100 Years in Only 10 Weeks

Tuscany-style homes in the Shady Canyon community in Irvine, Calif., might look like they’re 100 years old, but they opened less than six months ago. The secret to their aged appearance? Tumbled brick.

February 01, 2002

 

Tumbled brick gives this production home a custom-built appearance with the illusion of age.

Tuscany-style homes in the Shady Canyon community in Irvine, Calif., might look like they’re 100 years old, but they opened less than six months ago. The secret to their aged appearance? Tumbled brick.

Shady Canyon’s chief architect, David Ko of Robert Hidey Architects, says it was important for these homes to lend authenticity to the architectural style while fitting the personality of the community.

"The Tuscany style has oftentimes been done in such a way where it becomes stage-set, and we didn’t go that route," he says. "Shady Canyon is a custom home community, and these homes will be the only production homes in the midst, so there is a high expectation to perform at an aesthetic level to match the custom home detailing."

The tumbling process - which Ko perfected through intense library research and on-site study of Tuscan farmhouses and California buildings circa 1920s - took 10 weeks. The result was brick that looked as if it had undergone efflorescence, the process by which brick retains moisture, creating a white salt that forms a powdery glaze.

"Efflorescence gives brick a beautiful texture," Ko says. "That perspiration really takes 100 years to form, and we couldn’t get that instantly, so we tumbled the brick to get a weathered look, like the brick has been knocked off in the corners. It looks like it’s weathered by Mother Nature instead of by doing it by hammer."

The tumbling is completed with a "trade-secret sauce" chemical wash, partially customized by Celia Conover, the project’s exterior consultant. To bridge 1920s California and Tuscany, Conover had a palette of three brick choices of "soft terra cotta reds with almost a pink cast from the slurry.

"The brick has more of a rustic texture," Conover says. "The intent was that everything was harmonious and with the site, and also a setback to a more refined, early California."

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