A complete look at how the mid century elements in this new build come together to create a nod to the past.
Project House Austin is complete and ready to tour. Read on to see more!
After an incredible year of creativity and collaboration, designer Christine Turknett of Breathe Design Studio, builder Michael Wray, owner and founder of MidCentury Communities, along with our Atomic Ranch team and sponsors, built and furnished a new mid-century-inspired home in Austin, Texas.
“Having been in countless Mid Century Modern homes across the country’s biggest mod hotspots, there’s this unique air that fills those old homes—the floorplan, the space planning, the way you’re meant to move through the house,” says Jickie Torres, editor of Atomic Ranch. “Michael and Christine captured that, managing to manipulate the space and scale to bring in that intimate and special feeling of an authentic mid century space.”
Michael studied Palm Springs architecture to help inspire the design of this project.
“Anshen and Allen and Cliff May were the most influential on this new build,” he says.
He pulled from their design ideas to create this post-and-beam structure that features more than 70 windows and timber membranes. The living room, for example, has an expansive wall of windows that look out onto the pool.
“In most homes, you get a ‘vertical portrait’ look, but in this house, you get a landscape look with a wide view,” Michael points out.
The Project House sponsors played a huge role in giving the home a mid century feel: “The sponsors were really great to choose from,” Christine says. “I’m so grateful for all the beautiful products they offered us. It forced me to push my boundaries and allowed me to include things I never would have thought to.”
A Unique Vibe in Project House Austin
Although the casita paid homage to a classic mid century color palette and period furnishings, Christine wanted to switch it up in the main house and cater to more-modern preferences.
“One of my favorite qualities of our design that I can’t help but love is to make spaces that are calming,” she says. “So, that drove a lot of the color palette, textures and furniture choices. It ‘softened up’ MCM, and that’s not typically what people associate with that period. But comfort is what people want in a home.”
The exterior has its distinctive features as well: “Most of the time, you put a house on top of a hill, but we created multiple elevation drops so the house sets into the hill,” Michael explains. “It makes it unassuming and gives it a sophisticated elegance. The site is also unique, with its 180-degree views of Bee Creek Canyon on Lake Travis. When you get a horizon line you can mimic with the home, itself, you can create a mid-century-inspired home that’s really special.”
Keep it Cohesive
With such a large home and a desire to bring new ideas to light with each space, it was a challenge to keep the theme cohesive.
“All the rooms have different identities to make them memorable,” Christine points out. “But with so many different rooms that we wanted to make unique, I still wanted continuity with color, texture, pattern, wood tone and silhouettes and to make sure everything was balanced throughout the spaces.”
The casita is where Christine really played up the retro theme: She chose common MCM colors such as yellow, robin’s egg blue and orange. The furnishings and décor all pay homage to mid-century style. However, in the main house, she took creative liberties and mixed in Scandinavian influences with modern appeal and included colors such as pink and blue. Nevertheless, every space was rooted in the love of authentic retro design, with clean lines, classic motifs and timeless architectural features. “I incorporated well-known motifs but wanted to rethink them in the context of a new build,” she explains.
One of the goals of Project House Austin was to bring mid-century design to people in a new way.
“Some people might see it as a contradiction to have a new MCM home, but there’s value in starting conversations and experimenting with new ideas,” says Christine. “I wanted it to be an experience for people, and I didn’t play it safe.”
Another goal was to bring MCM design to more people: “Having new homes built in our beloved Mid Century Modern way gives more people an entry point,” Jickie Torres explains. “It’s access for those who don’t live in areas where they can find an authentic one or where their needs and/or budget just don’t fit into a historic home. As advocates of modernist style, we support and encourage new builds designed in the vein and spirit of MCM as ways of preserving and celebrating MCM history.”
Looking for more MCM inspiration? Tour Project House Austin’s casita here. And learn more about Project House designer Christine Turknett’s design philosophy here. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!