7 Ways Smart Design (and Architecture) Can Modernize Your Traditional Home
Our 2022 Idea House is full of innovative ideas to transform your home, from lighting to flooring.
There’s a difference between interior design and decoration. Just ask the team at Burdge Architects. The longtime Malibu architecture firm was recently tasked with the challenge of rebuilding a beloved family home that burned in a wildfire, and made sure they were there from the beginning. Before the striped sofas and modern art and guest room beds were brought in, architect Doug Burdge and his team started to game-plan how they would honor the home’s original style but improve on every facet, all within the fixed details that lay the foundation for great design, from tile and flooring to cabinets and countertops.
“Interior design is, in our opinion, an integral part of designing a home,” says Jeanette Tang, director of operations and interior design at Burdge Architects. “A good interior designer works alongside the architect and the homeowners from the early stages of the design process to make sure that the house not only looks like the client’s dream house, but also functions perfectly for them.”
The result is our 2022 Idea House, a four-bedroom, six-bath home that “isn’t too modern or too traditional. It’s a family home that’s made for entertaining and enjoying the beautiful Malibu climate,” says Burdge, who’s worked in Malibu for more than 30 years. “In many ways, it’s better and more resilient than the original home.” In a word, it’s transitional.
“Transitional design usually describes a modernization of a traditional design,” Tang explains. “You will still see elements of the traditional, but you also will see where this design has been modernized to function better for the client and the surrounding environment.”
In this case, Tang says, it most prominently comes into play with an open-concept first floor that transitions seamlessly to the outdoor entertaining spaces. Here, seven ways the Burdge team modernized not just the scale and layout but the finer details, too.
Choose Smarter Materials
The team erected a smarter home on the same lot that incorporated new materials like heat-resistant windows and metal roofing as well as flame-retardant siding, all designed with fire risk and a drier, changing climate in mind. And they modernized the formerly traditional layout and design by creating an open-concept “great room” that encompasses both the living and dining areas, complete with bi-folding doors to take full advantage of Malibu’s temperate weather year-round.
Optimize Natural Light
The home’s grandeur is in the details: Burdge’s team knew they wanted to create taller ceilings and doorways, and take advantage of the dual views from both the northwest and southwest. But because of the fire rebuild, they “were a little bit restricted,” Burdge explains. “The city codes were basically saying you could only build 10% larger than what the home was before. So, we worked within those parameters.”
Optimizing natural light without compromising the look and style of the home was the “most important part of the first stage of design,” Tang explains. The team added doors and windows “higher than the average 6 to 8 feet,” Tang says, so the vaulted ceilings and rooms “feel much higher than they actually are.”
When in Doubt, Go Bi-Fold
Sturdy bi-fold doors and windows from LaCantina became the perfect indoor-outdoor living solution. While aluminum windows and doors haven’t been as popular over the last few decades, Burdge says their thinner profiles allow for better views. “You maximize your opening to the outside,” Tang says of the bi-folding system. “Maximizing the indoor-outdoor relationship is a big plus for the interior design of a home. When the doors are open, you all of a sudden have a much bigger living area.”
Sync Your Flooring
That seamless transition continues in the white oak Northern Wide Plank floors, which were stained in a medium tone that’s consistent with the concrete deck. (Pro tip: Tang suggests clients select their exterior deck material first since durability can vary based on your home’s environment, be it frost or salty sea air.) “We always want to have the tone of the floor pick up on the tone of the outside, so when you do have an inside-outside room, you don’t go from one extreme contrast to the next,” Burdge says. “This tone then can transition to a concrete deck really easily because there’s a lot of gray tones in the concrete.”
The planks are about 8 to 10 inches; much wider than the classic 2 to 3. “Having the wider plank and then because they’re engineered flooring, you don’t have to worry about the cupping anymore,” Burdge says. “The actual wood that you see on top is then the species that you want.”
Reposition the Pool
“You have fantastic ocean views from both sides of this house,” Burdge says. So, the team repositioned the family’s swimming pool in a different location than their original plans, which slated it below the house. Now, it sits right outside the great room with a picturesque panorama of the Pacific Ocean. “You’re going to use it more,” Burdge recalls telling the homeowners.
Conceal Kitchen Appliances
A passthrough window adds the ultimate touch for summer soirees, connecting poolside revelers with friends and family in the kitchen, where the Burdge team modernized the look by designing traditional shaker cabinets in a wider style and hiding nearly all the appliances. The range, for example, is built within the center island with a downdraft, while panels cover the refrigerator, freezer, and more. “In a lot of cases, you would think, ‘We need a walk-in pantry and we need to have a butler’s pantry, and we need to have an area where you can actually stow away things,’” Burdge quips. “In this case, we didn’t have that luxury, so it’s all done with cabinetry. You have to make the cabinetry look like furniture.”
Build in Built-Ins
In the bedrooms, the Burdge team created closet space out of built-in cabinets and dressers that can be used as “the perfect drop area” when family members first enter a room, Tang says. “This makes the bedrooms feel bigger than they would with the more standard constructed closets with walls and either sliding or folding doors.”
Thanks to a partnership with Sunset, the home features state-of-the-art appliances; Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery faucets, bath fixtures, and lighting; Northern Wide Plank flooring; Benjamin Moore paint; LaCantina folding doors; Jeld-Wen windows and interior doors; decorative stone from Eldorado Stone; Emtek hardware; Schneider Electric switches, dimmers, and receptacles; Infratech outdoor heating units; and a Kindred Outdoor fire pit. To see the full reveal, visit sunset.com/ideahouse.