Midcentury Modernism in the Thick of Wildlife: The Woodland House

The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio

Nestled in the thick of five wooded acres of land, the Woodland House provides Graphic Designer Andrew Merritt, wife Abbey, son and two dogs the much valued peace and quiet from the hustle of the rest of the world.

After spending time in Baltimore, the young couple wished to return to the Midwest and start a family, suddenly finding themselves building a nest in a beautiful, well-maintained midcentury house.

Little by little the couple have been revising and refreshing bits of their dream home. Future plans include breathing some new life into the stunning wood that defines the Woodland House.

The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -
The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -
The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -
The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -

First of all, could you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you come to live in your house and what drew you to the mid-century style?

My Name is Andrew Merritt, I am a Graphic Designer who has spent the majority of his career working in house at various fortune 500 companies across the Midwest and East Coast. My wife Abbey, is the mother of our boy, Bodhi and works in HR. She is trained in Interior Design and Psychology. We have two dogs, Edison and Gizmo.

What do you think was so special about this period in American design?

Before we purchased our home, we were living in Baltimore, Maryland. Upon moving there we almost instantly started missing our family back in the Midwest and we knew that someday soon, we would want to start a family of our own. 

A year passed and thus began the search for our nest. We looked at Pittsburgh first, but couldn’t find anything that we liked. Most of the property was pretty run of the mill.

Just for laughs we decided to look at Abbey’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio and the first search that popped up yielded our now Woodland House. Being both from design backgrounds we knew we wanted to live in a modern and unique home that stood out from all others but we surely didn’t expect to find our gem of a house. 

What do you know about the architect who designed your house?

I really love this period in American design where things broke the mold of traditional design and architecture. The clean lines, geometric / organic shapes, simplicity, lack of embellishment, colors and patterns that we see in MCM.  

The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -  l
The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -
The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -
The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -

Have you had to renovate any part of the house? If so, which area(s)?

The house was originally designed for Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Spero by architects Damon, Worley and Samuels. The house won a Merit Award by Eastern Ohio Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for “The positive influence of superior architecture toward the welfare of our community.” 

The house features beautiful wooden panelled walls, exposed beams and plenty of other natural materials. How do these materials and the construction overall impact the way you live and experience the house? And what about maintenance?

When we purchased the home it was move in ready. All the bones of the home are intact but we have been steadily modernizing to our tastes. The previous two homeowners really kept the property in amazing condition. Some of the things we have done include removing really dated wallpaper and adding fresh paint, converting one of our bedrooms to a nursery, utilizing the amazing built-ins for my office. 

We hope to renovate the master bedroom and bath, our guest bathroom, kitchen and our guest room on the lower level.  We are also looking to redesign the landscape a bit as the deer tend to eat our plants and the dogs have forged their own paths though some of the plants in our yard!  

We haven’t had to condition the wood yet but we are going to do so to help bring some life into the wood.

The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -
The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -

What are the advantages/struggles of living in a mid-century house?

One of the advantages to having a MCM house is that you stand out from everyone else. For the most part, your home is as unique as you are.

One of the struggles that I have faced has been trying to get on the same page as my wife on design elements and furnishings. We are conflicted between keeping things mid century or modernizing them. So far we have a nice mix. 

What’s your favourite part of the house and why?

There are so many parts of the house that we love, the exposed wood, the large windows that allow plenty of natural light, but our favorite part is probably the seclusion we have from the rest of the world.

The woodland house is situated on 5 wooded acres of land. This makes us feel super secluded and disconnected from our sometimes busy lives. We get so much joy seeing the beautiful wildlife that inhabit the woods. Our dogs like protecting our land from those creatures too. 

It is such an amazing juxtaposition seeing our angular home in the middle of the woods. 

Last but not least, do you have any tips for people interested in buying a mid-century house today? What should they pay attention to and why?

Just look around, there are plenty out there. Each mid century house has its own character, find the one that speaks to you and don’t rush into anything until you find the one!

The Woodland House, Midcentury in Ohio -
Photos by Andrew Merritt