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Mid Century Modern By Sandra Cook Photos by Yoonchul You of StudioMET Architects

fter more than a year of searching, Wes and Aimee Yuan bought a small, older home on a quiet cul-de-sac in inner-loop Bellaire. The existing house was occupied by rental tenants, which enabled the Yuans some time to choose an architect and draw up plans for the house that they would later live in. Wes and Aimee had initially hoped to purchase a home that could be renovated and updated, but never found a viable property that both fit the Mid Century styling they desired and could be adapted to today’s energy efficiency standards. In January 2009, shortly after they purchased the property, The Yuans approached StudioMET Architects to discuss the design of their home. The architectural firm, known for modern styling and thoughtful design, grew out of the Houston-based homebuilder Metropolitan Design Group Inc. (MDGI). The successful builder spun off


The low-profile of Wes and Aimee Yuan’s one-story home in Bellaire features a gated carport combined with a garage to provide a welcoming breezeway along with secure storage. Angled transom widows were added to the original design to allow views of the majestic oak tree from the kitchen and living area. “It lets in a lot of natural light and gives a nice connection to nature,” says Aimee.



A new home in Bellaire evokes Palm Springs

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“We hear over and over: ‘Thank you for building a one-story.’” – WES YUAN


StudioMET in 2007 to focus on custom projects. The couple had admired StudioMET’s work on numerous AIA tours and hoped the firm could help them make their dream home a reality. Architect Stephen Andrews was pleased to take on this particular design journey with the Yuans, admitting he personally identified with the couple’s goals. “This is definitely a house I can see myself living in.”

Mid Century Modern homes the Southern California resort town is known for. “We didn’t necessarily want an exact replica of a 1950s Mid Century Modern, but something that suggested that,” says Wes. “We gave StudioMET a list of 25 things that included not just features, but also some of the feelings we wanted the house to evoke,” says Wes. “That was the genesis of the project.” Wes and Aimee’s No. 1 design requirement was to have a one-


“We both gravitate towards contemporary modern homes,” says Wes. “Something that’s not too frilly, something clean, not cluttered, but warm.” Aimee, an engineer, and Wes, an attorney, wanted to create home that they would truly enjoy. A vacation with family to Palm Springs, CA a few years back resulted in the couple’s fascination with the look of the many

Various wood tones unify the dinning area and kitchen, and provide a welcoming environment for dinner-table conversation. Exquisite walnut cabinetry, custom-built by Sandy Kay of Stonewood Studios, delivers both storage and natural beauty. The entry tile, Carrara marble countertops and grey-backed glass tile backsplash subtly underscore the grey theme.

“We gave StudioMET a list of 25 things that included not just features, but also 62

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story home and the couple asked for a cohesive kitchen/living/dining space to facilitate gatherings with family and friends. They also wanted exposed beams in the main room; similar to the beams they had seen in those stunning Palm Springs homes. The couple requested at least three bedrooms for their home and expressed interest in the idea of a carport, but Aimee and Wes were certain they wanted an enclosed garage for secure storage. Architect Stephen Andrews took the list of desired features and

The pale brick, sourced from Lakewood Brick in Colorado, provides earthy warmth to the main living and dining areas. The Yuans chose furnishings in soothing neutrals to complement the views of the outdoors. The exposed beams are painted grey and are actually accented by the grey-toned grout in the fireplace. Aimee adores how the fireplace “captures that inside-out feel we loved from Palm Springs.”

qualities of the home and initially focused on the priorities and major elements, such as the one-story plan and combination kitchen/dining/living area. “They gave us a realistic and achievable list of ingredients,” says Andrews. “This was a huge help to get the design process off to a good start.” He admits some clients aren’t as organized and don’t have any details to help get the design going, while other clients have such a wildly varied wish list that their expectations are unrealistic. D R E A M C O M E T RU E

