My client and I were featured in this recent Express-News article about incorporating contemporary design during renovation of historic properties. The photo above is of 611 Mission St in King William. Juan has recently renovated it with a very contemporary kitchen and bathrooms. It is currently for sale. Visit my Facebook Business Page ( http://www.facebook.com/FrontPorchAgent ) or King William Realty’s website ( http://www.kingwmrealty.com ) for more information and photos.
By Jason Buch
From the joining of two unexpected, seemingly opposite mates, great pairings can happen. How about Sonny and Cher, bacon cupcakes or Labradoodles?
Well the home design world is adding another great, albeit unexpected pairing to the list: historic home shells with über-modern interiors.
The effect appeals to those who appreciate the charm of an older home in an established neighborhood, but who are also fans of the sleek, modern aesthetic popularized by such stores as Ikea.
Electrical engineer Juan M. Fernandez is one of the many who have started cleaning up the outside of the homes and sticking in ultra-modern interiors.
“I purchase them in fairly bad condition. However, I try to incorporate new trends in style and energy efficiency,” Fernandez said, “I try to consider them a brand new house with a shell that is historic.”
That means knocking out walls, redesigning kitchens and adding bathrooms and closets.
“I try to do it with a more contemporary, more European style in the inside,” he said. “Some of the houses look bigger than the actual size of the house because of the openness and the light.” Fernandez also adds insulation and puts in energy-efficient features like tankless water heaters, state-of-the-art climate control systems.
Since starting in 2005, Fernandez has focused largely on bungalow-style homes. He just completed his sixth, a 1,898-square-foot house built in the 1920s on Mission Street in Southtown, and No. 7 is under way.
The house on Mission Street, which is listed for $399,000, includes Scavolini Italian kitchen design, quartz countertops and a back deck with planters built into the modern benches.
“It looks very contemporary,” Fernandez said. “We built up a wall, and the microwave and the oven are recessed in the wall, so it’s at the same level with the countertop. And it looks really nice with the kitchen.”
Curtis Bowers, a real estate agent for King William Realty who represents Fernandez, said the contrast between old and new appeals to home buyers.
“I think the things that I see that buyers get the most excited about is the juxtaposition of the exterior historic look of the home, and then they walk in,” Bowers said. “They like to see sleek modern kitchens and updated bathrooms that have nice amenities. Walking into a perfectly restored home doesn’t necessarily have the wow factor that the contemporary interiors do.”
He sold a house earlier this year similar to the one on Mission Street.
“What sold this property was really this sleek, contemporary Ikea kitchen that just jumped out,” Bowers said. “It was something you wouldn’t really expect in a little 950-square-foot bungalow.”
San Antonio architect Jim Poteet has designed modern interiors for historic houses in the Southtown area. A house he designed on Guenther Street was featured last year in the home tour put on by the San Antonio chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
“Actually, those old houses lend themselves to a modern lifestyle, maybe slightly better than some Mid-century houses which are now quite popular,” Poteet said. “But those (Mid-century) houses, there’s almost no way to retrofit them with the closets and bathrooms people are looking for today without extensive additions. Those can be accommodated much better in sort of the room patterns you get in these historic houses.”
The trend isn’t limited to Southtown. Tom Tarrant has been remodeling rundown Craftsman-style homes in the neighborhoods along Broadway and giving them contemporary interiors.
Tarrant said he goes to great lengths to preserve the old exteriors of the homes, even when he builds additions, but gives them modern, open floor plans and master suites. “A remodel of this caliber for a homeowner would be enough to cause a divorce,” Tarrant said.
Since 2008, he’s remodeled a handful of homes in Mahncke Park, and currently is working on another on Post Avenue. Tarrant said he usually sells his homes for $175 per square foot.
The homes provide a high-class living option for people who want to live near downtown, said Debra Maltz, a real estate agent with Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty.
They appeal to “mature people that still want to be in the neighborhood setting and yet be close to where the action is,” Maltz said. “They want to be able to walk, and I guess they have the means to pursue living this way.”
Restoring the older homes and giving them ultra-modern interiors creates a unique product in a historic district, Poteet said.
“You really want the exterior to be a real credit to the neighborhood, but the interior really needs to express the personality and the likes of the owner,” he said.