Preserving a Mid-Century Phoenix Charmer

Last March my wife, daughter and I purchased a dilapidated little mid-century home in the North Central area of Phoenix. Our goal at the time was to “flip” it. As we started, we had no idea what we were in for, but it was quite an adventure. Our little home built in 1951, had over the years become quite worn and run down. It had little character and less charm.

Very quickly, we discovered that we were not “flippers.” After attending several events on flipping, it became clear that most flippers did as little work as they could to make a house look shiny. They skimped on quality and often cut corners using unlicensed contractors. They would avoid filling out the seller’s disclosures document, claiming they knew little about the property. While they may not know all the history, if they were doing their job correctly, these “flippers” probably knew more than most homeowners do about their home. We have owned multiple businesses, and our commitment in each was always to do the highest quality work that would ultimately delight and exceed our clients’ expectations. This perspective was clearly in conflict with the flipping business model.

So our project turned from flipping a home into tastefully remodeling and preserving the character of our little mid-century Phoenix bungalow. The first thing we did was remove an approximately 300 square foot unpermitted addition that was, in my wife’s words “very janky.” This took a house that was about 1200 sq feet down to it’s original 900 square foot size of 2 bedrooms and 1 ¾ bathrooms. We then decided to add square footage and rooms. Looking at the neighborhood, we realized that there were very few 4 bedrooms, 3 bath homes, so that became our goal.

We went through the process of finding an architect, drawing up plans and applying for a building permit. We had no idea what all this work would entail, and it took us until June to get started on any demolition or construction. It was hard work, unlike anything any of us had done before. Although we hired licensed contractors to perform the work and a general contractor to oversee the project and maintain integrity, we still needed to be there on most days. One or the other of us found ourselves at the project (45 minutes away from our own home) at the job providing oversight and making essential field decisions, on some of the hottest days of summer. I remember coming home and in frustration, telling my wife, “I’m not having any fun anymore.”

My wife and daughter took over and handled the contractors while I hunkered down and worked on our real estate business. This is a good thing since both of them have fantastic design skills, and I admittedly do not. My daughter even went so far with the design as to research paint chips from mid-century homes in 1951 and had the front door and garage painted in the top color from that year.

Two weeks ago, we finished our work. My wife and daughter, who run the staging side of our business, worked their magic, and I put the home on the market. We did everything we could to preserve the mid-century feel, but add all the modern conveniences that a family today desires. We removed several load-bearing walls and installed laminated beams, so massive and engineered so responsibly, (it took five guys to carry them in to open up the once cramped little house).

Our once “little” home is now 2147 square feet and includes four bedrooms, three full baths, a laundry room and garage. The master suite has soaring cathedral ceilings, a large walk-in closet, and spa-like bathroom suite. Since we took what remained of the original house down to the studs, everything has been replaced and now boasts new electrical, plumbing, HVAC, windows, doors, millwork, roof, cabinets, countertops and all fixtures. We even painstakingly restored the upper brick facade to its original style. We made the house energy efficient by installing low E windows, foam insulation and a high efficiency 16 SEER two stage A/C unit.

We all feel like we have earned the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in home remodeling and construction. Would we do it again? Probably not on the same scale. We took on a massive project with all of the additions, but we would consider a simpler remodel. We have a tremendous sense of pride when we visit “our little Phoenix house” as we lovingly call it. We cut no corners, did good work, and built a home that we will be proud to pass on to the new owner when it sells. We’d love you to see our work. You can view the North Central Phoenix Remodel video above. If you are in the Phoenix area and are interested in our mid-century remodel, please give us a call at 602-603-0708. We would welcome the opportunity to share it with you.


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