If you’re an owner, finding renters who will not only appreciate but also maintain and further improve your Midcentury Modern home is a challenge. If you’re a renter, finding a mid mod gem to call home can be difficult. For Rachel Simmons and Kimberly Adams, they have found this exact symbiosis.
Finding + Refining
Rachel Simmons, an Interior Designer and Design Professor, and her husband Dimitris Katsiginis were in happy disbelief to find a Ralph Haver-designed 1964 Phoenix home on the market. “It was an apartment for 50 years,” Rachel explains, ”We are only the second owner. All the finishes (besides flooring) were original when we bought it. It is also one of the only fully detached units that were built.”
They bought it and began a loving, two-year restoration process. “I preserve as much as possible,” Rachel explains. “My research formalized a process for taking a three-part approach to historic interiors: Preserve character-defining features, introduce contemporary technology, and focus on sustainability.”
To that end, they first removed the carpet and linoleum flooring, leaving just the concrete, which they then painted white. New baseboards, fresh paint throughout the entire interior and new electrical outlets and switches provided a base layer of freshening. The most unique and challenging feature of the renovation process was the curved kitchen. Maintaining this was a high priority for Rachel because of its authenticity to the era.
Working within the rounded layout and maintaining the original cabinetry design required a lot of researching and problem solving. “It took finding the right hinges, and the carpenter had to cut and fit all the doors on site,” Rachel says. Rachel brought a dose of freshness to what was originally a very dark wall. “The original paneling was very dark—I painted the wall in a gradual value change to enhance the curve,” she says.
Rachel employed her design expertise to bring period-authentic colors to new material so that the home expresses a refreshed yet markedly mid mod feel. “I used a color palette inspired by color research I did in grad school—based on popular colors from 1964,” Rachel explains. “I also used tile sizes in the kitchen and bathroom that were the same as the original, and selected countertop materials that were new materials (quartz), but the same colors popular during the period.”
Like Rachel and Dimitris, Kimberly Adams and Jose Caraveo (along with their dog BB) were happily surprised to find a local result when they searched for a Haver home for rent. “They don’t come up for rent that often,” Kimberly says, “and I immediately fell in love with the breezeblock wall in the living room and the white on [the] floors and walls.”
Kimberly, a jeweler, appreciates Rachel’s instinct for preservation. “I’m definitely in love with all the old details that were left in the home, like the curved kitchen wall and counter and built-in vanity in the hall bath,” she says. The kitchen’s unique shape is actually a great functional space if it’s just her in the kitchen. Kimberly explains, “It’s super comfortable when I’m the only one cooking and the rounded counter turns into a nice assembly line for chopping, cooking and plating.”
Jose and Kimberly have integrated their own touches. Jose built a coffee table from white oak, and Kimberly created string art for the bedroom wall. They have layered in vintage finds such as a 1970s couch they found on Craigslist, which they recovered in Joybird’s Impact Ochre fabric. Kimberly’s favorite find, she says, is “definitely the pair of Bose 901 speakers on tulip bases that I thrifted. They were in almost perfect condition!”
With their own handiwork and thoughtful approach to midcentury style, Kimberly and Jose as well as Rachel and Dimitris have found a way to mutually benefit from their shared love of Midcentury Modern and this 1964 Haver home.