Isn't it odd how sometimes you can get out of the habit of doing things you truly enjoy? Maybe that's exercise (for some people, not me!) or cooking or a hobby. For whatever reason, the busyness of life can get in the way of things we enjoy, to the point where we almost forget about them.
This is my rambling way of saying, we're getting back to an old thing! In the "old days" of TLD, way back when it was just me, a computer, and a dream (ha) anytime we completed a project I would write a blog post about it, sharing some of the behind the scenes stories, design details, and the "why" behind the "what"...more than can be shared in an Instagram caption or two. In 2022 I want to get back to that, partially because I love doing it, and partially because you guys always tell me how much you enjoy it. So here we go!
I'm kicking off this blog post series with one of our largest transformations of 2021 - #projectmidwaymod . Midway, because it's near Midway road in Dallas (my old neighborhood, and one street over from our old house!) and Mod for reasons that will be fairly obvious shortly.
We fully overhauled this 1960's ranch house and brought it into the 21st century by helping with everything from planning, interior design, furniture, and accessories. Here's the story.
You might remember a little thing that happened in 2020 - the global pandemic that shut down the world? Yeah, that one. Suddenly people who had long had regular, in-person jobs found themselves working fully remotely and work completely changed. That was the case for our MidwayMod couple - he, a lawyer, and she, a communications director for a social media company in California. In a flash, both of their jobs became permanently remote and they asked themselves, now that we don't have to live here, is there anywhere else we'd rather be? The answer - get back to family in Texas. They found a house, found a contractor, and found US!
Here's a look at the house before:
Which brings us to Fun Fact #1 - we designed this entire project 100% remotely. It wasn't until the project was nearly complete that we ever met our clients in real life! Thanks to amazing technology like Zoom, and sampling resources that allowed us to overnight materials and fabrics and finishes to our clients, and our 3D modeling, we managed pretty seamlessly to make it all happen without ever being in the same room.
Our clients' style leans heavily into the midcentury modern territory, so we wanted to bring that into their home. While it was built in the 1960's, it wasn't really midcentury in the modern way. Several other houses on the street are midcentury in style, so we didn't feel too guilty about changing the architecture to help it lean that way!
Here are a few of our initial inspiration images:
Light, bright, and airy mix with some richness and depth. Walnut, blues, and a few other saturated pops for visual interest. Modernize the fixtures and layer in great textures for coziness.
Fun fact #2 - even though the design process was pretty seamless, we had quite a few hurdles along the way. Challenge number one - we took out basically all the load bearing walls. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but the main request from our clients was to open up the formal living and dining to the family room and kitchen. That wall was holding up the entire roof, because of course it was. We encountered no small amount of other challenges - uneven subfloor, insufficient piers, foundation work, and the great Texas snowpocalypse! Then add into that shipping and material delays, supply shortages, and items that arrived damaged and had to be replaced. PHEW.
This is why it is SO important to like and trust the people you're working with. In renovations, problems aren't a matter of IF but WHEN. You want the right people in your court to make things right, especially when you're on the other side of the country! Our clients were so kind and patient, and they rolled with the punches like pros.
Here's a bird's eye view of the changes we made. On the left you'll see a 5 bedroom house with 3 separate living areas; on the right is a 4 bedroom house with a generous master suite and huge great room!
Fun fact #3 - Our client's hadn't asked us to delete the 5th bedroom, but I just had this idea in my head that I had to draw out to get it out of my system. By eliminating the extra bedroom we were able to create the master suite of their dreams, one that they hadn't realized they desperately wanted or that it was even possible. There are few greater joys as a designer than to be able to surprise and delight our clients and exceed their expectations! So forewarning - if you hire us we might just blow your plans out of the water. Ha!
THE FINAL PRODUCT
Now for some of our favorite design features and details!
In the Great Room, we made a HUGE change not only by taking down the wall separating it from the formal areas, but by raising up the ceilings! This space had a standard 8' ceiling before and we were able to add around 4' in height. Changing the ceiling like this can be an expensive endeavor, but it's hard to put into words what a huge impact it makes. We also reworked the built ins in this area which had originally been designed for a tube tv. We cleaned it all up, adding in a mix of open display and closed storage.
THE FIREPLACE you guys. This was a challenge. You can see in the before photos a very standard, 1960's wood mantle fireplace, but it just wasn't going to work with the mid-century-inspired modern vibe of the house. This fireplace is made from 2 giant stone slabs. We mocked up several different ways to lay them - you have to make sure with natural stone slabs like this that you don't accidentally create alien faces (or something worse) when the veins match up! We decided the one on the right looked like a scary moth, so the left won out!
We also had to go through several stone fabricators to even find someone up to the task! This isn't your everyday fireplace situation.
To the kitchen! Fun fact #4 - despite the fact that we remodeled the entire house, we didn't completely gut the kitchen! All of the white cabinets, that you see, were there when we began. They received a fresh coat of paint and hardware, but remained largely unchanged.
