Twin Cities Trea­sure

Home to its orig­i­nal de­signer for 60 years, this mid­cen­tury gem needed only mi­nor up­grades for mod­ern liv­ing.

Atomic Ranch - - Contents Winter 2017 - By Les­lie Thomp­son Pho­tog­ra­phy by Andrea Rugg

Home to its orig­i­nal de­signer for 60 years, this mid­cen­tury gem needed only mi­nor up­grades for mod­ern liv­ing.

Ar­chi­tect Don Davies was a com­mer­cial artist by trade, but when it came time to build a home for his fam­ily, he was just the man for the job. His walk­out ram­bler, nes­tled be­hind a clus­ter of trees in a quiet neigh­bor­hood out­side Min­neapo­lis, pro­vided an idyl­lic home for his wife and three girls in the mid-1950s. It was the vi­sion of post­war sub­ur­ban bliss—so much so that Bet­ter Homes & Gar­dens even sent a photographer to doc­u­ment the fam­ily’s stylish abode, cap­tur­ing a mo­ment in time that en­dured for more than five decades. “When we walked through the house, we felt like it was a movie set. Don and his fam­ily did not change any­thing,” Kari Brandt says. Kari and her hus­band Eric pur­chased the

house in 2010. Although the cou­ple had been look­ing for a larger home to ac­com­mo­date their fam­ily of four, they fell in love with the clean lines and ef­fi­cient use of space in Davies’ two-bed­room de­sign. They were equally en­am­ored with the home’s dis­tinc­tive fea­tures—from the cherry-pan­eled walls and vaulted, beamed ceil­ings, to the built-in brick grill in the sun­room.

“It was im­por­tant for them to bring in the mod­ern-day things they need for the way they live, with­out in­fring­ing on the spirit of the house,” lead de­signer and project man­ager Kris­tine An­der­son of Peterssen/keller Ar­chi­tec­ture, who over­saw the six-month ren­o­va­tion, says.

HAB­IT­ABLE SPACE

The fi­nal de­sign scheme re­tained the orig­i­nal foot­print, but closed off the breeze­way be­tween the garage and the house to cre­ate two hab­it­able spa­ces. The front area was trans­formed into a for­mal en­try and mudroom, with built-in lock­ers that match the look and feel of the orig­i­nal cherry cab­i­netry through­out the house. On the back side of the en­try, the orig­i­nal sun­room be­came a screened porch, which opens onto a large pa­tio space per­fect for out­door en­ter­tain­ing. “Most of the time, when peo­ple move into houses, they’re try­ing to knock walls down,” Kari notes. “They don’t even think, 'Let’s put a wall up.'”

Other changes in­cluded up­grades to the elec­tri­cal and plumb­ing, and in­stalling en­ergy-ef­fi­cient Marvin win­dows

on both lev­els. Be­cause the walls con­nect­ing the mas­ter bed­room and hall­way did not ex­tend to the ceil­ing, in­su­lated glass was added to close the vaulted space and buf­fer the sound. “If some­body so much as opened the sil­ver­ware drawer, it would jolt you awake,” Eric re­calls, laughing.

The kitchen it­self was left al­most en­tirely in­tact, with the Brandts opt­ing to keep the orig­i­nal linoleum floors, cherry cab­i­nets and boomerang-pat­terned Formica coun­ter­tops. Kris­tine helped source new ap­pli­ances that could fit into the ex­ist­ing boxes. “We were able to del­i­cately put th­ese things in and re­tain the cool­ness of the space,” she says. Like­wise, the bath­rooms were barely touched, with the own­ers re­plac­ing the toi­lets and faucet fix­tures, but lit­tle else.

TIME­LESS STYLE

Since mov­ing into their mid­cen­tury home, Eric and Kari have be­come adept at hunt­ing out vin­tage fur­ni­ture that fits the mod­ernist de­sign. They scored a Dan­ish teak din­ing ta­ble

at an es­tate sale, and drove to Mil­wau­kee for two orig­i­nal Adrian Pearsall lounge chairs they found on Craigslist. The screened porch looks much like it did in the old mag­a­zine pho­tos, thanks to a clas­sic Homecrest pa­tio set the Brandts ac­quired from an el­derly cou­ple, who had kept the items in stor­age. Sev­eral pieces also were orig­i­nal to the house, in­clud­ing a large cof­fee ta­ble in the liv­ing room that Don Davies built him­self.

Although they at first con­sid­ered adding on to the home, the Brandts cher­ish the orig­i­nal de­sign, and are grate­ful that they didn’t rush to make changes. “I think that liv­ing in a house be­fore you touch it is re­ally im­por­tant,” Kari says. They also re­al­ized they didn’t need as much space as they thought. Eric notes, “Don and his wife raised three daugh­ters in this house and we’re rais­ing two daugh­ters, so we ought to be able to man­age.”

RIGHT: THE BRANDTS KEPT THE ORIG­I­NAL KITCHEN CAB­I­NETS, BOOMERANG-PAT­TERN COUN­TER­TOP AND LINOLEUM TILE FLOORING, ALL OF WHICH WERE IN EX­CEL­LENT CON­DI­TION.

ABOVE: A STUDY IN SEREN­ITY, THE MAS­TER BED­ROOM FEA­TURES A MID­CEN­TURY WAL­NUT DRESSER AND NIGHTSTANDS SUR­ROUND­ING A MOD­ERN PLAT­FORM BED.

LEFT: CHERRY WOOD CAB­I­NETS AND BRASS PEN­DANT LIGHTS IN THE GIRLS’ BATH­ROOM WERE ORIG­I­NAL TO THE HOUSE.

AS A HOUSEWARMING PRESENT, ELIN’S DAD AND STEPMOM GIFTED HER WITH A DE­LIGHT­FUL MO­BILE, THINK­ING IT WOULD TIE IN WITH THE LEGO WALL’S RAIN­BOW COL­ORS. ELIN SUS­PENDED IT OVER THE STAIRS WHERE IT GIVES THE ROOM A LIGHT, PLAY­FUL FEEL.

“I’m a be­liever in us­ing sim­i­lar ma­te­ri­als through­out the home, cre­at­ing con­ti­nu­ity.”

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