Coming of Age

A Midcentury Modern in the 21st Century

By Kimberly Field | Photography by Andrew Pogue

 

A generation or two ago, the cool kids of the Baby Boom were growing up in sleek midcentury modern homes. Particularly suited to the West, these low-slung homes exuded sophisticated international design flair and an organic feel. On the New Frontier, you could still be hip and have kids.

Fast-forward 50 years to Boulder, Colorado, where a young family is growing up in a midcentury modern redesigned for a new century. The homeowners started with a well-constructed house built in 1964 in the coveted Newlands neighborhood. “This was a general contractor’s home, so its skeleton was solid and plumb,” says Neal Evers, the project architect with HMH Architecture + Interiors. “The client wanted us to update the functionality of the residence for a growing, young family while preserving the classic lines.” Did we mention that the couple’s two children were under five? The family wanted a bit more space in a home that would be both functional and forgiving. The result is a 3,800-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath house that feels at home in the neighborhood.


The homeowners initially envisioned a larger addition but soon realized the benefits of a smaller home. HMH architect and owner/partner Harvey Hine “helped us realize that small homes can create close families,” the homeowner (and mom) says. “By building a modest addition, we chose to focus on distilling the multifunctionality of our interior smaller spaces. For example, the guest room doubles as a music/reading room. We chose not to have a formal dining room. Our life happens at the kitchen table.”

“The house is essentially three rectangles,” Evers says, “the living, dining and kitchen areas; the garage; and an addition with a master suite and guest and office wing.” Preserving the integrity of the existing design was paramount. “The roof lines in this house are important. We wanted to be kind to the original roof. The butterfly roof is a gesture to the original roof line.” The unique, pentagon-shaped lot also complicated matters. “The shape of the addition was challenging. We went through eight or nine iterations before we found it.” The new wing offers privacy but also allowed for a front courtyard that defines the entry with panache.

Evers and Hine also opened up the floor plan by removing a massive fireplace that dominated the center of the house and added two large sliders and a see-through fireplace joining the indoor and outdoor living spaces. An open, light-filled kitchen features sleek, white counters and cabinetry. “This is not a delicate house,” Evers says. “The homeowners participated in the design and in choosing interior finishes. She chose laminates and tough-wearing wood veneers for the built-in features that live well with children.”

Half-walls on the main level with built-in elements echo the midcentury design ethos and anchor the rooms in an open plan. “The partitions rise up to the base of the clerestory windows ringing the home, providing a central datum for the house,” Evers says. “The clerestory windows make the roof appear to float.” A fixture in midcentury modern design, clerestory windows are more about light than view, but here, the family can enjoy the change of seasons in the many mature trees surrounding the home along with glimpses of the Flatirons. Windows fabricated on-site further honor the original design’s integrity.

The couple repurposed the lower level for children, including two bedrooms, a Jack-and-Jill bathroom and a playroom/audio visual space. HMH transformed the basement into a light, airy, children’s living area by lowering the grade and adding windows that open wide onto a backyard that combines a private retreat, outdoor dining and ample play space. Guess that’s where you’ll find the cool kids of a new generation.

 

White That Works

The homeowners chose fixtures for ease of use and simplicity. Sleek, white laminate and a fast-cooling induction stove top lend style cred to a kid-friendly kitchen.

Shapes and Sizes

The remodeled home is essentially three rectangles put together in a functional and creative way.

Open Walls

Partial walls that rise to the level of the clerestory windows define spaces but allow for flow.

Modern Refresh

Timeless midcentury designs such as the Nelson bubble lamp and the Eames lounge chair are right at home in this 1964 build.

Classic Lines

The low-slung homes of the mid-20th century can retain their sophistication while remaining relevant for today’s families.

Light Bright

A practical creative indulgence, lighting fixtures double as sculptures, as the shadows they cast become art.

Masterful Bath

Tough veneers, laminates and other finishes render the home eminently livable, from the children’s areas to the master bath.

Architect: HMH Architecture + Interiors, 1701 15th St., Boulder, 303.444.8488, hmhai.com