Time warp rescue

From dark and dated to refined and retro

A mid-century modern home gets a chic and playful update

Story by Mara Severin • Photography by Dori Yelverton, DSY Photography

Walking into Juanita and Paul Patterson's home is a bit like stepping into another time. An archetypal mid-century modern house in one of Anchorage's older neighborhoods, the home has distinct retro appeal.

General Contractor
Trailboss Solutions, LLC
Interior designer
Jana Seda
Pendants: Astron Mid Century Modern Cord Pendant, Rejuvenation; Under-cabinet: Kichler Xenon, Brown's Electric; Dining room: Possini Euro Design White Flower Pendant Chandelier, Eurostyle Lighting
Sable-Stained Cherry Wood, Bellmont Cabinetry, provided and installed by Trailboss Solutions
Cascade White, Chroma Quartz, fabricated and installed by Rino's Tile & Stone
Piano Glass Mosaic, Tempo BS Tile, Solistone, provided and installed by Trailboss Solutions
Tiger, Solid Bamboo, Bamboo Fusion, provided and installed by Trailboss Solutions
Appliances & Range hood
Viking, Allen & Petersen
Mirabelle, stainless steel Ravenel Faucet, Ferguson Enterprises
Carpet squares, FLOR
Onda Counter Stool, Design Within Reach, designed by Jesús Gasca for Stua Barstools Design Within Reach, Onda Counter Stool

"It kind of made us want a martini," says Juanita of their first impression of the house. Gold-painted brick-work, a stunning atrium with tropical plants, and a built-in wet-bar customized to hold a record player and album collection were all elements that charmed the couple from Texas who are used to living in homes with history.

But the charm stopped in the kitchen. A room designed for functionality (without the fun), it was a narrow, galley-style area with too little light, dated appliances, and a low-slung set of cabinets that left the cook out of the proverbial party. They needed a new concept and a fashionable retro-fit.

Enter Jana Seda of Trailboss Solutions. "Jana seemed to have the best understanding of what we were looking for and seemed to love the feel of the house as much as we do," says Juanita.

"I thought, 'I will do anything to do this project,'" says Jana. "I could tell it was going to be really cool. It was like walking back in time."

Rather than throwing out the period feel of the home along with the old-fashioned appliances, they decided to embrace it. They took a "Brady Bunch" kitchen and gave it a bit of "Mad Men" chic.

Addition through subtraction

The first challenge was creating more space – and the feeling of space – without actually adding any square footage. "We essentially stretched the original layout and removed obstructions," says Juanita. The overhead cabinets that blocked out the kitchen from the rest of the house were removed, creating: an ample island with workspace on one side (complete with Viking stovetop) and visiting space on the other (with funky modern bar chairs). An underutilized office/pantry space was integrated into the kitchen creating more storage space and exposing a window that brings in much-needed light to the area. On the opposite side, removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room brought in a flood of light from the generously proportioned dining room window. What was once a cramped, dim, inefficient space is now light-filled and welcoming. A clean, bright place to cook, eat and visit.

"We didn't make the space any bigger," says Jana. "It's one thing to improve a space by blowing walls out or building out," she says. "But the ones where you really have to come up with smart solutions – those are the most fun."

One man's treasure...

The 1965 house had not been substantially updated since it was built. "It still had the original St. Charles metal cabinets with black walnut doors," she says. And while the couple decided on new cabinetry to complete the updated look in their kitchen, they were careful to re-home these iconic (and no longer available) cabinets. "We were surprised to find so much interest in them here in Anchorage," says Juanita. "But we were glad they were going to someone who appreciated them."

In their place are sable-stained, cherry wood Bellmont cabinets. "One thing I had to have in my kitchen were quality European (frameless) cabinets," says Juanita. "They make much more efficient use of space." Juanita also wanted to avoid the half-shelf found in lower-grade base cabinets. "We bought the best cabinet boxes that we could afford and put pullout shelves in the base cabinets," she explained.

The dark cabinets contrast vividly with the clean, Chroma quartz countertops in cascade white – a distinctive look that Juanita has always loved.

A punchy, playful palette

Offsetting this starkness of the dark and light look is a bold and playful color palette: The citrusy lime of the glass tile mosaic backsplash and the Rejuvenation pendant lights, the dark tangerine of the dining room walls, and a deep and splashy turquoise wall in the entryway. Flor carpet squares that echo each of these shades are in the kitchen and the entry area. "Jana chose the paint colors without knowing that the colors she picked are my favorites," says Juanita.

"We were always on the same page," says Jana.

Parties past and present

It's a colorful house with a colorful history. "Our house was once owned by Katherine (Kay) Fanning, who owned the Anchorage Daily News in the late '60s and early '70s," explains Juanita. The house is even mentioned in a book about her life – Kay Fanning's Alaska Story. "We have imagined her having dinner parties here attended by prominent Alaskans, like Ted Stevens," says Juanita, indulging in a little time-travel daydream. No doubt the house has seen some great parties. But now, with its fresh new face, it seems clear that this home's best days are yet to come.