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palimpsest

Mid 70s brutalist row house

13 years ago

In my year of active house hunting (as opposed to my several years of cursory house-hunting via open houses) I have had a contingency offer accepted on a 1970 row house that ended when they accepted a non-contingency offer that matched mine. (This house was on the for almost a year with no interest). Then I had a verbally-accepted contingency offer on an 1810 house that was null before the paperwork was signed when they decided to accept a much lower non-contingency offer. (A bird in-hand beats two, etc.) The latter was perfect, I found it by accident, and I thought this type of property no longer existed and had stopped looking. Realtors should get me to offer on sluggish properties. My offer seems to guarantee a second offer.

I am now looking at a 1977 vaguely brutalist townhouse. Original owner. I actually think an "intact" house of a rather pure style is almost as important as finding the elusive early 19th c. house that hasn't been messed up.

So, it has large ribbon windows in 2 bedrooms, and "greenhouse" style windows in the master and den combined with conventional casements, a four panel glass slider that forms a near wall of glass in the LR that is accessed by a short "bridge" over a lightwell that allows a lot of light into the below ground level dining room. Some of these houses have open tread staircases. (There are probably at least 5 dozen of these houses with slight variations scattered in groups in the neighborhood)

Negatives: small galley kitchen all original (its a postitive that its never been touched, its a negative that it is dismal and not highly functional). Plastic tubs and shower surrounds. No sense of entry into the house--the front door puts you right in a corner of the LR. Price does reflect that no one has put in new kitchens and baths...and the highly 'traditional' things that some people have done with the interiors do neither 'traditional' nor 'contemporary' any favors.:/

The mid 1970s identity of this house is very strong. I don't think you can veer too far from its original intent because the features that are not bland (many) are striking. Windows that angle across part of the ceiling and a footbridge are always going to be so unless you completely remove them.

So I need to channel the mid seventies I think, without trying to duplicate it. I don't really want brown tile bathrooms or orange countertops...and as much as I like to look at some brutalist things out of interest (and I do have bronze brutalist table lamps) --I am not sure that I want a welded and pierced bronze chandelier and that sort of thing either. But this surely isn't a house for subway tile...can soapstone be seventies ? :(

Comments (45)

  • 13 years ago

    To start: I wanted to say THANK YOU for exposing me to the term "brutalist" b/c I had no idea what that was and I Googled it. What an eye-opening experience, lots of buildings where I live look reminiscent of that style. So, thank you for the architectural education :-)

    My grandparents have a lovely custom home built in the 70s w/some of the features you describe (open tread staircase w/a rock garden/waterfall thing under it). They decorated w/a mix of mid-century modern and traditional items...very tasteful IMHO.

    I remember the original kitchen had slab cabinets w/a light stain, but in the late 80s it got an awful remodel (white doors w/that oak strip at the bottom). I think if you remodel, slab doors w/a light or medium stain would look nice in that house. Soapstone counters--why not? If you love it, I think it could match well, although I'd probably go for one w/minimal "veins" :-)

  • 13 years ago

    I think you can have soapstone. Perhaps keeping it unoiled will give a look similar enough to Brutalist concrete?

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  • 13 years ago

    At the end of the tassels-&-fringe 8Os, I had the privilege of visiting a late Paul Rudolph house & it was incredible. Never has shag carpet looked so good. It's all in how you handle a material.

    This is very exciting news & I hope there are no last-minute surprises this time around. Be sure to share some pics when you get them. We've seen a few other houses of the period here on the board, but most of the time, people want help undoing the very things that make their houses special. Not enough people have the vision--and, let's face it, the self-confidence, in the face of their nay-saying friends' opinions--to let the Seventies be the Seventies. Go for it!

  • 13 years ago

    Brutalism!

    Thanks for teaching me a new word!

    From Wikipedia: "The British architects Alison and Peter Smithson coined the term in 1953, from the French béton brut, or "raw concrete", a phrase used by Le Corbusier to describe the poured board-marked concrete with which he constructed many of his post-World War II buildings. The term gained wide currency when the British architectural critic Reyner Banham used it in the title of his 1966 book, The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic?, to characterize a somewhat recently established cluster of architectural approaches, particularly in Europe.[1]
    [edit] Style

    Brutalist buildings usually are formed with striking repetitive angular geometries, and, where concrete is used, often revealing the texture of the wooden forms used for the in-situ casting. Although concrete is the material most widely associated with Brutalist architecture, not all Brutalist buildings are formed from concrete. Instead, a building may achieve its Brutalist quality through a rough, blocky appearance, and the expression of its structural materials, forms, and (in some cases) services on its exterior. For example, many of Alison and Peter Smithson's private houses are built from brick. Brutalist building materials also include brick, glass, steel, rough-hewn stone, and gabion (also known as trapion).

