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Repeating architectural motifs: A hat trick example from this 1953 ranch house

mid-century-brick-ranch-exteriorTour-a-Time-CapsuleThis 1953 time capsule house in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan includes a number of lovely classic features (pink Cinderella bathtub alert!), but what really caught our eye is how the architect repeated one architecturaly motif — the pinwheel — three times throughout the house. We love repetition of architectural elements… and we love things in threes. Thanks to Teri for this time capsule tip!

midcentury-brick-ranch-houseretro-trellis #1 (above): The exterior trellis is comprised of six pinwheels. It’s very nice, also, how the trellis is used to add architectural interest to a very long slab o’ otherwise-unadorned brick on the front facade of the house. (This appears to be a house set on a corner lot.)

midcentury-entryway#2 — The pinwheels are repeated on the front doors, creating an immediate transition from the outdoors, in.

midcentury-banquette-eating-area#3 — Pinwheel-mullioned glass between the kitchen dinette and an adjacent room.

vintage-pink-bathroomAbove: We can only wonder: Why no pinwheel flooring??? Perhaps, though, enough of a good thing. Yes: A light hand is often best.

This house is currently for sale. From the listing:

  • Price: $275,000
  • Year built: 1953
  • Square footage; 3,300
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 2 full, 2 half

…Radiant heat floor and ceiling…. 3 lots with irrigation… Square footage estimated.

Thanks to reader Teri for alerting us to this  home and to realtor Robin Stressman and photographer Auric Stressman for allowing us to feature the property on Retro Renovation.

Link love:

Some more photos from the listing: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:


  1. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Kosher kitchen was the very first thing I thought of, as I visited a lot of such kitchens in my youth (1960s). The tip-off for me was the side-by-side double ovens rather than top-to-bottom ovens. That allows for separate pan storage above and below each oven.
    The first owners may have kept kosher, or perhaps the house was originally designed for someone who did and those folks, for whatever reason, never lived in it.

    The other interesting thing I noticed is that the repeating design you call a “pinwheel” is also a traditional quilting design called a Log Cabin. For me, this creates a synthesis between traditional and modern design, which is very homey.

  2. marguerite says:

    I love this house! As a kid growing up in the 50s and 60s, this would have been my dream house…sooo big and with a great lawn! I can just imagine it filled with great mid century furniture, fabulous pinch pleats on the windows…Wow!

  3. KennyT123 says:

    About the ovens–I’ve seen pictures of kitchens in that era and I agree with the earlier posting regarding the upright Freezer and Refrigerator. I’d say looking at the ovens side by side I bet there was a stainless steel Thermador built in–they had two ovens–the left one for the rotisserie. I bet the cooktop was GE with the push-button controls where that square drawer is now. Looks to me like a high-end house. I don’t find the bathroom setup odd–all the plumbing was along one wall for efficiency.

  4. Amy says:

    What a GEM! I would LOVE that bathtub – and storage all over the place! And Pam – pinch eats in the KITCHEN! Wow & more wow!

  5. Joe Felice says:

    I just love it when people are able to keep the original things in their homes, and maintain them so well through the decades. Back in the day, people were more meticulous about their homes, but a lot of water (and time) has gone under the bridge, and people have changed. Trellises were popular. My dad used to custom-build them for privacy around our houses. The evergreens were also very typical in landscaping in the ’50s & ’60s. Today, people are ripping them out, instead of “shaping” them, as these are. Well shaped and maintained junipers are very attractive. And everyone had pleated shades on traverse rods. I even learned how to re-string them.

  6. connie says:

    discoverd a show on HGTV where the couple renovate old homes into new ones. (Fixer Upper, sure you know of them, The Gaines’s) I mean they gut renovate. They are in WACO Texas. Maybe your readers should contact the show to see what they are discarding. I live in NYC area where do those prices come from?

  7. I absolutely love this house. It’s definitely a time capsule–and amazingly well preserved. You can tell that the people who lived there did a wonderful job maintaining the house. I would love to live in a house like this. There’s not much I would change. The trellis, doors, and the room divider are show stoppers for sure!

  8. Josie says:

    There would be lovely mid-century choices that are period appropriate that offer more interest and colour?

    A dwarf Japanese maple, blue carpet juniper, yucca. A pinwheel topiary if feeling very ambitious. Tightly sheared blue-foliaged cones if feeling not-so-energetic. Bullet planters with geraniums if feeling want-it-now. Hybrid tea roses if your commitment to period and their elegance is worth the care. (‘Chrysler Imperial’ or ‘Peace’ are as period as they get)

    Less period but fit well for scale and overall “look” would be some of the stay-small dwarf dogwoods or pencil junipers. A dogwood or Colorado blue spruce that gets absolutely massive and eats the house would be period as heck (my mom’s suburb has some choice ones) but probably not a great idea.

    I’d also like to see at least one or two red/purple foliage shrubs in the foundation planting so that tree relates to something.

  9. Lee Ann Rogers says:

    We now own this house on Maple.We love it. Oct. 30 was when we closed. Working on the whole house inside and out.

  10. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Lee Ann, that is fabulous news! Have fun fixing up your new home, and be sure to send photos to Kate and Pam.

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