From Margaret Everton on February 18, 2010 in San Diego
When Tom Felkner moved into a massive structure that was nearly 90 years old, he decided to throw a party. There were just a few minor issues with hosting a party. The toilet in the main bathroom was being held together with paper clips. There was carbon monoxide lurking in the homes crawlspace. The yard looked like Area 51. The home lacked furniture. Oh, and it was ugly. Really ugly. Tom threw the party anyway, but this was a party with a group of elitist inviteespeople like the mayor of San Diego and eminent members of historical societies, county board members, city human relations commissions and other such big kahunas. Tom was willing to showcase his 90-year-old monument to demonstrate what he could do with an ancient treasure. Once the party was over and the confetti had been cleaned up, Tom Felkner and Bob Lehman, the owners, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The home was spacious, classical, and oddly not at home in its sunny San Diego spot on Bankers Hill. Yet the place was in dire need of being caught up to speed with the 21st century. Restoration architects were summoned and the challenge began. One of the challenges is one that perennially plagues lovers of the old who live in times of the new: how do you make a home historically believable, yet modernly comfortable? They made compromiseskeeping the breathtaking crown molding, plaster ceilings, and period frames and trim, but at the same time opening up the closing-in-on-you feel of the old-style architecture. Careful additions were another part of the renovation process. The owners wanted more than the single-car garage that came with the home. So, architects and contractors brainstormed on how to add a major section to a house, while still preserving its ancient elegance. They made several changes, including adding a new house-length foyer and new guest suite. The additions cohere with the look of the house marvelously. Curb appeal was important, too. And that had to do with eliminating the Area 51 look, and adding some green. Big planters and fresh grassy spaces accomplished this purpose wonderfully. The history is in the details as much as its in the structure. The restorationists added marble countertops, subway-tile backsplash and an apron sink in the kitchen. A brick walkway and attractive gables provide a fitting finish to a structure that fits a modern lifestyle, while restoring vintage glory at the same time.