Architect: Ken Ungar
Firm: Ken Ungar Architect
When architect Ken Ungar, principal of his eponymous firm, took up the task of remodeling this traditional 1950s-era home in Pacific Palisades, California, it still bore many of the trademark architectural features of the period. The rooms were small, the layout was choppy and compartmentalized, and undersized windows and doors throughout made the interior feel disconnected from its beautiful Southern California environment.
Ungar’s first goal of the remodel was to undo its 50s-era shortcomings by opening the floor plan to allow for a more contemporary style of living. Because Southern California affords its residents the luxury of spending ample time outdoors year round, Ungar really wanted the remodel to maximize the connection between inside and out.
“We wanted to open it up, make it feel bigger, more voluminous, filled with more light, more air and peripheral distance,” Ungar said.
In Ungar’s view, opening a space isn’t just about knocking down non-load-bearing walls on the inside; it’s about opening the home to the outside, too. This is what he means by “peripheral distance.” By using large openings, huge expanses of glass and clean sightlines that allow the eyes to roam, Ungar is able to create an intimate connection to the surrounding environment. Even when you’re inside the home, you feel as though you’re outside.
“It is important that no matter where you are in the house that it offers views to the outdoors,” Ungar explained. “This pulls your eyes and your attention through the space and into the great beyond.”
Ungar’s use of large windows and doors throughout the home is also a clever way of making the space feel bigger without actually adding additional square footage. By using a lot of glass to subtly blur the line between inside and out, Ungar believes it makes a home feel more comfortable, too.
The most striking example of Ungar’s desire for indoor-outdoor connectivity is at the rear of the house where he installed two large Marvin Ultimate Multi-Slide doors. Where once there was a solid wall, now there’s mostly glass, which opens the home fully to the backyard. When the doors are open, it’s a completely immersive experience that awakens the senses. Even when you’re inside you can feel the warm Southern California breezes, carrying with them the pleasant scents of the surrounding native flora.
“When the Multi-Slide is fully open, it feels like you are outside or inside in whichever space you happen to be in,” Ungar said.
It’s almost as if the home has been turned inside out, interior and exterior transformed into one continuous space. When the doors are closed, the effect is hardly any less stunning, with a full wall of glass pulling the eyes to the outside.
“I was very impressed with the way we were able to design the size of the opening of the Marvin Multi-Slide to whatever size we needed,” Ungar said. “Marvin was adaptable to our needs.”
Another reason Ungar specified the Marvin Multi-Slide was for its exterior aluminum cladding, an option many other manufacturers do not offer. The homeowners can rest easy knowing the door will look beautiful and perform flawlessly for years and years to come.
In a project driven by narrowly defined criteria with little room for compromise, finding the perfect multi-slide door for the space was certainly no easy task. Not only did the door have to meet Ungar’s standards for aesthetics, adaptability to his design, craftsmanship, price and service, but it also had to satisfy his client’s wish for low maintenance. In the end, only the Marvin Multi-Slide Scenic Door proved capable of meeting all these needs.