  • 13 years ago

    Mclarke, thanks for posting the info. For those who didn't already know what Brutalist style is, that helps a lot. Well, most of it helps, anyway.

    To me the greatest board-formed concrete building ever is Louis Kahn's library at Exeter NH, where the only other materials are plain brown brick, unstained white oak & gray wool carpet, and the beauty comes not from the common nature of those materials but from their juxtapositions & the proportions of the spaces that he defined with them. Technically, I guess you could call the building Brutalist, but a word that gets used more a lot more often is "Poetic".

    By the way, I'm so glad that the Wikipedia quote informed us that gabion is also known as trapion. That explains everything.

  • 13 years ago

    Pictures! We need pictures! To me, there are brutalist features, and then there are 1970s features. I think you can remove the 1970s features (handrail designs, hardware, inexpensive bath and kitchen fixtures, etc.), particularly if they are stock items and not custom, and still be true to the style.

    Our house is a 1965 plan that could have been a 1955 plan -- open plan, post-and-beam MCM home. But it was built in 1978. I haven't found the 1978 finishes to be sacred and have done away with cheap shiny brass wire cabinet handles and doorknobs, and fixtures in that brushed brown finish that matches the aluminum sliders. The kitchen has already been binned and the baths will join the kitchen in the next 12-18 months or so. Now, if this were a custom Lautner or Rudolph, than the finishes and hardware would be more important. As it is, not so much.

  • 13 years ago

    Aw, Palimpsest, I've been wondering where you've been and were hoping you were all busy with your fab new old 1810 house, heaving old toilets and bad furniture out the windows into dumpsters. Sorry it didn't work out.

    But 1970's? Are you sure you want to come home after a long day at work to sharp angles and concrete with all of the warmth of an East German barracks? I know gray is a popular color right now, but you don't want to be immersed in it.

    An 1810 Georgian with sooty fireplaces, thickly-carpeted steep staircases, and uncle Charlie's ghost in the attic I can imagine for Palimpsest in his dark velvet robe and slippers, but concrete? Noooooooooooooo. We simply cannot allow it. Your holidays would be spent huddled around a metallic silver tree that would make Charlie Brown's tree look like a lush Noble fir. Your floors would be flat and stretch to the horizons. Your couches would have to look like giant, armless rafts of French toast perched on stalky legs. You'd have to buy all new dishes and silverware that would be heavy and awkward and slippery and clatter to the floor at difficult times. No, Palimpsest, we simply will NOT allow it. Now go back to your realtor and flick him on the nose and tell him he is grounded until further notice.

    Friends don't let friends buy Brutalist architecture.

  • 13 years ago

    In '86 I was a live-in nanny/housekeeper for a family that owned a brutalist home. It had appeared in the pages of Architectural Digest when it was built in the '70s. The parts I remember most are how all of the windows allowed a spectatular view of the ocean (and how many finger prints got onto those windows), the large white tiles that were on the floor in the kitchen, bath and halls (plus how nasty they were to keep clean, especially on rainy days), and the boldly colored orange countertops amid otherwise neutral decor of stone, glass and wood. It was a really nifty house and I couldn't imagine changing the decor to country or traditional or the like.

    ...Pam

  • 13 years ago

    folkvictorian,

    My realtor is having the same kind of reaction. In one of my emails I said I still couldn't believe I wasn't destined to have that Federal period untouched house full of Irish Catholic iconography.--- (There were religious pictures, statues and etc. in every room). My psyche, if not my actual practice, is a mournful Irish Catholic. Probably a slate picker in an anthracite mine.

    I said this to my realtor and sent a link to this brutalist house.

    She emailed back and said "This makes me sad, let me see how that other deal is going." I think she feels I am punishing myself by considering this modern house.

    However.

