Artist built mid-century modern home to get a modern renovation.
Artists and educators Robert and Rowena MacPhail designed this unique mid-century modern style home during the 1950s. With the help of the stage tech crew from Millburn High School and from local craftsmen, Robert built the home during weekends and vacations over the course of eight years. It sits on a wooded, almost five-acre site in Harding Township. He and his students felled black walnut trees from the property and used the beautiful wood for the floors, cabinets, trim, and furniture.
The home provided rustic living. For a time, it sported plastic-covered window openings (awaiting glass installation). Running water came late to the home. With their home complete, the couple filled it with their artwork and that of their friends. Rowena continued to live in the house after Robert’s passing, and when she also passed, her children finally decided to put the house on the market. Yet initial interest was mostly from builders who wanted the property for the land value in this affluent community, and the family resisted.
Existing Exterior Photo
Existing Exterior Photo
When a couple from New York showed interest in purchasing the home with the intent to renovate and preserve the character of the home, the sellers felt thrilled that the home they grew up in and loved would be saved.
The house hasn’t been upgraded since it was built and the new owners are looking to expand and renovate to contemporary levels of energy efficiency and comfort. A carport will be added and designed to create a welcoming entry court.
Currently, the house has two small bedrooms and a study; the new plans add a master suite and the re-located kitchen allows the creation of an entry area at the front door. We plan to re-use some of the walnut cabinetry, refinish the wide board walnut flooring, and re-purpose other elements of the house in the new design.
We anticipate that this will be a unique home that will provide delight into the next mid-century.
Main Level Existing Plan
The small 2 bedroom house would not appeal to most families in this affluent community.
Basement Level Existing Plan
Proposed Main Level Plan
An addition to the right side of the house includes 2 bedrooms, bathroom and new kitchen. The original bedroom space is being converted into the master suite, and the original kitchen will become an entry area.
Proposed Basement Level Plan
A new garage is being added with a mudroom entrance into the basement area. Additional living space under the main level addition.