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Modern Living, Family-Style

By Misty Adair Photos By Casey Dunn Issue Apr / May 2010 Neighborhood South Side

Architect Carey Dodson of Dunnam + Dodson designs homes by listening to her client’s unique needs. In the case of the Meads, a young family with two girls, the word Dodson repeatedly heard was “storage.” Following the primary need for storage solutions was the craving for a clean, modern look and rich, dark woods. The result is a stylish home with cleverly devised cabinetry and niches for just about everything a busy family needs, from crayons to diapers and skateboards.

“We had a collective vision for the remodel, but really…I think we were both a bit surprised by how much we love it,” says owner Dave Mead. “We definitely feel like we created the perfect house for us and our family.”

Although Dave and his wife, Bonnie Markel Mead, were initially looking for a mid-century home, they settled on this Barton Hills house built in 1966. The street where the house is located was once deemed the Barton Hills Parade of Homes, so each house was designed and constructed by a different builder. In 2006, the Meads purchased the home from the original owners, who had last remodeled the home in the 80s. With compartmentalized rooms, dark wood-paneling, and generally outdated everything, the home was long overdue for a makeover. The Meads hired Dodson to redesign the space to fit a contemporary lifestyle, while maintaining the home’s genuine character.

“There was a duality of respecting the original house and its period while drastically changing the design and function for a modern family,” says Dodson. “There is an added dynamic in modern homes that comes from the blurred lines between work, recreation, and family life. The Mead residence is a great example of a home that is used to its fullest capacity in all these activities.”

A notable feature in almost every room is the beautiful but practical cabinetry built by Honea Woodworks. In fact, the focal point of the main living area is a floor to ceiling walnut wood “cube” with open and closed storage. One side of the cube has cabinets that face the living room, while the opposite side of the cube provides storage for a galley style kitchen. White quartz countertops wrap around the cube to define a bar in the living room and the workspace for the kitchen. The overall design exemplifies the simple and efficient use of storage and space in this home.

“The kitchen is our favorite feature,” says Dave. “The walnut feels like art to us, something we never get tired of looking at. The design and functionality of the cabinetry is remarkable.”

In the living room, Dodson opted to keep the original fireplace but remove the outdated mantle. The floors were replaced with prefinished pecan in a golden stain that contrasts with the deeper walnut wood built-ins. Bonnie arranged the furniture in the large living room to separate three purposeful zones: a comfortable den for watching TV with the family, a conversation area for guests, and a casual dining room. Each space is anchored by a rug, including a graphic cowhide under the dining room table.

The dining room chandelier was salvaged from the original house, but given new life with a coat of lime green paint. For the entryway, the Meads purchased a reproduction Sputnik light fixture but toned down the chrome with white paint. Artwork dots the crisp white walls throughout the living space. Pieces include a colorful photograph of campers in the Pyrenees by Brent Humphreys, a mixed media sculptural piece by Robert Moreland, and a two-part Hatch Show print of a red trailer. Most fabulous of all is the commissioned portrait by Felice House. The image, which was reproduced for the couple’s holiday card, spotlights Bonnie and Dave dressed in retro garb and posed in a wood paneled room with a stuffed dog (yes, really).

The second phase of the remodel project primarily addressed the master suite upstairs and the studio workspace downstairs. In the master bedroom, Dodson opened up the exterior wall with full-length wood windows and a glass door to the balcony. Typical to the period, the master bedroom featured a vanity and sink outside the contained bath and toilet area. The Meads chose to gut the entire bathroom and start over with an open bathroom format, a floating sink console, a glass shower, and closet with customized sliding doors. The only relics that remain from the former master bathroom are two ornate gold mirrors that contrast against the simplicity of everything else.

Dave, a photographer, and Bonnie, a photo stylist, both freelance from home. Because they have to balance their careers with parenthood 24/7, it was imperative that they have a studio workspace that worked for them. The Meads gave up a two-car garage for a dual office and family room, meaning items that would normally be in the garage had to be incorporated neatly into the multi-use space. Long custom closets along an entire wall took care of the job.

“A key element of this design was to make sure that all components of modern life had a home,” says Dodson. “By our placement and careful use of storage throughout the house, we allowed each room to feel uncluttered and serene.”

The studio has glass paned garage doors that let in light for photo shoots and can be opened on pleasant days. The concrete floor was covered in white epoxy by Dave’s friend Travis Kimler. Strangely, the garage had been home to a lone toilet in the corner of its space. The architect kept the plumbing and designed a powder room to go around the toilet. A functional laundry room is concealed behind sliding doors covered in chalkboard paint. While Dave and Bonnie are working, the children can draw on the wall with zero consequences. That’s not only kid-friendly but also parent-wise design.


Comments (1)

  1. [...] couple chose their 1966 retro pad knowing that a redesign was a must, but they still hoped to stay in line with the home’s original style. So the first step was [...]

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