1950s Beach Bungalow Redesigned for Modern, Indoor-Outdoor Living

Wanting to update her ranch house while preserving its rich history, a Santa Barbara, Calif., homeowner turned to Neumann Mendro Andrulaitis Architects to make her vision a reality. See how the architects opened the home to the outdoors without losing sight of its historic charm.

Tropical Beach Villa With Neutral Stone Walkway

Tropical Beach Villa With Neutral Stone Walkway

This ranch style home features a neutral stone exterior and a dark gray metal roof with rain chains instead of gutters. Like the exterior, the walkway is designed from a neutral stone, leading the way to the mahogany front door. Palm trees and other tropical plants are used for landscaping throughout the front yard.

Photo by: Ciro Coelho

Ciro Coelho

Looking to settle down in Santa Barbara, Calif., a woman with a 1950s ranch house approached Mary Andrulaitis and Dave Mendro with an essential task: open and update the tired interior for relaxed, coastal living without compromising the home’s character.

"I love the old bones of the classic Montecito bungalow, and I was very fortunate to have a client who felt the same way about the place," says Mendro, a partner at NMA Architects with Andrulaitis. "She appreciated the house and wanted to work with what was there."

BEFORE

BEFORE

Living room before the renovation.

Living room before the renovation.

Instead of expanding the home with new additions, the architects with intern Sean Foster focused on making the most of its existing 1,600 square feet. Working in tandem with Allen Construction, they removed the walls between the kitchen, dining room and living room to create an open layout that’s apt for modern living.

"All of the interior spaces — with the exception of the living room — were cut off from the sight of natural light," Mendro says. "It felt very cramped and dark. So opening up the space really helped lighten the home."

Modern Living Room With Gas Fireplace

Modern Living Room With Gas Fireplace

Great room after the renovation.

Photo by: Ciro Coelho

Ciro Coelho

Great room after the renovation.

That airy aesthetic is evident throughout the spacious great room, where vaulted ceilings, white walls and rows of windows make the interior feel fresh for the new owner.

Charcoal gray and black furnishings suit the client's contemporary taste, while area rugs below soften the limestone floors and outline zones for lounging and dining.

Subtle coastal accents keep the home’s heart close to the water. A sepia-toned photograph of a boat sets sail over the dining table, while glass-blown pendant fixtures illuminate the kitchen island, their silhouettes concentrating the light like the sun’s rays filtering down through the ocean.  

Spacious Open Plan Kitchen With Mahogany Cabinets

Spacious Open Plan Kitchen With Mahogany Cabinets

Remodeled, open-concept kitchen.

Photo by: Ciro Coelho

Ciro Coelho

Remodeled, open-concept kitchen.

Though the rest of the home's lighting quietly disappears into the ceiling, the architects admit that achieving this was one of their biggest challenges over the course of the project. 

"Because the ranch house has a thin roof line, there’s really no thickness to put up recessed lighting," Mendro says. "So where we didn’t have flat drywall ceilings, we had to use track light fixtures."

Nestled against the seam of the roof, those energy efficient lights draw the eye up and to the other side of the home, where retractable doors open to the private courtyard.

Modern Kitchen With Limestone Countertops and Mahogany Cabinetry

Modern Kitchen With Limestone Countertops and Mahogany Cabinetry

Indoor-outdoor access to the courtyard.

Photo by: Ciro Coelho

Ciro Coelho

Indoor-outdoor access to the courtyard.

By folding in on themselves, the doors create a smooth transition outside, which allows the client to easily view and move between the home's interior and exterior. In turn, the available living space doubles in temperate weather, making the bungalow feel larger and more connected to the lush landscape. 

"The great thing about California really is the indoor-outdoor living," Mendro notes. "Even if you have a small house, you can open up the interior and suddenly have all that room for entertaining."

To give their client an intimate space for alfresco dining, the NMA team enclosed the courtyard within a glass wall. Because it's transparent, this feature showcases views of the rich greenery cultivated by Earthform Design while simultaneously subduing noise pollution from a nearby freeway. 

At Mendro's suggestion, a water feature and rain chains were added to mitigate intrusive sounds. As they gently ripple in the background, the pieces reinforce the tranquil oceanside oasis that the owner desired. 

Zen Bedroom With Custom-Made Platform Bed

Zen Bedroom With Custom-Made Platform Bed

Completed master suite.

Photo by: Ciro Coelho

Ciro Coelho

Completed master suite.

Evoking a calming ambience was equally important in the homeowner's bedroom. Knowing that their career-driven client needed a space where she could unwind, the architects outfitted the master suite with warm wood finishes like African mahogany. 

Where the exposed rafters elongate the room, the contemporary wood balances and grounds the setting. By limiting the color palette and materials, the architects further ensured that the bedroom remained as simple and serene as possible.

Spa Bathroom With Private Courtyard Access

Spa Bathroom With Private Courtyard Access

Spa bathroom and zen garden.

Photo by: Ciro Coelho

Ciro Coelho

Spa bathroom and zen garden.

NMA's attention to detail extends into the client's spa-style bathroom. Though Santa Barbara's city codes prevented them from building the outdoor tub that the owner hoped for, the architects simulated the effect using retractable doors that opened to a zen garden.

Of all the home's features, though, Mendro insists that the new standing seam roof is what completes the polished look. Padded with insulation, the piece is both energy efficient and draws ample visual interest.

"What I really like about the house is that when you go through the gate, you really enter this whole other world," he says. "It's just a complete surprise, because you see a little bit of the metal roof, and then you see the home within. It's got a lot of life ahead of it now."

