H&G’s Hallmark house for 1963: A mid-century modern model home
One house in a million — The H&G hallmark is bestowed each year on a house distinguished for both its design and its potential for offering pleasure in exactly the way its family wants to be pleased.
The truth of Mr. Edgar’s Guest observation on the amount of living required to make a home is neatly vouched for by H&G’s Hallmark House for 1963.
Designed by O’Neil Ford and Associates and built in a new suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, it belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Dale Carter — the eighth house they have lived in during their married life, the third they have built. A heap of living, indeed.
To the Carters, wise now as owls in the ways of houses, one of the greatest charms of their eighth house is that it fits their needs and whims like a wonderful glove.
They wanted plenty of room (they got a bit less than 5,000 square feet), but it is so subtly apportioned (a lesson learned from their previous house) that they never feel they are rattling about in it. Above all, however, they wanted warmth, informality and a constant and palpable sense of welcome — both for themselves and their friends.
Having lived always in traditional houses, the Carters felt the urge, too, for an architectural departure — not a violent one, but one new to them.
Consequently, in a designed-in-our-time sense, their house is contemporary in concept and execution, sweeping and strong of line, yet refined in its ruggedness and with no vestige of the bizarre. It epitomizes the sense of shelter.
A covered walk — a good looking, practical link between house and carport — leads to the front doors, is flanked by rock gardens.
But for all its spaciousness and the patent fact that it was not built for a song, the house possesses a number of features that are applicable to smaller and less expensive houses. Utilitarian devices, for example, are so much a part of the overall design that one forgets they are utilities.
Imitable on a smaller scale, certainly, is the widespread and inventive use of wood (Mr. Carter deals in lumber, loves wood, is a connoisseur). Not only is the entire exterior of red cedar, but ash, walnut, cedar and honey locust — carved, turned and paneled — are used throughout the interior as much for ornament as structure.
Equally notable is the lighting, intricate and fascinating, particularly in the living room where artificial sunlight is summoned up with the turning of a dial — and in the gardens where, come sundown, man-made moonlight always shines.
Day or night, the gardens are a delightful surprise, unsuspected when you see the house from a little distance. There are two — the water garden on our cover and a walled garden called the patio — which penetrate the house in such a manner that, had they roofs, they would be rooms.
The Carters wanted their gardens close enough so that they could open a window, reach out and pick a flower.
The front doors of carved ash (the work of Lynn Ford) are touched with polychrome to echo the pink of the old brick used inside and outside the house.
ABOUT THIS MID-CENTURY MODERN SHOW HOME
Architects: O’Neil Ford and Associates
Landscape Architects: Lambert Landscaping Co.
Interior decorator: Mrs. John Egan
Garden lighting: John Watson
Size: 4,646 square feet
The incorporation of the gardens as an integral part of the house is abetted by the H-shaped plan — a very simple plan, actually, but one that skillfully partitions the space.
There are two almost separate structures — one for living, one for sleeping — linked only by a glass-walled gallery that is flanked by the patio on one side, the water garden on the other.
Since the Carters wanted neither library, family room nor study, the 1,000-square-foot living room was designed to encompass any living demand made of it.
Occasionally, the Carters even eat there, although there is a formal dining room large enough to seat twelve in servable comfort (Mrs. Carter prefers eight: conversation is easier), plus a much used and quite separate breakfast room, and the patio for sun- or moonlit meals. The family’s dining pattern is charmingly uninhibited.
The lion’s share of the sleeping wing is given to the master bedroom, bath and dressing rooms — the Carters’ ivory tower. One of their two married daughters frequently comes from Montana to visit them (the other lives a Tulsan stone’s throw away), so there is also a guest room, plus a bedroom-and-bath pied-a-terre for their post-college son.
From the book corner near the fireplace, you can look down the length of the room, and across the entrance hall to the dining room beyond.
The living room
Day or night, the living room is a delight. Any possibility of dark-day gloom is scotched by an unusual version of the luminous ceiling — a panel of built-in sunlight that sweeps the length of the room.
Overlaid with a grille of locust wood and controlled by a rheostat, the panel provides filtered light in any intensity the Carters may fancy — yet always unobtrusively.
This ingenious device is augmented by ceiling spotlights which are focused on two picture walls. One of them is crowned by a grillwork of delicate locust wands that conceal the speakers for the hi-fi system installed in a cabinet in the entrance hall.
Fountainhead of the room’s color is the little Louis Treize armoire beside the fireplace.
Honey locust wood, bleached a pale amber, panels the entire room, frames the windows, forms their valances, supplies a tawny background for the interplay of contemporary and antique furniture, and a contrast to the white flooring — precast terrazzo squares.
