Open House: The Carter Family’s Munster Mid-Century
When, during my recent visit to the spectacular mid-century modern showroom Pegboard Modern, owner David Carter mentioned he and his family lived in a mid-century modern home designed by architect John McPherson, my ears perked up and my photo finger started twitching. Just a few weeks later, I was in his home’s original kitchen chatting with he and his wife Amy while their young son Logan tried to play off his excess energy (donut overdose). Yes, I have the greatest job in the whole world.
The couple lived in Chicago for years, dealing mid-century goods at various antique malls. They were also Internet pioneers, starting their Pegboard Modern website in 1992. While they loved living in Chicago, Logan’s arrival convinced them to investigate other cities with lower cost single family homes.
When they learned that Munster, Indiana ,with its low prices and proximity to Chicago (it’s a quicker drive than many Illinois suburbs) had a significant number of mid-century houses designed by notable architects, they began searching and were stunned to find their John McPherson designed home, which they moved into two years ago. In fact, their entire neighborhood is dotted with architecturally significant homes built during the 50′s and 60′s. The Carter’s house was designed as four distinct cubes, essentially small brick buildings which intersect in the middle, a dramatic round living room with a fireplace, tongue-in-groove floors and a dramatic vaulted ceiling with skylights.
Continued . . .
While they were thrilled with the discovery and the price (it cost less than a week’s worth of Venti Mochas), their home inspector was less than impressed, at least initially. When he arrived at the house, the traditionalist immediately starting ribbing David about the home’s style, a verbal assault which continued until he actually began inspecting the home. David, a master of mid-centur-chi, silenced his ego and allowed the inspector to draw his own conclusion as it slowly dawned on him that the home had aged little in forty years, that, in fact, the house was, “built like a tank” (his words, not David’s). Bow.
McPherson didn’t designed the Carter’s home with its environment in mind; he considered natural light, temperature variation and the needs of the people who would live there. The brick structure faces west to capture the afternoon sun, enabling natural light to warm the home during the long winter and to take advantage of a cooling breeze during warmer months. A partial wall, which includes storage closets, separates the front door from the large round living room and creates an entry where coats and shoes can be left without cluttering the main living area, Doors flank the partial wall, which can be opened or closed depending on the weather.
Whether it be winter or summer, sunny or rainy, the house just feels good (David calls it a big, happy, fun house), and that’s the difference between living in a home thoughtfully designed for its environment and one that’s just thrown up (is that a pun?) willy-nilly (which is just silly).
Sometimes during the middle of the night when Amy and Logan are sleeping and the house is quiet, David walks around the quite house and marvels that he and his family live in such a fantastic home. Design really is within reach, at least in Munster, Indiana.
The couple love mid-century furniture, but their passion is Tiki. Come back tomorrow to see their Tiki basement. And click here to learn more about their recent book, Tiki Quest: Collecting the Exotic Past.