As fresh homeowners of this original 1958 midcentury gem, Designer Jessica Hansen of Tandem Design Interiors and her husband Kevin Jones took on a massive project. Its sellers the original owners, The Franklin Street Residence had never undergone renovations.
The home was in dire need of freshening up, and so figuring out how to fashion modern functionality while maintaining the authenticity of the original midcentury design was essential. Adjustments were made to fit the needs of the family, plus a light hued color palette and the connection of spaces did wonders in lightening up the home.
Can you tell us a bit about the story of this house/project and its owners?
I was the owner of this house! My husband Kevin and I bought it together. It had been on the market for awhile, had come on and been taken off again a couple of times. It had a staragne layout with an atrium connecting a large room with a fireplace in the back, which I think confused people.
We ended up getting a great deal on it because other potential buyers couldn’t understand how they would actually live in the space. The home also hadn’t been touched! The sellers were the original owners, they had never renovated so there were fun things like green shag carpeting around the toilets… its was a big job for someone to take on.
What was the first question you asked yourself when you got the assignment?
How can we live in this house? I knew I needed to connect the kitchen to the rest of the home, open it all up, bring the atrium inside and have it be the hub of activity. Somewhere the family could spend the majority of our time together.
We also had to add a bathroom, and a lot of modern functionality. So figuring out where that could happen, and how to maximize the layout were the biggest questions.
What was your approach for the project?
Keeping the authenticity of the midcentury design was essential to me. Its rare to find an untouched midcentury home that hasn’t been updated at all. So often you see these homes having been renovated in the 80s with the original character been removed.
In Franklin the stonework, the paneling it was all still there and it knew it needed to be saved. Of course there was essential updating that needed to happen as well. I wanted to create light, airy open spaces. so we went with a pale color pallet: white washed floors, subtle cabinetry – all of these choices also allowed our furniture and art to really pop.
Which is your favourite/most important feature of this house and why?
The floors. We did solid wide plank white oak with a lye finish. Because we have kids we had to put a clear coat over top of them to insure durability. There’s no beveled edges, they were finished on site and they create this consistent warm feeling that flows through the house.
Wood is widely present in this house. From the wall panels to the furniture it seems to be a recurring choice. Can you tell us what’s behind this choice?
I love the warmth wood brings to a space in general. And I’m not afraid to mix different shades of woods either. From the warmth of teak, the richness of walnut, the calm white wash floor to the original wood paneling, all of those different textures give the space character.
Have you found any inspiration in the mid-century period while designing the house?
I’ve been inspired by the midcentury period for along time. I loved how the home had an indoor outdoor feel, with large windows opening up to the backyard. This is a characteristic of Mid Century California homes that I embraced wholeheartedly.
The Modernist and midcentury aesthetic still inspire many contemporary architects, why do you think this is the case?
I think that the midcentury modern movement was such a departure from what was happening before.
There’s a simplicity to it thanks to the open spaces and the connection to the outside. Instead of the house looking inward like in Colonial or Edwardardian builds. Mid Century brings the outside in and changes the way we live truly in a home. Which I think people still embrace today.
Why do you think it’s important to continue producing houses/buildings that conform to modernist design principles?
I think it’s actually more important to preserve already built mid century homes, restore them and keep the original character instead of tearing them down. That’s much more important than building new “midcentury like” spaces. My focus is on keeping the original character in homes, and making them work for modern families.