The Kearsarge project in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles California is a total wholehouse, top-to-bottom, inside and out major renovation.  The M.G. Residence was originally designed by the Romanian-American, mid-century modernist architect Haralamb H. Georgescu.

The challenges of working on an architecturally significant, historic home include the many questions you need to ask about what makes the house important, as well as what elements deserve to be preserved and what can be changed to accomodate the needs of living in the 21st century. As a design-build firm, we are able to restore, replicate, and bring anew to elevate the home in a timeless way blending old and new.

“Originally designed by a mid-century modernist architect, the goal of this project wasn't to just renovate the home, but to create a home that functions for today’s lifestyle while showcasing the original design.”

-Kurt Krueger

What Would Georgescu Do?

After decades of wear, much of the Kearsarge residence felt tired and dull. A stark white palette was juxtaposed against worn purple carpet and original details like mahogany cabinetry were lost or painted over.  There was a sense of imbalance in some of the rooms, as well; including a small bedroom that was adjacent to the open two-story main living room.  During the demolition phase, while removing the cabinetry near the stairs, we discovered a copy of the original hand drafted arechitectural drawings by the home’s architect, Haralamb Georgescu. This provided a wealth of insight, including the fact that the ‘bedroom’ was meant to be an office and was intended to be open to the living room space below. The ‘bedroom’ had always seemed odd and too narrow and the ceiling height was too high.  These drawing helped us to discover the original intent of the space. It was clear we needed to remove the wall.  Once we did the light bounced into the space from three sides of the home, including the windows on either side of the fireplace.  It was truly magical.

The history of the home continued to reveal itself.  We discovered that the ceiling of the main space had originally been painted a rich blue-grey tone–-it had been painted over with a simply flat white. We determined that Georgescu had intended this ceiling color to unify the office, the living room below, and the loft space at hte top of the stairs.  The color was also meant to be a bridge to the outside and to extend the space outdoors.

The goal of this project was to honor Haralamb Georgescu’s work by restoring the house to its true character.  However, we don’t live today the way we lived sixty years ago … .  The home needed to be updated to suite modern living to make the house comfortable while balancing the need to honor the original design spirit. 

When you are a design-build firm and you are hired to do a major renovation of a historically significant home, it’s a bit like being a detective. The owners of these homes are generally interested in preserving the character and style of the home–all the things they love about it–and getting rid of all the things they hate. The original cabinetry in the home was tiger stripe mahogany. Much of the finish was faded and in some cases the cabinets had been painted over. We painstakingly removed a massive, double-sided set of cabinets that was between the kitchen and dining area to prepare it for restoration. (A clever peak-a-boo opening allowed items to be sent between the two rooms and then closed in a more formal setting.) We restored the cabinetry and then used this as a jumping off point to add additional cabinetry with more modern detailing in other parts of the home.

White oak had been used on the stair treads, but the rest of the home was a mix of flooring, including that purple carpet, checkered linoleum, and other species of wood floors. We decided to use white oak as the flooring throughout the home. Not only is it beautiful, but using the same material for all of the flooring connects the spaces (much as the ceiling color did). Whether this was an oversight in the the original design or a limit in budget or availability of materials, I’m not sure we’ll ever know.

The work on the home continued outdoors as we renovated the pool, patios, courtyard, railings, and retaining walls.  Located on a flag lot in Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California, the site has a unique character as a forest within the city and feels extremely private and secluded.  To underscore the indoor-outdoor connections in the space, vast expanses of outdoor decking were replaced with ipe wood that was stained the same tone as the mahogany cabinetry.  In the front courtyard, a newly commissioned sculpture created by Christopher Georgescu, the original architect’s son, unifies the new and the old.  As part of this renovation project, a new home office/studio/guest space was added onto the property.  Classified as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), the Kearsarge Guest House boasts a full kitchen, bath, and work space.

We carefully restored the home where possible to the original 1968 design and with modern building techniques and the availability of new materials, we were able to elevate the original concept for the home. Our ability as a design-build firm to adapt to new discoveries while maintaining a commitment to the high level of craftsmanship that the home deserved, became indispensable in this historic restoration.


Under Construction

Photos from the renovation. The first photo shows just as the first renovation had started. Note the enclosed office on the left side and where the old flooring had been removed. The second photo shows the project during the renovation. Note the office wall removed and the mahogany cabinets between the dining area and kitchen removed for restoration.

From the Blog

More News on the Blog About this Project
California Architect, Kurt Krueger featured on Houzz

“I hired Kurt to do a complete re-hab on our mid-century modern home in Brentwood.  He did an amazing job in keeping with the original architect’s intent and work, but also bringing his own new style.  He tied in an amazing cantilevered guest house into the main house and made the whole thing look seamless and beautiful.  He has a great eye for detail and is also a pleasure to work with.”


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