Two years ago, Pacifica residents Dave and Kathy Hall inherited a vintage patio home in Tustin, a city near the geographical center of Orange County. Kathy's mother was an original owner in a tract of modest houses built in 1968 in the Eichler style, under the brand name of Broadmoor Homes. The 40-year-old house came to them in pristine original condition, with furnishings mostly from the Fifties and Sixties. Kathy's mother had also saved all the tract sales brochures, floor plans, newspaper articles, and maps. Even the avocado-green electric Hotpoint Hallmark range was in mint condition.
The family contacted architecture author Alan Hess ("Forgotten Modern"), who lives in Irvine. He came over to see the house and urged them to keep the place, restore it carefully, and work for neighborhood preservation. "This is a great example of good architecture for the average person," he said.
They did just that, salvaging existing furnishings and doing most of the renovation work themselves. They painted, reworked landscaping, installed flooring, reupholstered furniture, decorated, and completed simple electrical and plumbing repairs with the help of online home improvement advice. The house is nearly finished and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Atomic Ranch Magazine, an internationally circulated publication for modern-home enthusiasts.
"We decided on a retro tropical decorating theme because it was casual and easy to pull off with a collection of furnishings from several decades," Kathy said. She consulted interior designer Judith Rand of Tustin, who has a talent for reworking decor using existing materials.
The resulting refurbished home is also the residence of son LTJG Mike Hall, who serves in the U.S. Navy and is based in San Diego. Mike grew up in Vallemar and graduated from Terra Nova High School in 2000. He shares the place with his brother Kevin, a student and Disneyland Jungle Cruise skipper.
Along the way, the family also got involved with the Broadmoor neighborhood association as well as a civic committee. They showed up for litter cleanup days and lobbied city leaders for measures that would help spark community revitalization. Today, the neighborhood shows signs of improvement as neglected properties change hands, with new owners arriving with a restoration mind-set. The community continues to draw interest from an online outreach page: MY SPACE
It follows that the current economic downturn and unpredictability of gasoline prices is benefiting older, centrally located communities such as Broadmoor. Home buyers are rediscovering houses that are affordable, close to public transportation, practical and energy-efficient. The 1500- to 1800-square-foot dwellings built in the 1960s appear spacious because midcentury houses were built without space-gobbling luxuries such as walk-in closets or massive jetted tubs. Interior atriums capture natural light and take advantage of a year-round comfortable climate. Broadmoor front yards are compact and demand little water or maintenance. The community is ethnically diverse and walkable to the Old Town district with its small shops, eateries, and several festivals. Broadmoor is also close to three farmer's markets as well as a network of county bike trails leading to the beach and numerous free outdoor recreation areas. Home prices hover below $400,000 and come with use of a private community pool and two parks. Neighborhood association dues are a modest $500 per year.
Two years after the decision to keep the house, the Halls are happy to see the positive direction of the community. There's no doubt that the original owner would be delighted. (K.H.)