Midtown Makeover

A Ventura bungalow gets a soup-to-nuts renovation . . . and a sustainability upgrade, too.

By Mark Storer

Photo by T Christian Gapen

Adding a second story gave this ordinary suburban a whole new visage, while two outdoor decks up top provide a fresh perspective for the owners, too.


idtown Ventura’s residential look is a staid piece of coastal California’s design plan. The bungalow and bungalow-like small houses are icons along tree-lined streets where sea breezes carry fog across the neighborhoods.

But Richard Hauge and Ann Hewitt decided to create a different kind of icon with their Frances Street single-story by changing everything in a house with small rooms, creating open air and volume that wasn’t there before.

Hauge recently retired from the city of Ventura’s Environmental Health Division. Hewitt, who holds a degree in environmental psychology, still consults with businesses on issues relating to climate change and greenhouse gas verification. The home they wanted to create was about comfort and design, yes, but also about sustainability.

“Is there any room that wasn’t touched?” said Hewitt. “No, there wasn’t. Before the remodel, it was the average Midtown home. But I said, when we remodeled I wanted a bedroom that would hold a bed and a dresser, and we wanted a second bathroom.”

What they got was much more than that — but not in the way one might think.

That average Midtown home had a lot of good bones; all it needed was a bit of 21st-century efficiency and minimalist thinking on a maximum scale. David Ferrin, principal architect of Arketype Architects; Ronni Fryman, senior designer for Kitchen Places; and a host of other Ventura area designers and contractors came together to create a unique space on an ordinary street.

Ferrin pointed out all of the “what used to be” parts of the home as he walked through “what now is,” and the list was long. Two rooms expanded into one, portions of walls and roof reused, more windows. Thought went into the furniture as well. The result: a mid-century house that retained its mid-century character while improving efficiency and flow.

One major overhaul was the addition of a second story. Reclaimed timbers (from removed walls and the roof) have been sanded and oiled to create a beautiful stairway featuring glass guards, which make the space feel more open. The second floor is above only one-half of the house, and features two outdoor decks with enviable views across Ventura. One deck is attached to the family room, where Hauge and Hewitt spend evenings looking out at the neighborhood and, on occasion, talking to passers-by who want to know more about what they did to the house.

Downstairs, the flooring has been replaced with cork — inspired by the flooring on the back patio sunroom, which was part of the house when the couple moved in in the 1990s. “The flooring comes in 1-foot-by-2-foot sections and we laid them out diagonally to get a different pattern,” said Fryman. “It worked out well.” Cork flooring comes from the cork oak tree and is, according to both Fryman and Hewitt, a highly sustainable product.

“The spaces aren’t exceptionally large in this house,” said Ferrin “but they’re open — and that changes everything.” Ferrin even took one of the smaller bedrooms, which serves as Hewitt’s office, and extended a recessed window to give more ledge on the inside. “There’s a new stud wall on the outside, which allowed us to put more depth in the window space.”

There were indeed challenges that came with the small house. “But it had to be fun,” said Fryman. “We used fir wood for the kitchen cabinets, which have a nice mid-century look, and we kept the cabinets open at the top with frosted glass for windows to allow more light in.”

Hewitt picked out the bold colors in the kitchen. The lavender turns to pure purple, while the green highlights the adjacent walls. The cabinetry allowed for recessed spaces, and a simple galley kitchen became an open, engaging and highly functional cooking and tasting area with lots of counter space. Caesarstone, an engineered stone that uses quartz dust, adds what Fryman called another “mid-century terrazzo look.”

Following in the vein of the reclaimed timber stairs, the new roof for the second story is also of reclaimed timber, so the effect of something old being new again is complete.

The house does have two small heat-pump air conditioners and, usually, only the one on the bedroom side of the house is in use part of the year. There are also solar panels and, according to Hewitt, the panels provide all the energy the house needs. In addition, the walls are insulated with an environmentally friendly soft spray foam called Icynene.

Outside, a sliding glass door leads to a deck that looks out over the back garden. The wood on the deck is a Brazilian hardwood called ipe, also known as ironwood, which Ferrin says is sustainably harvested. Even the new windows are sustainable as they are not vinyl but Milgard Ultra, a fiberglass material. “It’s not toxic, much more environmentally friendly and not much more expensive than vinyl,” Ferrin explained.

Still, the main part of the renovation took less than a year. “We began last April,” said Hauge, “and finished in November.” The couple had to move out during most of that time, along with their bird, Hector, who survived the whole thing. The kitchen was done in 2013 and took about six weeks to do, while the landscaping was done last May.

Bit by bit, over time, the house began to take a shape that Hauge and Hewitt loved, maximizing minimums and minimizing maximums — not with some existing harmony, but picking up the fragment of a tune heard in the timbers of the house’s old construction — and rewriting it.

ARCHITECTURE: Arketype Architects, 805.653.5088,; Woody Boyce Builders, 805.453.6294
CABINETRY/COUNTERTOPS: Kitchen Places, 805.658.0440,
LIGHTING: Lights Beautiful, 805.643.0883,
PLUMBING: Tim Ott of Trak Plumbing, 805.443.6940;
Vic’s Plumbing, 805.643-4565,
TILE: Tile City and Stone, 805.388.8858,
CARPENTRY: David Furst, 805.850.2900,
WINDOWS/GLASS: Callenders Glass, 805.484.1989,
ROOF: Gardner Roofing, 805.901.5365,
DRYWALL/INSULATION: DJ Insulation and Drywall, 805.276.0889;
SoCal Spray Foam, 310.990.8676,
PLASTER: Tony’s Plastering, 805.604.4801,
ELECTRIC: Seaside Electric, 805.669.8658,
A/C: Air System Solutions, 805.647.8551,
EXTERIOR: Coastline Deck Coatings,805.988.1266,; Do-Rite Fabrication, 805.658.0852,;
The Door Outlet, 805.644-8501,
SOLAR: Brighten Solar, 805.708.3654,

Green and purple walls, bright red accents, a dazzling backsplash and funky cabinet fixtures: there’s nothing ordinary about this colorful, open kitchen. Photo by Stephen Schafer

“The spaces aren’t exceptionally large in this house, but they’re open,” said architect David Ferrin. Expanded rooms and extra windows improve flow and efficiency throughout the home.


The house’s mid-century roots are reflected in its furnishings, where a kidney bean table, Selig Z-inspired chair and vintage lighting give the second-story family room a 1960s mod feel.



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