What’s the best way to show off a house with classic mid-century architecture? With mid-century-style furniture and accessories, of course! That’s why Sacramento Modern (SacMod) — a non-profit focused on preserving modern art, architecture, and design in Sacramento, California — turned to the West Elm Sacramento Design Crew to outfit a two-story Streng Bros. Home in honor of the company’s 60th anniversary. Jim and Bill Streng built and sold over 3,500 modern homes in Sacramento, Yolo and Placer counties over the course of 30 years.
Robert Maurer, the organizer of this Mid-Century Modern Home Tour, says he was inspired to work with West Elm after visiting our impressive Palm Springs Home for Modernism Week this winter. “Seeing a beautiful, historically-significant home that is professionally decorated is a treat for visitors, and I wanted to bring some of that experience to our region,” Robert says. “West Elm is an influencer in the interior design industry, and they’ve embraced modern design and affordability from their very beginnings – two principals that encapsulate the foundations of design in the mid-century era.”
Tour the West Elm Palm Springs Home for Modernism Week here!
What makes mid-century architecture so special to begin with? “It was about shedding the traditional, overly ornate and fussy features that defined the designs and lifestyles of the past, and instead opting for a modern and streamlined approach to design where nature, simplicity, curiosity and boldness take center stage,” says Robert. “It was a time of deep experimentation with new structural concepts, materials, textures, shapes, color palettes and artwork. This was born out of a collective cultural post-war optimism and excitement for the future, fueled primarily by a booming middle class economy. The mid-century era was all about uncomplicated, beautiful solutions that harmonize with their surrounding environment through the use of simple shapes and natural materials.”
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The West Elm Design Crew was eager to jump into the project. “I was so excited,” says T’jae Thorkelson, the visual manager for West Elm Sacramento. “Robert gave us free rein; he said he loved our product, and asked us just to be creative and work with what you have. So I went over and got those measurements and photos and started brainstorming.” He worked on the space with Megan Miller, the visual merchandiser for West Elm Sacramento.
Tour the unique space below and learn more about the design process from T’jae + Megan!
Images by Nicole Dianne Photography
Living Room + Kitchen
Tackling an entire home from scratch in a short timeframe can be a challenge for anyone — even for seasoned design professionals. So for this project, T’jae and Megan took the advice they give their customers every day. “Don’t look at the whole project all at once, just start on one footprint,” T’jae says. “That’s how clients come into the store too. They’ll say, ‘I’m overwhelmed! I’m doing a whole home!’ It’s like, let’s start with one room. One thing at a time.”
In this Streng Bros. Home, that first step was the citron green Pascale Sofa. “If you can find one piece that really speaks to you, everything else will kind of fall into place from there. Usually that piece will have good texture or a fun color,” says T’jae. “The sofa is our favorite piece on the floor for both of us,” says Megan. “We paired it with the Verve Rug and that’s how we got our color story going.” These colors helped them brighten up the classic mid-century dark-colored wood from the kitchen and ceiling beams, as well as pull in the lush greenery peeking out from the home’s many windows.
The upstairs area had a vibrant terracotta-colored wall, so T’jae and Megan decided to keep the rest of the space neutral. A gray Eddy Sofa plus Verona Leather Slipper Chairs create a nice sitting room for conversation, while a modern desk and bookcase allow the space function as an office too.
This upstairs area turned out to be Robert’s favorite part of the home. “The incorporation of a beautiful bar, cozy linens, and an organized workstation made this an inspiring space for both work and play,” he says. “Overlooking the rest of the home from this vantage point was certainly a wow moment on the tour.” Out of more than 3,000 Streng Bros. Homes, only a handful are two-story models due to a lack of demand in the ’70s, so this particular house is extra-special.
“This project was so rewarding in the end,” says T’jae. “There were six different homes on this tour and it was really inspiring to see how everyone else styled their homes. And it’s been rewarding to have people come into the store as a result of this tour. They’ll say, ‘I saw the home, I just bought a Streng home, and it made me want to come here to start out to get some pieces.’ So that was really exciting.”
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