Build a new house

Fifties Modern; A Californian-style home undergoes a contemporary makeover while retaining its retro roots

Garden and room interior

Californian-style Home

WHEN PHOTOGRAPHER Don Flood went house hunting with his wife Jenny Brunt, the couple didn’t expect their search would end with this stunning architect-designed home, built in 1958, with beautiful gardens and a swimming pool.

California house style

California house style

A few weeks after first viewing the property, the couple and their two daughters, Ella and Edie, moved in. That’s when the major renovation began.

Styles of Room

The living room was the darkest room of the house as the main entrance door was made of solid wood. It was replaced with large glass doors, which unleashed an abundant flow of light, now making it the brightest room. The walls between the kitchen and the living room were removed in order to open up the kitchen and make the home more of an open-plan layout.

To open up the house to even more natural light, the couple took down trees in key areas of the garden. “The small patio outside was overgrown with plants, which didn’t allow any light through to the house and so they were removed,” Don explains. “After it was all gone, light streamed in.” The natural light also emphasises the many architectural details of the property, such as the living room’s asymmetrical walls.

Sliding glass doors throughout accentuate the notion of the exterior blending with the interior. Nature is also welcome inside the house, especially as a feature in the bathrooms. In the guest bathroom, plants grow in what was previously a shower, and Mother-in-law’s Tongues (Sansevieria triafasciata) border the bathtub in the main bathroom.

Interior Decor

When it came to the interior decor, both Don and Jenny knew the look they wanted to achieve. “We enjoy a more simple style, but with space for colours here and there,” Don says. Stark white walls and a pared-back palette not only add to the feeling of light and space in the home, but are the perfect backdrop to showcase a gallery of artworks and photography, with pops of colour also emerging through furniture, accessories and plants.

Garden and room interior

Garden and room interior

The couple’s love of scouring vintage stores and flea markets is evident in the interior of their house. Although modern in style, it is home to an eclectic mix of vintage and retro designer finds, such as Eames chairs, 1960s light pendants, shagpile rugs and many 1950s pieces. Items from earlier periods also feature, such as two armchairs in the living room by Arts and Crafts designer Charles Limbert.

“The decor creates a lifestyle that is light and colourful,” Don says. A perfect home for this photographer and his young family.

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WINTER IN WATERLOO VILLAGE

waterloo village houses in winter
waterloo village houses in winter

waterloo village houses in winter

Historical story about Waterloo

The Lenni-Lenape Indians, or Delawares, were the first to settle the area, attracted by the Musconetcong. In the 18th century, farmers and business people seeking to profit from the area’s rich iron deposits, dense forests, and open land moved into the region. In 1763, the firm of Allen and Turner built the Andover Iron Works, locating the forge at the Waterloo site and a furnace several miles away, giving rise to the village. Despite extensive research, it is unclear whether the ironworks was confiscated during the Revolution, although the principal owner is believed to have been a Tory.

Changes happened in Waterloo

In the early 19th century, industrial development including furniture industry was changing the face of America, and Waterloo was transformed by national trends. The construction of the Morris Canal, in 1831, to facilitate the movement of goods between the Delaware River and New York’s harbor, was a major impetus to the towns commercial growth. The canal boosted the population and brought the Smiths – the family most associated with the town’s prosperity – to the village. (For stories on the canal and the Smiths see pages 90 and 94.)

furniture industrial development in Waterloo

Furniture industrial development in Waterloo

Two railroad lines came to Waterloo in 1857, sustaining the town’s economy. The canal and the Morris and Essex railroad were both vital to Waterloo for many years, but eventually – as in the rest of America – the railways’ speed and cost effectiveness made canal traffic obsolete. The canal was decommissioned in 1924. Waterloo, no longer a trade center, became a quiet little town.

Waterloo train station

Waterloo train station

Several descendants of the Smith family attempted to revitalize the area in the late 1920s by promoting it for lakefront homesites and developing furniture industry with famous wood products such as table, chair, recliner. The Depression quashed that plan. Designer and entrepreneur Percival Leach, along with his business partner, Louis D. Gualandi, began renovating Waterloo’s buildings in the 1940s and opened the village to the public in 1964.

Research continues at Waterloo with changes expected in the coming years to create a site that will better reflect life in a loth-century canal village. Family genealogy, deed research, and oral history collected at Smith family reunions continue to paint a clearer picture of the town’s history.

Waterloo today

Today, Waterloo Village includes the United Methodist Church, The Meeting House. several homes, canal works, the Museum of the Canal Society of New Jersey, an Indian Museum, the Towpath Tavern restaurant, the Stagecoach Inn (see story, page 96), as well as an Indian Village. Waterloo will be open for tours November 26, 27, 28 and the first two Sundays in December. A special candlelight tour and dinner will be held in December. On December 7, the American Boychoir from Princeton, New Jersey, will hold a holiday conceit. Waterloo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from mid-April through mid-November.