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Mid-Century Modern In Denver

Mid-Century Modern In Denver
This modern ranch plan shows off curb appeal.
In the Denver neighborhood of Harvey Park sit 160 of Colorado’s only Cliff May/Chris Choate-designed so called "Low Cost Ranch Homes." Cliff May, whose name is synonymous with the modern ranch house, took ideas he developed for his custom home clients and incorporated them into his mass-produced ranch homes. May's designs utilized modular parts that could be configured in a variety of ways.

While house shopping earlier this year, newlyweds Erin and Justin Batey discovered one of these simple, well designed homes and realized that it met their needs. The Bateys were moving from an Arts and Crafts-era apartment and found that the Cliff May floor plan offered an open and communal living space that was surprisingly modern nearly sixty years after being built.

With a few twists and turns the house in Harvey Park was an update on the original Cliff May design. Built in 1956, the house has been updated several times -- most recently by architect Holly Hall -- but still retains the essential qualities that originally set these houses apart. The one-story, open plan lets spaces blend into one another. Post-and-beam construction opens up the floor plan and offers great flexibility: interior walls are not structural and so the space can be divided up as needed. Cathedral ceilings in every room make this 1300 sq. ft. foot home feel much larger than it is.
 
Many details
add to the efficient use of space and the feeling of openness. The main room includes the kitchen, dining room and living room complete with fireplace. The new owners have found the large, central space works well as a communal space and is great for entertaining friends or family. The kitchen is defined by an L shaped counter and a small central island. The original partitions that surrounded the kitchen have been removed and the space is now connected to the living and dining rooms. This openness allows those cooking to connect and communicate with others in the living areas. The living room, which features a gas fireplace that provides a substantial portion of the heating needs, opens to a private courtyard.

The courtyard extends the living space and gives the sense of an outdoor room. Privacy is further enhanced by locating the garage on the other side of the courtyard, enclosing the space and separating it from the outside world -- i.e. the street.

Floor to ceiling windows and exterior glass doors merge indoor and outdoor space. Clerestory windows at each end of the house open the house further and let light in throughout the day. Every room in the house has a connection to the outside -- and to nature through the use of natural materials like the rough cut cedar siding and warm red oak flooring, both still in good condition after nearly sixty years. Bamboo added to the short wall in the living room wall brings more warm tones.

The kitchen remodel included replacing the original metal cabinets with Ikea enamel cabinets. The countertop was replaced with a quartz countertop and the overall length was increased. The original 6 ½ foot tall kitchen
walls were removed and the space is now defined by the L shaped counters and a central island.  Recessed lights were added to the kitchen ceiling leading the eye upwards and adding to the sense of spaciousness. An undermount sink and a ceramic tile floor complete the kitchen.
 
Other upgrades include: double glazed vinyl windows, sliding glass door to the porch; and the extended kitchen counter.  The cathedral ceilings in each room have been insulated for greater thermal efficiency. Bathrooms have been updated with new fixtures and stone and tile surrounds, and bamboo-motif tile floors (as in the kitchen).  

The Bateys extended the historic quality of the house by purchasing restored Mid-century Modern furniture and arranging it tastefully thoughout the central living space.  The dining table fits the period and is size appropriate to the space.  A cadenza had been restored by a local aficionado know as Mid-Century Mike.  The piece is beautiful and fits the house perfectly. Chairs, lamps and other details also fit the period.

Plans down the road call for an on-demand water heater, a period grill for the back yard and getting to know neighbors, many of whom are ardent Cliff May enthusiasts!

Mid-Century Modern In Denver Inspiration

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