CASE STUDIES: PSYCHITECTURE’S Feature on Couples in Remodels
ARCHITECT’S FAMILY HOME IS A MICHIGAN MIDCENTURY MODERN GEM ASKING
Designed by Michigan architect Clifford Wright
MICHIGAN ROOTS AND SHOOTING FOR THE STARS IN LOS ANGELES: Husband and Wife Duo Eric McCasline and Tanya Oskanian on what it takes to not get through one but two remodels successfully. Marriage in tact and stronger with two killer remodeled homes (with lovely daughter and newborn son) to show for it and a one of a kind, Clifford Wright designed late mid-century modern recently just put on the market.
Rachel Melvald’s feature article in DWELL, details how Rachel’s niche serves to be a problem-solver for couples in remodels and negotiating real estate/design decisions with the architectural team. “After seeing a couple divorce after pouring cement for their foundation which was all too symbolic, I searched for interventions to mitigate the stressors on a couple and family in rebuild.” This newsletter feature highlights variables contributing to a “successful remodel” in terms of relationship skills and dynamics making or breaking the build. Rachel features Eric and Tanya as exemplary in how they navigate the financial and design stressors of a remodel with 2 case studies of a California Ranch home situated in the Sherman Oaks Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles and their just recently remodeled mid-century designed home just now for sale in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Eric McCasline and Tanya Oskanian
On a sunny but brisk Los Angeles day, Rachel sits down to interview Eric and Tanya at an outdoor cafe in the new Pacific Palisades Village while their 5 year old daughter Ella is on a playdate and newborn son William sleeps in his stroller blissfully. Seeking to find out how this couple proved to be resilient during two stunning remodels while growing their family, we start with the first renovation:
California Ranch – Sherman Oaks Hills neighborhood
Sherman Oaks Hills Home
Sherman Oaks Hills Home
Rachel: What compelled you to buy in the Sherman Oaks Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles and describe the house when first purchased and what type of remodels you made on the home.
Well the short answer was that we needed more room with a growing family – but it was also an opportunity to see what we could do design wise to make a bigger and better family living space. Tanya was skeptical at first, the home we chose was a 1958 California ranch home, it really looked like the Ponderosa, dark interiors, shag carpeting, looming fireplace and ceilings that were wallpapered giving you vertigo. We gutted it – doing major kitchen modifications, the bathrooms, opening it up with indoor/outdoor french doors. We never went into any of our home purchases for “flipping” sake but more to find potential for a great family home we could see ourselves living in while growing the home in equity is a bonus.
This was the second house we ever bought and feel we really put our stamp on it. The house was rustic! To give you an example of the disaster the house was when we got it, my dad walked into the big bedroom and he said “Is this the garage?”. We ended up turning what he imagined as the garage into the guest bedroom and extra bathroom overlooking the pool.
Rachel: How are your design styles the same or different?
Eric: They are pretty different, Tanya’s is the original Axel Vervoordt style Restoration Hardware and I’m more Eamesy spare mid-century. But we always agree you have to respect the original home. You are never going to succeed in turning a California Ranch into a case-study home. Bring light and interest to the bones that are already there. Sometimes that means taking down a wall or rearranging the flow but for us it doesn’t mean grafting on something totally incongruous. We’ve tried to project how we are going to live in a house and design for that. You get a weird feeling sometimes when you walk into a home that was flipped without thinking of how people live. I always liked the home Mike D in Malibu – originally a big ranch but totally transformed into a light and bright space for the way his family lives.
Rachel: So how do you negotiate these differing design preferences?
Tanya (smiling): We negotiate. Too modern is boring to me, I like clean but homey. I would love to live in a Nancy Meyers movie.
Eric: For the Sheridge house, the biggest thing was to bring the thing into the 21st century. And for us that is all about adding light and focus on how we lived. By adding the french doors to the outside we oriented towards the outside and the pool and as a result we ate and swam and did half of our living outside. All of the specific surfacy design questions like what kind of floor, brass or polished nickel, tile selection are a fun part of it but mostly we think and talk about how we will live in the house.
Rachel: What is each of your design processes when you go into remodel?
Eric: Massive google sheets, haha. I pull in a ton of reference – it is kind of like prepping for a commercial or film shoot. I then build each room one at a time and show it to Tanya who gives the final yay or nay and mostly she gives a yay.
Tanya: I give the yay because I trust him. I trust Eric’s design preferences. Eric takes more initiative on design and will obsess. He will find interesting hardware get plumbing on ebay, order a mantel from iowa,whatever. I have little patience for that. I am results oriented (laughing).
Clifford Wright Midcentury Modern Home-Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Rachel: So moving on to the Bloomfield Hills Clifford Wright home you recently did a major renovation on, how did that purchase happen?
