Utah Style and Design

Classic Comeback

March 1, 2014

In Ogden, designer Cody Beal elevates the look and livability of a dated mid-century modern home.

By Brad Mee, Photos by Scot Zimmerman

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A newly refinished front door opens to the remodeled foyer illuminated by a modern, Global Views chandeleier.

It’s a testament to Peggy Ambrey’s patience and perseverance that she and her husband Tim live in their stunning mid-century modern home in the heart of South Ogden. It’s also evidence of her keen sense of style.

Smitten by the home from the moment she saw it, Peggy lost the house to another buyer during its sale by the original owner in 1993. “I was devastated,” she says. She moved into a home just a couple blocks away from the classic dwelling. Eighteen months later, Peggy learned the house was back on the market and arranged to see it that very same day.

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“I knew I would know what to do when I walked through the door,” she says. Won over once again, Peggy placed an offer on the house just hours later. Flash forward 17 years and Peggy’s determination and design eye were once again rewarded with a savvy remodel that brought the 1964 home stylishly into the 21st century.

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Original floor-to-ceiling windows and concrete block walls enclose the chic, sunken living room. A shapely Roche Bobois sectional and novelty hide-covered Thayer Coggins chair provide luxe seating and style to the retreat-like room. Sheer draperies fill the space with soft, natural light.

“It was a designer’s dream,” says interior designer Cody Beal who was hired by the Ambreys to remodel the 60-year-old house. “It was in its original condition, well cared for and absolutely ready for a redo.” The home’s clean horizontal lines, staggered planes of concrete block and floor-to-ceiling glass added to its appeal.

Initially, the Ambreys were focused on the kitchen and master bedroom, recalls Beal. As the designer wandered the 3,200 square-foot home, he recognized potential reaching far beyond those two rooms. “It’s an open floor plan, so if you touch one space you have to consider everything else nearby,” he says. With his clients’ blessing, he brainstormed and proposed ideas for an extensive overhaul. “Cody’s excitement and confidence were infectious,” Peggy says. “From the start, he had a vision that included everything from the interior to the landscaping.”

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Floor-to ceiling draperies and an upholstered Mitchell Gold bed add softness to the restful master bedroom. Custom closets designed with built-in nightstand niches and adjustable shaded sconces frame the headboard. A mirrored Caracole console anchors a framed TV positioned above. Original art finishes the space.

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Today, the evidence of transformation begins at the curb, where a sweeping lawn and rhythmic plantings replaced a cherry tree-topped berm and a messy mix of overgrown junipers and shrubs. “We wanted a more contemporary look that accentuated the home’s architecture and the original slab steps leading to the front door,” says Beal, who collaborated with Peggy and landscaper Brook Hansen to modernize the property.

In the covered entry, graphic beds of smooth stones and chartreuse groundcover perform like patterned carpets below sentry-like planters topped with agaves. The simple yet striking design provides a clue of the dynamic interior waiting behind the slate-gray door.

Beneath a shimmering chandelier, the foyer welcomes visitors with keenly edited elements that create a sense of entry and introduces the home’s renewed style. “It’s modern, not contemporary,” insists Beal, characterizing the former as warmer and more welcoming.

The designer fashioned boxed glass railing to replace the original walnut block-and-post bannister. “It was too dominant and disrupted the home’s horizontal lines,” he says. Original clerestory windows brighten the space, while a new coat closet adds storage and links the entry to what was the most needy of the home’s outdated spaces, the kitchen.

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A large, single basin sink serves both the kitchen and the adjacent patio, where a built-in barbecue resides. Open-tread striped stairs lead to a vestibule, where double doors open into the new master suite created from two smaller bedrooms

Dark and divided best describes the original cooking space. While its closed-off layout was stylish in its day, it was the opposite of what people want and need today, according to Beal. “In the ’60s, the dialogue of an open kitchen hadn’t started,” he says. “Today, people want an open, livable space where they can cook and entertain.” Beal removed blockades of high-end walnut cabinets and brought in kitchen and bath design expert Nicole Zeigler to fine-tune his layout and work with the Ambreys on specific storage and cabinetry needs.

The new layout opens the room to natural light and views of outdoor spaces and neighboring rooms. Skylights brighten the space while Wenge wood cabinet and planes of thick white Caesarstone provide eye-catching contrast. An intricate interplay of matte and iridescent tiles dresses backsplashes and an accent wall anchoring the dining area’s built-in desk. “The natural colors, organic materials and high contrast create a warm, livable statement of modernity,” says Beal.

Similarly dynamic treatments define a modern bathroom, part of a luxurious suite the designer shaped from the space of two small bedrooms and a small bathroom original to the house. Elsewhere, a chic, light-filled living room, lower-level family room and broad, shaded patio are among other inviting spaces renewed by Beal’s expertly executed design.

“From the beginning, we wanted a modern, sophisticated and comfortable design that stayed true to the bones and spirit of the home,” says Peggy. “That’s exactly what Cody created, and we couldn’t be happier.”

Ashley Miller

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