The home's dark turquoise exterior surrounded by trees.
Surrounded by lush greenery, this ranch homestead got the mid century renovation it desperately needed.

Blame it on the 1970s. Already in desperate need of a mid century renovation less than two decades after its construction, the classic low-sloped ranch house in Raleigh, North Carolina, had been made into a hodgepodge of stuffy rooms and random additions. Gold carpet and heavy floral curtains blanketed the main level, which was awkwardly divided into separated spaces, while the basement was a maze of dark and cloistered bedrooms. 

The final straw, a clumsy sunroom addition on one side of the house and a Plexiglass greenhouse off the master bedroom, left most people thinking the mid century home should be leveled to make room for new construction. Joseph Amory, however, had a different vision.

A bright red chair and orange sofa sit in front of a brick fireplace.
After the mid century renovation, natural light floods the upstairs living room, which features a Curtis Jere metal sculpture housed in a custom casework by the front entrance.
The living room's brick fireplace is revealed through a small slatted structure coming out from the wall after the mid century renovation.
The mid century renovation focused on opening up closed-off spaces. A white slatted partition lets light flow through the upstairs living space and mirrors the lines of ceiling beams above.

“The house came up on an estate sale, and I fell in love with it,” says Joseph, who purchased the home in 2014 from the son of the original owners. He enlisted local architecture firm In Situ Studio to oversee a renovation that would restore the 1959 residence to its former glory, while also making the space conducive to modern living.

“We wanted you to walk into the house and feel like it could be original,” Joseph says. He gutted much of the interior himself during the year-long planning process and drew inspiration from other mid century home renovations in the area.

The mid century renovation brings natural light into this living room with a black area rug, glass coffee table and pale yellow couch.
Retro touches abound in the TV room, including a green mid century-style sofa, paired with an Eames lounge set, walnut stool and storage unit. Light from the large front window renders the Nelson bubble pendant lamp almost unnecessary during the day.
After the mid century renovation the dining room has large windows, white walls and a round white table with white plastic chairs.
The dining area takes a cue from the Jetsons, with six pristine white Saarinen tulip chairs encircling a reproduction pedestal table. The 1960s Knoll sideboard originally came from a Xerox office building outside of Manhattan.

Clean Lines of a Mid Century Renovation

Joseph’s friend John Labus, a design manager for a large technology firm, came up with the idea of removing the sunroom and extending the roof to create a new carport. To further highlight the original modernist design, the architecture team nixed the crumbling front stoop and added a wrap-around floating deck and concrete stairs. “We took inspiration from the big windows and the roofline and just turned up the volume,” Joseph says.

The mid century renovation opened the living room and the kitchen, complete with wood floors, retro white bar stools and a colorful modern wall art piece.
A mid century renovation makes a house a home. The warm tones of the hardwood flooring, walnut veneer cabinets and brick fireplace add texture and bring natural elements indoors.

Although the house was structurally sound, removing interior walls required the addition of steel-reinforced beams to maintain the vaulted ceilings on the main level. Flipping the entry stairs allowed easier access to the basement, now illuminated by a new skylight, and a new floor plan created a seamless flow between the living room, dining area, kitchen and media room.

As a nod to the home’s history, Joseph asked to leave the brick unpainted on the two-sided fireplace that sits in the center of the space. “You can see where the old walls touched it. There are nail holes on the back side where the family tried to hang Christmas stockings and where the old mantle used to be,” he says, adding, “You can see that it had life.”

The dining nook has a round white table, two black chairs and a bright red hanging lamp.
The mid century renovation includes a kitchenette, lounge area and dining nook, making it ideal for entertaining or serving as an in-law suite.
After the mid century renovation, the basement has polished concrete floors and a floating bar beside a glass dining table.
Polished concrete floors, white walls and recessed lighting in the basement keep the focus on the furnishings, including a Mad Men-inspired floating bar and Knoll glass-top dining room table.

The clean lines and airy feeling are carried through in the master suite, with lofted ceilings, sliding glass doors leading to a private deck and a sky-lit shower. Minimalist furnishings and views of the wooded lot keep the space uncluttered and calm. At night, the moon shines brightly through the frosted glass bathroom partition, giving the room a serene glow.

Contemporary Touches

Modernist furniture and art throughout the house complement the original design without feeling overdone. Boldly-colored sectionals in both the upstairs living room and basement entertainment space invite guests to gather for cocktails and conversation. Sculpted Eero Saarinen chairs from Knoll nestled under a Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant lamp in the dining area emanate a retro vibe. Walnut veneer custom cabinetry and black granite countertops in the  kitchen reflect the home’s mid century roots, while commercial-grade Jenn-Air appliances offer modern convenience.

The master bedroom has a large neutral bed and one orange accent chair in the corner.
A contemporary quilt from Louise Gray and vintage Arne Jacobsen lamp reinforce the sleek mid century lines of a modern platform bed and matching side table.
The bathroom has gray tiling, metal starbursts in the walls and matching pink his and hers hand towels.
After salvaging the original gray tile in the guest bathroom, Joseph dressed up the space with authentic vintage wares, including pink his-and-hers hand towels from the 1950s found on Ebay.

Although the mid century renovation took two years—part of which Joseph spent living with family in Virginia while the home was uninhabitable—the end result illustrates the benefits of preserving mid century history. Working with designers who understand and support this vision is also key to a successful outcome.

“We had so much fun with this renovation,” Joseph says of his collaboration with the team from In Situ Studio. “If they didn’t like an idea that I had, they’d just tell me and we’d move on. But we all wanted the same thing in the end.” With a beautifully renovated home that looks more Mad Men swank than 70s suburbia, the self-professed mid century enthusiast has achieved his goal.

Looking for more inspiration? Take a look inside Eero Saarinen’s Miller House. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Mid Century Modern inspiration!