We recently took a trip to Atlanta to visit one of my buddies from architecture school Mr. Scott Mahle. Scott is an architect in Atlanta and we make a good effort to stay in touch and plan a yearly trip to visit each other. Now that we are in our 30’s, I realize just how difficult it can be to maintain all of these different friendships. So I am grateful for friends like Scott. We also got to meet Scott's girlfriend Jessica, who was great.
Interestingly enough, our ‘Atlanta Trip’ occurred mostly in the town of Roswell, the town in which Scott recently moved. Now that I am a self-proclaimed blogger, I am in constant search of new content for the website. I went to Atlanta with the presumption that I would create a post about Atlanta architecture. But instead I came out with a handful of other blog ideas. The first of them being this blog about Scott's Modern house.
In the last year, Scott finished the renovation of his new house. We were actually buying and renovating our new houses around the same time. We had discussed our projects often and had exchanged pictures, but this was the first time that I had seen his creation in person. In short, I was blown away by Scott’s home. He had taken a simple 1 story ranch house and turned it into a very thoughtful contemporary home. There are many great aspects to Scott’s home, but I was most impressed by his attention to modern details. In fact I was down right jealous. Having just finished our renovation and being a fairly competitive architect, I was a little angry! I mean…we were supposed to be the ones with the awesome new modern reno! Now of course I am just kidding around……………….but seriously Scott....WTF!
So instead of a blog about the architecture of Atlanta, this blog is about the modern details that make up Casa Mahle.
The kitchen has become the most important room in the home so it’s no surprise that Scott focused most of his energy here. You do not have to be an architect to recognize that this is one amazing space. But what about this space makes it MODERN?
Of course natural light was important before modern architecture. But modern buildings typically have an abundance of natural light and a greater connection to the outside. Scott installed skylights, removed walls and added French doors that have created a light-filled and very pleasant kitchen.
Another hallmark of modern architecture, wide open spaces. This is a very open kitchen that is great for cooking and entertaining.
If the kitchen is the most important room in the house, then the island is the most important part of the kitchen. This island creates a centerpiece for the kitchen. It functions as a working surface for food prep, has a lowered surface for dining or use as a desk, and has ample and flexible storage.
It is common for the island to have a sink or a cooktop. Personally, I prefer this arrangement where the island is free and clear for optimum flexibility. Check out the way that the countertop appears to seamlessly fold down from the upper surface to the lower. Sweet!!!! Perfect segue for the next topic:
White countertops are very popular right now. Not only in modern design, but in all types of kitchens. It is a very clean and simple look and it definitely brightens the space. White is the new orange? These countertops are solid surface. Another popular choice for white countertops are quartz.
The cabinets are a flush wood panel with a painted matte finish. Notice that there is no hardware. A strict modernist would consider hardware as decoration and too fussy. Minimalism is at the heart of modernism. Instead of hardware, the cabinet panels have been cut out to create pulls. The result is a very clean and minimal look. The choice of a muted blue/gray color was a wise choice. It adds just enough color to the room without overwhelming the space. There is enough color provided by the food, books and other accouterment.
Another big trend in kitchen design, is shelves in lieu of wall cabinets. The previous trend was to load up every square inch of wall space with cabinetry. Scott has a mixture of both. For the main feature wall, Scott chose shelves. This is very effective at making the kitchen feel bigger and more open. It also puts greater emphasis on the range hood. Also, check out how those shelves appear to float. They are actually cantilevered off of the wall. The cantilever is definitely not a modern invention, however it has become a favorite tool of modern designers. Exploiting the strength of modern materials and creating things that appear to float or defy gravity is uber modern.
Stainless Steel Appliances
There was a period when panelized appliances that appeared to blend into the cabinetry was the in thing. Not any more. Stainless steel appliances have made a strong come-back. We have decided that it is ok for the kitchen to look like a kitchen. No reason to hide the function of the space. Think of the stainless as the bling of the kitchen.
