Learn about Christine Turknett, principal at Breathe Design Studio, responsible for the interior design of Atomic Ranch’s Project House Austin. Project House Austin is our year-long journey chronicling the build of a new home inspired by mid century architecture and design. The concept? How to experiment with the benefits of modern living while incorporating what we love about this iconic modernist style.
“We’re updating retro MCM design but in a way that respects and honors its contribution and how timeless it really is,” says Christine Turknett, principal at Breathe Design Studio. She plans to infuse different influences into the design of the home, creating a unique style that doesn’t just replicate the past.
How It Began
Breathe Design Studio’s niche is modern, as that’s what they’re passionate about. “We have worked with MCM, but it’s never been one note,” Christine says. “Balance is important, and blending genres and references makes a project dynamic and original.” She believes in incorporating different design styles to give her homes a global feel, stepping away from what is routine and expanding the parameters.
Christine studied fashion alongside design. “They complement one another,” she says. Breathe Design Studio started out as her blog and, after exposure, eventually grew to become her design company in 2017, but she took steps in between.
Her first design project was a custom home she bought for herself. “I called it a high-stakes internship because it was my own money,” she says. She learned a great deal about construction during that year-long process, gaining the ability to empathize with clients going through a similar experience. Working at West Elm taught her about helping clients achieve a vision rather than selling them individual products. The architect of her home eventually connected her with a magazine where she earned her first feature, and her style has been in demand ever since.
Since the Project House will act as a model home for the builder, Michael Wray, owner and founder of MidCentury Custom Homes, LLC, Christine Turknett isn’t basing the design off a homeowner’s list of preferences. Instead, she’s partnering with Atomic Ranch to marry her own style with that of the brand leader, Jickie Torres, and her team. “I’ve been showing them pieces I’ve wanted to use but haven’t found the right project for, and they’ll tell me if they like it,” says Christine. “I like being collaborative and having feedback.”
Project House Plans
Rather than simply copy what’s been done in the past, Christine and Michael plan to pave their own way. “We want to inspire people through new ideas,” she says. “We plan to synthesize looks together that complement and add to each other. We ask ourselves how we can make it different and increase the standard.”
To successfully infuse Mid Century Modern style with other inspirations, Christine chose influences that complement MCM design. “Well-being is inherently tied into modern not being a stark, cold thing,” she says. “That’s a principle of Scandinavian design—it’s simple, calming and clean.”
The color palette, for example, will have classic Scandinavian neutrals—white, gray and black—but she’ll also acknowledge shades from the 1950s, such as mint, turquoise, yellow and teal in muted tones. Along with the colors of the home, Christine plans to update the wood paneling, using lighter wood tones. “I want to incorporate Eichler siding into the interiors,” she says. “I plan to freshen it up in the context of a new build that is architecturally different.”
Light also plays a huge role in their plans. While Christine’s projects generally skew moody, this project will lean bright and airy with a number of large windows. “I love how architecture and interiors inform each other,” she says. As a team, they’ll work to push the boundaries but not cross the line of what is considered Mid Century Modern, giving us an original home with endless possibilities.
Christine’s Top 3 Lumens Lighting Picks
With so many modern designers to choose from, we couldn’t be happier to have Lumens as our Project House lighting sponsor. “They’re so dependable, and I like the designers and lines they carry,” says Christine. “If I could only pick lighting from one place for the rest of my life, they’d be at the top of my list.” Here are her favorites that may be included in the Project House.
“It’s like a hanging sculpture,” she says. “It has presence across a wide space, and it looks different depending on the angle. I love its creative and artistic expression and the fact that it’s asymmetrical.”
“This is an iconic pendant light for Mid Century Modern design,” she says. “We’re trying to show a different iteration of MCM design from the perspective of Scandinavian design, and this is a perfect example of that. It sheds light on a non-American designer, but it has the right style.”
“This is a luxurious lighting option, and I respect the craftsmanship,” she says. “I love how the bulbs are perfectly round and that it comes in so many different finishes.”
Want to see more of Christine Turknett’s work? Don’t miss Breathe Design Studio: Signature Style and Scandinavian Modern Inspiration. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!