George Nelson was baffled by the “drab uniformity” of residential neighborhoods in the 1940s and particularly upset by “pathetic little white boxes with dressed-up street fronts, each striving for individuality through meaningless changes in detail or color.” Fortunately for his clients, he had the antidote to such blandness, driven by his belief that “the reason today’s house is so uninteresting is simply that it fails to echo life as we live it.”
Those statements were made in Tomorrow’s House, the bestselling book he wrote with Henry Wright in 1945. A decade later, he and Gordon Chadwick would design the Kirkpatrick House in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It wasn’t their first house, but it’s the epitome of one designed to be in sync with how the homeowners lived – then and now.
Completed in 1958, the Kirkpatrick House was beautifully restored in 2012 by its current owners, who also happen to be collectors of vintage Herman Miller furniture. In addition to bringing back the original paint colors – all 20 of them – they returned the floors to the original hardwood and tile. When asked what makes the house livable, they praised its storage and large windows that fill it with sunlight. And despite today’s trend for open-kitchen layouts, these homeowners love the fact that they can close off the galley kitchen when entertaining. In a nutshell, they say, the house is “just right.”
Images courtesy of Paul Barbera.