its foundation; the patched roof leaked so much that there was water in some rooms; the kitchen was not equipped to serve a modern family; and none of the three bathrooms had fully functioning plumbing.

“I worked exclusively on the house for the first two years,” said Ms. Garris. “I’m not a big fan of changing original things. We replaced or refurbished all the wooden windows and doors, and we repaired the stucco inside and out.”

She also replaced the red tile roof, the most distinctive look of the house.

“I bought original 1927 handmade tiles from an LA salvage yard,” she said. “I was lucky because I found a whole set so I was able to bring the roof back to what it was. It adds a lot of character back to the house. The tiles have hand-pressed details on the front so you can see the makers’ fingerprint. to see.”

The kitchen, which she says was a ‘gut renovation’, sticks to the original layout. Ms. Garris chose replacement Shaker-style cabinets and mahogany countertops to give it a 1920s feel.

The white-oak floors throughout the house were repaired with planks of the same size or replaced with the same type of wood. Perhaps the most lavish 1920s-style space is what Mrs. Garris has called the ‘Moroccan Room’, a 15m long and 8m wide area connected to the dining room via French doors.

“It’s in casement windows,” she said, adding that she uses it as an office. “When I was stripping the magnesite floor, I found the original color scheme, so I kept it.”

Ms. Garris noted that she cut costs by about 25% by doing much of the work herself, and estimated she still spent about $1 million on the restoration. “Without our labor it would probably be at least $1.5 million,” she added

However, she was quick to point out that “a good historic restoration can cost less than a modern renovation.”

She was finally done with the last room — the back porch off the kitchen — in late 2021, more than a decade after the purchase.

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