Our former resident recipe contributor Claire Thomas, the blogger behind The Kitchy Kitchen and host of Food for Thought, has encountered a few surprises in her new home in the hills above Los Angeles. When she and her husband, Craig, were home-shopping in the fall of 2013, they never expected they'd move into a midcentury-modern home on stilts. "I had this vision of us moving into a Spanish colonial home built in the '30s," says Thomas. But after stumbling upon this house on Zillow in the middle of the night, she knew it was the one. After a little bit of elbow grease and care, the couple turned this '70s fixer-upper into a dream home for two.
The more homes they saw in that style, however, the more discouraged they became due to outdated kitchens and bathroom renovations from the '70s. "I was up at 2 a.m. one night, hunting and hunting on Zillow, and out of nowhere, this midcentury-modern craziness popped up." The two pounced on it.
"We saw it on Thursday and put in our bid on Saturday," she says. "I was just completely blown away." She wasn't quite as blown away, though, as she was when Craig (at that time her boyfriend) proposed to her on their first night in their new place. "The home was filled with boxes, and we were sweaty and eating Thai food. I'll never forget it."
The midcentury home is an architectural gem; the entire structure sits on stilts 20 feet off the ground. "I thought Craig and I would be in this charming home in a nice school district, but instead we found this bachelor pad in the rough," says Thomas. "It feels right for a Bond villain—like the couch should flip into a bed and a record cabinet should come up from the floor."
Once the home was theirs, the couple began a series of renovations, including opening the kitchen up to the living room and dining room. "The kitchen was very '60s, but not in a fun way," says Thomas. "I knew I wanted it to be sleek and modern, but still soft. We ended up knocking down a wall and taking space from a bunch of tiny unnecessary rooms to make the kitchen bigger. I wanted there to be too much storage."
When Thomas first walked into the home, she thought to herself, Well, I guess I have to be a lot more social. "You can't live here and not love entertaining," says the self-professed introvert.
The record player was a must in the couple's home. "Craig has a personal soundtrack at all times; he's like John Cusack's character in High Fidelity," says Thomas.
"The guest bathroom was—and still is—my favorite room in the house," Thomas says. When they bought the house, the previous owner had covered the walls with gold lamé wallpaper, hung marigold velvet drapes, and installed three gold chandeliers. Although Thomas wanted to keep the wallpaper, renovations got in the way. She replaced it with Hicks hexagon wallpaper paired with Jonathan Adler sconces, and kept the original vanity and hardware. "I wanted to keep the spirit of the room there," she explains.
"My mom bought this Art Deco–looking clock from the '80s that came with two accent mirrors," says Thomas. "Between those and a tiny Venetian mirror from the flea market, I thought, Let's just make a wall of mirrored stuff!"
"I love keeping all the doors open and the lighting dim to see the view," Thomas tells us. "Basically, our home has become the place for apéritifs. Everybody will come over, have a cocktail, enjoy the view, and then we'll all go out to dinner."
This story was originally published on September 2, 2014, and has since been updated.