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70's And 80's Contemporaries?


Scott08

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What's the general feeling here of 70's and 80's vintage "contemporary" houses. You know the type, they're all over in neighborhoods of that age, much like moderns in 50's and 60's areas. The pro's are there are lots of them in many areas all over town; they have some of the likeable features of mod like lots of glass, interesting interior spaces, and quite affordable at this point. Negatives I see are no real "pedigree," kind of the bastard stepchild of MCM; dated and possibly shoddy building materials/methods of the era. Not really looking at that angle right now, at this point my preferred choices are building a new modern or finding a MCM I can afford, but I just wondered if this style of house is universally abhorred here or grudgingly loved.

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I had not really embraced them that much myself, but after going through several in Fondren Southwest, which is loaded with them, there are some really nice ones. Unlike more traditional houses of the era they tend to have high ceilings, more open floorplans, and a lot more glass. You often see people removing walls, such as between a formal living room and den, in more traditional designs, but the need just isn't there in the more open contemporary lay outs.

For a long time mid-century moderns were considered "dated" and you still see Realtors sort of apologizing for their architecture by calling them "soft contemporaries." Now they are prized within a certain audience, but there are still a lot of people who think they are ugly. Contemporaries will probably find a growing audience as well.

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"What's the general feeling here of 70's and 80's vintage "contemporary" houses. The pro's are there are lots of them in many areas all over town; they have some of the likable features of mod like lots of glass, interesting interior spaces, and quite affordable at this point."

The affordable factor is a real plus. the second plus -- and this may be the most significant -- is that you could potentially live in the home from date of purchase -- unlike a 50+ year old home with "differed maintenance".

Negatives I see are no real "pedigree," kind of the bastard stepchild of MCM; dated and possibly shoddy building materials/methods of the era.

Dated components? Certainly. Possible shoddy building materials/methods? Certainly. Both aspects however are not tied exclusively to the time in which the home was built. Poor material choice, failure of systemic elements; shoddy workmanship are also a part of Post War Modern homes. I've stated it previously here: Spec homes -- even architect designed homes -- are subject to the same issues as homes built today.

"Not really looking at that angle right now, at this point my preferred choices are building a new modern or finding a MCM I can afford... "

Building a new home (regardless of style) is unusually more expensive than an extensive remodel -- depending on various aspects of course. The 70's option, is a valid home buyer option for one seeking the feel of a Post War Modern while potentially minimizing the costs.

Of course, all of this depends on how deep your pocketbook is.

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I agree that most '70s and '80s houses are depressing -- but a tiny percentage are gorgeous and well-made, and they seem underpriced relative to equally gorgeous houses from other eras. A few months ago, RPS showed me two that got under my skin.

I seriously considered buying a Sea Ranch knock-off in Meadowcreek, just outside the Loop on the East Side. It had been glopped up, but had good bones -- and the great lot that the nature-loving style really needs. (I'm a sucker for bayou frontage, especially when it's not even in the 100-year flood plain.) Lots of sliding glass doors that led to the park-like back yard.

I also had to work hard to talk myself out of a very different '70s house: An enormous foreclosed swankienda in Northfield, the Lubovitcher neighborhood in Fondren Southwest. That house was all '70s glam, but without kitsch. There was a sunken "conversation-pit" living room with a 2-story ceiling, the stone fireplace in front of two-story windows. The materials -- loads of stone and wood -- were top-notch, as were the original fixtures. Even the garage had a beamed, finished ceiling.

If I'd had enough cash to deal with the house's problems (mold, leaky flat roof, HVAC), I'd have jumped on it.

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The first house in your thread still looked very MCM for a '70's house. Many of the houses I have found on HAR also have atriums or courtyards at the entry which provide a great space for lots of glass without losing privacy.

