It’s 1954. You’ve just been given the keys to your new home which you have purchased for $18,000. You have purchased bricks, mortar and sheetrock that form walls. And these walls will house moments, your moments; some of the most precious moments of your life. This will be place you will cook breakfast in your pajamas, or maybe soothe the cry of your newborn baby. It will be a place with a dining room where you will eat your holiday meals. It will be a place with a kitchen and a sofa and a closet full of your clothes, your things, your family, and friends. In time, this brand new house will become your home. Not because of the walls, but because of what will happen within them.
But for now, the carpet has no wear, the fresh paint has no cracks or finger smudges, and the windows are so clean you’re sure could walk right through them if you wanted. Untouched, pure, and modern. This is your new home.
Fast forward 61 years later. It is March of 2015 and the house is empty. Everything is old. The door knobs are old. The curtains that are hanging are old. The bathroom sink, inside the drawers- and everything else. It’s all old. Even the air is old. The paint that was once new, is faded and chipping in the corners. The doors squeak, and one of the kitchen cabinets doesn’t shut quite right. The carpet is thinning and worn, but life has been lived here. But still, the house is empty.
This home on Northcrest Avenue is undergoing renovation. A lot of renovation. How much? Let’s just say you could purchase several luxury cars for the amount of work to restore, repair and update these walls.
Renovating a mid-century modern house into a home fit for the day and age is not an easy task. But it’s important, because this house will become someone else’s new home, complete with new memories. Attention and careful consideration to the details must be mapped and considered. Not only money, but time, research and care from the best designers will be working on transforming the old into new while preserving it’s history and charm.
This home is located in The Avenues- a neighborhood that is adjacent to downtown in one of Salt Lake City’s oldest residential districts. It is home to artists, students, professors, lawyers and businesspeople alike. It’s stately, funky, upscale, bohemian, quirky.
“Eclectic and eccentric” is how Kirk Huffaker of the Utah Heritage Foundation describes ‘the Avenues’. “It’s Salt Lake’s version of ‘keeping it weird.’ “
Successfully making a Mid-Century Modern home-well, more modern- is knowing where to transform, where to preserve, and what to spend on each. It’s knowing what to throw-out and what to keep. There are key elements that will stay the same: the open floor plan with adjacent living, dining and kitchen areas. Large sliding glass doors that open onto decks and patios literally dissolve the line between indoor and outdoor. The visual effect is stunning, but the comfort level is even more impressive. Like many homes in this community, this rambler was inspired by the architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. One of Wright’s contributions to the the world of design is the idea of building into an environment, rather than on-top of it. He was known for using stone and materials that would blend naturally with its surroundings. With the stone and colors, this home blends right into its scenic Utah mountains; a seamless transition between the exterior and interior . He determined form by the nature of materials. Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the word ‘organic’ into his philosophy of architecture as early as 1908. It was an extension of the teachings of his mentor Louis Sullivan whose slogan “form follows function” became the mantra of modern architecture. Nature is the best example of this integration.
” No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” -Frank Lloyd Wright
And so, as the old saying goes, a chapter ends and a chapter begins. Demolition starts this week, and we will be following along as this house is transformed. There is an anticipated completion and Open-House on July 4th, 2015.
Home truly is where the heart is. It’s not always a place, or a time. It’s people. It’s where you can be with the people who make you laugh, who hold your hand when you cry, who let you scream when you’re angry.It has shared kisses every morning and “I love yous” every evening and laughter seeping through its aching floorboards. After this transformation is complete, I can’t help but wonder, who will be next to call this incredible house, their home?
[All photos owned by Jane Groom and Plain Jane Photography]