Thirteen years ago, when James Kottke and Curt Larson first saw the 1961 Ranch-style residence for sale in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, they knew it needed work. Its dated interior felt closed in and segmented, and almost all of the walls were covered in wallpaper or hand-painted murals.
“It was pretty raw,” admits Kottke, a Phoenix architect. “We counted seven different door surfaces and at least 17 wall colors. It took a while to see the great ‘bones’ of the house.”
Drawn to the low-pitched ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and pie shape layout of the property, they decided to purchase the home. “It took us two weeks to clean everything out and paint the interior before we could move in,” Kottke recalls. “But we loved the simple lines and the indoor/ outdoor living areas.”
It wasn’t until 2001, however, that the pair began the renovation. Busy with other projects, including remodeling four similar-style homes in the cul-de-sac where they live, Kottke and Larson discovered they had a knack of taking “tired old houses” and bringing them back to life. When the time was right to start work on their own property, Kottke sat down at his drafting table and began “opening the house up” with his sketches.
He made structural changes, including the removal of several interior walls and the addition of windows and pocket doors, which allowed light to spill into the house from all angles. With five courtyards and a lush backyard, views to the outdoor spaces were now unhampered. Kottke then enclosed the carport, turning it into a studio/ media room, added a home office and four-car garage, changed a storage room into a bathroom, and transformed the laundry room into a butler’s kitchen.
By the tome he was finished, Kottke had added 800 square feet to the 2,200-square-foot home, and integrated spaces so that there was a strong connection between the indoors and out. “I wanted the house to fell like it was 5,000 square feet,” explains the architect.