“They nailed the design,” raves Wes, remarking that Andrews’ first presentation of the plans for their home was right on target. “They really got it,” he says. The Yuans both agree their new home is a great change

some of the feelings we wanted the house to evoke. That was the genesis of the project.” 63

“A great thing about the design is the shape of our home. The shape is deep, from three-story townhome the lived in previously. The well thought out, one-story home is ideal for the couple, which recently had their first child. The four-bedroom, three-and-half-bath plan accommodates the young family and their guests quite comfortably. “A great thing about the design is the shape of our home,” says Wes. “The shape is deep, drawing you back, rather than shallow and wide, making you feel boxed in.” “When we were in Palm Springs we really enjoyed that you could walk outside and still feel it was part of the house; we wanted that indoor-outdoor flow,” says Aimee. “We really love the wall of sliding doors along the living area to be able enjoy our outdoor space.”


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White Carrara marble has long been a favorite of Wesley’s. “People frequently ask if we’re concerned about staining,” says Aimee Yuan. “I usually reply, ‘well, they’ve use it in Italy forever, so it should be fine.”” The marble may take on a patina, but it can be maintained with minimal effort.


The Yuans design preferences also helped StudioMET develop an energy- and space-efficient home. “Mid Century Modern actually lends itself very well to our climate conditions — more than a white stucco box,” says Andrews. “The low-profile roof is one thing that really helps this house be efficient, and the carport allows breezes to come through the whole outdoor space.”

drawing you back, rather than shallow and wide, making you feel boxed in.” More graceful greys bring harmony to the entire space. Here, the grey veining in the marble highlights the exposed beams. The rich hue of the custom walnut cabinetry dresses up the well-functioning work zones of the kitchen.

A TPO roofing material (short for thermoplastic polyolefin) was selected for the gently sloping roof. This energy efficient roofing systems helps moderate electricity bills. “We kept getting the bills that first summer and wondered if they were prorating us or something because they were so low, only around $100 and never over $200.” The front of the home faces south, so the majority of windows and glass doors face east to take in moderate morning light, while

more of the solid walls face the west’s more intense rays. In spite of the home’s being located quite near a railroad line, the Yuans find the noise is not distracting or overwhelming. The railway and its required right-of-way actually provide a wind channel for breezes to flow freely. The couple says they appreciated the relationship between MGDI and StudioMET, because of the architects’ experience with construction. They felt it yielded a practical, doable design, rather than an unrealistic, budget-busting design. The Yuans neighbors have praised the project as well, especially their choice to build a one-story house. As the framing went up and the structure took shape, the neighbors began commenting


on the one-story height. “They were very pleasantly surprised,” says Wes. “We hear over and over: ‘Thank you for building a one-story.” And at just over 2,900 square feet, the Yuans say they have more room than they need.

ARCHITECTURE: StudioMET, Stephen Andrews, 713.255.0007 BUILDER: Fish Builders, David Fish, 832.270.4646 BRICK: Lakewood Brick in light gray, Summit Brick, Lakewood, CO, 303.592.7080 C A B I N E T RY: Stonewood Studios, Sandy Kay, 713.870.7999 Continuity was key for the Yuans who went for soothing expanses of Carrara marble set off by charcoal grey floor tiles and more gorgeous walnut cabinetry built by Stonewood Studios.


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F U R N I T U R E : Many furnishings purchased online through, Room & Board and other sources.

The deck area was originally envisioned as concrete flatwork (a series of staggered slabs), but the final choice was to go with a deck. “We actually really love the deck. It gives a good transition to the lawn, rather than the flatwork,” says Wes. The result yields a view that starts with the smooth walnut floors inside, goes to the rougher texture of the ipe decking and then onto the green lawn.

The distinctive wood grain of the custom walnut drawers shows off the artistry of nature. Aimee’s jewelry cases also lend an artful touch to this functional space. The master bath is connected to the closet, which features no cumbersome doors to impede the couple’s dressing routine.


One-Story Wonder  

A new home in Bellaire evokes Palm Springs Mid Century Modern

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