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Sherman Oaks: they added a lofty, ferny trellis just out the back door, an outdoor room and a startling new look.

The back door doesn't have to be a dead end. These two remodels show how homeowners overcame problems of space, siting, overheating, and just plain anonymity by turning the backs of their houses into outdoor rooms.

The misfortune of a due-south orientaion in Southern California's often-hot San Fernando Valley prompted the first solution: a lofty house-wide shade lanai.

Tight space in a boxy bungalow that was closed off to its back yard, and wasted space in its decrepit garage, occasioned the transformation shown on the facing page: a bold statement with Pompeiian overtones. Making over a Sherman Oaks tract house--for $15,000

Architect Bouje Bernkopf of Woodland Hills faced a challenge familiar to anyone remodeling tract houses: to alter a badly sited, unimaginatively designed house so it would be much more pleasant to live in and more energy-efficient. His clients, a young family, had $15,000 to spend, including a complete interior remodeling. Though dark, the house had serious sun-control problems. This raised the question: how do you get more sunlight without getting more heat?

Extending the roof to cover the south-facing patio (along with superinsulating the ceiling and south wall) was the answer. The new roof was designed to shade the house wall in the hot months of springs, summer, and fall--so the wall could be opened up with a bank of glass doors.

Sloping 1-by-2s over pairs of 2-by-6s form the structural covering. Above the 1-by-2s, fiberglass roofing sandwiches light-diffusing reed screening. There's mutual benefit here: the fiberglass holds and protects the reed screening, while the reeds disguise the fiberglass.

Bernkopf's detailing works well with the tropical touches that were retained from the original yard--a small grove of Canary Island date palms, California fan palms, and the light-colored pool.

Cascades of asparagus fern (A. sprengeri) now trail from an overhead planter, watered by a timer-controlled drip system. As the photograph at lower center shows, low-voltage accent lighting is built into the planter box.

Light brown stain covers the trelis structure and the horizontally applied siding. In Santa Cruz, borrowing a design solution from antiquity

Nancy Hammond's Mediterranean-style 1920s tract house in Santa Cruz also suffered from familiar problems: a tiny, dark kitchen and a small bedroom at the back were isolated from the back yard by an abrupt, characterless back door and stoop.

Her immediate needs were a bigger kitchen and an extra bedroom and bath. Oakland architects David Weingarten and Lucia Howard of Ace Architects planned these into the 500-square-foot addition. They oriented both main rooms to the garden by opening them to a new atrium and porch, patterned after outdoor galleries traditional in Pompeiian villas.

The small, skylight-covered atrium lies between kitchen, bedroom, and porch. It opens to the driveway on the south. Running half the width of the house, it functions as a kind of outdoor hall.

"We treated the entire addition as a garden house," say the architects. "We wrapped dark green latticework over the neutral gray of the exterior walls, so that the addition resembles part of some exotic gazebo." They're referring to the grid of 2-by-2s that was nailed to the plywood-covered walls; bougainvillea will eventually spread over much of it, producing even more of a garden feeling.

The porch roof, supported by 4-by-6 posts, 4-by-12 beams, and 2-by-8 joists, rises 30 inches above the house's flat roof and connects with the top of the wrap-around parapet walls. This difference in roof levels allowed high cutouts in the east-facing porch wall, admitting morning sun under the porch roof.
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Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1984
Words:586
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