The Midcentury Treasure that was Listed for Teardown

Kling Midcentury Renovation

The Kling Midcentury Renovation of the Smith Residence took a classic midcentury home and restored both the interior and exterior and made it accessible for the 21st century.

The residence was originally designed in 1959 by Vincent G. Kling, one of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s most notable architects. His attention to craftsmanship and detailing for a project was characterized by stewardship, balance, and refinement.

Kling Midcentury Renovation

It was extremely important to both the homeowner and to the architect, kYODERdesign, to maintain the home’s architectural integrity, respect the livability of the original design, and to ensure functionality for life today.

All enhancements were designed to complement the original architecture with any changes taking great care to ensure the preservation of Kling’s original plan for the home.

The restoration needed to account for the changes that have accompanied living in the 21st century, with modern amenities, whilst upholding the midcentury aesthetics. The end result was a spectacular mesh of old and new.

Kling was better known for his commercial and industrial projects, so much so that the Smith Residence was a “lost” example of Kling’s residential work. In fact, when it was put on the market for sale in 2013, the house was marketed as a potential teardown.

Thankfully, the current homeowner recognized its potential and enlisted an architect to take a look at the property. Both agreed that the home should indeed be saved.

The house needed a lot of help and was showing its age. Interior renovations included a new kitchen, powder room, master bath, and children’s baths on the main level, and a family room, laundry, and utility room in the basement. Significant water damage in the roof structure required ceilings and the central clerestory to be replaced.

The fireplace surround was damaged from years of smoke and was completely redesigned. The white marble chip ballasted roof and original metal drip edge was restored, in line with Kling’s original drawings.

The lack of rain gutters was challenging. Water could enter the crawlspace and basement during heavy downpours but adding gutters would have meant changing the roof’s overhang, disrupting the clean lines. This was solved by an underground drainage pipe system set along the dripline. The existing stone splash blocks were used together with a band of river rocks to hide the pipes from view and divert rainwater.

The renovation stayed true to the original architecture. The exterior wood was refinished, and wood floors were sanded down and stained to complement the woodwork.  Kling’s original connection between the indoors and outdoors was reintroduced. Aluminium ribbon windows and sliding doors were replaced as per the original configurations. The outdated kitchen was replaced and opened it up to the family room while maintaining its exposed stone wall.

The master bath was transformed to provide storage space and a large shower. The bath integrates an original clerestory, soaring ceiling, and stone wall while tile and vanity wood reference original finishes.

The home’s exterior and landscape walls were also conserved. Original wall sconces were maintained and new recessed downlighting added to enhance them.

No attention to detail was spared in this restoration, with even the original grouting replicated. What results is a beautiful example of a midcentury restoration and modern craftsmanship. Luckily the homeowner not only recognized the home’s potential but also chose an architect that so thoughtfully stayed true to the original design concepts.  

Kling Midcentury Renovation
Photos by Jeffrey Totaro