And it works!
A modern kitchen better function, right? Chicago architect Louis Sullivan famously coined the term that 'Form Follows Function.' These pictures are proof. Scott and Jessica made us many great meals here. Although apparently this kitchen isn't capable of cooking meat. Also very modern.
Out of the kitchen and into the library.
I love the way that the library and the kitchen are seamless. Most people would opt for the dining room to be in the same space as the kitchen. But not Scott. Libraries are very important to architects. If you are an architect and you don’t have a library…..........well I’m just sayin……. I’m not sayin…… I’m just sayin. Notice that his library is not only filled with books, but also holds lots of different keep sakes and knick knacks. It has the appearance of being randomly arranged, but I would bet that the arrangement of this library is very planned.
The Dining Room
The dining room was very simple. One thing I will point out in this picture is the trim. Standard stock 1x4 is used instead of a more ornate decorative base. Window casing is also flat 1x4. There is no crown moulding. The window treatment is a very simple roll down shade. It gives the appearance of a blank canvas when lowered. Great light fixture. The white walls also help brighten the room.
Integrating a television into a living room is a real design challenge. Televisions just keep getting bigger and bigger, and they are often accompanied by all sorts of auxiliary devices and chords. How do you integrate something that is so big and hide all those dang chords?!
Scott has taken a good run at it. The TV is mounted directly to the wall and the TV stand is mounted and cantilevered off of the wall. Remember that cantilever move? Here it is again. Not a chord in site. Well done Scotty! Scott designed this cabinet and had his cabinet dude make it for him.
If the kitchen is the most important room in today's home, then the bathroom is the 2nd most important. When it comes to updating a house, kitchens and bathrooms are usually where the money is spent. Unfortunately bathrooms can be hard to photograph because of their small size, so I apologize for these pictures. Just a few things that I want to point out. Check out that vanity. Notice how it is attached directly to the wall and cantilevers or floats. Notice a trend here? This allows for the floor material to extend under the vanity creating the allusion of a larger space. Also notice that the vanity cabinet is the same type from the kitchen with the flush grey panels and cut-out pulls. The sink surface is a clean white solid surface material just like the kitchen. The floor surface is a concrete topping slab. Exposed concrete is definitely a favorite of modernists. And of course what bathroom would be complete without the glass shower enclosure. Maybe I should have asked for permission before I photographed Scott's bathroom...
God is in the Details
This is a picture that only an architect would take. The great German architect Mies van der Rohe coined the phrases "less is more" and "God is in the details." I think Scott was channeling his inner-Mies when he designed the doors in his home. This picture shows the top corner of a door.
I wanted to point out two things here...two very modern things. First notice that there is no trim or door casing around this opening. This is not as easy as it sounds. Trim serves a very important function in that it is often used to cover up mistakes and provide a hard surface at corners. The lack of trim here put a lot of pressure on the dry-wallers to finish these corners perfectly. In fact Scott commented on the headaches and endless mudding that went into crafting these corners. He also mentioned that some of these corners had cracked. Second I wanted to point out the choice of door. This is an un finished flat hollow wood door. Hollow wood doors are about as cheap as it gets. But it looks damn good here. A tip to the architects out there. Never use the term 'cheap' when talking to a client. Instead use the term 'cost-effective.' It just sounds better. The result of these two choices is a very clean minimal look.
Scott even made a thoughtful decision with the floor registers. This is a company called kul grilles. kulgrilles.com
Thats All Folks!
I'll end this post with a picture of Scott and his lovely girlfriend, Jessica. Aren't they great? Scott is a new breed of modern man that has been dubbed the 'Lumber-Sexual.' Sorry Scott. Think young dudes sporting beards and flannel but subtract the hunting and logging usually associated with this look. We had an amazing weekend and these two were the best of hosts. I am now on a mission to up the modernism of our home. We are currently planning our phase 2 renovation.