When the originals just don’t make the grade, modern materials with midcentury sensibilities save the day.
LOCATED IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, THIS 1957 HOME STILL HAD ITS ORIGINAL KITCHEN— but the functionality of the space was long gone.
Originally built for a home builder who did a number of houses in the neighborhood, the home went on to see its fair share of owners. Current homeowners Sloan and Peggy Houser actually started out as renters, but their love for the home was such that they convinced their landlord to sell them the property.
In 2013, architects Rick and Cindy Black were called in to help renovate the kitchen, dining and living areas. Their partnership on the project was no accident, as the couples know one another through mutual friends as well as through Sloan’s plastering business, Sloan Montgomery.
The Housers love to cook, but the original kitchen just wasn’t making the cut. Rick and Cindy describe the previous space as being cramped and with countertops in short supply. “Cabinets were also really hard to access, so they wanted a big improvement to storage and hardware quality,” Cindy says.
According to Rick and Cindy, the structural layout of the house was their guiding principle, and their aim was to use this grid to lay out a rational system of walls and cabinetry. “At the same time, we opened up some of the corners, which created a dynamic relationship between living and kitchen—which was previously very disconnected,” Cindy says.
Despite needing a new, better functioning, kitchen, the Housers didn’t want to lose all of the space’s mid mod charm. Rick and Cindy put a priority on
preserving the existing clerestory windows as well as the trim ledge. They also preserved the terrazzo floors, beams, the cabinet facing the living room, as well as the masonry fireplace. Keeping with a concept from the original design, Rick and Cindy incorporated teak paneling in the space as well.
After three months of planning their design and four months of construction, the Housers finally had their dream kitchen. Complete with stainless steel counters chosen for their practicality, modern appeal and the integral sink, the kitchen is a stunning blend of form and function.
The kitchen features custom cabinets that have veneered teak fronts with full overlay doors and full-extension drawer glides. Along the pantry wall, touch-latch hardware makes the added storage easily accessible without compromising on streamlined style. It also helps the space blend seamlessly with the wood paneled walls in the adjacent living areas.
Also, in keeping with the mod appeal of clean lines is the stove, rather than compromising the clean lines of the clerestory windows above with an unsightly range hood, the gas cooktop has a pop-up vent that vents to the crawlspace down below.
As a master plasterer, Sloan took a unique approach to his home’s renovation. He refinished all the drywall surfaces to a smooth, fine plaster— with the interior walls and fireplace refinished with a French plaster mix called Stuc Pierre. The island countertop as well as the open shelving was milled from a felled American Elm from Sloan’s workshop site. The end result is a kitchen that honors its midcentury dwelling while beautifully meeting the modern needs of the homeowners.