See More of This Bungalow:

See All Photos

Before: Outdated Exterior and Front Yard

With a faded tan exterior and unadorned lawn, this 1950s ranch house in Santa Barbara, Calif., lacked the bright, beachy-keen personality of its coastal surroundings. 

After: Tropical Villa With Lush Landscape

With a little TLC from the NMA team, this ranch home now features a beautiful coral stone exterior and a dark gray standing seam roof. Rain chains replace traditional gutters for a look that feels fresh and draws visual interest, while the front yard now boasts plenty of gorgeous greenery.

Front Yard Features Tropical Plants

Following the stone path leads to this lush landscape by Earthform Design, which includes palm trees, tropical plants and native bent grass that use 50% less water than more conventional lawns. Above, a white overhang provides relief from the afternoon sun.

Before: Dark and Confined Living Room

Though sliding glass doors connected the living room to the exterior, a lack of light overhead made this space feel dark and cramped. Walls on all sides further closed this room off from the rest of the house.

After: Contemporary and Airy Living Room

Wanting to create a more intentional, open floor plan, the architects and a local contractor removed the walls between the living room, dining room and kitchen. In turn, this once confining space now feels both airy and contemporary, with a leather sectional for lounging.

Before: Outdated Finishes, Furniture

Stucco walls and upholstered furniture gave this family room a dose of texture, but felt too outdated for modern living. A wall of windows opened the space to natural light, but cast shadows by late afternoon. 

After: Spacious Great Room With Luxe Touches

Without the walls to separate them, the dining room and living room become united for a single space that's airy and open. A gas fireplace, track light fixtures and unobstructed windows ensure that the room is bright from morning to night.

Before: Traditional, Closed-Off Kitchen

Before the renovation, the only connection from the traditional kitchen to the backyard was a small utility door. In turn, the space felt closed off, with very little counterspace to prepare meals or entertain.

After: Modern Kitchen With Indoor-Outdoor Access

To breathe new life into the space, the architects installed limestone countertops and African mahogany cabinets. The tongue-and-groove ceiling is original to the 1950s home, but given a fresh coat of white paint and lit with track lighting, while bifolding doors open to the backyard for easy entertaining.

Before: Small-Scale Back Patio

Without a direct connection to the outdoors, moving from the kitchen to the back patio once meant backtracking to the living room. Here, sliding glass doors opened to a small square of stone that lacked both shade and privacy.

After: Serene, Glass-Enclosed Courtyard

Wanting to give their client space for al fresco dining, the architects used retractable doors to open the kitchen to the backyard. Enclosed within a glass wall, the courtyard now includes a reclaimed wood table and eight chairs for hosting intimate gatherings with friends. 

Great Room Includes Subtle, Coastal Touches

Though limestone countertops and floors give the great room a polished and contemporary look, prints of waves rolling on the shore and glass-blown pendant lights nod to the home's coastal environment.

Zen Bedroom With Custom Platform Bed

The focal point of this peaceful master suite is the custom-designed platform bed, along with the floating nightstands and a wall-to-wall dresser in African mahogany. A wooden armchair sits in the corner for leisurely reading, while the rest of the space exudes modern simplicity.

Bedroom Includes Indoor-Outdoor Access

This bedroom earns a touch of the outdoors with sliding glass panels that lead to a private patio. By keeping the floors within the same shade, the two spaces easily flow into one another for a seamless transition.

Private Patio With Tropical Landscaping

Mahogany-trimmed glass doors lead the way to a quiet oasis, complete with a small outdoor table and pair of chairs. Towering palm trees and other tropical plants surround the space, providing a natural element of privacy. 

Photo By: Ciro Coelho

Modern Home Office With Built-In Desk

Turning off the bedroom leads into the hallway, where a makeshift offices sits directly in front of wall-to-wall windows. Here, a leather armchair pairs with a built-in desk for a chic, contemporary workspace.

Wood-Trimmed Spa Bathroom

This spa-style master bathroom brings the outdoors in with a large window and retractable doors that open to the backyard. The vanity features a square sink with a contemporary chrome faucet, neutral countertops and flat-front mahogany cabinets.

Flowing Indoor-Outdoor Connection

Because their client originally wanted an outdoor tub, the architects used retractable doors to give the owner's bathroom a similar indoor-outdoor experience. A zen garden encloses the space to ensure complete privacy.

Freestanding Tub With Waterfall Feature

This relaxing spa bathroom features a bathtub with chrome fixtures and a luxurious waterfall feature. A small glass shelf is positioned next to the tub, providing a convenient spot for bathroom essentials.

Photo By: Ciro Coelho

Spacious White Master Bath

This bathroom's minimalistic design relies on the juxtaposition of all-white fixtures and rich mahogany wood accents to create eye-catching contrast. Meanwhile, a cluster of pendant lights hangs over the soaking tub for additional visual interest. 

Photo By: Ciro Coelho

Serene Outdoor Courtyard

With beautiful mahogany-trimmed doors, the bathroom opens to a quiet courtyard area. Palm trees and other plants are integrated into the pebbled landscape for a lush look, while a fence keeps the area totally private.

Neutral Shower and Skylight

All-over neutral tiles and a shower with an opaque glass enclosure make this guest bathroom feel completely luxurious. A window within the shower and a skylight overhead fills the room with soothing natural light.

Exterior Showcases Natural Elements

Outside, a row of towering trees creates a natural wall for privacy. Stone planters with flowering succulents complements the green landscape, as well as brings symmetry and balance to the renovated ranch house.

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NMA Architects

Contact Me
Neumann Mendro Andrulaitis Architects
www.nmaarchitects.com AIA 888 Linden Avenue Carpinteria, CA 93013 805-684-8885