Happy New Year from Modern Home Tours! To start off 2013, we’ve got two exciting tours coming up – Houston, TX on January 26 and Austin, TX (the birthplace of MHT!) on February 2. To get you ready for the Houston tour, we sat down with Joe Meppelink of Janusz Design to talk about 2429 Blue Bonnet Boulevard, a.k.a. “The Thompson Residence,” an original 1955 ranch house in the Old Braeswood neighborhood of Houston. When Janusz Design was asked to renovate the house in 2009, the architects were tasked with giving careful attention to the original modern spirit of the home.
The Thompson Residence is an original 1955 ranch house. When you were asked to renovate it in 2009, your mandate was to update it with careful attention to the original modern spirit of the home. How did you perceive this “modern spirit,” and how did you respond to it in your renovation?
All houses have a story to tell. This one was very clear in its voice. The purchase of the house by the current owners, Dave and Zoe Thompson, was very serendipitous, and when they asked us over to see it before they closed, we were astonished by the almost fossilized state of the property. Very little had been modified from the 1955 original. We could see that when the house was first built, the man of the house wanted modern while the woman wanted more traditional touches. Our renovation helped clarify and focus the modern identity by removing some of these traditional elements such as floral cabinet hardware and decorative valences.
Other aspects were highlighted, such as original modern lighting, the full bar in the living room, the pull-out TV, and the original stone work. A vinyl tile floor in the main living room was replaced with large terrazzo tiles, appropriate for this period and something we felt the house would have wanted originally. The kitchen was substantially renovated, though the original cabinets were kept and refurbished, and topped with new countertops and appliances. The master bath was completely redone with a large shower and minimal countertop. The bar, an obvious centerpiece and refuge, was meticulously restored down to its built-in soda fountains, with a new CNC cut bubbly valence to replace the original floral motif. One wall was strategically removed (you’ll have to guess where), floors redone, and original aluminum windows replaced with new aluminum units including new sliding units that open to the courtyard, one of which was added to enhance the transparency and exchange between inside and out.
What materials were you drawn toward using in the renovation?
Terrazzo tile was a must, as well as the new aluminum windows and sliding doors. Countertops were chosen in a fine pebbled finish that matches the terrazzo tiles carefully. New materials tended to be white and minimal, to enhance the modern feel and appropriately re-frame the existing modern materials in the house such as stained mahogany, flagstone, brick, and aluminum.
What posed the biggest challenge in renovating the house?
Detailing windows is always a challenge; you have to mind the proportions and thin lines of the originals, and be sure that the flashing and waterproofing details are done right. We ended up adding a secondary wood frame (where the brickmold would typically be) that has a reveal to give it a thin linear proportion.
What was the biggest change you made to the house?
Adding a third sliding window wall opposite the two originals completely changed the spaces and feel, bringing in much more light and creating a stronger connection to the courtyard and back lawn.
What features of the house – both original and renovated – should tour-goers be sure to keep an eye out for?
- the original restored light fixtures
- the bubbly valence behind the bar
- the working soda fountains
- the striated marble in the bath
- the cantilevered shower bench
- the pull out TV from 1955
- the garage-turned-pool-hall
- the gaint terrazzo tiles
- the pink tiled powder room
- the restored angled sectional
Be sure to get your tickets for the Houston Modern Home Tour here!