A Hopeless Fixer Becomes a Craftsman Dream in Hollywood

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Annette’s husband Gustavo was in Australia when the house across the street from their home hit the market. They loved the privacy of the lot—something their home at the time lacked—but the four-bedroom Craftsman was a fixer-upper if ever there was one. Photos dating from the time they bought their 2,300-square-foot home show a tarp on the roof over the living room, covering a hole that, Gustavo believes, was where someone was planning on putting in a patio but never quite got around to it. The chimney was crumbling. Everything needed to be replaced.

Annette and Gustavo had done big remodels on houses together before, so they were undaunted by the project even when others were less than supportive. Annette says that when she and her mother-in-law took a walk-through of the place, “She said, ‘Don’t you dare buy this house. You cannot buy this house,'” Annette recalls. The couple’s young daughter (now away at college) was also unsupportive; she loved the house they were in and didn’t want to move.

Despite the protestations of others, the couple made an offer, got the house, and then got to work.

The first thing they did was raise the house up to replace the all-brick foundation, an exceptionally pressing necessity as “The house was literally sinking into itself like a soufflé.” But when they had the house raised up to replace the foundation, “every wall snapped,” she says.

What Annette and Gustavo refer to as the “first phase” of renovations included additional massive undertakings like replacing all the plumbing and wiring and reroofing the entire residence. (They lived at Annette’s sister’s house while the work was being done.)

House Calls Hollywood Annette GustavoHouse Calls Hollywood Annette Gustavo

Phase two of renovations came about three years later, in 2005, when the pair redid the backyard, adding the pool and the surrounding hardscape. The outdoor space behind the house now has plenty of room for their three dogs, a covered patio, an outdoor shower with hot and cold water, and a fire pit nook paved with bricks from the house’s old, useless foundation. Everything in the backyard has a kind of curve or swirl to it, and that’s not an accident. “The house is so angular, our idea for the yard was for nothing to be angular,” Annette explains.

The third and final round of renovations was in 2008, and Annette refers to this phase of alterations as the “major” one. It involved ripping off the back of the house, remodeling the kitchen, enlarging the master bathroom, and adding the L-shaped porch off the master bedroom, from which there’s a nice view of the Hollywood sign.

This is the phase that also gave Gustavo a large kitchen with space for people to gather, his requirement for the house. In fact, in anticipation of having the giant kitchen of his dreams down the road, Gustavo bought a giant Wolf range and plopped it into their originally cramped kitchen. The new kitchen was built around the centerpiece of that stove.

Looking back, Annette admits she underestimated the whole project. “I was all cocky,” she says, but “it broke me.” That’s in the past, though. The fruit of all that labor is that now, Annette and Gustavo have a house that’s practically perfect for them. The only thing they they’d change about is that the driveway’s a little narrow, but they don’t seem in a hurry at all to get started on renovating that.

  • The dining room table is solid oak, and was a conference room table from when the house was previously housing for AFI students. The chairs at the heads of the table are vintage, but the chairs along the sides are from West Elm.
  • The cabinet doors here were remade using original pulls and new French glass, which mimics the waviness that old, blown glass has.
  • The orange chairs are made by Bend. The cushions were a later addition. Annette also has one of these chairs in her dining room.
  • The fire pit area on the left is paved with bricks that used to be the house’s failing foundation.
  • The house’s dual staircase leads into the front room of the house and into the dining room, depending on how one descends.
  • An upstairs bathroom. The tile is all newer, but chosen to look like a tile job from the 1940s or 1950s.
  • The master bathroom.
  • The porch outside the master bedroom overlooks the backyard and also has a view of the Hollywood sign in the distance.
  • The green loveseat is vintage, but the orange chairs are made by Fermob.

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