The old kitchen was galley style, and had a HUGE amount of space in the center. Not enough for an island, but way too much for just a normal kitchen. It was wasted space, so it had to go. We eliminated one side of the galley and replaced it with a large kitchen island.
Ta da! The waterfall edge of the counters is one of my favorite features. This part of the house still has the original 8' ceilings, so we had to be clever to make this space not feel squatty compared to the rest of the Great Room. We did lots of things to try and pull the eye up. White cabinets and a white backsplash means lower contrast and less interruption along the long kitchen wall. Darker cabinets or darker lowers would have chopped this view up and drawn attention to it. Instead we did an accent color on the island, so we have some contrast but it's right next to the very tall ceiling of the Great Room, and similar in color to the wall behind the living room built ins, connecting those two spaces. We also chose domed light fixtures in white that are wide, but shorter than your typical pendant. A tall pendant would have come either too close to the counter or to the ceiling.
To keep the back wall from being all white and monotone, we did add a delicious walnut vent hood (can a vent hood be delicious? I think so). Again, connecting it to the living room built ins that feature walnut shelves and too much of the walnut mid century style furniture.
Walnut shelves + walnut classic mid century furniture.
The dining area also has the lower 8' celling, so we went for a light fixture that had a lot of negative space and was wide, rather than a big globe.
That light fixture, plus the white walls and drapes that go all the way from floor to ceiling help mask the lower ceiling height here.
Now, we really went for it in the Great Room. We had a nice healthy budget, but it wasn't an unlimited budget, so we had to make some concessions and compromises. A huge part of what we do at the beginning stages of a project is to estimate the full cost for our client's wish list, and when inevitably we can't have it all (darn), help them to make educated decisions on what should happen in this phase and what could be tweaked or pushed off for the future, so that the integrity of the project and the biggest wish list items aren't sacrificed.
One strategy we employed here was to eliminate the 2 guest baths from the project scope and to create a Band-Aid pantry and laundry situation now, but plan for a future laundry and mudroom down the road when we update the remaining bathrooms! Another strategy was to simply facelift other areas of the home rather than to overhaul them. Here are some of our lighter "facelift" spaces:
In the sunroom, we left the existing red brick floors rather than demo-ing them ($$$) and running hardwoods into the space. Then it was simply a matter of painting the walls and back of the old brick fireplace, and adding doors to the existing mudroom cabinet.
In the guest room, we painted, updated the closet doors (we replaced all the interior doors throughout), a couple of furniture pieces, affordable art, and paint!
Same for the offices! Since our clients work from home, dedicated office spaces were a must. His office was incredibly simple - just paint!
Her office was a bit more involved, as we relocated the closets and added the 2 windows you see below. But when you spend your entire day on zoom meetings, good lighting and a great backdrop are a must!
This powder bath is sort of a hybrid between total gut and facelift. We kept the original vanity and linen cabinet, but replaced the flooring, lighting, and (clearly) added wallpaper. HUGE mega impact, but several thousands saved by keeping the cabinetry. The other unexpected touch - painting the ceiling. Ceilings are so often overlooked but painting or wallpapering them can make a big difference, especially in a small space.
Now onto the other big task - creating the Master Suite! The 5th bedroom at the front of the house became the Master Closet, fully decked out with organizational goodness.
Then to the bedroom. Big changes here. First and foremost, the original bedroom had just 2 small windows. We added 3 picture windows to the backyard to give a view to the pool, and added 2 windows behind the nightstands to maximize the natural light in the space.
The other mega change - the ceiling! The original plan was to do a pop up or tray ceiling, keeping the perimeter at 8' and raising the center portion to 9' or so. BUT, when we got in there, we realized that we could go all the way up! This change completely transformed the room.
The new larger space had room for a seating area, another luxury in a bedroom!
The biggest change in the whole house, though, might be this bathroom.
This is, by far, the fanciest shower we've ever done! 2 wall shower heads, 2 rain shower heads, 6 body jets, one handheld shower, one soaker tub, and a partridge in a pear tree. Also at Team TLD we will measure your height and accurately represent you in the drawings so we can be sure the jets are at the right height! 😂
The layout of the bathroom before was choppy. Once the master closet was relocated we had a much larger space to play with. We reconfigured the window location, and added a separate double sink vanity and makeup vanity, maximizing every square inch.
Also I need to draw your attention to that floor. It's inlaid with BRASS!!
It is very difficult to photograph a bathroom where every wall has a reflective surface. Hello, tripod!
More walnut! And I love how we integrated the mirrors with the window. So clean!
The Water Closet is where the clothes closet was before. We were able to squeeze in a rather large linen cabinet for extra storage.
I can't possibly end this blog post with a picture of a toilet, so here are some other pictures.
There you have her! Project Midway-Mod in all of her glory!