Revitalized Midcentury Modern Rancher

Savannah-based designer Celestino Piralla of CSCP Consult Design maintains an undeniable passion for all things modern. The Venezuelan native grew up embracing purist principles passed down from his grandfather, renowned architect Zoltan Piralla. Not surprisingly, when Celestino and PR guru Cornelia Stumpf stumbled across a midcentury modern abode that had undergone only a few renovations, they quickly halted their Savannah home search.

Besotted with the home's open plan, large windows, original features and its straightforward architectural elements, the pair saw past plenty of imperfections and embraced the idea of restoring the architectural gem. "Midcentury modern architecture is often overlooked," says Cornelia. "Nevertheless, these buildings are historic and deserve their place in architectural history. They represent one of the best periods in design."

This project exceeded standard expectations. Each and every modification harkens modernist principles and reinstates the home's iconic midcentury ethos. "The goal was to return the house to its original architectural language and allow the modernist concepts of comfortable, rational and practical to dictate the feel," says Celestino.

With form and function as primary considerations, Celestino and Cornelia brought the home up to speed over the duration of a single year.

  • Add a 5-inch lift to create a level foundation.
  • Remove wall-to-wall worn shag carpeting to reveal the original concrete floors.
  • Integrate the living room with the adjacent space by removing a wall.
  • Dismantle acoustical "popcorn" ceilings to expose the home's tongue-and-groove wood framework.
  • Paint ceilings and walls white with an eco-friendly paint to lend an open, airy feel.
  • Replace cabinetry damaged from a flood with flush-mounted glass cabinet faces mounted atop aluminum frames.
  • Install chic quartz countertops in white that won't scratch or stain.

With its understated design elements, the house serves as a blank canvas for furniture, art and accessories. Mavens on all things midcentury modern, the couple had no trouble filling the space with items they love.

Instead of cluttering the home with many small items, Celestino and Cornelia allowed a few chosen pieces to make a big impact. From the bright red Saarinen womb chair and the George Nelson cigar wall pendant to the genuine Harry Bertoia bench, every inch pays homage to midcentury decor.

While each entity reflects a revered modernist era, the overall look reads as collected. "Not one single piece of furniture or artwork was selected to 'match,'" says Celestino.

Consequently, in a city known for its historical Greek revival and neoclassic architecture, this residence remains firmly grounded in its modern roots. "Restoring and saving these wonderful midcentury homes achieves not only a rewarding design result, it also preserves history," says Cornelia. "I hope this renovation inspires people to look beyond dated carpet and ugly wallpaper and do the same."

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