Case Study in Style
An expansive gem in the Lone Star state defies expectations.
Originally built in 1956, this Terrell Hills neighborhood split level home has long been turning heads. Douglas Galloway, the co-owner of furnishings store NEST Modern, purchased the property
five years ago and still experiences people slowing down to admire the modernist abode.
As one might expect in the Lone Star state, this San Antonio, Texas home is larger than life—in the best way possible.
“I wasn't particularly looking for a house, but sometimes I think I willed this house into existence,” Douglas says.
Having just opened the first NEST Modern store outside of Austin, Douglas and his business partner were considering renting something closer to the new San Antonio store to make traveling easier. One of their employees, whose mother is a relator, shared about an incredible listing and said that he simply had to see it. Douglas’ business partner saw the house, confirmed it to be amazing, and Douglas sent in an offer without ever stepping foot on the property or seeing it in person. His was taken as a backup offer, but shortly thereafter Douglas was holding the keys to his new home.
HOME WITH A HISTORY
After doing some digging, Douglas discovered that the original architect was Milton Ryan, whom Douglas describes as being a forward thinker. Despite moving from tract homes to modernist, innovative designs, Ryan’s work in the San Antonio area has been largely overshadowed. Not wanting the architect’s legacy to entirely disappear, Douglas, along with the help of neighbors and Docomomo (the international committee for documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement) have been able to unearth a little about the home’s history as well as bring attention to Ryan’s work.
According to Douglas, the first owner of the home only lived there for a year. After that short period of time, a family moved in and stayed in the home until Douglas purchased it. With so few owners, changes to the property were minimal and the house was in good shape overall.
Nevertheless, he has meticulously restored the house room by room—only just getting to the last of the bathrooms. Some of the work he did included adding insulation, updating wiring and roof fixes as well as removing hand rails added by the previous owner, taking down a greenhouse, rebuilding the pergola and adding a large deck.
RENOVATING TO REVIVE
Some of the many original features still intact are the Saltillo tile floors and many of the home’s countless windows. Ryan’s design incorporated a combination of both clear glass and textured glass— which Douglas likens to the texture found in school windows. The textured glass fills in all the lower windows, creating privacy in the main living areas. Some of these panes needed to be replaced due to age and damage, but luckily Douglas was able to source the same glass locally. At night, the combination of the many windows and the interior lights gives the home a warm glow from the street view.
“This house isn’t just midcentury, it’s different,” he says. Douglas says that any time someone comes to work on the house, he warns them, “Just forget what you know.” To ensure that the home’s unique nature was protected, Douglas was hands on with every aspect of the renovation. One of the things that makes the house so different from its midcentury counterparts is that the framing of house is actually the window frames. “Milton Ryan just decided he was going to do everything differently,” Douglas says. “There were only three original workers and they built everything—it’s all custom.”
Douglas has personalized the home by blending vintage and new furnishings—including Milo Baughman classics, a vintage wall mounted shelf unit, and pieces from NEST Modern. He’s also had fun with the home’s color story—keeping it consistent and cheerful throughout. Various pottery, most of which is displayed on the fireplace, and a collection of entirely midcentury artwork finish the home’s journey. “This place always makes me smile when I walk in, and everyone else, too,” he says.
ONE OF THE MANY UNIQUE FEATURES OF THE HOME IS THE ORIGINAL CORK CEILINGS FOUND IN THE LIVING AREA. THE MATERIAL HELPS TO BUFFER SOUND AS WELL AS ACT AS INSULATION.
IN THE KITCHEN, DOUGLAS REMOVED SCREENS AND RESTORED THE KITCHEN DOORS TO SLIDERS. HE ALSO UPDATED THE TILE AND ADDED MODERN APPLIANCES.
Original to the home, the ceramic lanterns hanging off of the back patio were made by local artisan Martha Mood.