A Renovation Full of Clever Design Flourishes

There is a lot to take in with the Blodgett-Calvin “Huts”. Constituting a smaller component of a complex of buildings in San Marino, California, the space serves as a ceramic studio for couple Mary Blodgett and Carlton Calvin.

The space was subject to a drastic redesign by architects Fung + Blatt, who took the skeleton of a pre-existing post and beam pergola and really ran with it, creating something really special in the process.

modern house - Blodgett-Calvin Huts - frontmodern house - Blodgett-Calvin Huts - studio

To start with, it’s not every day you see shelves forming such an integral part of a building. Here, though, they provide the walls for one side of the structure.

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For the most part a translucent screen has been added to these shelves, so that from the outside they appear as modern and slightly less neat incarnations of the walls of a traditional Japanese home.

modern house - Blodgett-Calvin Huts - living areamodern house - Blodgett-Calvin Huts - exterior

However, transparent glazing has been applied directly to one particular set of shelves, which cuts an irregular diagonal angle across the other shelf-walls, and also extends beyond them.

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Given that the space is being used as a ceramic studio, this is all quite appropriate. But even so, having the shelves occupied by finished pottery pieces makes this one of the most unique and impressive exterior walls we have ever seen in a contemporary home design.

The sense of experimentation does not stop there.

The dual-purpose of the shelves is also in evidence in the retractable displays, which double as work surfaces and book shelves. Meanwhile, the sloping roof, which faces the main house, has been planted with grass and other plants.

According to the architects, this positioning is so that this space responds to the main building nearby, appearing simply “as a sloping tapestry of sedums floating beyond a foreground of grasses”.

modern house - Blodgett-Calvin Huts - exteriormodern house - Blodgett-Calvin Huts - exterior

And true to the spirit of the best original mid-century modern homes, there has also been a special emphasis on maximising the light that flows into it. This has already been noted in the application of translucent screens and windows to the shelves. It has also been achieved through having these elements directed northward, so as to capture light throughout the day.

All this makes for an exceptionally pleasant space to be creative.

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Klopf - Open Eichler House - Palo Alto, CA - front

Photo by Mariko Reed

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Photos by Fotoworks

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