    I would rather have a house that was honestly Something. There are plenty of 200-250 year old houses on the market that were gutted and maybe have an original floor or mantel somewhere but I don't see the point in that for me.

    This particular house represents the last gasp of "new" architecture, period wise, while the next phase, and one which we continue to dig ourselves deeper into (with exceptions) is "neo" architecture...all derivative of something else. This period is also a disliked and misunderstood one. (And a lot of it is kind ugly,I guess)

    The inside of this house is not really brutalist, the forbidding front facade was probably a reaction to the relatively bad neighborhood these houses were going into. I would say the inside is 1970s vernacular modernist: it has the scale and the play of light of the successful brutalist interior, without the concrete. And its not sleek modern either: remember it was Almost the 80s and there are aspects of it that both presage some of the excesses of the 80s and also aspects that reflect the high interest rates at the time they were built (plastic bathtub/surrounds, cheapish finishes).

    It isn't tricked out with traditional details like they started in the 80s, and for the houses of this era that I have been in, if they were smart enough to leave the architecture alone, I have seen everything from full on first period antique, to 70s regency, to organic modernism (this house is tricked out like a Turkish bazaar and it works), to eclectic. These houses can be like an art museum: keep it plain, keep it light, keep it in the background, and it doesn't matter if it is a 16th c. Flemish painting or Mark Rothko, it looks ok.

  • 13 years ago

    palimpsest,

    (meant to be jestful)

    Nothing would be more mournful Irish Catholic than embracing Brutalism due to your own feelings of ....what's the word I'm looking for....modest pragmatism?

    (((sheepish eye-twinkle and grin)))

    But moving forward, it could be fantastic if you have they eye for it.

    I think you might look to classic yachts and Sarah Susanka books for inspiration.

  • 13 years ago

    Very interesting... And in my walks around my neighborhood, I always remark on the "Good '70's" houses, because so many of them were so bad. But there are good ones -- nicely proportioned, well-scaled -- and IMO, those have aged well and deserve to be what they are...

    In fact, I suspect that our house has 'brutalist' bones -- strong repetitive geometry. In fact, "Very Le Corbusier" was my first thought walking in the front door -- though it's definitely more brown brick and exposed beam than exposed concrete...

    What I've tried to do is keep the underlying values intact -- respect for geometry, space, light, open spaces, scale, integrity and authenticity in materials. I know we've changed the house's sense of time (it no longer feels obviously late '60's, though the bones are still very much there) -- but that was very deliberate in our case.

    I'm with you on the very 'something' school of thought -- versus 'kinda nothing... and wish you success.

  • 13 years ago

    Louis Kahn lived a block from where I sit, and there is a small park nearby named after him. It used to be a rather brutalist park, in that seventies way, when they built parks out of concrete with little greenery. There is an unfortunate condo that bears his name and nothing else next to the park.

    He lived in a 19th. c. Greek Revival house with his wife. He had two mistresses, and each of the three women had one child. (one unmarried and rather publicly pregnant in the 1950s, although she did not reveal the father publicly).

    Its unclear but I don't think he could afford to live in a house of his own design, (as many architects can't), and he is very unappreciated in his own city (as are Venturi, Scott-Brown). Yet, one goes to Bangladesh (via the movie "My Architect") and he is talked about with great reverence--where people get tears in their eyes talking about him and his Capital Complex.

    While these houses are certainly not masterpieces, they do owe something to Kahn and other modernists of that time, and the preceding MCM period.

  • 13 years ago

    Ooo connection moment...

    Louis Kahn built the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas...I've never heard the term brutalist in regard to architecture and I rarely know anything about the architects y'all speak so freely of. ;0) So I'm sitting here feeling plum smart because I know and admire the Kimbell and I know who designed it. It's a lovely, lovely piece of work all by itself. And it has rustic sort of concrete walls on the exterior.

    My architect friend introduced me to Art Nouveau when we both lived in Brussels. Now, I'm connecting with brutalist due to my love of the Kimbell. That's in addition to reading the word palimpsest the other day and knowing what it meant because of this board.

    Yep, feeling mighty edumacated tonight.

    Seriously, this is such a fun board because I do LEARN things. I really like learning...

  • 13 years ago

    palimpsest---there's a lot to be said for the brutalist style. They usually lived well. And I understand why you'd want something that was "definitely something." Good luck.

