Most additions achieve with varying degrees of success and style what they set out to do — add needed living space to an existing structure.
One California project did that and more. It added a contemporary Mediterranean flair to a typical 1970s California tract house, greatly enhanced the home’s curb appeal, provided a private courtyard for the owners’ enjoyment, and created a dramatic new entryway to the home.
The owners of the Encinitas home initially approached Marrokal Construction Co. of San Diego with two things in mind.
They wanted to provide a self-contained place for a relative to live, and they wanted to improve the curb appeal of the home as part of the process.
Steven Walton, ASID, senior design consultant with Marrokal met with the owners Tim and Yvonne Allen to explore their options. The obvious solution was to add a structure to the back of the house, but discussions soon revealed that the front yard was space seldom used by the family. Because the space was available and any changes there would certainly affect the appearance of the home made it the natural focus.
Walton’s solution was a detached casita that would create an interior courtyard. However, putting a free-standing structure in the front yard with little or no tie to the main house was not acceptable. Instead, the casita was integrated into the main structure with a dramatic entry tower, providing an authentic new focal point to the home’s entry and doing much to elaborate on the Mediterranean theme and the desired curb appeal of the home. The entry tower features a wood door that can be remotely opened from the interior of the main house.
The space between the existing house and the new casita provides a private space formerly lacking in the front yard — no doubt one of the reasons the Allens so seldom spent time there prior to the addition.
As well as using the entry tower to tie the addition to the existing home, Walton added another touch to further unite the two structures. The existing living room windows were replaced with a series of French doors so that a strong connection was created to the front courtyard space. “I think that’s what pulled it together; it was a big part of the design,” he says.
An outdoor fireplace was built into the wall of the casita facing the new French doors. The Allens also wanted the tranquil sounds of a fountain. In a motif that mirrors the fireplace, water sheets down a vertical wall of glass tiles.
Walton notes that the rest of the home is fairly contemporary in style, and the courtyard, while Mediterranean in inspiration also is influenced by this contemporary flavor.
The casita, encompassing about 350 sq. ft., contains a bedroom, a mini-kitchen area, and a bathroom with shower. The entry tower adds another 100 sq. ft. to the addition.
Mini Bed and Breakfast
Walton describes the casita as “… contemporary, clean and very functional. It has the elements of a mini bed and breakfast.”
The compact kitchen has a built-in microwave and refrigerator as well as a space for a television. There is a separate dining area and a small entry area.
On the street side, there is an open courtyard with a working fountain also playing off the Mediterranean theme and anticipating the interior courtyard.
Lot setbacks stipulated in the zoning regulations were pushed to the limits, both to the side and front, Walton relates.
Some the façade details were replaced during the construction of the casita, and a new tile roof, essential to the Mediterranean look was added to integrate the casita and entry tower with the rest of the home.
With the casita and face-lift of their home accomplished, the owners turned to their kitchen, again a typical 1970s tract home affair without a great deal of style. Walton again worked with the homeowners create a more dramatic and enjoyable space.