There’s something about midcentury modern design: It’s classic, but still manages to be new and surprising. It’s timeless. It’s dynamic.
Born in the shadows of post-World War II, there was a boundless optimism and striving for the future to it all — swooshes and spires and slopes and elegant curves, flat planes, open spaces, and endless glass. It was a design concept that was breathtakingly new at its inception, and somehow still manages to be so when we see it today. In Houston, it harks back to our race with Russia to get to the moon and beyond.
A classic example of it is for sale over in Westbury. Buyers interested in a piece of history can check out the listing on HAR for $369,000. In addition to its interior charm and details, The Giveaway House sits on a sizable, 8,400-square-foot lot, with a backyard that leaves endless options for entertaining.
The home on 5702 Warm Springs Rd. was featured as part of the 1959 Greater Houston Builders Association Parade of Homes. Known as “The Giveaway House,” it was initially raffled off to its first owners. According to the current owner, the year the house landed on the Parade of Homes, each home on the tour had a different theme; the Giveaway House’s was “his and hers,” featuring design elements like garages that flank each end of the house and two tiled bathrooms, one done in pink, the other in blue.
“When we bought it in 2015, we really wanted to preserve the character of it,” says owner Steven Kleege. “So, we decided to make it a time capsule to 1959.”
In addition to making necessary modern improvements such giving it a new hot water heater and a 20-year TPO roof, Kleege and his wife Ping Pong went wild with MCM details throughout the 2,311 square feet. They laid down new flooring, a combination of cork and brightly colored VCT in the kitchen, dining and living rooms, as well as the study.
They restored the cabinetry in the kitchen, adding metal knows and drawer pulls that feature an atomic star design, fitting both for MCM’s design details as well as Houston’s Space City personality. The kitchen’s aqua-colored Formica countertops are genuine, and the double decker Roper range is original to the house. The new dishwasher is “as close as we could get to the original home design,” says Kleege.
The homes sprawling open plan floods with light, and fairly pops with distinct details, including cut-out, built-in shelves, skylights and a huge, double front door. Two exposed brick walls add to its charm. (So does the tiki room, which is tricked out with a bamboo bar, tiki carvings, chocolate brown walls and rattan screens on the windows. But that’s for home buyer inspiration; the Kleeges are taking the tiki set-up with them.)
“We redid the blue bathroom entirely,” says Kleege. “We special ordered the aqua tile, and that vanity was custom built. We added the vintage medicine cabinet, and gave the shower a glass-wall enclosure that makes the room feel larger than it is.”
The couple also revamped the pink bathroom, putting in a new sink, a new pink laminate countertop and a light fixture that evokes the Atomic Age. The bathroom’s drawers have the same atomic stars as the kitchen.
“This is the perfect home for a midcentury modern enthusiast,” says Kleege. “And we’ve always loved how this location feels suburban, but it’s 1.6 miles from 610 off South Post Oak, so it’s still close to everything. And it’s never flooded.”