Eric: Tanya’s mom who is a fantastic real estate agent was so enthusiastic when she found it and made me go see it right away. She loved the bones of the house and it’s a Clifford Wright late midcentury-modern so an architectural gem. Coming from a California Ranch the scale, details and design kind of blew us away.
Tanya: It was a huge space but still felt like a HOME in a storybook neighborhood- ponds and geese and deer – where you would want to raise a family. A Frank Lloyd Wright house is right down the street as you can see here. It’s just idyllic. In Los Angeles, you make it work and get creative with space and less footage. In Michigan, the lifestyle was already built in to this home.
Rachel: So different from Los Angeles in terms of the large scale and sounded like this was a no-brainer home purchase. How did you go about the remodel process?
Tanya: We took it down to the studs, ripped out wood paneling, left architectural screens that were laser cut, kept the lights in the foyer, Terrazzo flooring in the entry wall, still has a 6 car heated garage, lake privileges and room to store your boat in the winter.
Rachel: Did you both have the same team approach to the Michigan remodel as from the Sherman Oaks Hills house?
Tanya: Again, I don’t have the patience for the details that Eric enjoys. Eric does lots of research for all design choices and spends a lot of time and sensitivity to the interiors. Most fun for me is moving in with everything ready! Call me when the new bathroom vanity is installed (haha). Eric likes ordering/opening the box. This very much speaks to our personalities.
Rachel: Yes from what I can glean from the photoshoot, with this architectural gem, Eric procured every design detail with specificity to respect the integrity of the architecture while giving it even more of a luxurious and sleek appeal. He designs from his heart and sources impeccably.
What would you say is the major difference in a west coast vs. a midwest remodel?
Eric: I remember telling a friend in Michigan well we will put a huge door here and then in the summer we can go in and out and he was like, ‘what about the bugs, they will swarm inside.’ And it is true. So you kind of have to scratch that. In Michigan, you’re living indoors for a big part of the year. You would love to nest in this house in the winter, downstairs entertainment room, gym and adapts to the winter. We were there in the start of the fall and everyone is water skiing jamming it out then snow. So you end up designing again around how you live. And we had to learn that you live slightly different in Michigan.
Rachel: Finally, from both rebuilds speak to how you partner was in the design process.
Tanya: He’s the creative and I’m the producer. It kind of hearkens back to our film production days. Naturally a good partnership- I don’t have the patience, I’ll find a faucet and be done. Eric is meticulous in that he will touch it, feel it, think about it for days. Eric doesn’t settle for good enough artistically. As a producer I am looking more at the budget. Eric is thinking how we will live and that is our life story which is represented in both these houses.
Rachel: Speaking of budget, we all know how stressful a remodel can be budget-wise, how did you and Eric navigate the rebuild financially?
Eric (laughing): We were way off. The Michigan house was progressively more ambitious because it was our third house we bought- second big remodel. We learned a lot going from the Sherman Oaks house of 2800 to 6500 square feet. This is a 4 bedroom, 7 bathroom massive project and yes we went above budget. We invested $200,000 in Sherman Oaks and almost $500,000 on Michigan house, doubling the original budget.
Tanya: I’m definitely more conservative on the budget but in the end I’ll say yes to Eric’s design ideas because in the long run I’m never dissatisfied with his choices and I’m always happy with the end result. I feel we are a good checks and balances to not sacrifice finances or design.
Ella, 5, performs a show called the Peanut Butter Jelly time.
Rachel: Speaking of designing for a family, how did you incorporate 2 children with a recent newborn into your design plan?
Eric: Designing for yourself and your kids is so gratifying, projecting yourself into the house not as a flipper, put your love and self into the home. We name the rooms, like, this is Ella’s room, this is William’s bathroom, and so on, and think of them as we are making design choices.
Rachel: I know the entertainment business quickly brought you both back to LA again so whoever buys this architectural gem and dream family home with the love you both put into it will be the lucky ones.
FEATURED STORY REMODEL LISTING
5150 Winlane Drive, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Seldom does a masterpiece like this become available by renowned mid-century modern architect Clifford Wright. Job transfer brought this California family to Bloomfield Hills where they found their dream home. Extensively renovated in 2018/2019 only to be transferred back to California, creating an exceptional opportunity for a new buyer. 6,000+ sq. ft. Expansive, sweeping and dramatic foyer with high ceilings opens to large family room/and living room with wall to wall windows. Newly installed stone/fireplace and bookshelves. Neff kitchen with abundance of storage, Quartz counter-tops, top of the line appliances, Wolf 48″ range/oven, 2 dishwashers, Sub-Zero duet. 6 car heated garage, minutes from downtown Birmingham. Innovative and flexible floor plan. Detailed brochure available at request. Bloomfield Hills Schools. Fabulous lot 1.22 acres and a very desirable location surrounded by multi-million dollar homes. Access to Gilbert Lake. Full house generator.