Mid-century modern comes alive in an Ashland home

The cozy media room serves as a second bedroom. A Murphy bed was camouflaged with gray washed wood panels and custom shelving.Photography by Denise Baratta

An unexpected forest and canyons give way to views of Table Rock, providing natural privacy for the homes tucked along a high-elevation cul-de-sac in Ashland. Between the conifers juts up a geometrically-inspired abode, with white vertical lines and several glass walls.

Built in 1989, this 2,756-square-foot, two bedroom, two bath home is unapologetically contemporary and its interior is no exception. Recently redecorated by its owners and designer Kate Crowston of Kate Crowston Interiors in Medford, the home has received a dose of custom color alongside newly-commissioned furniture, light fixtures and art.

Personalizing a space with custom pieces

Decorating a home can seem intimidating — especially if the homeowners have unique design ideas. That's where custom design might make sense.

The "practical positive" of commissioning home décor can be substantial, says Medford interior designer Kate Crowston.

"One, it will fit spatially perfectly; two, you can choose exact colors, patterns, textures, style, finishes, etc., to match existing pieces or your personal style; and, three, the emotional fix is that you know you will have a one-of-a-kind original."

To generate ideas for custom décor, Crowston recommends a few guidelines.

Lifestyle consideration is foremost.

"If clients enjoy the outdoors, they may appreciate woods, irons, natural fiber fabrics and colors," Crowston explains. "I pay attention to the color of clothes they wear and how they might use their spaces — do they entertain? Do they have children? What are their ages?"

Then look at what can be customized. Paintings, sculptures and bowls are most obvious, but furniture, flooring, rugs and lights are fair game. Favorite elements, such as a child's drawing, can uncover fetching designs for floor or wall coverings.

Many professional artists and fabricators relish working directly with homeowners and/or designers. Provide specific measurements, sizes and shapes of the rooms and desired objects, then be ready to go with the creative flow.

"Discussions with the homeowner, their travels, their furnishings and "surfing" through ideas of media, shape and color all inspire projects," says Crowston.

Budget is also important. Commissioned pieces rarely cost more than quality retail items, depending on size and materials used, but they cannot compare with "big box" stores.

That said, a custom piece of art, furniture, lighting or flooring will become an heirloom, memorable now and into the future.

"Originally, the whole house was dusty rose and teal with all white carpet and furniture," discloses the homeowner. "We are big fans of a mid-20th-century modern aesthetic and Kate helped us actualize that vision."

With next to no structural changes, Crowston successfully lifted the home from outdated modern to a fashion-forward blend of abstract art and clean lines accented with white, orange and black.

"Contemporary design with unusual ceiling and wall angles and fun niches all created opportunity for using architectural lines for both form and decorating space," says Crowston.

The home's signature design starts at the entry, where a leaded glass door flanked by tall windows lets light pour onto the steel gray ceramic floor tiles and white walls. A large wet bar built into a curved dividing wall was brought into adulthood by trading out wooden paneling for black granite surfaces and mirrored sliding doors. Recessed lighting accents the wall's retro lines.

Turn left into the master suite, where a spa-intoned bath serves as the main floor's powder room. Neutrally speckled granite tops the vanity, supporting two porcelain trough sinks. Soft-close drawers sport aluminum block pulls, a simple industrial touch repeated throughout the house.

A curved, walk-in shower is encased in vertical, white subway tile with glass mosaic accents and a glass brick wall.

The peaceful space flows into the bedroom area. Crackly leaf wallpaper in taupe sets apart a wall behind the bed's ostrich "pleather" headboard. An aluminum mesh platform bed and mirrored side tables reflect an overall design theme while a large palm tree and carved wooden heads lend a Southeast Asian sensibility.

"I like the idea of a home that showcases art, texture, color and form," says the homeowner.

Two steps down from the entry is the great room, where the home's new bamboo flooring sets a fresh stage for a large, graphic area rug designed by Crowston and the homeowner.

White walls reach up nearly 25 feet on the room's south side. A gas fireplace, hearth and mantel, trimmed with iridescent glass mosaic tiles, were installed near the stairs and a built-in entertainment center with aluminum mesh doors echoes the room's two custom standing metal light fixtures.

Crowston designed a trio of orange, black and clear glass bowls to inhabit a geometric niche above the entertainment center. The graphic art complements several colorful, exotic blooms and the homeowners' inherited abstract art.

A veritable bazaar of textiles — ostrich "pleather" on the custom, 12-person, two-sided great room sectional and faux-suede "Muppet skin" on the dining room chairs — add style and whimsy. More decidedly modern details include a black leather shag rug under the glass-desk-turned-dining-room-table and an overhanging "deconstructed chandelier."

Step up into the kitchen where alternating polished and matte granite surfaces anchor the otherwise light space. A double oven and aluminum block drawer pulls and handles were additional changes made, joined by a Buddha statue and an orange tree in the solarium.

"I had no knickknacks at all and Kate told me to get some," the homeowner admits. "It's serene to have an unobstructed environment, but I am getting used to them."

Follow the custom bamboo floating stairs down a window-lined corner to the lower level, where a den-cum-office is decorated in bright orange with faux zebra-skin upholstery. The bath sparkles in floor-to-ceiling glass tiles with a corner soaking tub and a square vessel sink accompanied by a cable-suspended mirror.

The "mini media room" serves as a second bedroom. Crowston optimized the small area by installing a Murphy bed camouflaged with gray washed wood panels and custom shelving. A black rug with colorful circles, two orange leather recliners and a wall papered in a massive close-up photograph of a wet basketball court continue the homeowner's appreciation for the unexpected.

"We decorated everything very clean and sparse and minimal so there's not much there," explains Crowston.

But the pieces that do exist are very much "one of a kind," says the designer — just like the family who lives in this contemporary crib.

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
2 Weeks Free
Rogue River Guide
Oregon Healthy Living