    FWIW--We house hunted for three years before we bought our 1966 somewhat mucked with ranch. Kitchen is a bit of a disaster (bad early 90's reno), but the rest of the house is in fine fettle. And it lives beautifully.

  • 13 years ago

    pal, you know that 70s construction can be shoddy, don't you? And experimental architecture sometimes falls flat wrt engineering. Just be sure to get a really good inspection.

  • 13 years ago

    Here is the rather forbidding exterior of one of its clones. It is hard to correlate the grim facade with the light-filled interior.

    {{!gwi}}

  • 13 years ago

    What an interesting thread!

    Reminded me about the 3rd Church of Christ, Scientist, in Washington, DC -- Brutalist building that was designated as a historic landmark at some point but the congregation apparently hates it and wants to tear it down and rebuild, but they can't because it's protected.

    Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.thirdchurchfreedom.org/

  • 13 years ago

    Well, there's Brutal & there's Brutal. And then there's Chicago's 197Os icon, the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist by Harry Weese, Chicago's own master of concrete poetry. It's a wonderful building on a wonderful site--a critcal intersection where a major downtown street crosses Wacker Drive, which follows the curves of the Chicago River--and it's backed by a group of Chicago' most famous ensemble of giddy Beaux-Arts skyscrapers from the 192Os. The congregation loves their building & tonight, the place was full of 500 architects, designers & historians, all there for a lecture & book signing for Robert Bruegmann's new book on Harry's work. Everything really does come together.

  • 13 years ago


    Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, by Harry Weese.
    -----------------------------------------
    And more connections:
    Brussels & Art Nouveau:
    The architectural historian Siegfried Gideon, in Space, Time & Architecture says "The two creators of Art Nouveau were Victor Horta in Brussels & Louis Sullivan in Chicago": Louis Sullivan, whose use of the arch & respect for materials had a major influence on Louis Kahn, and whose Auditorium Theatre of 1889 was restored in the 196Os by...Harry Weese.

  • 13 years ago

    Then there is Kahn's Margaret Esherick House, that went unsold in the 2008 auction.

    You can see there is a world of difference between Brutalism at the hand of a master and in the hands of a 1970s vernacular architect. But the row house in question does owe something to Kahn and others in its formal aspects.

    These to me look like Eastern European cold war housing, while a development of the same era a few blocks away look like a minimum security prison. But I think these architects played with the elements of contrast (between voids and windows), dark/light (outside vs. inside) surprise (forbidding exteriors, vs. open interiors) --and perhaps a rejection of the house as "facade". These houses are internally motivated.

    I think by the nineties, to some extent, this concept was completely inverted and it gave us the opposite: The builder's house where the complete expression of the house is in the front facade, the rest is a blank, and aspects of the floorplan are dictated by the front facade, which leaves these houses with some strange interior spaces.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Esherick House.

  • 13 years ago

    The contrast between solids and voids, windows and masonry/metal is what I meant.

  • 13 years ago

    Gosh, pal, that facade doesn't look so bad. Are the materials interesting or attractive? Hard to tell from a B&W photo.
    These may not offer enough privacy, but I could see Hunter Douglas Silhouette shades working with the lines of the facade (and would look cool at night when interior light shines through):
    t=1&usg=__ewupET9PdH4znp5uf6eAEvMf5SU=>

    And if the door is made of interesting material...

    Yes, there is potential there. You would make something wonderful of the interior, I'm sure. I guess it's a matter of whether you want to make or can afford to make the style switch from traditional to contemporary.

  • 13 years ago

    They are faced with that peachy-red colonial brick to blend in with the historical surroundings. The windows are architectural bronze and the vertical material in the recesses is ribbed, brown metal cladding. The houses are fully finished this way, avoiding the 90s tendency to make the sides and back of everything concrete block, vinyl siding or stucco.

    The house I am looking at has elaborate wrought iron grilles over the front door and lower window. I would remove this, and I don't know the condition of the metal cladding around the door. On some houses this has gotten kinda dented.

    My favorite house of this sort has a tamboured front door which goes with the ribbing of the metal cladding.

    I am not so concerned about what goes on with the furnishings, to some extent. I have a lot of 1970s furniture because it mixes well with the Greek Revival architecture and my early Empire, Late Classical period furniture that is contemporary to the 1840 house.

