Interior Designer Elin Walters Talks About Her Midcentury Home Renovation

Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters  - Exterior front

Interior designer Elin Walters and her realtor husband, Christian Ward, took on the personal project to design their own home. The couple’s careers in the field of architecture together with a passion for midcentury modern aesthetic fused to make sure that each part of the home has been carefully thought out using space wisely, employing natural materials and creating a natural flow throughout the home. 

Each inch of the stunning 1800 square foot home serves a purpose and its interior decor combines vintage with modern design. Being able to design your own home is quite the unique luxury. Curious to learn more, we got in touch with Elin Walters to tell us about the project.

Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters  - living room

Which parts of a new project excite you the most?

I am giddy at the start of a project when I am re-imagining the space and developing the concept and the overall look and feel. I enjoy trying to learn as much about the client as I can to incorporate their personalities or desires into the design. Starting a new project to me is like taking on a challenge and finding the best solution that looks fantastic. 

The installation of a project is equally as exciting. To see what started out as a concept in my head come to life, producing a certain experience and feeling, is so satisfying. 

READ ALSO: The Home Of Our Dreams Exists And Is In Australia: The Overton Terraces

What are the emerging trends in residential architecture that will shape our way of living in the next ten years?

With the lion-share of our population comprised of Baby-boomers and Millenials, and what seems to be their desire to scale back the size of home and maintenance, I believe we are headed towards more compact homes rather than the McMansions of the 90s and early 2000s.

A smaller footprint and decreased square footage requires architects and interior designers to think creatively about space. How can needs be met with less space? Is there really a need for a formal dining room? Can spaces be multi-purpose? Is it better to renovate than build new because homes already exist close to town, and that is where people are wanting to live now? Environmentally speaking, we need to reduce, reuse, recycle – I see smaller scale and repurpose of homes as a necessity for global survival. 

Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters  - living room
Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters  - bedroom

Can you tell us a bit about the story of your house?

My husband and I are the owners of the home in this project. We have 5 children between the two of us and when we first moved in, needed to accomodate living space for a larger family. Each inch of our 1800 square foot home matters, and therefore every inch is carefully thought out.

Three children have since moved on and we find that a family of 4 lives quite comfortably in our 5-bedroom house. My husband, Christian Ward, is a realtor in Ann Arbor and my business focuses on the mid-century modern aesthetic.

We find that our careers meld beautifully and have plans to buy, renovate and sell homes, leaving them with the midcentury flare! 

READ ALSO: A Palms Springs Inspired Modern House in Minnesota

In designing for your own home, what was included in the brief?

We wanted our home to have a flow – an open, expansive feel and a modern approach to a midcentury built home. In addition to bedrooms for everyone, we wanted a living space for activities and a separate space to read and sit by the fire.

We love the midcentury modern aesthetic and wanted to accentuate the concept of bringing the outdoors inside, having lots of light, using natural materials, keeping clean lines, using pops of color and generally having a open flow to the whole house.

Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters  - bedroom

What was your approach for the project? 

The approach to the project was to create a gigantic list at the time of move-in (December 2009) of all the things we wanted to change about the house and chip away at it as we came up with good ideas and/or had the funds. What we’ve found is that the house is constantly evolving.

We have accomplished 99% of what we set out to change initially, but we seem to think of new things each year! We have a handy family and have done many of our projects ourselves, but also find that some things are best left to the professionals (ie. recently rebuilt our stairs: floating treads and glass panel railings).

The interior decor of the home mixes a lot of modern with vintage. What are some of your favorite designers for this style of furniture? 

Oh, there are many midcentury designers that I love. Honestly, Cranbrook (40 min from our home) in the 1930s was home to many of the iconic designers that I love (Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen, just to name a few).

In addition to them, I’m drawn to Vladamir Kagan, Hans Wegner, Paul McCobb and Finn Juhl. All of these designers favored the clean lines of midcentury Modernism that I find to be simply perfect. I’m a lover of geometry, simplicity and color and these designers knew how to use these elements in such striking ways. 

Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters  - living room detail
Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters  - living room

You’ve put a lot of your own, unique and familiar touch to the home, such as the small desk by your stepfather. How important are details like that for you, and what specifically did you request for in terms of design, materials and color palette?

Because every bit of space needs to be used wisely in our home, the built-in desk is a shelving unit that pulls out from the wall for access to the water heater that services the heated floor in this space.

Form and function at its best! We are drawn to the light woods of so much of Scandinavian design and chose natural birch as the ‘wood of choice’ for various aspects throughout our house (ie. built-in desk, kitchen cabinet doors, paneling, built-in closets, dressers).

As a designer, repeating elements and materials in a home is something I make sure and do. Without being aware, a natural flow exists when the eye picks up on repetition. 

Which is your favourite part of this house and why?

My favorite part of the house is the space around the fireplace. The floor is heated, the vintage fireplace kicks out some serious heat, the room feels open and light, the outdoors is viewed from the couch, my favorite colors of orange and turquoise are peppered throughout- it simply feels comfortable, peaceful, quiet and inviting.

