Behind The Mod N.C. Abode Inspired By A Midcentury Master

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Midcentury modern house with large...

Willow oaks shade a renovated Charlotte home by architect Lindsay Hance McCullough, who extended the structure’s original volume with a high-ceilinged addition and covered porch at the rear. “The flat roof planes help to tie it all together, so it looks like it was all done at once,” she explains. Landscape architect Laurie Durden’s fresh plantings, including dwarf yaupon holly and fescue grass, ensure the property fits in with its neighborhood.

Sitting room divided from staircase...

Slats of quarter-sawn ash permit filtered light into the living room of the reimagined 1970s residence, for which interior designer Holly Hollingsworth Phillips combined classic and contemporary pieces like a Platner chair reupholstered in Opuzen sheepskin and a curved sofa by TOV. The Jonathan Adler floor lamps and oval cerused oak coffee table are both from Slate Furniture + Art Collective. The souk-style wool rug is by Stark.

Living room with large windows...

McCullough specified the towering Marvin windows throughout the house. “I always want to introduce as much daylight as possible,” she says. The homeowners often spend their evenings in the study, which features Benjamin Moore’s Simply White on the fireplace, a pair of Anthropologie’s Tripod chairs and an Arno sofa by TOV. The Worlds Away coffee table rests upon a high-pile Stark rug.

Airy, modern entryway with floating...

Fabricated by Masterpiece Staircase & Millwork, the new central feature of the once-dark entrance hall consists of floating white-oak treads supported by a single steel stringer, offering a minimalist look. “The interior reveals itself; it’s not just one big space,” McCullough says. “I think it’s nice when you can discover what’s around this corner or that corner.”

Open-format kitchen with modern dining...

Caesarstone counters, Calacatta Delicate Gold marble from Harkey Tile & Stone and rift-sawn white oak sound a modern note in the kitchen. The Agnes pendants over the island and the Graphic Grande chandelier in the adjoining dining area are both by Aerin for Visual Comfort & Co. Carl Hansen & Søn wishbone chairs sourced from Design Within Reach surround the clients’ own dining table. The wall ovens are by Thermador.

Bedroom with tropical-print wallpaper and...

Catherine Martin’s bold La Palma wallpaper for Mokum connects the main bedroom to views of the landscape. “I don’t necessarily love a statement wall, but this was the perfect place for it,” says Phillips, who accented with a Tom Dixon copper pendant. “It offered more of a focal point than if we had covered the whole room in it.” The bedside chest is by Woodbridge Furniture.

Pink bathroom with modern lights...

McCullough custom designed the black-granite sink, fabricated by Instyle Stone + Tile, for the powder room, complementing it with Ashford black waterjet mosaic marble tile from Renaissance Tile & Bath. Phillips, in turn, added the blush-colored Thibaut grasscloth wall covering. “When you do a quiet palette and then bring in some color, it makes it a little more important,” she notes. The marble-rimmed wall lights are by Tom Dixon and the rose-toned mirror is from Anthropologie.

Midcentury modern was one of architect Lindsay Hance McCullough’s first “design languages,” and she’s had a soft spot for it ever since. So she was intrigued when clients Kippy and Blake Thompson asked her to have a look at a house they’d purchased on a leafy Charlotte street. With a second floor that cantilevered over masonry walls, it stood out from its traditional neighbors. “Though built in 1973, it had a real midcentury feel,” McCullough recalls.

But there was something more to it: It closely resembled a nearby home by noted North Carolina architect A.G. Odell. “The basic design was very similar,” says McCullough. Though she couldn’t prove this house was by Odell, she suggested to her clients that they take it back to what the original architect might have envisioned—albeit using today’s technology. “It’s a great house,” she told Kippy, adding, “Let’s pare it down so that it can go forward as its true modern self.”

The couple, who had raised their daughter and son in a sizable Georgian-style home, were ready not just to downsize, but to embrace a more informal lifestyle. Kippy threw herself into researching midcentury homes. “Now I’m obsessed,” she says with a laugh.

McCullough, meanwhile, began systematically exploring how to update and refine every inch of the residence to give her clients a more casual floorplan that would work perfectly for entertaining, while also adding a main suite, family room, dining room and covered porch on the ground floor. The Queen City isn’t known for its modern architecture, so the architect reached out to general contractor Jeff Stanwick, who had experience with midcentury homes. After looping in his firm’s co-principal, builder Stan Dunham, the duo “rose to the challenge of fabricating architectural details that aren’t often seen here,” McCullough notes. “From the exterior slat rainscreen walls to the sculptural stair, Jeff and Stan exhibited a willingness that was critical to rebuilding this house.”

Under McCullough’s guidance, Stanwick and Dunham swapped out the hipped roof for staggered, flat planes more in keeping with the era, and teamed the original section’s 8-foot-tall rooms with soaring spaces in the addition. Clerestory windows and floor-to-ceiling glass sliders let in light and open up the rooms to embrace views of the verdant grounds, which landscape designer Laurie Durden terraced for structure while bringing in new plantings and mature trees, including Japanese pagoda, for privacy. That sense of orderliness is even more pronounced at the front of the house, where pea gravel plays up the clean lines of the architecture.

During planning, the team expanded to include interior designer Holly Hollingsworth Phillips, who had worked with Kippy previously. Soon, the material palette inside began to take shape: rift-sawn white oak for the cabinetry, character-grade white oak for the floors and Calacatta marble for the backsplashes.

Two spaces got special scrutiny: the nondescript staircase and kitchen. After McCullough came up with a modern, open stair built on a single stringer, she and Phillips put their heads together to produce a show-stopping kitchen that keeps clutter to a minimum, thanks to a hidden scullery where Kippy can stow small appliances and dirty pots and pans. “Kippy loves to cook, and from the get-go she wanted the kitchen to be super clean and spare,” McCullough says. Adds Phillips, “Now she has open shelving and plenty of counter space so that she can clean up in a flash. It was a real change from having a zillion different sets of china. But it’s their new house, and they wanted to live a little cleaner.”

Phillips, who calls herself “a true maximalist,” reined in her penchant for color- and pattern-filled interiors to create restrained backdrops that mix modern and traditional pieces, though well-chosen pops of bright hues and graphic prints add interest. “I love wild and crazy colors, and had Kippy been on her own, it might have been more gray or beige,” she explains. As it turns out, her client so embraced the idea of taking risks in the new house that she personally selected the large-scale wallpaper print for the main bedroom, to which Phillips added Tom Dixon copper pendants as complements.

All told, the couple loves having a home that suits the next chapter of their lives. “We use every bit of it,” Kippy says. “There’s room for when our college kids bring friends over, there’s outdoor dining and a covered deck with a TV and fireplace. It’s way more fun to entertain here than any house I’ve lived in.” And for that, she gives much credit to McCullough and Phillips. “I’d never have gone in this direction if we had started from the ground up,” she adds. “I can have fun with this house forever. It’s a unique gem in this neighborhood.” 

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