When interior designer Carly Waters and her husband, Chip, relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles, they stumbled upon a slightly dated 2000-square-foot Cliff May–style house in Redondo Beach. Initially, the plan was to simply paint the kitchen cabinets and rip up old carpets—but after they peeled back layers upon layers of bad renovations, it became apparent that this project was turning into a full gut job. With a mere two-month timeline, the couple completely transformed the midcentury house into a bright and functional home for them; their son, Hutton; and their dog, Lucy. Ahead, take the tour and learn a few clever renovating tricks from the couple who worked against the clock to bring their home back to its original charm.
"We started the reno thinking all we would do was paint the kitchen cabinets and rip up the carpet in the bedrooms," says the young mother and designer. "Quickly, and I mean very quickly, it became obvious that we were going into full reno mode." Working with interior architect Lorena Pulichino, Waters took down the wall separating the kitchen from the living room, removed a window to install a range hood, added a skylight, and removed a towering stone fireplace that made the space feel cramped.
Every last detail in the house was replaced—from the door hardware to the baseboards to each lighting fixture. The doorways were also widened to 36 inches to open up the space.
The color scheme for the house came naturally: "I love white," says Waters. "It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s modern, and it never goes out of style. I’ve since slowly started incorporating more black to ground the space."
While the previous owners had tried replicating a Crafstman style house in a midcentury frame, Waters was determined to revert the house back to its original character. "I always design a space using the original features and bones of the home," she says. "In this space, I wanted to emphasize the slanted ceilings, the original windows, and the outdoor space."
The dining room table and chairs were one of the few elements Waters repurposed from her old home in San Francisco. "We lived in an Edwardian style apartment in San Francisco prior to this home and furnished the home to match the style, so almost everything had to be purchased new for this space," she says. To freshen up the set, she opted for a modern globe chandelier and softened the chairs with sheepskin rugs.
"Essentially, we gutted the home of all the non-midcentury elements to bring it back to its original roots," says Waters. After ripping out all the closets that had been tacked onto the original house, and ripping up poorly tiled floors, she could begin re-imagining the space into her ideal home. She installed engineered oak floors throughout and skim-coated the entire home to remove dated textured walls.
The garage was converted into a bedroom suite with a bathroom. The space, which featured a vaulted ceiling, a door to the street, and French doors to the backyard, had all the elements desired to be transformed into an in-law suite.
The layout for the master bedroom was entirely re-imagined. "We started by moving the entrance further away from the laundry room in order to provide some separation," says Waters. "We built a new wall, removed the 1960s sliding glass door to the backyard, and replaced it with a stationary window that mimicked the living room window."
The master bathroom got quite a transformation. A wall separating the dressing room to the ensuite bathroom was knocked down, to create one large space. Waters knew she wanted to use her favorite brass fixtures from Kohler and white marble for the countertops. She designed a custom his and hers vanity and flanked it with two sconces from Schoolhouse Electric.
Because the entire space had to be entirely remodeled in a two-month timeline, Waters had to be constantly present on the job site. To save costs, the couple only hired a general contractor when absolutely necessary, meaning that she was tasked with ensuring every last detail went according to plan.
The result: a family friendly home that seamlessly mixes midcentury features with a minimal California boho-chic aesthetic—the perfect home for this young family to grow into.