A Gorgeous Modern House Remodeled With Gathering and Family In Mind
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Name: Julie and Daniel Metzinger and family (and Arthur, the Scottie dog)
Interior design: Natalie O Design
Architecture: Britney Groneck Designs, LLC
Construction: Covenant Construction
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Size: Pre-Addition: 2,350 square feet, with addition: 2,950 square feet
Years Lived In: 18 years, owned
For Julie and Daniel Metzinger, this 1954 house in Louisville, Kentucky is more than just the first home they really got to own; it’s also been the hub of family activity for the last 18 years. It’s where they raised and homeschooled five kids and it’s been a canvas for Julie’s creativity and collecting. This house has also served as a vehicle of transformation after a painful transition in the family’s life: In 2014 their youngest child, a daughter named Edythe, passed away at age 13 after a long illness. “Edythe’s death brought a pause to life, an extended time of reflection and refocus. It strengthened our desire to be intentional with each other—creating a large gathering place seemed like a natural response,” explains Julie.
After Edythe’s death, and with some of their older children growing up and moving out of the house, Julie and Daniel explored a few options for the next chapter of their life, like the idea of selling this house and building a new one in another location. Ultimately, they recognized this house holds a lot of memories and love, and decided to give it fresh energy and purpose with a renovation.
Julie connecting with Natalie Officer, the founder of Natalie O Design, was a chance meeting at a social event, but their collaboration on the renovation of this house turned out to be a fateful connection—Julie now works at Natalie O Design in design and project management. “Natalie stood out as a unique person with personal style, personality, and approach, and meeting her came at a point where as much as I loved design, I needed help to organize my thoughts,” explains Julie. “Part of the reason that I wanted to engage Natalie is I innately trusted her design sense and the things she would bring me touched all the right places for me; they fit not just my design aesthetic, but also fit me as a person.”
“I’m really lucky people call me in a life transition,” admits Natalie. “Very few people look around and think ‘I’m bored.’ Usually when they make that call they’re laying down the gauntlet and saying, ‘I’m ready, I want this to be more than what I’ve had, I don’t know how to get it there.’ Though Julie has long studied design, she brought us an opportunity to interpret her aura and trust us fully with the overall feel and message of the home.”
Together, Natalie and Julie designed a remodel that would refresh finishes, celebrate all the elements—art, objects, and more—that Julie has collected over the years, add more space (about 600 square feet), and redefine the room that was once Edythe’s into a space for Julie to be creative in. “A strong leader and mother, Julie never lost her personal style in raising a family. Though it may have been sporadic in ways, it was always present. From our first meeting, I was studying. The artifacts, books, dishes, colors and art were held dear, and I did my best to reflect them back at the work’s close,” explains Natalie.
You won’t find a cluttered home here, though. Julie’s style, which she describes as “minimalist with a mid-century/Danish modern leaning,” has always been about clean lines and meaningful pieces. “I think my mantra would be “have only that which is meaningful,’” Julie says. “Every ‘thing’ is intentional. Each ‘thing’ has a story—and I love to share it.” A big goal of this home’s design was letting Julie’s treasures shine.
Julie and Natalie worked with architectural designer, Britney Groneck, and Covenant Construction to bring designs to life. Among the biggest changes was the addition of the modern dining room, which complements the house’s existing architecture and somehow stands apart. High ceilings and lots of windows allow tons of natural light, which was also an important element. And the extra space means Julie can host large family events. Creating a home for gathering—particularly with their sons beginning to leave the nest—was one of the most important elements of the redesign. Impressively, their large modern dining room once successfully held 54 guests for a wedding rehearsal dinner, and normal holiday gatherings usually have at least 25-30 guests.
Two other important elements to the redesign were the consideration of weight and balance. “There was a weight in the home, in part from loss, and the wear of raising five children. The most important aspect was architectural: infusing light into an existing ranch home with kisses of mid-century details. With the care and talent of architect Britney Groneck, we danced with proportions, sight lines, and elements of nature in our approach to the home. From the custom front door to the addition’s cedar exterior, it was all considered,” Natalie says.
The main living room exemplifies the eclectic mix of styles in the home: there’s a large modern concrete fireplace and mantel combined with cozy furnishings, and paintings made by Julie’s mother-in-law, Helen Metzinger, lend a soft, earthy color palette to the whole home. Sleek modern cabinetry in the kitchen updates and complements the mid-century vibes of the house. Custom furniture and art pieces are used throughout the rooms as bold statements, as are modern light fixtures. Natalie admits that they were very aspirational in the home’s redesign, both architecturally and with finishes. But all the risks were worth taking.
