Text by Hoke Ley Architects
Nestled in a wooded, urban lot, in Lawrence, Kansas, this authentic midcentury modern home underwent an extensive renovation to modernize the surfaces and systems while preserving the charm and essence of the original structure. Constructed in 1957, the 1,260 SF single-owner home had not been updated in its 60-year lifespan and was in serious disrepair.
Purchased sight-unseen as the personal home for an architect with a significant Danish Modern collection, the painstaking restoration by Hoke Ley Architects included total replacement of the roofs, carport, and HVAC system, partial replacement and repair of the siding, and tuckpointing the brick fireplace and exterior wall.
Period-specific interior surfaces were preserved and refinished, where possible, or respectfully and beautifully upgraded where not. The kitchen, previously hidden behind a partition wall, was opened to the living spaces and nature beyond. Honored by the local preservation society, the home now serves as a defining structure for Midcentury modern architecture in its region.
Purchased in 2016, the existing home had “good bones” but had deferred maintenance. The MEP systems had not been updated since the original construction. The home had flooded previously due to a frozen pipe and the roof was in disrepair. It sat vacant for several years. The new owner, moving from the Seattle area, fell in love with the home’s potential and purchased the home sight unseen.
Preserving the essence of the original home, minimal changes were made to the floor plan. The partition wall at the kitchen was removed to connect it to the rest of the living area. A much needed second bathroom and laundry room were added in the location of an existing entry closet.
Renovating the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems proved very challenging. The owner wanted to preserve as much of the existing wall paneling as possible, so a complete gut was not an option.
New wiring was installed in the existing light trough which acts a spine or central nervous system for the home. Wiring was fished through the existing hollow roof beams down through the columns, enabling the owner to update the entire electrical system without removing the paneling.
The existing under slab mechanical ducts were damaged during the plumbing upgrades so a new, high efficiency, VRF system was installed using concealed cassettes. The cassettes were located in the ceilings of the closets and bedroom hallway.
Once a dark and uninviting space, the kitchen was completely reconfigured, walls were removed to make way for an open island connecting the kitchen to the living room.
Custom walnut cabinets, quartzite and steel countertops, and Louis Poulsen pendant lights feel modern
yet authentic. New LED strip lights were installed on the original center light trough highlighting the original, beautifully aged cedar ceiling Integrated Bocci outlets blend seamlessly into the backsplashes creating a clean and uncluttered aesthetic.
Louvered screens below all the exterior windows with tilt in panels have been completely restored and provide a unique method for ventilating the house.
Acting as a gallery space, the hallway connecting the main living areas to the bedrooms is filled with the owner’s art collection. Curated with pieces from the owner’s travels and grandmother’s
collection, the often-overlooked space creates a sense of pause and recollection.
The primary bedroom showcases restored wood paneling and ceilings with authentic George Nelson wall sconces. Custom white oak shelving was installed in the secondary bedroom to hold the
owner’s large collection of MCM Salt and Pepper shakers.
The exterior materials were painstakingly restored to their original condition. The brick needed extensive
cleaning and tuckpointing. The chimney had suffered numerous shoddy repairs and was completely rebuilt above the roofline. It was then topped with a custom, time period appropriate, chimney shroud.
A new roof system with integrated gutters and custom downspouts was installed over the main home, covered entry porch, and carport. New cedar fascia was installed and all the wood trim was hand scraped, filled and painted. The existing window configurations and detailing were preserved but are being upgraded as needed with double pane glazing.
The home serves as a backdrop to display the owner’s collection of midcentury modern art and artifacts. Due to the extensive windows and limited wall space, display opportunities are limited and had to be creatively integrated into the architecture of the home.
Photos by Nate Sheets Photography