Scott, the last house in that link is my 1978 Ranch style with Contemporary ceilings and atrium. Master bedroom also has same ceilings and a master bath w/Roman tub and his and hers "walk-in" closets on either side of the bath. VERY CHIC! ;) Huge living/family room with fireplace brick from floor to rafters, and you can see the formal dining through the atrium, so I can watch the TV while we eat, very 80's. :lol:

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The Burdette Keeland Townhome (Mod of the Month in November) was somewhat in this style. So was the first homes we looked at, the Townhomes at the corner of Fountainview and San Felipe.

From living here though, I admire the less steep slope of my own roof to these.

But I think if it had a cool atrium in the middle and/or a lot of (esp. indirect) light and glass I could work with it. I've been pretty deeply brainwashed into the 50s to early 60s by now though.

Jason

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I had a 1981 'California Contemporary' with the angled walls. Lots of shiny brass colored spotlights everywhere. No conversation pit or beams, though. The biggest tell of the period, to me, are the kitchens. Mine was barely an 8 by 8 box. Even in the custom built, much larger contemporaries in my old neighborhood, the kitchens were tiny. Back then people did coke instead of cook dinner, I guess. And looked a themsleves a lot in the many mirrors. Mirrors were everywhere.

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If we're talking Miami Vice-esque 80's contemporary, Memorial is the hot-spot. There is one in Sherwood Forest, and another neat the Memorial/San Felipe fork. There are also some cool Arquitectonica-designed houses hither and yon in Montrose and Camp Logan.

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  • 7 years later...

Ok, I'm bringing this thread back. My wife and I just bought one of these in Bear Creek. I've been seeing it called Shed Roof style and occasionally California Contemporary. I"m going with Shed Roof. Who else has one? I want to make this into kind of a resource topic for anyone looking for inspiration or history. 

Here's our house. No, it's not my picture, but in true real estate fashion, it's deceptive as hell. 

hr3621801-1.jpg

 

Our house, along with most of the houses in Bear Creek and the stretch along Briar Forest between Kirkwood and Dairy Ashford, were built in the mid-1970's to the early 1980's by a company called Pace & Co. They also built a few custom ones in Hearthstone and built in Lakeside and Cimarron out in Katy. I have seen multiple versions of this same house, especially in the area along Briar Forest. One is at the corner of Briar Forest and Kirkwood, right behind the mini-mart. They've also done a great job of sort of mid-century modding it. (Lime green door with a dark blue/gray exterior paint job). Pace & Co. used two main designers: a company called Design Alliance that I know nothing about, and an architect named Rodney Stevens. Rodney now works for Frankel Building Group. I'm trying to find out exactly who designed our house. And not to yell at them. We love it. 

These houses were originally built with cedar shake roofs (ours was, at least), so they didn't really need soffits for ventilation, but those didn't last and many have been replaced with modern roofs. This adds weight and the beams inside the attic need to be re-enforced. I'm told that this isn't really that hard a thing to do, but it's the case with our house. A decent roofer can also make some vents in the attic(s) to get air going through there. That's also a problem with ours. 

 

Inspiration:

First, buy this book:

http://www.amazon.com/William-Turnbull-Jr-Buildings-Architectural/dp/0965114481/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439917100&sr=8-1&keywords=William+Turnbull

And study Sea Ranch. Charles Moore and William Turnbulls' early work set the tone for this style. Also look at Joseph Esherick, also from California. Locally, you'll want to look at William Cannady's early work before he went post modern, especially the Walker's Mark Townhomes. Charles Tapley and Irving Phillips also worked in this style, especially Tapley. The San Francisco firm Fischer Friedman designed several townhouse and condominium complexes for Hines in Houston, notably Ethan's Glen and Epernay. That firm has two books, but it's almost a different style, much more 1980's.

 

I've been reading this blog by a couple that's doing a renovation on a budget of a 70's contemporary:

https://thehouseonpennylane.wordpress.com

 

What else should be covered here?

