The Holland/Goudzwaard Residence offers a brilliant example of modest modern design. Located in Pasadena, California, it was designed in 1958 by Calvin Straub of the firm Buff, Straub & Hensman.
Straub made a big impact on mid-century modern architecture at the time as both builder and educator. As one of the builders of the famous Case Study Houses, he distinguished himself in this illustrious field by his special concern for his modest, no-nonsense approach.
You can see this in the Holland/Goudzwaard Residence. Take the central living space. Everything is spaced really nicely in this room. The single slender supporting element, in the centre of the room is already quite inconspicuous, yet it is made even less impactful by having the sofa placed against it.
There is also just the right amount of furnishing, not too cluttered, yet not too cold and lifeless. Meanwhile walls of windows provide light from every direction, so the house is well lit throughout the day, and the furniture quietly arranges itself around the fireplace.
This fireplace deserves further description. In its harsh, minimalism, it seems to take its cues from the constructivist style, with the bricks arranged into three chunky rectangle blocks, each directed in three different directions, really simple yet solid and eye-catching all the same.
There is some really fine mid-century modern furniture in this space as well. Most notable are the set of original Eames Lounge Chairs sat facing away from the garden window. Meanwhile, just in shot, you can see that the dining table is surrounded by a set of Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chairs.
Yet despite the clear continuity with mid-century modern it’s clear to see that the house has been spruced up to ensure it sustains itself as a useful abode for the future. This is most obvious in the bathroom. Here, stone tiles line the floors and continue up the walls, creating a seamless and decidedly serene space. It’s a touch that feels right out of contemporary home design repertoire.
The landscaping, too, is much more verdant than we have come to expect from a more avowedly mid-century design. It featured greener that is managed, but rough and unpredictable nonetheless, as well as really in keeping with the wider environment.
These “sensitive updates,” as the listing description makes a point of highlighting, were carried out by architectural designer Bob Moore. Moore was personally recommended to the house by Don Hensman, Straub’s partner in the Buff, Straub & Hensman. He’s done a really solid job.
Photo by Mark Haddawy