Completed in 1952, a year before the influential “Design in Scandinavia” exhibition, the Bendit House offers an interesting glimpse of mid-century design on the cusp of taking off in America. Situated just outside Houston, Texas, in the neighbourhood of Ayrshire (a subdivision in the Houston suburb of Breswood Place), and originally built for the Bendit family by Lars Bang, the house still displays some strikingly individual detailing.
As a result of the Bendit family being out of the country during construction, as well as the considerable faith they had already invested in Bang by making him both architect and contractor, Bang was given considerable licence to indulge his then burgeoning interest in modernist design.
With the mid-century style only just gaining a foothold in the mainstream consciousness, many of the details were formulated by Bang himself, such as the choice of furniture, the exposed brick (saturated with silicone sealer), and features like the sliding doors (notably hung from the ceiling rather than the floor tracks, unlike the standardised versions that would soon become so popular).
The pictures reproduced here were captured following the house’s renovation by Houston-based firm Curry Boudreaux Architects. They depict a house that still oscillates between classic mid-century style and something a little more individual
As with a typical mid-century house, from the moment you enter, there is an immediate cue to the outdoors again, with greenery springing up through a pebbled floor, surrounded by windows and a skylight above. Likewise, kitchen, lounge and dining room are all joined together in a single open plan layout.
Yet in a slight deviation from the usual brick partition, the wall that separates the small lobby area from the open plan kitchen/lounge/dining room doubles as a continuous wall of kitchen cupboards and appliances. There is also an altogether slightly harder functionality to the detailing, seen in the kitchen work surface and the clean angles of the metal window frames.
Even so, this distinctly economical use of the space is one of the more obvious qualities that make this a characteristically mid-century design.
Another obvious hallmark is the stone flooring throughout the house and the abundant use of wood from the cupboard doors to the breakfast bar and the dining table, complimenting the rest of the furniture in its warm, light brown tone.
Furthermore, the entire main room is bathed in light from the rear of the house, with big windows lining the partition between the open plan area and the back garden, so that the owners can gaze out into a pleasant natural scene.
The lounge is made up of a tasteful medley of different, yet decidedly modernist furniture and furnishings, a couple of seats in which to kick back and recline flanked by a sofa to seat a bigger party of people, all finished in a soft brown colour scheme.
Whether midcentury, or pre-mid-century, it’s a pleasure to behold.