Edit ModuleShow Tags

From the Archives: San Diego Interior Design in 1949

A look back on a few of the oddball abodes that popped up in San Diego


Published:

 

Long before HGTV and Joanna Gaines mania, there was a sizable market for design content and shelter magazines. In fact, House Beautiful first published in 1896, The Craftsman in 1901, and Architectural Digest in 1920.

Still not a year old, San Diego Magazine published a home-themed issue in May 1949. Among the stories was “Homes That Aren’t Houses,” a roundup with line drawings of four unconventional homes, two of which are still standing today (the Encinitas boathouses and Valley Center’s Woreland Castle). The others were old streetcars halved and converted to homes, and Escondido’s 50-foot tepee, which high winds toppled in 1977.

In “This Modern Del Mar Home Brings the Outdoors Indoors,” a new house built on the hills above Del Mar is praised for its comforts and conveniences. The layout had fewer separating walls—what we now call an “open concept”—and, back then, it was quite the novelty. The living room, dining area, and entrance foyer “flow naturally into each other, the new leisure floor plan.” Walls of glass for the views, indoor planting beds, and a high-piled lime green rug gave it a modern look. What made it modern, too, was an all–stainless steel kitchen. Appliances included a built-in Thermador oven, electric stove, Hotpoint dishwasher, Philco deep freezer, and a G.E. refrigerator.

Over in Point Loma, however, one house was anything but new. In “We Bought a View,” writer Betty Zahn tells how she and husband Curtis purchased a 45-year-old “board and bat box house” in La Playa for $8,500. When the appraiser valued it at $200, they concluded that they’d spent $8,300 on a view of the harbor. The house itself had no gas, no lights, and only an outhouse. The first winter, the Zahns camped there with no heat and “lived like gophers. We don’t recommend this.”

The couple forked over an additional $200 for renovations. At a wrecking yard, they found large gas station windows for a dollar and installed them in their study. This allowed them to enjoy “solar heating”—not to be mistaken for solar panels. The Zahns “rowed out to an adjacent sand island” and brought home driftwood. They put old carpets on the walls for insulation, then hammered the driftwood over the carpet. Says Betty, “Now, when the phonograph is playing, you can hear a pin drop in the bedroom.” The beam in the middle of the living room is an old Navy ship’s mast that cost $1.45 at a surplus lumber yard, and it replaced a partition. For the Zahns, what started as a remodeling nightmare ended in smooth sailing.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Volunteer Diaries

Three locals describe their work and how it enriches lives in the San Diego community

From the Archives: San Diego's Real Estate Market in 1952

Even 60 some years ago, supply and demand drove the housing game

The SoCal (Social Calendar!)

From black-tie galas to costumed 5Ks, these events will keep your social calendar full—and you feeling good
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Where to Watch the Fireworks in San Diego this Independence Day
    Where to catch the fireworks displays in every corner of the county
  2. The Best of San Diego 2019
    Our annual compilation of everything delicious, cool, and Instagrammable in San Diego (and Baja!)
  3. The Best Veggie Burgers in San Diego
    The citywide hunt for the best plant-based burger found a clear winner
  4. What Will San Diego Look like in 2069?
    The City of San Diego is 250! Instead of looking back, we asked experts to predict how our city will look in 50 more years.
  5. The Best San Diego Happy Hours to Get You Through the Week
    All the best spots to take advantage of drink specials, cheap bites and more, from Pacific Beach to South Park
  6. First Look: Ciccia Osteria
    Husband-and-wife chefs take a break from high-end cuisine with a ‘little house’
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Wheelhouse Credit Union Reopens Downtown Branch

Completely remodeled branch brings a modern service experience to members

Kashi Cleans Up

Join the Solana Beach company and I Love a Clean San Diego for a beach cleanup July 13
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags