Before settling into their 1963 Hickory, North Carolina, home, Chad Baker and Tina Clement spent several years on the hunt for their dream home. As they scoured for the perfect midcentury dwelling to call their own, the couple found themselves so wrapped up in their search that they now lightheartedly refer to it as “stalking potential homes.”
Not just any midcentury home would do for this determined couple. Several houses they viewed left them feeling disappointed, as the interiors of the homes had long lost their original features and true midcentury appeal. Despite these discouraging results, the couple continued on with their real estate agents until a fateful message finally ended their search.
On an April afternoon in 2013, Tina received an email with the link to a new listing. “She tried opening the link and wasn’t able to do so, so she closed the email and forgot about it until the next morning when she arrived at work,” Chad says. “She once again tried to open the link and there it was—our home.”
Not having seen the listing before and determined not to miss out, Tina scheduled an appointment for the couple to view the home at noon that very day. “Within 30 minutes of viewing our home we made an offer, and by 5 p.m. the contract was signed. We finally found our midcentury home.”
The stunning midcentury home that Chad and Tina swooped in on was built in 1963 by James Nelson Sherrill, AIA. Originally, the home was built for Mickey Coe, the widow of the Hickory Museum of Art’s Founder and First Director, Paul Whitener. In speaking with architect Jim Sherrill’s children, Chad and Tina learned that Mickey was one of two ladies to whom their father would listen.
“There are many details … we feel she played a large part in,” Chad says. “Without a doubt, the long entryway wall was designed for her to display her extensive art collection.”
Renovating + Restoring
Over the course of their first two years in the home, Chad and Tina had a laundry list of projects to tackle. The duo began by ripping up carpeting and replacing it with flooring more complementary of the period, as well as replacing a generic staircase with a period-correct floating staircase.
Without any major structural issues to contend with, Chad and Tina were able to instead focus on maintaining the home’s originality. All of their renovation choices were vetted against the question of timelessness.
“I’m a purist. I don’t like to disturb anything that has made an ‘object’ what it is,” Chad says. With originality carrying a heavy weight for the Bakers, they turned their focus towards restoration rather than renovation. “Our home was in amazing original condition,” he says. The Bakers were fortunate that the modernization projects that were needed did not require them to sacrifice—but rather allowed them to preserve—original materials.
Not only did they seek to preserve original materials, but Chad and Tina also sought out originals to fill the gaps of original things once lost. Case in point: the Prescolite pendant lamps displayed in the basement were purchased as new old stock. The couple even got in touch with some owners of other James Nelson Sherrill-built homes to purchase their discarded original features and to further vet the accuracy of their renovations.
Colorful and unique, the home’s kitchen is difficult to miss. “The vibrant colors and perfectly aged wood in our kitchen was one of the greatest reasons we bought the house,” Chad says. “It would be a sin to change our kitchen–we love it.”
Since purchasing the home, Chad and Tina have been careful not to lose any original features. “The only features lost were from changes made by previous owners,” he says. These lost items would be the aluminum windows and kitchen countertops—which the couple intends to replace.
Now three years into living in their dream home, Chad and Tina have not yet outgrown their love and appreciation for the design and vision of midcentury architects. When asked whether this was their first midcentury home, they replied with, “Yes, and it is our forever midcentury home.”