The Best Of Both Worlds

This Santa Monica property marries a perfectly preserved landmark building with high end new construction for a space of unparalleled beauty and appeal

Written by Abigail Stone | Photography by Paul Jonason
Presented by Charles Pence and John Hathorn, Pence Hathorn Silver, Partners Trust
List price $2,895,000

century ago, craftsman buildings forged from Douglas fir dotted the coastline of Santa Monica. For a privileged few, their location offered a front row seat to the lively activities of the newly incorporated beach town, while the cool sea breezes offered a respite from the hot weather inland. Roller coaster rides, auto races, vaudeville shows, dance halls and gilded carousels seamlessly merged with the beauty of the waves lapping at the city’s shores. That past has slowly faded from view, replaced by stately homes, beautiful tree-lined streets, waving palm trees, world-class shopping and award-winning restaurants, with only a few reminders of the city’s history remaining, including 1012 2nd Street in Santa Monica.

When the property was purchased a decade ago, a hundred years had taken its expected toll on the small structure. Preserving it was of the upmost importance to the property’s owner, as its link to the past is paramount to the neighborhood. To balance these needs with those of a modern lifestyle, one that looks for state-of-the-art amenities and an open floor plan, they turned to renowned Santa Monica architect Howard Laks. His solution offers a tour de force that ingeniously marries the past with the present, underscoring the delights of each.

From the street, the historic turn-of-the-twentieth-century landmark cottage straddles the property, its unique beauty drawing the admiration of passersby. Here is the past in its full glory, glowing as if newly constructed, in the center of this modern street. Within easy walking distance of the best that the city has to offer—from its historic cousin, the lively Santa Monica Pier, to the elegant shops of Montana Avenue, to fine dining along Ocean Avenue, and plentiful bakeries and grocery stores. The home’s location, also convenient to the 10, the 405 and Pacific Coast Highway, main roads that hadn’t even been conceived of when the first tenant moved in, offers an urban experience and walkability unique to the Southland. The house itself has been meticulously restored, with no detail left to chance. From its paint color, to its cottage lap siding, to its lovingly reconstructed window sashes—even the chimney has been cleaned and relaid, brick by brick—the historical accuracy with which this home has been reconditioned shows the lengths that have been taken to celebrate the artisanship of the past. Even the landscaping adheres to historical precept. Yet, the restoration’s true artistry is in the home’s subtle details. While the home refurbishes the past with breathtaking accuracy, it also supports today’s building codes.

Having ascended the steps to the cottage’s front porch, one pushes through the home’s original front door—polished to its former glory—and steps inside. Like the heroine of a children’s book who suddenly comes to find herself transported to another land, the effect of entering this space is equally awe-inspiring. Instead of the expected warren of slender rooms, a soaring great room and modern kitchen await. The entire interior has been gutted, allowing the simple, strong lines of the home’s architecture to shine through. The original windows, including the multi-paned attic window, have all been reglazed; their crystalline glass sparkling and inviting in the sun. Smooth white walls, pristine slabs of the snowy porcelain tile floors and gleaming Miele appliances bounce light from one corner of the room to another. It’s not hard to imagine the reaction of guests when visiting the home: surprised, as they expect a bungalow’s miniature proportions and are met instead with a sleek, modern space. For, while the cottage’s exterior restoration showcases the architect’s technical skills, it’s the home’s interior and marriage to the modern construction at the rear of the property that serve to highlight his creativity.

It’s evident in the way fluted glass has been used to create a light-filled dining room that connects the public rooms enfolded within the historic structure’s sturdy arms— an open plan kitchen and great room, a secluded en-suite guest room, a cozy study—to the bedrooms tucked into the modern back building. It’s here, in the subtle details of the rear building’s construction—the lightness of the cloud ceiling, the way in which the built-ins seem to float over the floor, the carefully matched grain of the walnut cabinet fronts—that the home’s versatility shines through. Indeed, whether you prefer the front unit, which incorporates the landmark building, or decide on the second unit’s Slim Aarons-worthy view of palm trees and ocean, it’s clear that your present will create a future that’s perfect.

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