The term “mid-century modern” receives a lot of buzz these days. Often coined “MCM,” this interior design style rose to popularity in the 1950s, when furniture and accessories that had a more pared down look were preferred over the fussier, ornate pieces of previous eras. In recent years, vestiges of this now-famous decorating style have popped up in homes and interiors stores everywhere, with its signature clean lines and boxy silhouettes becoming the “in” way to style a home, especially for younger generations.
In the ’60s, when the MCM style was in full force, a sturdy house was built in rural Kentucky. Decades later, it’s now a stylish weekend retreat for a large family, thanks to a facelift provided by interior designer Amy Cimba, who is Vice President of Bittners, Louisville’s most historic design firm.
When Amy’s longtime clients approached her about redesigning the newly acquired house out in the country, she said yes with enthusiasm. A true mid-century modern manse, which Amy estimates is a whopping 15,000 square feet, the house features all the hallmarks of homes of that period, including soaring ceilings, terra-cotta tiles and terrazzo flooring. “When my client bought it, it was completely empty,” Amy says. “No one had been in it in a while, but it had some great bones and amazing space — not to mention the incredible views.”
Set on a hill overlooking a creek, the house certainly does boast some spectacular vistas. “It’s pretty much in farmland,” Amy says, though the property is only about an hour and a half away from the family’s Louisville home base. The rural landscape plays host to the standard fare of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing and ATV-riding. It also serves as the family’s weekend retreat and the expansive meeting place where relatives and friends gather on holidays.
Initially, this re-design was to be a small construction project, “and then it snowballed,” says Amy. The homeowners did more major renovations, all the while putting an emphasis on leaving as much alone as possible. “We really wanted to save the integrity of the house to the degree that we could,” Amy adds.
An example is in the bar and its adjacent living area. “This was one of the few spaces that had paneled walls,” says Amy. “We all sort of agreed that the paneling was good-looking, so we wanted to salvage that. [The room] had all of these warm elements already, and the bar just needed some tweaking.”
Some of the light fixtures throughout the home were too dated to keep, so Amy swapped those out for some fresher options that still feel right at home. Yet her retro design choices — from the upholstery to the accessories to the lines of the furniture — feel so authentic, one might think they’re original to the house.
The bathrooms and kitchen all got makeovers, too, but the details were tweaked or left alone to ensure authenticity. The end result is a space reminiscent of a scene from AMC’s “Mad Men.” But this place is no set; it’s the real deal!
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