Charles Quinn and Scott Hanning have lived in and renovated three houses in the past 10 years, each with a distinct architectural style, and an interior to match.
When they purchased their 1955-built Pismo Beach home in December 2012, they saw it as an opportunity to indulge their affection for midcentury modern design.
Quinn, who headed up the remodel, is an architect, designer and owner of CW Quinn Home in San Luis Obispo, an interior design firm that specializes in kitchens, bathrooms, cabinetry and tile. Hanning is vice president of internal communications at Heritage Oaks Bank. Together, they remodeled and redesigned the home with a cool 1960s vibe, using resources that ranged from high-end designers to secondhand shops.
According to Quinn, the 1,250-square foot, single-level house was in “really bad shape” and suffered from an awkward floor plan. The couple opted not to gut the house, however. “I like preserving and rehabbing what’s there,” said Quinn. “It’s an old building with architectural significance.”
A few of the rooms only required cosmetic updates. For instance, the guest bath’s lime green tile was so unusual, they couldn’t part with it. They simply repainted the cabinets a crisp white and added new terrazzo flooring and shower tile. They refinished the original red oak flooring. The dining room, originally clad in dingy vinyl, received a new oak floor to match.
The original kitchen was very small and awkwardly laid out. “So we did the contemporary thing and made a more open plan,” said Quinn. They moved the kitchen to a space previously inhabited by two bedrooms, raised the ceiling, and opened it up to the living room to give it access to ocean views. “It is now a great space to entertain in,” said Quinn. The kitchen isn’t huge, but it is smartly laid out and stylishly contemporary. White Caesarstone countertops and white upper cabinets offer strong contrast to the lower cabinets that are dark stained Alder. Daltile on the backsplash is serene and water-like.
The living room received two big style boosts. Its fireplace, formerly red brick covered in white tile, is now clad in simple yet textural stacked stone quartz. Bamboo flooring planks, purchased from Home Depot, add richness and character to the ceiling. Quinn did the work himself. As one who never met a wall he didn’t yearn to embellish, he saved scrap wood to jazz up a portion of the master bedroom walls. “Bamboo scratches on floors, but is great for walls and ceilings,” he noted.
What is now the master bedroom was an illegal addition that the couple originally planned to demolish. More research revealed that $2,000 worth of structural improvements would allow them to permit the room, boosting square footage by 300 and adding back bedroom space taken away by the kitchen remodel.
A devotee of matching décor with architecture, Quinn went deep into the mid-century aesthetic. The backdrop for his design is wallpaper — which is both retro and very of-the-moment. Never shy about color or pattern, he chose bold wallpapers by Graham & Brown. A metallic bubble motif in the dining room complements the retro light fixture. The blue office wallpaper has a three-dimensional quality that is reminiscent of rippling water. The bedroom is a groovy retro pattern called “trippy orange.” Quinn later spied the same orange wallpaper on the sets of several period television shows, including the 1960s-era series, “Mad Men.” “It was subliminal,” he said. “I guess I’m drawn to it because it reminds me of my childhood.”
Quinn looks far and wide for his materials. He likes to “cherry pick” Home Depot for unexpected finds, he said. He sourced the bigbox hardware retailer for his kitchen pendant lights that cost $79 each. Wall vases, affixed to a fence outside the kitchen slider and planted with succulents, were ordered from Crate & Barrel.
Quinn also likes shopping at thrift stores, consignment stores and on eBay, especially for adding to his collection of 1950s ceramics and glassware. He frequents San Luis Consignment locally, which is where he picked up a 1950s lazy Susan centerpiece for his dining room table, as well as a 1960s French painting. His 1950s Haywood Whitfield dining set was an eBay find.
The couple is not averse to the occasional high-end buy. They have a Noguchi coffee table and Eileen Gray side tables in the living room. There are also several pieces of furniture that Quinn designed and built himself, including a blood wood sideboard in the living room that has zebra wood accents.
With this home finished, Quinn is eyeing his next project, which he says could be anything from another mid-century modern home to a Victorian. “I do like mid-century modern, but what I really like is good design,” he said.