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Ranch home gets a Midcentury Modern renovation

By Allen Norwood
Correspondent

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  • Making room for the jhoola

    An important lesson: If you cherish family heirlooms or favorite collectibles you can include them – even in a home as modern as this one.

    In 2005, The Observer published a story about an Indian family that had installed a jhoola, a traditional hanging swing, in their suburban Matthews home. That jhoola, a sort of wooden love seat with S-shaped serpentine back, was designed by Indu Vaidyanathan after one in her grandfather’s house in southern India. Vaidyanathan and other kids gathered there to listen to her grandfather read, and she remembered it fondly.

    Vaidyanathan knew the house would have to accommodate the jhoola. Architect Mike Standley made plans to include the piece – but had never seen it. Now it hangs by chains from the vaulted ceiling in the new great room. He admits he was concerned. Now, he says, “It’s perfect.”

    The dining room table was crafted in India – on a base from an old Victorian bed. The table on the rear deck consists of a slab of glass resting on an antique carved canoe from India.



The sleek, contemporary home is vividly different from its traditional suburban neighbors on the tree-lined street. Call it a 21st century take on Midcentury Modern. The brilliant red module on the front catches the eye like a beacon on a moonless night.

It’s the home of Indu Vaidyanathan and her husband, Krishnan Gangadhar, who reinvented this 1973 ranch when they couldn’t find a contemporary house to their liking.

“We wanted a home that my husband and I could both be passionate about,” Vaidyanathan said.

Up close, the transformation is even more amazing than from the street.

The couple and their two sons lived in Matthews, in a new subdivision, when business called them to the other side of the world. They spent four years in India.

They both like Midcentury Modern.

“We like the simplicity of design, and the open interiors,” Vaidyanathan said.

And they appreciate how the style pulls together interior and exterior spaces.

They returned in 2011. After futilely searching online for a contemporary house in Charlotte for a couple of years, they discovered the brick ranch in Providence Plantation that had been sitting empty for several years. It had low ceilings, dark paneling and yellow shag carpet. Vaidyanathan looked past that and saw potential. “There were no creaking floors,” she said. “Everything felt solid.”

She invited architect Mike Standley of Liquid Design to walk through. “I agreed with Indu,” he said. “It had great bones.” Working with Artistic Contractors, they set out to create a house to match their vision.

Workers opened up the interior, removing walls and adding large windows to fill the space with light. They added new stairs to the basement in a small addition on a back corner of the house. They moved the front door a bit, and added stairs from the original foyer to new office and bedroom space upstairs.

The living room and dining room areas were reversed, and are now part of the single open space at the home’s core.

Despite the stunning makeover, the footprint of the house is about the same. The open kitchen is three times larger than the original – but the window over the sink is in the same spot.

Workers carved out a new master suite on the main level, converting a former guest bedroom into a master closet. But the new upstairs bedrooms fit directly over those below. In all, the interior space grew from about 3,200 to almost 5,000 square feet.

Floors in the large central space are wide-plank white oak. Kitchen cabinets are slate gray with barely a hint of gloss. Cabinet doors are flat panels without frames. “The cabinet maker kept asking, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want?’” Vaidyanathan said. “I told him, ‘Yes!’”

In contrast to the deep gray, two islands are painted bright white. “One (island) is for cooking and one is for entertaining,” said Vaidyanathan, a designer who operates White Peacock Interiors. (Her husband is a banker.)

Countertops are white quartz – and, she has learned, stand up amazingly well to hot peppers and red wine.

An accent wall in the great room was paneled with scraps from the floor, stained a light fruitwood and installed horizontally. Sparkling mosaic tiles, matching those in the backsplash in the kitchen, surround the sleek glass front of the ethanol fireplace on the accent wall.

The treads on the stairs leading to the new upper level are light oak resting on exposed beams stained dark brown. The open railing system is stainless steel and oak, allowing views of the living space below.

Interior doors are black and most walls are white, to complement the vivid primary colors in the family’s artwork.

Outside, most of the exterior facade consists of flat fiber-cement panels painted medium gray. Lines are clean and straight, and form simple squares and rectangles. Bricks, original to the house, also are gray. To provide golden contrast, sections of the exterior are covered in horizontal cedar boards with glossy clear finish.

Then, there’s that signature crimson on the module that accommodates the new staircase to the upper rooms.

The “Ferrari red” was the first color she chose, Vaidyanathan said with a laugh – but the last to be applied. It was the final touch that completed her vision. And a bright reward for passers-by who’d been watching and wondering what the transformation would look like.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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