Using Sightlines to Multiply Home Space
Architect Ken Ungar summons the magic of peripheral distance in remodeling projects—magnifying residential space by extending a home’s interior sightlines to exterior environments.
The Westlake Village, Calif.-based residential architect has earned a 28-year reputation for design and remodeling excellence in high-end homes throughout western Los Angeles. His work regularly attracts big names in the fields of sports, entertainment and business, including LeBron James, Reese Witherspoon and Gordon Ramsey.
Central to Ungar’s design touch is the idea of peripheral distance, as exhibited in a 1950s era Pacific Palisades home he recently helped transform from a bleak, walled-off layout to a daylight-filled, picturesque residential showcase.
“We wanted to open it up, make it feel bigger, more voluminous, add a peripheral dimension,” he said.
Ungar’s design went far beyond knocking down non-load bearing walls. The idea of peripheral distance calls for the expansive use of glass so the eyes are free to roam “into the great beyond” from nearly any point in the home. In short, turn the house inside out.
To perform that feat, Ungar focused on blurring indoor/outdoor divisions at the rear of the home. For that, he specified a pair of Ultimate Multi-Slide Doors from the Marvin Signature Collection. Home remodeling contractor Frank Rodriguez of Navajo Contractors Inc. of Pomona, Calif. and his team were responsible for installing these large scenic doors.
“It was my second job installing these big sliders,” Rodriguez explains. “The doors were built just as we ordered them—absolutely no surprises. These were actually quite easy to install. Everything came with the kit and Marvin technical support is amazing.”
The scenic rear doors added the visual magic Ungar and the owner were looking for. “When the Multi-Slide is open, it feels like you are outside or inside in whichever space you happen to be in,” Ungar reports. Even when the doors are closed, the fabled California environment beckons and enchants.
Taking It Personally
Another distinguishing feature of Ungar’s practice is his intense hands-on approach with all projects. With a portfolio that numbers more than 200 homes, the architect personally handles all design specification with a seasoned, critical eye.
Why did he specify Marvin windows and doors for a key design component? “Marvin adapted to our needs,” answers Ungar. With Marvin, Ungar is able to specify mammoth, oversized glass doors as a standard stock item, saving budget dollars for other project needs.”
“I was very impressed with the way we were able to design the rear opening to our requirements. We didn’t have to budget for custom work.” Ungar also notes some big glass manufacturers don’t comply with energy efficiency requirements. “Marvin did and that was certainly an aspect in our decision.”
The aluminum shield ensures long life, good looks and minimal maintenance in spite of corrosive ocean air.
“It’s a one-story with unique design criteria,” Ungar observes. “I feel like we met the owner’s goals. The indoor/outdoor connection extends their space in a dramatic, natural way.”
This article originally appeared in Remodeling Magazine.