Monday, November 29, 2010

Dream Homes Remade!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I've been pretty hard on the Dream Homes on this blog and elsewhere, going so far as to say I wouldn't mind one bit if they were torn down all at once.  That being said, demolition of existing housing stock is quite wasteful from an environmental standard.  (If any readers know of studies like this that have been done since the housing bust led to an increase in demolitions, I'd be happy to see those.)  So if we can find a way to transform some of these houses into positive contributions to our neighborhood - and without demolishing them - then I'm all for it.

That's where Alissa Luepke Pier, an (award-winning!) architect who lives in Hawthorne comes into play.  She called me up and said she's been working with Urban Homeworks on some redesigns of Dream Homes and other Koenig vinyl boxes.  The house shown above is at 2515 Irving Ave N, and other homes will hopefully be similarly redone.  Note the porch that extends across the front, and the detailing of the windows and the woodwork, as well as the bump out given to the bay window.  There's not much to be done for the side windows, and the house won't appeal to everyone, but what house does?

I was also shown redrawn floor plans, and space has been made for laundry, tools, and other home maintenance items.  Property owners of these places won't be dependent on a property manager to be able to come along and mow the lawn or do other basic upkeep.

On top of wanting to avoid waste as much as possible, I'm also a big fan of transformative symbols.  And how great would it be if we transformed these homes into recognizable signs of progress?  I'd love to bring people into NoMi, point to houses that look like this, and be able to say, "This house was built by one of the worst predatory investors our neighborhood has seen, but look at it now!"  Urban Homeworks and Alissa Luepke Pier accomplished something I didn't think was possible; they've got me excited about Dream Homes.


  1. This is a nice looking redesign. One of the things I really thought was a shame about the original Dreamhome design is the baseboard heat. Are there any plans to try to put central heat in any future projects? Having a home with central forced air heat as it adds perceived value and central air can be added by a new owner. And if this was already done on this project, kudos to the project team!

  2. Are you kidding me - what an ugly peice of crap! Whoever is re doing this house after the fire has terrible taste!

  3. AKL, this particular property already had forced air and not baseboard heating (although it is getting a new furnace). I agree that I'd like to see homes with baseboard heating converted into the remake. Not sure what that might do to the bottom line, or if it would push houses towards demolition.

    Anon 12:58, I'm not sure I'd want this house, as the exterior doesn't blow me away and the interior has more rooms than I need. But there's a difference between what I might want or need and what fits for others. And if we can change these properties into something that is desirable to quality occupants, and do so without demolition, I'll put up with an exterior that isn't exactly my cup of tea.

  4. This place looks a hell of a lot better than it did before. Kudos to the architect for getting it this far along considering what a piece of crap she had to work with starting out. I think its actually pretty cute now. It has a kind of modern, yet retro look to it. The aesthetic design tweaks are the kind that seem to appeal to the young professional crowd (who like having neat architectural flourishes but don't want the headaches that come with owning the older houses that typically have things like that) which is smart because that's what this neighborhood needs to attract.
    I'm happy to see this place improving. I say keep up the good work, Urban Homeworks!

  5. Poo-polishing is never easy, but given what this architect and crew started with, the result isn't too bad. At least it looks a little more workmanlike than the previous house, and it looks like someone tried. The reality is that it's hard to make affordable, safe housing that meets code and still speaks to peoples' family and social needs.

    I might have tried to repeat the shingle theme somewhere else, maybe above the bay window, so those up-high shingles wouldn't look so forlorn. But then of course you're talking about additional money....

  6. I think CPED and others have done a rather good job of keeping most new construction compatible with the areas existing design parameters that give the community a cohesive feel. But, with so many cheap vacant lots in NoMi; the potential for future development could be problematic.

    Community Design guidelines would help a great deal in preventing slumlord developers from creating these eyesores. This should also extend to the re-muddling of existing residential housing.

  7. I don't know about this... Dressing the dream homes is nice, but comparatively its sort of like buying the cheapest run down car you can and putting rims on it. It's still a cheap run down car. That dream home doesn't have a chance of lasting the hundred years that our golden oldies have. Just say'n.

  8. So is this house going to be owner occupied or a rental, and who is buying it?

  9. Agreed, some of the aesthetics could have been employed more liberally, and the place would look the better for it. But yes, that does mean more money.

    I.I., normally I'd agree with you here. But I'm open to at least TRYING an approach where we don't put a house in a landfill prematurely. Plus, from what I've seen for both the interior and exterior, this is more like putting new rims, a new paint job, and a souped-up engine in a cheaper car. There may be enough upgraded essential components to make it worthwhile.

    Anon 7:07, the house is owned by Urban Homeworks. Based on their other work in NoMi, I'd guess this house will either be sold to an owner-occupant or managed by them as a rental. It depends on which pool of funds was used, what strings were attached to that money, what Urban Homeworks' bottom line is, and neighborhood input.

  10. Managed as a rental! No way that's the whole problem here is to many absentee owned rentals.It's been going on for decades and needs to stop.The house looks better now than when it was first built,but who will maintain it ? this place is about 8 years old and already completely rebuilt as is the other one two house's to the left. I have driven by this place since it was new and saw all the riff-raff that lived there, just chilling everday when I came home from work allready home doing nothing! NoMi had some beatyfull old homes most destroyed by being rental units,we'll never be able to replace these homes.


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