An Architect’s Modern Mid-Century Mashup

updated Apr 30, 2019

An Architect’s Modern Mid-Century Mashup

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Melissa Hon Tsai and Gary Tsai
Location: South Pasadena, California
Size: 3,101 square feet
Years Lived In: 1 year, owned

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Melissa Hon Tsai is an interior designer and architect who favors a modern, minimal aesthetic. But when she designed and built her family’s three-bedroom home from the ground up, she had to marry her own modern taste with her neighborhood’s mid-century modern appeal. The result is a sleek, open-concept, two-story home with traditional mid-century lines and tons of natural light.

Melissa shares her home with her husband Gary and three boys (one five-year-old, and three-year-old twins). After reworking her original ultra-modern home design to satisfy the city’s requests to stay in line with the neighborhood’s historic mid-century modern architectural style, she landed on a compromise of both styles. The home’s clever architecture centers around floor-to-ceiling courtyard-facing windows that let in lots of natural light while still giving the family plenty of privacy.

Apartment Therapy House Tour Survey:

My Style: Modern clean lines and symmetry

Inspiration: Modern and mid-century modern homes in Southern California

Favorite Element: The custom staircase (if I had to pick one, but there are so many)

Biggest Challenge: Design review process with the city /neighbors and just in general building your own house from scratch is a challenge.

What Friends Say: They love it and never seen anything like it here in South Pasadena.

Biggest Embarrassment: TOYS! They’re everywhere. We tried to keep it in a few areas but somehow they make their way into every single room in the house.

Proudest DIY: Dying the Shibori pillowcases in the living room, framing the calligraphy pieces in the dining room, and installing all the built-in shelving in closets and mudroom.

Biggest Indulgence: Radiant-heated concrete floors, five-panel accordion La Cantina door

Best Advice: Whenever you get overstressed about a little detail, step back and think big picture. It’ll all workout.

Dream Sources: Danish Design Store, Heath Ceramics, HD Buttercup, ABC Carpet & Home, Bo Concept.


Benjamin Moore — Chantilly Lace (every where)
Benjamin Moore — Light Pewter (Guest Room, Laundry Room and 2nd Floor Hall Bathroom)
Benjamin Moore — Owl Gray (Kids Bedroom)
Benjamin Moore — Dolphin (Moving wall/door in Office)

Blue Moroccan Jute Boucle Amy Area Rug — World Market
Walnut Desk — Office Depot
Sheepskin Rug — Costco
Poufs — Target
Painting — Carrie Bobo
Fiber Art — Cindy Zell
Ceramic Bells — MQuan Studio
Round Mirror — HomeGoods
Chandelier — Light Up My Home

Desk — World Market
Fjalkinge Shelf — Ikea
Filing Cabinets — Wayfair
Desk Chairs — Wayfair

Maxwell Sectional — Restoration Hardware
Interlocking Geometric Rug —
Chester end table — Target
Kallax Shelf Unit — Ikea

Blox Table — CB2
Bernard Chairs — Ikea
Cliff Suspension Light — Lambert & Fils

Pal Bar Stools — Hem

Barcelona Stool — Knoll
Jillian Upholstered Bed — Overstock

Bunk bed — Rafa Kids
Eames chair — Herman Miller
Stairway bookcase — CB2
Stuva storage bench — Ikea
Block colored Rug —

Vanities — Duravit
Fixtures — Ferguson
Tile — Mission Tile West

Dining Table and Chairs — Living Spaces
Tarno Table and Chairs — Ikea

Thanks, Melissa and Gary!

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