A Florida couple enamored with Mid Century Modern design styled and furnished their dream home themselves—complete with personal touches and a retro soul.
The couple’s fondness for Mid Century Modern design was the main influence behind the 2018 build. “We’ve had a love of that era forever,” she says. “But we also love the playfulness of adding the unexpected aspects of a home when you walk in.”
When it came time to move from Kansas City, Patti Pate and her husband, Joel Butner, decided to settle near downtown Punta Gorda, Florida. “We liked the fact that downtown really encouraged diversity in home styles,” Patti explains. “So that allowed us to realize that we could be a little bit more creative in our design.”
Their desire for color and contrasting materials matched their decision to not be predictable. But when local builders and drafters weren’t grasping this vision, Joel assumed the role of architect. “Ultimately we took over the design of the house, totally. And actually sourced everything inside the house ourselves,” Patti says.
Non-negotiables included an abundance of windows for natural lighting, a front porch and functional design that couldn’t be dated. To achieve the geometric look of the exterior the couple had to get the vernacular approved by the Punta Gorda City Council. This design was partly inspired by Joel’s favorite architect, Hugh Newell Jacobsen. But the city adjusted its building codes to add the new look to its roster.
“We really did follow Mid Century Modern design in terms that it always starts with function first, and then form follows,” Patti explains. The interior of the home, therefore, showcases the couple’s beloved collection. Classic pieces like their Eames chairs, Nelson bench and bright-pink antique cuckoo clock area few of the standouts. Patti opted for timeless cement flooring and white walls to serve as the backdrop.
Standing on Their Own
Joel designed a peaked ceiling and a spacious open layout for the kitchen and living room. The design makes the home friendly for entertaining while keeping sight lines clean. A butler’s pantry off the kitchen is one of Patti’s favorite rooms in the home. “I didn’t just want a pantry,” she says. “I also wanted it to stand on its own; we were able to tuck in some high-end shelving.”
The ability of key pieces and rooms to work independently became a guiding principle for Patti as she furnished the home. “Every piece should be able to move and stand on its own. You have to have a love for that piece you bought, not that it happens to match your couch.”
Keep It Simple
To strike a balance between budget and quality in the kitchen, the couple chose Ikea cabinet bases and worked with a Los Angeles designer and Semihandmade to customize them. The fronts are all cut from a single slab of walnut. “The grain follows the entire bank of all the cabinets,” Patti says. Front-push mechanisms eliminate the need for clunky knobs. The white quartz countertops allow the focus to remain on details like the navy blue dry bar nook.
For guests to feel more comfortable, the couple constructed small vestibules in front of the study and all three bedrooms. Each one boasts a set of wooden double doors that also allow a tidy visual from the main living area. A custom chandelier hangs from each vestibule, created by an artisan Patti found on Etsy. “It’s not just a crafty place anymore; there truly are artisans out there, and they’re willing to really get into the space and the feeling that you’re trying to create,” she says.
Taking the Plunge
In the beginning, the couple kept the palette relatively balanced, mostly neutral elements with occasional pops of color. But by the time Patti reached the guest bathroom, she was done playing it safe. She took the plunge on a loud statement for the tile in the shower. They chose teal, orange, black, gray, white and green tiles from Daltile for the mosaic.
Classic design often acts as a muse and doubles as the impetus for an authentic reflection of the self. Patti and Joel’s home borrows Mid Century Modern design to do just that. “We really picked the part of it that we loved and is kind of our personality,” Patti says. She offers a bit of advice for homeowners considering the same idea: “It’s just going to be an expression of yourself; it’s not going to feel like work.”
For more Mid Century Modern design and architecture, read on about Before and After: Renovating the Armstrong House or Hexagon Haus: A Colorful Condo In Mammoth Lakes, California.