    I think as long as the architecture remains pure, the furniture can be (a mix of) almost anything.

    As far as the construction, because these are part of a planned redevelopment I think it is decent for the 70s. I have been in some one-off 1970s rehabs that were obviously uninspected, non-code architectural fantasies that veered on dangerous: 2 foot wide stairs with no railings running X style through the middle of 7 alternating floor levels? Seen it. Eating table recessed into the floor where your feet dangled through slots in the ceiling to the room below? Yep.

    The floorplans of these are tame in comparison.

  • 13 years ago

    "My favorite house of this sort has a tamboured front door which goes with the ribbing of the metal cladding."

    That would be great.

  • 13 years ago

    What popped into my mind for that entry way (wall & door) were the bronze doors to Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago:

    Or something wavy could be fun:
    {{!gwi}}

    What I mean is, something textural with movement in dark metal or tile, not necessarily that specific door or those particular tiles.

  • 13 years ago

    We've been house hunting too, and I can first hand understand the pain of losing a house you've become emotionally invested in.

    I hope this one works out for you. Are your offers contingency based on selling your current home?

  • 13 years ago

    Yes there is a contingency upon the sale of my current place, and I realize that is a deal that many sellers are not willing to take. I wouldn't take one because it could become an endless cycle. However, I have had two takers--ironically, one of the non-taker's houses has been on the market for a year plus, and there has been no other recent interest except mine. (and it has passed since I have continued to look)

    I only continuing to look at this point but I will not make any more offers until I sell. I need to keep up on what is out there though...I may not be able to accept an offer or may have to push for an extended closing date if there is really nothing out there that I want. With hundreds of houses on the market one would think there is a house for everyone, but I have a lot of criteria. I have probably looked at 100 houses and there are a few that have really interested me for various reasons. I *have* evolved a bit in the process...five years ago, I am not sure I would have taken one of these houses for free if I'd had to live in it. I think I am starting to understand and appreciate more than the 1790s-1850 (or reasonable facsimile thereof) I was looking for before.

  • 13 years ago

    Magnaverde

    You said something about people trying to change the things that make these houses special.

    It is very hard to change volume, and hard to disguise proportion. Unless you are going to rebuild the interior of a modernist house and remove lightwells, vaults, and details like ribbon windows, greenhouse style windows, catwalks, open tread stairs etc. --these will say "Modernist" no matter what details you try to tack on.

    Apartments in contemporary high rises are often given a traditional treatment, because they are generally a blank slate except for the windows. I have seen traditonal apartments constructed almost as "sets" to disguise large plate glass windows, with traditional window "frames" covering parts of the larger windows.

  • 13 years ago

    So am I understanding the underlying issue correctly--that amazing apartment you have, with the build-in and all, that you showed us recently, isn't selling? Is that the one you're trying to sell? WOW, I'm amazed. Although I'm also amazed that the Kahn Esherick house didn't sell either, if I'm understanding that correctly.

    I agree re some of the architecture of the 70s -- I call it "urban renewal" style because that's how a failed community center behemoth in my hometown was designed in the 70s...like modernism dumbed down for dim-witted contractors.

    The idea you bring up of being internally motivated (introverted?) of course brings to mind the bland walls of the *outsides* of Italian villas...people could care less what the street side of the house looked like, as the world inside waiting to be discovered was the real gem. So that aspect of the house you discuss doesn't slow me down at all. Of course, you hoped that the inside was worth discovering...as in the Kahn house...has it sold yet??

    And I'm not clear -- have you decided against the 70s house? Or are you still considering it?

  • 13 years ago

    Flyleft:

    Yes that is the apartment I am trying to sell. Not many people are looking. I had ten showings at an open house at least, my realtor has had a couple of 0's. People like the apartment, but they do not like some particular aspects of the homeowner's association. This is why I am selling so I can't disagree I guess.

    I believe the Margaret Esherick house did sell eventually, it was one of the "Modernist Gems" featured on an August 2010 blog about its neighborhood (Vanna Venturi's house is a short walk away) There was a car in the garage in the photo , and the house looks occupied.

    There was a lot of criticism of this house and I believe they were afraid at the time that someone would buy it for the property and demolish it. Its a small house: the kitchen is small. I think it's 1.5 bath It is such a complete "vision" that there is no way to add on to or alter the house without completely destroying the integrity. (This is why Philip Johnson's glass box remained intact. When he needed more room, he built other buildings, he didnt add to the original). Zoning would probably not permit a separate structure on this property. But this house no longer meets the needs of the vast majority of people who can spend more than $2M on a house. Most of them want something inferior but 5 times the square footage.

    I am looking at "my" house on the weekend. The interior realty photos make it look pretty light and expansive even though it is Crammed with stuff. I can't make any more offers until I sell--the contingency thing doesnt seem to be working.

    I still have a tiny glimmer of hope for the federal house, but not much. Besides being $100K cheaper, the brutalist house has one other thing going for it: a secured parking spot. A 1 car garage in this market will pay abour $40,000 worth of mortgage if you rent it out. A secure outdoor spot a bit less. I am trying to buy less than I can qualify for and the lesser that is (as long as I can get something I like) the better.

  • 13 years ago

    I'm sorry to hear that the HOA is so bad it makes people pass on an apartment like yours. That must be one bad situation.

    I noticed there's .6 acre with the Esherick house, which would def. be enough for another building with a nice weatherized modern breezeway...too bad it wouldn't be allowed but I do hope the people who bought it are planning not to tear that gorgeous down! Maybe it can be designated a historical landmark and like the Christian Science building, no one will be able to touch it!

    If you can post photos of the 70s house, it would be great. And wow about the parking spot rental! I'll be sending energies that some folks decide the HOA isn't so horrible that they'd give up such a cool, intelligently modified home. Knowing that there was such deliberation and consideration put into a home is good energy in itself.

  • 13 years ago

    Strangely enough, with our local designations anyway (as far as I understand them) it is easier to demolish a historical property than it is to alter it.

    I know of a situation where the neighborhood has a general historic designation, and one individual owned the house that faced each street, on back-adjoining properties. He wanted to tear #2 down in order to modify #1. #1 had a specific historic registry number but it meant the exterior front could not be altered but the back was fair game. However. *the *wall *that *would *back *the *garden on street #2, replacing the facade to #2, would be *subject *to *more *requirements *of *the *historic *commision *than the back of the historic house, and, obviously, the house that was torn down. (The house on the historic block without its own designation was okay to tear down...but the wall that replace it was subject to historic commission)

    Most of the time it doesn't work this way but owners here sometimes try to neglect or purposely damage a historic property so that safety trumps history and they can tear it down and do what they want. (Like the developer who "accidently" bashed a hole in the back of a couple 18th c. warehouses and then tried to petition that they were structurally unsound.)

  • 13 years ago

    I am starting to get superstitious about posting pictures. I have posted pictures of 3 houses, all of which got offers after I posted pictures and said I was interested. One of the houses I had an offer on had had no other interest in months, and it suddenly picked up after I offered They let my contingency run out and accepted that one. The people who made the lower but less encumbered offer on the Federal House, made an offer because of my offer. Their realtor told mine that the fact that there was an already an offer is what made them commit to an offer.

    So I am superstitious about posting pictures and about making offers. Soon I may be too superstitious to look at all before I have an offer. :-/

  • 13 years ago

    Palimpsest, back before in the days before I got smart & started backing up everything online, I lost a ton of files when my computer blew up, and among the casualties was a before-&-after series of photos where someone had taken a classic Seventies house--ribbon windows, riserless stairs, black-grouted brick, slab doors, the whole shebang--and gussied up its angular open spaces with crown molding, six panel doors, ball-&-stick brackets, stencils & a bunch of gathered-skirt overstuffed furniture. Oh, and oversized pastel watercolors of young women strolling on the beach in be-ribboned sun hats. Outside, shutters went up at the edge of ribbon windows & curly-armed iron planters full of trailing greenery sat next to the new oval leaded-glass front door.

    As you say, it's pretty hard to make any real changes to Seventies houses, but that doesn't stop people from trying.

  • 13 years ago

    Oh, I understand and agree completely.

