San Diego Home/Garden Magazine (February 2018) – Home of the Year


Mission Hills, San Diego, CA


A Master's Work Restored: Turning back the clock on a historic home


Marley McCaughey


February 2018


Matthew Meier

A Master’s Work Restored: Turning back the clock on a historic home

The charm and character that Davidde Burkhart and Jim Mazzola associate with historic houses shines through in every lovingly refurbished detail of the home that they share with their twin boys.

Its Prairie-style origins are evident in strong horizontal lines emphasized by a low-pitched, hipped roof with wide enclosed eaves, decorative brackets and a prominent front porch.

Ione Stiegler, principal architect at IS Architecture, and her team led by senior project manager Joseph Reid, in collaboration with designers Kate Lindberg and Robert Wright of McCormick & Wright Interior Design, worked to restore the home to master architect Joel L. Brown’s original vision. “They were looking to preserve their home’s historic integrity while creating a light-filled, livable interior,” Ione says. “We restored the exterior façade to its 1916 design.”

Exterior renovations began with re-opening the front porch that had been enclosed. A historically accurate front door was commissioned, made from rift-sawn oak and based on the preexisting sidelights and other homes in the area, also by Brown.

Additionally, all of the original double-hung windows were restored, though a few had to be constructed anew to match original window locations.

The interior, which Ione says had undergone a series of renovations that resulted in a collection of small rooms with awkward transitions, received a more modern transformation.

The kitchen, now open to the dining and family rooms, also has a clear line of sight to the backyard. A custom blend of Carrara, Ming green and Thassos marble subway tiles dance amongst white Shaker-style cabinetry.

Dubbed the beverage center, a single wall houses a coffee system, refrigerator drawers, wine refrigerator, ice machine and a water bottle filling station. “We drink a lot of water and coffee,” Davidde says. “So we knew that the dispensers were something we really wanted. It’s wonderful having everything all in one place when I’m trying to get the kids out the door in the morning.”

A magnetic, glass whiteboard nearby functions like a family communication hub. “Davidde wanted a chalkboard to put her weekly menu and the kid’s chores on,” Kate says. “However, the glass is perfect because it has the usability of the chalkboard with none of the mess.”

Kate and Davidde spent many hours dreaming up an array of single-purpose drawers in the kitchen area. There is a specially vented toaster drawer, a cabinet for Tupperware with an upper drawer just for the lids, and a drawer with outlets built into it for charging electronics.

The family room’s wall of glass doors fold open to the backyard’s outdoor eating area, fire pit and spa. An ornate chandelier dominates the dining area. Kate chose the glass mosaic fixture because its shape mimics that of the home’s original lights, which were refurbished and kept in their original locations in the living room and entryway.

In the living room, boxed beams and crown molding replaced rustic beams that didn’t sync with the home’s Prairie style. Ione added a granite fireplace surround and built-in cabinetry and rehabilitated the wood flooring. “The 1930s remodel tarnished the original design,” she explains. “During our early inspections, scar marks on the floor were discovered, indicating the presence of walls that would have separated the living room from the entry hall. We brought this separation back through paneled low walls with columns.”

The adjacent powder room offers a stark contrast to the rest of  the light and bright downstairs spaces. “Davidde wanted something dramatic and different in this room,” Kate says. “The black-and-gray marble basketweave tiling on the floor inspired the room’s overall color palette. It’s rich and dark without being oppressive.”

The abundance of marble in the powder room continues in the master and guest bathrooms upstairs in a nod to the popularity of the material at the time the house was built. The master bath utilizes different sizes of Carrara marble as well as subway tiles with beveled edges to create various looks and textures. And heated floors warm toes on chilly mornings.

His-and-hers cabinets, separated by a reupholstered Chippendale sofa from a boarding school Davidde’s mother attended, provide ample space for stowing personal effects, including felt-lined jewelry storage for her.

Davidde and Jim requested a workspace in the master suite, which Ione achieved with the same low-wall dividers she employed in the living room. At the rear of the workspace, French doors offer illumination and lead to a porch where Davidde and Jim enjoy their morning coffee.

For practical purposes, the laundry room, hidden with sliding doors, is located upstairs across from the master suite.

The home is now connected to the garage – which was completely demolished and re-built slightly forward on the property – and accessed by way of a bridge through the second-story guest room. Its upper level serves as a game room (where Jim does his puzzles and the boys play their videogames), and the floor below is a workshop.

The two-year project culminated in a home that preserves the past while embracing the future. It achieved historic designation as the Joel L. Brown Spec. House No. 2 last September, cementing the home’s revived façade in stone for years to come.


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Above: The large living room window that faces the street was moved to its current location by Ione’s team after they discovered that it had been relocated to the back of the house in a renovation during the ‘60s.

Facing page: A skylight was added above the winding staircase to help create the light-filled interior that Davidde and Jim rquested [sic]. All of the gleaming wooden flooring in the home, and the light fixtures in the entry hall and living room, are originals that were refurbished during the renovation.

Pg. 39 (Quote)

“A beautiful old home, brought back to life without compromising the integrity – the original designer would be pleased.” – Bruce Peeling

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Above: “We knew that [the homeowners] had a few pieces of furniture that they were very passionate about including,” Kate says, referring to the settee upholstered in deep green and a sewing machine table that belonged to Jim’s mother. “So we worked all of the other furnishings around those and refurbished and reupholstered what we needed to.”

Left: An intricate chandelier presides of a custom dining table with a self-storing leaf feature. As in the kitchen, there is a subtle 2-inch height difference in the area above the table to provide distinction and help delineate the space while keeping it clean, Ione says.

Facing page, clockwise from top: Era-appropriate white Shaker cabinetry is interspaced with a playful subway tile backsplash throughout the kitchen. × A magnetic, glass writing board is used by the family for daily communications and listing Davidde’s menu for the week. × Top-of-the-line appliances are sprinkled throughout the kitchen, including two dishwashers.

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(In photo) The backyard provides ample space for twins Zach and Owen to frolic, a requirement Davidde and Jim had when they were house hunting. The family frequently eats dinner outdoors and then ends the night around the fire pit or in the spa.

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Though the home’s original dumbwaiter unfortunately had to be removed during the renovation, Jim loved it so much that Kate asked Anna Hamann of Radiant Custom Lighting to turn parts of it into an unusual light fixture for his garage workshop.

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Clockwise from top: Davidde and Jim requested an office space in their master suite. Ione accomplished this by utilizing the same low-wall dividers she used in the living room. × The master bathroom is lined with beveled-edge subway tiles, which match those on the mirrors and light fixtures, creating a cohesive space with a touch of glamour. × A nightstand with perfect dimensions fits snuggly between the bed and low-walled divider.

Pg. 45

Above: Kate and Robert created a dramatic powder room off the living room at Davidde’s request. The black-and-grey basketweave tiling on the floor inspired the color palette.

Left: The bathroom within the second-story guest bedroom features a mirror surrounded by intricate pinwheel tiling in multiple layers, a design that Davidde fell in love with when she saw it in a tile manufacturer’s design book.