A Fam­ily Af­fair

Atomic Ranch - - Contents Winter 2017 - By Au­tumn Krause Pho­tog­ra­phy by Bob Fo­ran Styling by Elin Wal­ters

An in­te­rior de­signer and a re­al­tor ar­tic­u­late their vi­sion for a Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern in­spired home—and cre­ate the per­fect place to unify their blended fam­ily.

An in­te­rior de­signer and a re­al­tor cu­rate their vi­sion for a Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern in­spired home—and cre­ate the per­fect place to unify their blended fam­ily.

When in­te­rior de­signer Elin Wal­ters and her re­al­tor hus­band Chris­tian Ward first saw the green and ma­roon tri-level 1958 home in Ann Ar­bor, Michi­gan, they’d been tour­ing prop­er­ties in the area for a cou­ple of months, seek­ing, as Elin puts it, “an af­ford­able, man­age­able home with an open floor plan and good bones.” For Elin and Chris­tian, their search was par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant: What­ever home they found, it would be the place to bring to­gether their blended fam­ily of seven.

This one, with its un­for­tu­nate color scheme and unattrac­tive porch might have turned away other po­ten­tial buy­ers but Elin and Chris­tian weren’t de­terred. In­stead, their years of de­sign and re­al­tor ex­per­tise (she is the prin­ci­ple de­signer and owner of Ex­actly and he is a re­al­tor with Rein­hart Realty) en­abled them to see the res­i­dence for its po­ten­tial—and, in the ar­eas it was lack­ing, op­por­tu­ni­ties to truly make it their own and fit the needs of their fam­ily. “It didn’t have any curb ap­peal,” Elin says. “But inside we no­ticed things that both of us re­ally liked.”

As they walked around, they fell in love with the vaulted ceil­ings, Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern light­ing in the liv­ing and din­ing rooms, and open floor plan. It quickly be­came clear that they had found the per­fect place to unify their fam­ily and ar­tic­u­late their vi­sion of a stylish, Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern in­spired home filled with vin­tage pieces, IKEA finds and clean, Swedish lines.

EX­CIT­ING EX­TE­RI­ORS

One of their first moves? Re­paint­ing the home’s ex­te­rior in a unique or­ange and gray color scheme. “Or­ange is my fa­vorite color and gray is Chris­tian’s,” Elin says. Bright yet min­i­mal uses of or­ange for the trim, front door, and garage door give the home's ex­te­rior mod-friendly in­ter­est and in­trigue. Re­stored win­dows and a new glass front door “took our home back to its orig­i­nal form and hon­ored the mid­cen­tury mode of bring­ing the out­doors in.” They ripped off the small, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing porch and col­lab­o­rated with Elin’s step­fa­ther to cre­ate a new face for the home with a porch roof can­tilever­ing over a con­crete pa­tio with metal con­duit that ex­tends the porch's lin­ear reach.

In ad­di­tion, the cou­ple also de­signed and built an out­door liv­ing space that sits be­tween a 600-square foot ad­di­tion and the garage. “We de­cided that the area would be best used if we con­nected the two build­ings with a deck,” Elin says. Like over the porch, metal con­duit was cut and hung, giv­ing the il­lu­sion of an open ceil­ing and cre­at­ing an in­ti­mate at­mos­phere. “The space is a haven where we re­treat to in the evenings,” Elin says. “I par­tic­u­larly love that it was de­signed as a fam­ily and con­structed as a fam­ily. That’s just how we like to do things.”

A NO FUSS, NO FRILLS LIV­ING ROOM

The liv­ing room, which is si­t­u­ated in the 600-square foot ad­di­tion that Elin and Chris­tian added onto the home, is an ode to the Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern aes­thetic: no fuss and frills, nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and sim­ple form. A half wall and con­crete stairs give the room in­ter­est while min­i­mal­is­tic fur­nish­ings are comfy and wel­com­ing.

“We rel­ish the sur­prise that al­most al­ways is ex­pressed by vis­i­tors as they walk down the stairs from the front of the house and see the en­try to the ad­di­tion,” Elin says. “It is ex­actly the ef­fect we wanted to achieve.” Elin and Chris­tian styled the room around a vi­brant or­ange vin­tage Malm fireplace, mix­ing in other pieces like a ThadenJor­dan sideboard, re­pro­duc­tion shell chairs in­spired by Hans Weg­ner’s 1963 de­sign, and a Dot & Bo sofa.

A built-in desk with a bookshelf unit was cre­ated for Chris­tian. In a move to unify func­tion and de­sign, the whole bookshelf can be pulled out of the wall to re­veal the boiler for the heated floors and house wa­ter sup­ply. “We read, play games by the fire and en­ter­tain here,” Elin says. “We find this space to be quiet and peace­ful.”

FOR THE LOVE OF LE­GOS

The cou­ple de­cided to keep the orig­i­nal small yet cozy kitchen lay­out. They re­moved the kitchen cab­i­net doors and drawer fronts and painted them turquoise. Elin’s step­fa­ther built slab doors out of nat­u­ral birch ply­wood and clear-coated them. For the coun­ters, “we re­moved the [old] lam­i­nate and toyed with re­plac­ing it with con­crete un­til we dis­cov­ered this amaz­ing pat­tern of Wil­sonart lam­i­nate. Know­ing that lam­i­nate was used in Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern homes, it seemed fit­ting to use this ma­te­rial,” Elin says. And while the kitchen has many vis­ual charms and Mid­cen­tury Mod­ern nods like a vin­tage kitchen din­ing ta­ble, its crown jewel is the hand­made Le­gos wall that shields the din­ing area from the en­try.

“The wall it­self was there when we moved in, but we de­cided to face it in Le­gos to make it more in­ter­est­ing.” Elin says. “We pur­chased used and new Le­gos on ebay over the course of a cou­ple years and built it as a fam­ily as we bought the Le­gos.” The project, which in­cor­po­rated the en­tire fam­ily, is par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful, a sym­bol of unity as the blended fam­ily worked to cre­ate some­thing unique for their home.

The res­i­dence, which is an in­ter­sec­tion of mid­cen­tury and mod­ern de­sign with dashes of DIY ren­o­va­tion, is Elin and Chris­tian’s dream home as well as the uni­fy­ing back­drop to the blend­ing of their fam­i­lies.

WHEN IT CAME TO RE­VAMP­ING THE HOME’S EX­TE­RIOR, ELIN WENT FOR A “LESS IS MORE” AP­PROACH. TO DRAW THE EYE, SHE HIGH­LIGHTED THE FRONT DOOR, GARAGE DOOR AND ROOF TRIM IN OR­ANGE PAINT, SAY­ING THAT THE COLOR “PRO­VIDES A TINY BIT OF EN­ERGY.”

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