Home on the range...
Denialle Fitch from the San Diego-based Oblong Box Shop tells Glory Days about her mid century ranch renovation.
My husband and I bought our San Diego home in April of 2012. It’s a low slung mid-century ranch home built in 1962. The work has been attributed to designer/builder, John Mortenson, who built several homes in the area and it does have some of his signature elements like the low slung roof line and a post and beam living room with large windows to make the most of the view.
The previous owners were Ben and Madeline Hammrick. Ben was a superior court judge in San Diego for many years. He was also a WWII war hero that flew several missions in a B52 Flying Fortress during the war. They loved to entertain and raised their family here. This is a home and not just a house. We still share it with them, I feel their presence often and when we have get-togethers someone always mentions the smell of tobacco. I just say it’s Ben… say hi.
The front of the home features many large windows and one of my favourite kinds - louvres! They're not very efficient but I just adore the look of them and they allow the breezes in to cool the house in the spring and summer.
The living room showcases post and beam architecture. The exposed beams which we have not painted yet, have a beautiful patina. The exposed wood is in a white-wash style which I had not seen in previous homes of this era. The fireplace is gigantic and made of large hand-cut quarry stones. When it’s chilly outside it feels like a cabin in the woods!
The family room used to be the garage but the previous owners added on a carport and we have a work shed instead of a garage. But I would much rather have a family room with a giant built in fire pit and metal chimney reminiscent of a Shag painting any day! The walls are all covered in ash panelling and there is another huge built-in bookshelf and cabinets that I assume the original owners used as the entertainment centre. We are re-purposing it as a tiki bar to house all of our collectible mugs and tiki memorabilia. The ash paneling creates a very cosy living space.
We have 2.5 bathrooms and when we moved in they were all decorated like Liberace lived here! They feature soft pink tiles and sinks that we are keeping because I am a huge supporter of saving pink bathrooms. We removed the ornate gold floral wallpaper in two of the bathrooms. One held a lovely surprise! When removing the wallpaper in the hall bathroom I found the original wallpaper underneath of a mid century fish design! There are also scraps of it in the drawers. We have not yet decided what to do with this bathroom because I would so love to restore the wallpaper but I’m afraid it is damaged beyond repair in certain areas. The two full size bathrooms feature sunken showers that fascinate anyone who sees them.
We planted succulents in the entry way and the curved front lawn really showcases the custom landscaping designed by the previous owners. We have amazing manicured black pine trees that were planted and trained like large bonsai, called Niwakai. They took many years to grow and are just spectacular. We collect tiki statues from our friends who do carving and have several placed on our property.
On the side of the house is the pool. It’s kidney-bean shaped and we don’t have a diving board because there’s a HUGE rock at the deep end that we climb up and jump from at the beginning of each summer, it’s our little ritual. The view from the pool is amazing. We can see out over the valley and all the way up over the mountains. On a clear day we can see almost to the ocean.
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