"The urge to remodel is stronger than the sex drive" – Gene Leedy (1928–2018), American architect, describing 'improvements' made to his mid-century modern houses.
• Up to what point is a substantially altered house still modern(ist)?
• Can the modifications be reversed?
• If so, with how much effort and cost?
These questions often arise when deciding if I should accept a property into my database of regional modernist houses.
Point in case: the Brill house in Hollywood, Florida, designed in 1959 by Chuck Reed FAIA (1926-2022), who worked mostly in and around Hollywood.
Reed's houses in their original form are strictly modern, relatively compact and never flashy.
The Brill house, which I last visited 2013, has been modified heavily, moving it away from its intended design. That includes its main feature, a semi-open pool – Chuck explained once how he loved the rain dripping into the pool through the net-covered skylight, which is now closed off:
#1: The pool. Note: closed-off ceiling openings and French doors with grilles (the glass divider thingies)
#2: Site/floor-plan. Note the compact arrangement of four functions around the pool
#3: The SW elevation, on the left the now-enclosed carport
#4: The former carport
#5: The dining area and kitchen. Note the choice of cabinetry as well as the mosaic tile
#6: Master bedroom, cabinets on left are original. Like a lot MCM homes, the lack of an attic necessitates split-unit air conditioners
#8: One the bathrooms. Note the style of tiles and the added w/d cabinet.
#9: View from the pool into the kitchen. Note different floors between pool deck and inside area
#10: Pool photo, ca. 1959
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"When is an altered Modern Home still Modern?" by Tobias Kaiser, CC BY-NC-ND - photos by BeachesMLS
Tobias Kaiser works as an independent real estate broker and consultant in Florida since 1990. Always putting his clients' interest first, he specialises in modern Florida homes and architecture, as well as net leased investments.