Ready to start building the Palm Project

So, demo has just about finished.

The three brick walls that remain in the following photo will be part of the new house, they will not be torn down.


Some good news, some of the existing footings are adequate to support the new construction. So we do not have to dig them all up and pour new ones in their place. This saves money and time. The opening that one can see at the back of the house will become a new wall with a very large sliding glass door that opens from what will be the kitchen/dining/family room area onto the backyard patio (indoor-outdoor living).

Palm Project Begins...

De Bilt has started work on our Palm Project.

This is a comprehensive remodel of a single family home in El Segundo, CA.

The original house was built in 1947 by a WWII vet. It had been in the same family until we purchased it this year. There is a main house of roughly 1000 sq ft and a guest house built over the garage out back, which measures roughly 900 sq ft. We will just paint the guest house as it is in good shape. But the main structure will be completely overhauled. A second story will be added to bring the total square footage for the project to almost 3000 sq ft.

curb view.jpg

The photo shows the home as it was when purchased. What was not obvious to us until we got close is that all the walls are brick. This is a brick house, and in California this is extremely rare due to earthquake concerns. Many of the interior walls are also brick, though some were wood framing. The foundation is slab-on-grade which is good in this region as it allows the earth to help cool the home (we are in a predominantly cooling climate zone, which means we need to cool our homes more than heat them).

Because the brick walls cannot be guaranteed to support a second story, we are literally building a two-story wood frame home inside the existing brick outer walls. The second story will "pop-out" a bit so that the home looks consistent and as one integrated piece.

The style of the new home will be "Modern Farmhouse". The roof will be standing seam powder coated steel. De Bilt prefers this type of roof since it lasts 50 years, is fully recyclable, and it rejects most of the energy from the sun, helping to keep the house cool. We also like the look of a metal roof. Here is a photo which shows the "general style" of what the Palm Project will look like:

The Palm Project will have a large porch extending across the front. I nice place to sit and watch children come and go from the elementary school up the street. The home will be white in color with black window trim, just as shown above. There will be four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Each bedroom will have an en-suite bathroom with tub or shower. There will also be a powder room on the first floor, along with a laundry room. Upstairs will be a master suite with large walk-in closet, and one guest bedroom with bathroom. The guest house will have 2 bedrooms and one-half bath, making a total of 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms for the property.

Here are architectural elevation drawings for the Palm Project:

We used a local architect from town - "Saga Architecture". We prefer to use local trades whenever possible. Both to keep our money local, and because it is more efficient.



At De Bilt we have strong beliefs in what design is, and what it should do for people. Design should make a person "feel" a certain way. And this feeling is formed via the human senses of sight, sound, and touch, probably in that order. How a house makes one feel will always be impacted mostly through the eyes. Your eyes communicate to you the space that surrounds you. Is the space big, small, confined, expansive, cozy, cold etc. And as you walk through a space, your vision transmits the "flow" of the home, which is terribly important. If the front door opens directly into a big warehouse-like room, with the entry, living room, family room, and kitchen all completely open to each other, your brain will have one sense of flow. However, if the front door opens to a cozy entry space, which then leads to a living room, with views of the office, dining room and backyard just peaking into view, then the mind forms a different sense of flow. You would be eager to explore and find out more.

The human sense of hearing is too often overlooked in both architecture and design. Yet it is such an important sense that it's impact on the mind as to how a space feels should absolutely be considered. Should a home sound like a recording studio, with all extraneous audio reflections being damped out? Or should a home sound like the inside of a cathedral, where a clap of the hands will linger for many seconds? In truth neither answer is 100% correct. However, acoustic qualities leaning more towards soft and damped will usually be interpreted positively. Unfortunately, many of the materials which are fashionable in architecture and design lead to a hard and reflective acoustic space. Glass, metal, tile, these do not damp out or diffuse sounds waves, they just reflect them. This can make a house feel hectic and far from relaxing.

Then there is our sense of touch. And touch is a funny thing, in that it is intimately tied through the human experience to both sight and sound. One can look at a swath of velvet and know how it will feel, soft and luxurious. And of course once we touch it that premonition is borne out. Similarly, walking into a room with tufted padded walls, one would immediately feel a sense of softness. Though it would be transmitted though our hearing, without having to run a hand across any surface.

A beautiful space with high visual impact, but how would it "feel" when inside? Warm and cozy?  Or reflective and hard?

Ultimately at De Bilt we focus on balance. Achieving the correct proportions of extremes of the three senses. In this way people can literally be transported by their homes. You come home from a busy day at work after sitting in traffic and just a few minutes after entering your home, you have forgotten everything and are just living in the now. That is a very special feeling.