July 27, 2012
When Steve Austin and Ben Henson put an offer on a mid-century modern home in Doraville’s Northwoods neighborhood, the usual reaction from their friends when they heard the news was a confused look or a blank stare. The couple’s friends didn’t realize that the area contains a trove of surprisingly-affordable, California-inspired mid-century ranch homes which are on their way to being listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, or that the home the two men were buying was one of the prototypes designed by Georgia Tech architecture school graduate Ernest Mastin! Ben and Steve quickly realized that they had discovered one of Metro Atlanta’s best-kept secrets!
The house, built in 1953, did not show very well in its online listing – it was painted a very bright yellow color that looked almost radioactive. It took the two men a few months of looking at it online before finally going to see it in person. It admittedly required a bit of vision to see beyond the house’s rough edges, but as soon as they walked through the doors, both Steve and Ben knew they were home.
Their neighbors were happy when, not too long after they moved in, Ben and Steve had the house re-painted a color called “French Gray”. The couple was really surprised that the painting on both the inside and outside was done within two days. The end result is a home that maintains its original character and manages to charm visitors and passers-by without clubbing them over the head with visual sensation.
The two men make a great team. Steve is the one with a real passion for mid-century architecture – part of this may come from him growing up with a mother and father who would purchase homes from the 40s and 50s, fix them up and re-sell them. The house in Northwoods felt immediately familiar to him and appealed to his respect for clean lines, craftsmanship and rational design. Ben, on the other hand, likes to work with his hands and see vision turn to reality. Much of the restoration work in the house has been largely completed by Ben with input from Steve. Together, they have created something special.
One of their early projects was removing the stone facade from the fireplace in the living room. Here it is before the renovation:
And here it is after:
Another “little” project was in the bathroom. A previous owner had really liked pink – and painted the entire bathroom in that color. It took hours of scrubbing with acetone, but finally the original peach hue started showing through. It was a labor of love, but definitely worth it.
Soon after moving in, Steve and Ben decided to replace the old ceramic tile in the kitchen with Vinyl Composite Tile, which is similar to the type of flooring you might have originally seen in a house like this. The “woven” pattern they created using three different colors of tile is really unique and catches visitors’ eyes the first time they see it!
It really doesn’t look like the same kitchen after Ben and Steve finished with it!
They also chose to create an accent wall in their hallway using a stunning patterned wallpaper which really brings out the ceiling height.
No space in this home goes unused. They have created an efficient master bedroom, and use the other two bedrooms as an office and lounge respectively.
Steve (left) and Ben (right) have done a truly amazing job – I am proud to call them neighbors!
Check out their whole remodeling saga on their blog - Retro Remodel.