A lithograph by Philip Guston hangs above a Fritz Hansen settee and table; beyond them is the foyer, home to a tiki statue and a 1960s constructivist metal sculpture. Photo Gallery »
SIZE 3,600 square feet
TYPE Single-family home
LOCATION Munster, Indiana
Sometimes, late at night, when his wife, Amy, and six-year-old son are sleeping, David Carter wanders around their house in Munster, Indiana, and marvels at their good fortune in finding it.
Designed by architect John McPherson and built in 1964, the four-bedroom, three-bath brick house has nearly everything the couple had hoped to find when they began their search for a modernist abode three years ago, including an open floor plan, big windows, and intact original details. One of those details is a dramatic round steel fireplace, its flue running up to the highest point (12 feet) of the peaked ceiling in the great room, smack in the middle of the house. Skylights allow light to wash across the variegated red-oak floor, its planks laid in a square pattern, with the limestone hearth as its center point, subtly drawing the eye to the living room, family room, and dining room that surround it. The kitchen, bedrooms, and garage occupy the four corners of the house, whose footprint is a perfect square. The single-level house is “elegant and modern but not austere,” David says, “and it doesn’t feel cavernous.” Owners of Pegboard Modern, a by-appointment showroom specializing in vintage modern furniture and design, the couple couldn’t be bigger fans of the mid-century aesthetic. They searched as far north as Gurnee for a vintage house in good condition; at the suggestion of friends, they checked out Munster. Less than an hour’s drive from the Pegboard showroom, on Chicago’s South Side, the town has several enclaves of homes designed by notable mid-century architects.
The Carters’ house is an ideal stage for their extensive collection of modern furnishings, many of which had languished in storage until the couple could find their dream home. “As soon as I saw the place, I mentally laid out the furniture, and a lot of the pieces are still there today,” says David.
The two admit to having a chair fetish, and there is no shortage of seating. Boxy George Nelson chairs commingle around the fireplace with a George Nakashima spindlback rocking chair and sleek Finn Juhl easy chairs upholstered in black leather. In the formal living room, a large wood tiki figure (the couple wrote a book about the Polynesian craze of the 1960s and 1970s) overlooks another comfortable seating area. In the family room, a George Nelson sofa with plum upholstery and a pair of Coconut chairs, also by Nelson, contrast with the neutral color scheme in the main living areas. “Did you notice that we like Nelson designs?” David asks.
A room divider that houses a media cabinet separates the family room from the central space. Atop the divider, the Carters display a collection of blue-glazed ceramic pieces designed by Aldo Londi for Bitossi. A similar storage unit separates the great room from the foyer, where sliding glass doors serve as the main entrance. Sets of louvered doors on each side of the built-in units can be closed, if desired.
From the street, the splendor and size of the house—3,600 square feet—are not obvious. “The house shuns the street, in a way,” says David, who observes that the architect didn’t worry about curb appeal with this bold, squares-within-a-square house. “McPherson was a proponent of modular and prefab architecture, and when you look at the house, there’s a modular sensibility.”
Between living in such a large home and operating Pegboard out of a massive showroom, the Carters thought they would never run out of space, but they’ve managed to fill their house rather quickly. Not that they’re thinking of moving. “The house suits our lifestyle and our family very well,” says David. “It could have been commissioned for us.”
Photograph: Andy Barnes
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