Did you do any research on the mid-century period aesthetic (if so where) while working at this project?

If ‘research’ can be defined as a childhood with artistic and architecturally-minded parents, then I guess you could call that my research. I like to tell people that I was a sponge as a child and soaked up the knowledge that I have today about design and architectural periods from my parents.

Dragged around as a child to antique shows, resale shops, museums and lectures was on occasion ‘boring’, but I thank them now for a fine education! 

Midcentury home renovation - Interior designer Elin Walters - Exterior front
Photos by Bob Foran

The post Interior Designer Elin Walters Talks About Her Midcentury Home Renovation appeared first on Mid Century Home.

Renovation Guide: Contractor vs Interior Designer – ZUU online SG

This article was first published on GoBear. Compare credit cards, insurance and other financial products based on your needs at GoBear.

In Singapore, the lines between contractors and interior designers are blurred. If you ask most people, the only difference they know is that “interior designers are more expensive”. That’s true, but that’s also because interior designers do plenty of things that contractors don’t. Here’s how to differentiate and choose between the two:

Who is a contractor, and who is an interior designer?

In theory, here’s how it works:

The interior designer’s role is project management. The designer conceptualises the entire renovation project: it’s their job to create 3D sketches, figure out the right dimensions for features, pick out colour combinations, and so forth.

Interior designers also consult with you on what materials to use, where those materials are sourced from, and what kind of aesthetic suits your tastes.

The contractor’s role is execution, rather than planning. The contractor takes the plans drawn up by the designer and then hires the right experts (subcontractors) to make the plans happen. The subcontractors are professionals such as electricians, plumbers, painters, and so forth.

The contractor’s role is to ensure subcontractors finish their jobs on time, to a standard that’s acceptable.

In reality, the lines between designer and contractor are often blurred. There are many contractors in Singapore who – although they may not have interior design qualifications – can help to conceptualise projects. Some of these contractors are industry veterans, who have been at the job so long they can also do sketches and come up with ideas.

To muddle things further, there are contractors who hire interior designers for their firm but take charge of the planning themselves (they prefer to communicate directly with the client).

What are the practical differences you’ll face?

When choosing between contractors and interior designers, these are the practical differences to take into account:

1.     Pricing

Designers tend to charge more than contractors. For example, some designers charge for consultations that involve 3D drawings, or for walking you through a materials catalogue; with contractors, these services tend to be free.

However, note that there are exceptions: a start-up interior design firm looking to build a portfolio may charge less than a well-established contractor. Also, some contractors don’t consider their skills or time to be less valuable than a design firm, and will also charge at the same rate.

For all practical purposes, work out a budget first, and then choose between the two. If you have a budget of $50,000, for example, then whoever can get the job done for $50,000 or under is the one you pick (regardless of whether they are a contractor or designer).

If your budget could accommodate both a contractor and a designer, then proceed to point 2.

2. Hands-on or hands-off

If you want to supervise the renovations yourself, then choose a contractor. There’s no point paying more for a designer, as you’ll be buying consultations you don’t need.

If you don’t want to be involved, then consider a designer instead. A design firm can oversee the whole process, so you don’t need to keep checking in on everyone’s progress.

In general, first-time renovators and home owners are better off with a designer. When you dictate terms to a contractor, they won’t be responsible for design errors (e.g. the bathrooms turn out too cramped, or there’s too much heat in the living room). All the contractor does is follow your plans, and it’s your problem if they turn out bad.

A proper designer, however, would answer for such mistakes and rectify them.

3. Specific versus general needs

If you have specific renovation needs, you don’t need an interior designer. Some examples of these are:

A contractor can do these jobs, so long as you give clear instructions.

4. The amount of time available 

Both designers and contractors can work fast when needed. But overall, designers need more time to deliver their best work.

The design process is detailed, involving numerous 3D sketches, gradual refinements, and even custom made fittings and furnishings (yes, designers do commission custom furniture, if they can’t find off-the-shelf products that meet their standards).

But time constraints may not allow for all this. If you need to move into the property next week, or you have tenants waiting, then it may be best to call a contractor. Any decent contractor can make an unfurnished or old house livable, even without a designer.

Don’t forget to use renovation loans before personal loans!

When renovating your house, don’t forget that you can use renovation loans first. Renovation loans have a lower interest rate (around 2% to 4% per annum) than many personal loans. Most of them are capped at six months of your income, or $30,000.

It’s always a good idea to take a renovation loan first, and then use personal loans if you need to cover any excess costs. You can find out more about renovation loans here.

At present, three of the top renovation loans are the OCBC Renovation Loan (2.86% per annum), DBS Renovation Loan (4.88% per annum), and the Maybank Renovation Loan (3.86% per annum). You can renovation loans on GoBear to get the best rate. Just select “Revonation” under the Personal Loans search engine.