The water garden provides a green change of pace between the bustle of activity in the living room wing and the quietude of the slumber wing
Outside the mid-century modern show home: The garden between the wings
The arterial gallery between the two wings of the house opens on its southern side to the water garden. Outside the gallery is a covered porch paved, like the gallery itself, with black iridescent oxidized concrete.
From there — like an elegant mermaid’s tail — a deck-bridge swirls out across a blue-lined reflecting pool cockaded in summer with water lilies. Near its end, the bridge splits into two branches that narrow into cushioned benches.
The planting was plotted to follow the sun. Tulips, irises, narcissi, pink azaleas, jasmine and jonquils throughout their seasonal tenures are collared by the green of English ivy. Yaupon holly trees contribute pattern and height, and feather-rock boulders provide the necessary mass.
By night, carefully concealed lighting gives the garden a shimmer as close as possible to that of natural moonlight, but of greater intensity. The effect is that of a soft and indirect flooding, cool in quality to contrast with the warmth of the incandescent lighting within the house.
Light is played off the top of the surrounding trees, and certain plants — the azaleas, for instance — are lighted differently when they are flowering than when they are not. When out of bloom, they are silhouetted sharply rather than bathed in gentle light to bring out their color.
All the garden lighting is zoned for specific areas, each separately controlled by a switch in a panel in the bedroom corridor.
Since both sides of the glass-walled gallery can be opened wide, on party nights guests can saunter out onto the water garden’s bridge and on to the grounds, or, if they like. drift in the other direction into the walled dining patio on the north side of the gallery.
In the master bedroom, honey locust window cornices make a neat mask for curtain traverse rods.
Master bedroom and dressing room
Having crossed the gallery (as a guest or a Carter), you turn to the right in the sleeping wing to get to the master bedroom — a sanctum not only for slumber, but for reading. writing and television.
Like the living room, the bedroom looks out on the water garden, and, filled with a lovely foliage-filtered light, seems half glass because of its garden-framing triple-hung windows. With their lower sections raised, the openings are as high as doors.
Without detouring, the Carters can go from bedroom to garden to sun themselves and stroll beside the wall of old pink brick that circles half the site.
Except for the beds, the room is furnished as a sitting room (in pale beige, umber and sienna). There is no need of storage furniture since all the exigencies and rites of dressing are relegated to the extraordinary little bathing-and-storage labyrinth next door.
Although it has two entrances — a His and a Hers — both are means to the same end: the happy ritual of getting dressed. Equally divided the dressing room offers two of everything: marble-topped lavatory counters, walk-in closets, personalized storage.
Mrs. Carter’s section also accommodates a dressing counter, flanked by hat and bag compartments. Mr. Carter’s area is similar but with 2 bank of drawers — in lieu of a dressing table — for anything and everything masculine.
The shower compartment is sandwiched between the two marble counters while tub, toilet and linen closet are sequestered in a room of their own between the two walk-in closets.
The gallery-porch that surveys the water garden is only a quick skip around the corner from the master bedroom.
The breakfast room opens directly onto the dining patio.
The breakfast room and the kitchen
On balmy mornings, the Carters can cut across the walled patio to reach the breakfast room in the forward wing of the house. In this small, secluded room, the mushroom motif has been exploited, in the manner of the small café.
In orange and yellow, the parasol fungus sports its cap on wallpaper and curtain fabric, and again (turning into a champignon) in old French, maple-framed prints.
An old friend, the pink brick of the garden wall, forms two adjoining walls of the room, in one of which is an antique hooded Flemish grate of copper and brass.
Sometimes the Carters break their fast in the patio, where dining furniture is a permanent fixture, and sometimes, on humid mornings, they have coffee in the kitchen in a little nook dominated by a pewter-laden Flemish dresser.
The kitchen itself is a pure Carterism in that it eschews glitter and sky-blue-pinkness in favor of fine walnut-paneled cabinets set off by white plastic counter-tops and walls papered, like the breakfast room, with mushroom nosegays.
In the kitchen work center, the barbecue is in a niche of old pink brick at left of the built in refrigerator-freezer.
Quieter in mood than most new kitchens, this one is an efficient servant, and like the rest of the house, the satisfying result of the Carters’ knowing exactly what they wanted.
Again, like the rest of the house, the kitchen is cut from the finest materials and precisely tailored to the tastes of two people who have learned at last that they can only wear — in complete ‘Sartor Resartus’ enjoyment — one very particular kind of glove.
Lord of an acre-plus plot, the house glows with a soft pink radiance, the result of a rose-beige stain on Western red cedar siding.