This delightful home sits in a small patch of woods two blocks away from the University of North Carolina Campus in Chapel Hill. Completed in 1955, it was designed for the Julian family by notable mid-century architect George Matsumoto.
The first thing you’re likely to admire about this original mid-century home is the abundance of wood panelling and other woodwork running throughout the house. This begins with the exterior, which features thinly-spaced vertical wood panels, stained in a rich red polish.
As you enter the home, the thin panels make way for wider panelling, stained in a lighter brown polish. These panels run throughout the interior, and provide more than enough texture on their own, meaning that other decoration is allowed to be kept to a bare minimum.
As such, this panelling is accompanied by some really nice, simple Danish modern cabinetry. The television in the living room sits atop a quintessentially Danish modern cabinet, polished to precisely match the wood panel wall which it sits in front of. There’s also a coffee table in the middle of the room, and a table beside the sofa, both beautiful in their straightforward simplicity.
True to Matsumoto’s own heritage, there’s a clear Japanese quality to this mid-century modern house. You can see this in the fluid division of interior space, and the fact that the ornamentation follows rather than hides the structure.
But more obviously, several of the walls feature the same translucent paper, with polished wooden frame, which is such a mainstay of Japanese design. Generally, this combination of white-painted walls broken up by wooden structural elements—featured across both interior and exterior—is an unmistakeable signifier of Japanese influence.
One last point, the choice of having the home situated on a hillside allows for a lower level which is concealed from initial view. This has the really pleasing effect of preserving the continuity of the upper level, giving it the sense of being a single, clean rectangular box. It’s something we noticed in another house covered recently, Philip Johnson’s Booth House.
In both cases, it’s a really brilliant means of achieving the twin aims or formal purity and spaciousness, aims which are always so crucial to the best mid-century design.
Photos via Facebook Page “For The Love Of Old Houses”