In the end, it comes down to creating a home that honors and supports the connection to family. “Edythe is really everywhere in the home,” admits Natalie. “Perhaps photos are the easy path, but we chose to honor her by inserting sunlight and joy through color and texture in the home. The ballet-pink plaster in Edy’s room, now a warm and sweetly poised office space for Julie, was pulled from the wall and framed with care. It sits in the sun’s rays each morning at the end of the long hallway—the spine of the home. Edy can be seen in the playful color in the living room blanket, the soft and gentle hues in the informal lounge, and of course the reading nook. Edy’s needs forced floor living (and laughter!) with her siblings and parents. An expansive mudroom, soft floor coverings, and low seating are all a way of life born from need and love for her.”
This entire house is the architectural embodiment of the idea that design is so much more than just picking out colors and decor elements. More than the visual surface. “Design is a direct reflection of who you are as a person,” Julie perfectly encapsulates.
“Design is the best soft landing of a transition,” further explains Natalie. “It gives you purpose and work to do. It allows you to minimize, organize, and truly honor what is important to you and about you. Julie and I understand that the only way to survive hard transitions, is to go through them. When known comforts are no longer available, designing the life ahead must begin,” explains Natalie.
After tragedy, after transition, and after this house’s remodel, Julie and her family have been left with a home that highlights all the love they have for each other… and for the house.
“When I walk people through and tell this [house’s] story and point out details, it’s a joy all over again. So much attention was given to every single detail,” says Julie. “It’s an enchanting place to live.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Julie – I would have always called it minimalist with a mid-century/Danish modern leaning. I am indefinitely drawn to clean lines and meaningful pieces.
Inspiration: Julie – Home was my canvas for expression and creativity. It is an extension of my person and an expression of love for my family. Like a magpie bird, I’ve collected treasures. The design is crafted around letting them shine.
Favorite Element: Julie – The way the light plays in the home. It remains my favorite element to date, always comforting.
Biggest Challenge: Natalie – There were two. 1. Being empowered. Being trusted so completely, and knowing the gravity of that faith. Motivating, but at times daunting. Providing Julie the ability to breathe, with full, deep breaths of heartfelt joy was the only finish that was ultimately important. 2. Its end. To find work so enjoyable and so clear in my mind, after years of investment in this field, was not a tie I wanted to sever. Dream job would understate it.
Proudest DIY: Julie – Edythe’s Art
Biggest Indulgence: Julie – Maharam Merger Runner in the Den’s reading nook
Best Advice: Julie – With a minimalist home and approach to life, I can usually be spontaneously ready for guests at any time. Each corner of the home was designed with intention, so everything has a place. I almost never keep flowers in the home, funny since I used to work in florals! Instead, I opt for the geometry and color ingrained in fruit and set them in meaningful bowls. Natalie jokes that I seemingly always have clementines on hand!
PAINT & COLORS
- Benjamin Moore — Titanium
- Farrow & Ball – Dead Salmon
- Farrow & Ball – Cabbage White
- Farrow & Ball – Skimming Stone
- Sofa, Harris Long — Montauk
- Armchair, Rhys — Anthropologie
- Coffee Table — Custom burlwood and acrylic design by Natalie O Design, built by Dave Bramblett
- Yellow Chest — Vintage Herman Miller from mother-in-law
- Art — Matthew Metzger
- Fireplace — Custom cement design by Natalie O Design, built by Matt Barber
- Blue Bowl — Hearthside – Anthropologie
OFFICE/ EDYTHE’S ROOM
- Lumbar Pillow, Custom Natalie O Design design with Hermes Pavage Fabric, similar
- Desk Lamp — Owner’s vintage from father-in-law
- Desk – Owner’s vintage dining table from in-laws
- Art – Painting by Owner’s father
- Upholstered Chair – Owner’s mother-in-laws, reupholstered
- Patio Furniture — Fisher, Project 62 by Target
Thanks to Julie and Daniel for sharing their home and their personal story. Thanks to Natalie Officer for going in-depth into her design process. Big thanks to Taylor Cremo for all the coordination that went into this article and the interviews. And thank you to Luke Metzinger for the photos!