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This thread is relevant to my interests. Bought a 70s ranch at the end of last year in Glenshire subdivision (a bit past Fondren SW). Mine is not a "shed roof" but there are a few in my subdiv like that. I really like the ones with the clerestory windows. I think ours was cedar shake roof originally too -- evidence would be purlins (not sure if this is the term. basically 1x4s running perpendicular to the rafters?) running across the rafters. I believe people in our neighborhood started retrofitting them with asphalt shingles starting in the 80s.

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The cedar shakes over skip sheathing were almost universal here because they ventilated very well.  Since they looked good, they were required by many neighborhoods' deed restrictions.  Unfortunately, they also burned very well - July 4 usually saw a number of creative ways to rig sprinklers on cedar roofs.  Eventually untreated shakes were banned in Houston, after the 1979 Woodway Square fire took out almost an entire apartment complex that stretched from San Felipe to Woodway.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFyFWK1EOsU

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Wei, a number of houses in Bear Creek have the clerestory windows. After walking the neighborhood at night, I've noticed that some of them still have original wood paneling on the ceilings too, which I wish I had. 

Any advice on how to paint a 20+ foot ceiling? Mine is definitely going to need scaffolding unless there's another way. 

Ben

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This thread is relevant to my interests. Bought a 70s ranch at the end of last year in Glenshire subdivision (a bit past Fondren SW). Mine is not a "shed roof" but there are a few in my subdiv like that. I really like the ones with the clerestory windows. I think ours was cedar shake roof originally too -- evidence would be purlins (not sure if this is the term. basically 1x4s running perpendicular to the rafters?) running across the rafters. I believe people in our neighborhood started retrofitting them with asphalt shingles starting in the 80s.

 

Hi neighbor!

 

I bought my house in Glenshire east last year also, but my grandparents were original owners here and lived here at the opposite end of my street until 2009.  Mine is a 1975 ranch.  The roofs were originally cedar shake from what I have been told and also seen in the deed restrictions.  Most were replaced in the 80's and by the early 90's.

Edited by technoevil
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Hi neighbor!

 

I bought my house in Glenshire east last year also, but my grandparents were original owners here and lived here at the opposite end of my street until 2009.  Mine is a 1975 ranch.  The roofs were originally cedar shake from what I have been told and also seen in the deed restrictions.  Most were replaced in the 80's and by the early 90's.

 

I'm in West! 

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  • 4 months later...

BenH,

 

How is the Bear Creek neighborhood these days?  My wife and I are searching for a 70's contemporary in Bear Creek, Hearthstone or Briar Forest/South of Briar Forest area in the next couple months, looking at about 6 homes this coming week.  Prices seem pretty affordable.  We just want a semi blank slate to renovate to our vision.  How do you feel about the neighborhood/area?  Schools?  Shopping etc.  Just looking for an insiders point of view.  Perhaps we will be neighbors soon.

 

Cheers

 

JB

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SirJB, Sorry I didn't see this post sooner. My wife and I are enjoying living in Bear Creek for the most part. It's pretty quiet, with the exception of the fireworks this past month. I live on one of the horseshoe streets, so we don't see a lot of traffic. There's a police station literally in the neighborhood, sheriff's department is also close. Not much in the way of fine dining, but that's not our thing anyway. There were two houses on our street (Herongate) for sale, but they've both gone option pending (you may have bought one for all I know). 

Ben

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Wei, a number of houses in Bear Creek have the clerestory windows. After walking the neighborhood at night, I've noticed that some of them still have original wood paneling on the ceilings too, which I wish I had. 

Any advice on how to paint a 20+ foot ceiling? Mine is definitely going to need scaffolding unless there's another way. 

Ben

 

Roller extensions and a long extension ladder leaning against the wall to cut the edges with a brush?   Doesn't sound like fun, but that's what I'd try.

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Roller extensions and a long extension ladder leaning against the wall to cut the edges with a brush?   Doesn't sound like fun, but that's what I'd try.

 

That's exactly what we did with our 22' walls and ceiling.  Wrap the ends of the ladder with rags so they don't scuff the walls.  Have plenty of dropcloth around, too.  It'll be a mess.

 

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