This Successful Classic Contemporary Renovation Proves That No Great Home is Unsalvageable

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classic contemporary
Stephen Reed Photography

We are all still reeling over the demise of the Dal-Tile house and asking ourselves how and why. Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned that iconic home was allowed to disintegrate internally to such an extent it was largely unsalvageable.

To allow a house to get to this point is irresponsible and ignorant. It also does not mean you have to tear it down, in my opinion. That’s why I’m so pleased about this classic contemporary home in Russwood Acres. It’s an immense success story. 

classic contemporary

It’s an assumption when you have a cool house, you get it, and you do the right thing. Unfortunately, we know that’s not always true. Still, this classic contemporary has made it through five decades and managed to finally be returned to its streamlined and truly stylish roots instead of being torn down. 

classic contemporary
Solara Doors installed the updated entry doors.
The front entry prior to renovation.

It was not a direct route, by any means.

Oddly enough, despite the apparent architectural style, the house was described in a 1963 listing as a custom Mediterranean in the “styling of the Italian Riviera.”

I’m going to chalk this up to a Realtor that never traveled or read an architecture book.  The only Mediterranean thing about this home was the interior.

Who knows what happened here. Maybe it was a builder and a client at design odds with one another, but the interior certainly did not reflect the exterior. And I suspect once it had a Tuscan flair that ensuing owners took it to extremes.

classic contemporary

Awkward is the word that comes to mind.  But the bones are the bones, and they are great. Despite the odd combo, the house has always been hip. Just take a look at the original pool. How often have you seen a design like that? Never. 

Award-winning, legendary landscape architect Naud Burnett, known for designing the original Electronic Data Systems campus, was the genius behind the pool and original landscaping. Over the years, when this home has been for sale, it’s been listed with the following descriptors: “dramatic,” “spectacular,” “your own resort,” “and a honey of a home!” 

So, you see, there was always an understanding that this was a unique house.

The Tuscan living room of the 1980s.

Thankfully, the right people were drawn to this home.

They understood those great bones and were determined to return this classic contemporary to the style it should have had all along.

The owners enlisted the aid of Cummings & Associates Architects.

“We kept the original footprint, took it apart, and put it back together,” owner Ed Cummings said.” “The owners were clear about how they wanted to use space, color, and lighting.”

Arches and columns and rails, oh my!

“What we saw when we walked into the property for the first time was not a completely original house, but a renovation,” Cummings said.  “As we took it apart to put it back together, it was clear there had been some additions. Tuscan arches, columns, and a metal hand railing wrapped one side of the sunken living room separating the elevated area. There was just a small entry. We removed the Tuscan arches and went to steel columns, added steps, and opened up the entire area.”

classic contemporary
classic contemporaary
A floating beamed ceiling casts interesting patterns on the walls when the sun streams in.
The Tuscan-inspired dining room before renovation.
classic contemporary

Cummings moved several window locations and increased the openings of existing windows to let in a lot of light. For instance, the dining room window is the largest one Marvin Windows manufactures.

The fireplaces were kept in the same locations, but every surface was touched. All of the sheetrock came out to insulate the house properly, and ceilings were raised and changed. The house is now 5,595 square feet, with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a powder bath.

“The lines are very clean now,” Cummings said. “The house feels very peaceful and serene.”

classic contemporary
The home had a fairly typical 1980s kitchen prior to the renovation.
classic contemporary
classic contemporary
classic contemporary
Cummings told me the home has the largest shoe closet he’s ever built!
Doors to the sitting area were removed and the opening enlarged to take advantage of the garden views.
classic contemporary
classic contemporary
Talk about inspiration for a bathroom remodel. This is one to copy!

The .72 acre lot with tons of mature trees was the original attraction for the owners. That shows you it’s always a smart investment to hire a great landscaper because the landscape bones also remain.

Bennett’s original pool was resurfaced, and a water feature was added. Bonick Landscaping came in to revitalize the grounds, adding decks and new vegetation. There is also a side yard with a professionally built playground.

classic contemporary
classic contemporary

So when you tell me a house is not salvageable, I say nonsense. Sure, It’s a matter of money, but it’s also a matter of intelligence, education, and above all, desire.  

Dave Perry-Miller listing agent Daniel Marshall has this classic contemporary at  5022 Pebblebrook Drive, listed for $2.845 million.


Karen Eubank

Karen is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years and a professional writer for over 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying for his masters at The New England Conservatory of Music. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap.

Reader Interactions


  1. Julia K says

    Such an amazing transformation. I love the floating beamed ceiling in the dining room, gorgeous. I’m sickened to hear about the Dal-Tile house, I went on a home tour that included the Dal-Tile house, it was stunning.

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