There's a home improvement project taking place on a midcentury modern dwelling every day: A Rummer in Southwest Portland's Garden Home neighborhood or Beaverton's Oak Hills. A ranch-style house in Hillsdale or another version of the low-profile, high-style design in Milwaukie or Lake Oswego.

But nowhere in the world is restoring midcentury architecture taking place on a grander scale than in the Southern California's Coachella Valley, inarguable the greatest depository of 1960s swank.

From October through mid-April, members of the Palm Springs Historical Society escort visitors on walking tours of "Mad Men"-era architecture.

Oregonians attending Palm Springs Modernism Week, Feb. 16-26, will be able to go inside some of the rehabbed homes once owned by celebrities, tennis pros and golfers.

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On Sunday night, Modernism Week will take center stage in Rancho Mirage for the Swan House — a roomy, newly remodeled Thunderbird Heights estate with mysterious provenance. The estate features clean lines and clerestory windows in the international style, and inside, it’s riddled with accent wallpaper and tile.

Just three years ago, however, appraisers suggested tearing it down.

“I really think we saved this house,” said Howard Hawkes, one of the co-owners of H3K Design, which bought the house out of foreclosure in 2012 and started restoring it this spring. “When we were getting our financing, one of the appraisers who came here told us that the house wasn’t worth saving... But we saw its potential.”

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    • Atomic Ranch: 5 Considerations To Make When Hiring An MCM Contractor

      The search is on for an amazing contractor that will help you make your dream midcentury home a reality. So, where do you start? As owners of H3K Design, Kevin Kemper and Howard Hawkes have the knowledge and experience to share their insight on what to look for in a contractor. “We specialize in whole-house renovations for second homes and vacation homes, and we have a passion for Midcentury Modern design,” they say. “Part of our job is helping our clients find contractors that will work with us to build their dream homes.” Here, they share their top questions and considerations when hunting for a MCM contractor.

      • La Verne Entry Before
      • La Verne Entry After
      • BEFORE. “At some point in time—probably the ‘80s—the amazing breezeway between the house and carport was enclosed off this Alexander house,” says Kevin Kemper and Howard Hawkes.
      • AFTER. “The contractor was instrumental in helping us bring it back to life by opening the space, installing a fountain and adding breeze block,” says Kevin Kemper and Howard Hawkes. Photo by Patrick Ketchum Photography.

      1. Check their MCM experience.

      Contractors are used to tearing things down and working with a fresh start. To ensure that your contractor shares your desire to preserve MCM features when possible, it’s best if they have experience with period homes. “Renovating MCM homes is more about restoration and keeping and improving upon the things that are already there,” says Kevin and Howard. “If you want to keep things that are valuable, you need someone who is experienced, so they can think outside the box and come up with solutions for problems that may arise.”

      This is also relevant to materials used. “Let them know the aesthetic is just as important as the function,” they say. “They may want to choose the path of least resistance and go with travertine tiles when you want cork or linoleum, or they’ll suggest cheap vinyl windows when you want aluminum. Decide what you want to do with your restoration and stay true to those roots.”

      Written on Thursday, 17 August 2017 06:00
      Tags: Atomic Ranch
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