  • 13 years ago

    In its own suburban way, that's what the PO did to this house, magnaverde. We've been spending a lot of time taking out white colonial Home Depot molding and putting in small simple molding (painted the same color as the room), taking out 6 panel fake wood hollowcore doors and replacing them with solid core slab doors or fir single-lite pocket doors...one eyesore I haven't been able to fix yet is in the double -height foyer where a massive foyer fixture once hung, the PO put a cr*ppy white HD fan with shiny fake brass trim...UGH UGH UGH. I actually found a rather tasteful 70s Fredrick Ramond fixture in LN condition at a Habitat store, which would be much closer to what should show in that tall window above the door, but it's *difficult* to get up there and change the fixture out. We've given away so much colonial molding and use the doors for work surfaces. This is no masterpiece house, but it felt like it was being suffocated in faux-colonial trim and we've resimplified it so it could be itself again. Which will probably go completely unappreciated in this neighborhood, but it passed the time.

    palimpsest, if you have a feeling that you shouldn't post, I completely respect that. Don't want to jinx anything. We'll just have to wait until you have found something and then settled on it and then we can celebrate with you! I have faith that you can do anything you want and will make whichever house (and cash IS king right now, so I understand the drive to underspend) into a photogenic and soul-nourishing home.

  • 13 years ago

    Update:

    I looked at the house yesterday and I will be taking a 2nd look.

    The homeowner may be the very first and only original owner of one of these houses. She apparently bought during the construction phase and was the first one to live on the block of new construction.

    It appears that she moved in in 1977 and has maintained the property but not redecorated since. Foil wallpaper in bathrooms etc. The vanity fixture looks like big ice cubes--I love it.

    The garden is like a terrarium almost--Ivy covers the pavers. The back wall of the LR is indeed a glass wall, which is awesome.

    The greenhouse windows appear to be leak free. Floors are perfect.

    There is actually brutalist door hardware, railings and light fixtures, and while they may not all be salvageable, they will give a strong clue as to what their replacements should be. This is unusual, the insides of builder houses often got the off the rack basics in terms of hardware and railings.

    I am hoping I can sell my unit while this one is still around. In general, the 33 year old intactness is tending to disuade buyers. Lets hope it continues to do so.

  • 13 years ago

    Oh, this sounds great! I'll say some prayers for you pal, (hope you don't mind). Wish there was more we could do.

  • 13 years ago

    Oh man, what a dream...it sounds tailor-made for you. Sending selling energies for the apartment now--who cares about that ol' HOA anyway? :) *Someone* has got to think more of that gorgeous apartment than of the HOA. And then we can all move into the 70s design museum :)

  • 13 years ago

    I have that Irish Catholic psyche so I will take all the help I can get. I do have the St Joseph statue buried upside down--in a plant since I don't have a yard.

    I figure whatever is supposed to happen will happen. I am actually very lucky: I am not forced to move by relocation or finances, and even though I could not refinance here because of something with the HOA, my mortgage loan is small. If it works out that I stay here, its really ok. I think it is time to move on, but that is only an internal decision, not one forced upon me by external factors. I really like my current apartment so I am ok however it goes.

    (I think that if I would have gotten the Federal house I may have become obsessed by it. It was so intact in its essence that I really would have been driven to turn it into a near house museum. I was already looking at reproduction French scenic wallpaper. It starts at $500 a roll. I wouldn't have gone on a vacation for the rest of my life--its one of those things that is out of my price range but I probably would have obsessed over it until I had it somehow.)

  • 13 years ago

    Hope your place sells soon palimpsest!

  • 13 years ago

    "I was already looking at reproduction French scenic wallpaper. It starts at $500 a roll."

    There are some things worth sacrificing a life time of travel for, and French scenic wallpaper is one of them :) Wonder why no wallpaper company has tried to market a decent facsimile for the more-taste-than-money classes like us?

    All Souls Day today. I put in a good word to the Big Guy for you.

  • 13 years ago

    I meant All Saints. Tomorrow is All Souls.

  • 13 years ago

    Pal, I always learn a lot from your posts. Brutalist? Who knew? But I do know the style, just didn't know what it was called.

    Here's another vote for a house that's distinctively "something!" I think older construction that's been mucked around with and "updated" to death makes me sad.

    Everything is crossed and clenched for you! I hope that you get the house you want, and that the whole process goes smoothly.

  • 13 years ago

    This is getting complicated.

    Reminding myself that no matter what I need to sell first so I shouldn't get too set on *anything* but:

    the federal period house came back on the market.

    1810?

    1977?

    1810?

    1977?

    1877? 1910? 1797? 1180?