A Charmingly Eccentric Midcentury Makeover in San Diego

Point Loma Casita

Originally built in 1945 on Point Loma by a naval officer, John Ike’s San Diego home is a two level flat-roofed structure with a charmingly eccentric floor plan and massing.

Adding upper and lower decks, installing massive windows and raising the ceiling in the living room, this renovation by Ike Baker Velten was aimed at creating as much outdoor space as possible and modifying the interiors so that the two communicated freely. We spoke with the architect to find out more about this project.

First of all, could you tell us a little bit about your background?

I am an architect and collector of art and furniture. I love to travel and grateful my career has allowed me to spend time between New York and California, both in the Bay Area and San Diego. 

How did you come to live in your house and what drew you to the midcentury style?

I identified with San Diego first as a place that I wanted to be, and obviously there was a preponderance of midcentury houses in the area. I found a diamond in the rough with a fantastic view and grabbed it. I like a lot of styles of architecture, like the turn of the century Arts and Crafts homes by Irving Gill. There are also a lot of great mid-century houses. It was really the location that the drew me to the midcentury style. Both the house and site had great potential.  

Point Loma Casita

What do you think was so special about this period in American design?

It really celebrates blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living, which in a climate like San Diego’s, is an important factor. 

What do you know about the architect who designed your house initially?

The original house was not designed by an architect but by a lieutenant commander from the navy. It was built with conscripted navel labor and conscripted navel material.

What were your challenges for this project?

The biggest challenge actually turned out to be the drainage. 

How have the renovations you’ve made improved the house? 

The renovation absolutely maximized the value. I essentially kept the footprint and organization of the house, stripped it down to the framing, completely altered the windows and doors and most importantly added two decks on the downhill view side of the property. The goal was to integrate the outdoor to the indoor.  

Point Loma Casita
Point Loma Casita
Point Loma Casita
Point Loma Casita
Point Loma Casita
Point Loma Casita

What are the advantages/struggles of living in a midcentury house?

Advantages of living in a midcentury house is the concept of indoor/outdoor living, especially in San Diego. In my opinion, there are no disadvantages!

What’s your favourite part of the house and why?

The big room is my favorite place to be in the house, with the fireplace lit, the sliding doors open to the deck – it’s the perfect place to relax and take in the view from inside or outside. 

Last but not least, do you have any tips for people interested in buying a midcentury house today? What should they pay attention to and why?

Try to find one that is in good condition and hasn’t been altered poorly.

Point Loma Casita

Photos by Darren Bradley