Ranch Life

by | Jan 11, 2020 | '09 Home

Midcentury Ranch Style Home Bodes Well for Modern Life

 

Home Interior - 78209 Magazine

Living Room
A bank of hand cranked windows bring natural light and fresh air into the living and dining rooms that are anchored with a floor to ceiling stacked rock, two sided fireplace. In the living room, a sectional sofa in orange tweed, a cerulean blue leather club chair and an Ekornes recliner and ottoman in black leather provide ample seating.

 

Built in 1949, purportedly for a prominent restaurateur and his family, Danna and Jim Halff’s midcentury ranch-style home may be reminiscent of another era, but it’s “good bones” function well in the 21st century with details found in many contemporary homes.

Good design – and some remodeling when the couple moved in 14-years ago, give the home a vitality that provides a backdrop for active lifestyles where home is key to both social and civic activities.

A small, formal entry that has remained much the same as it did when first designed features a built-in credenza of cherry wood with custom-designed, fitted wooden pulls, a white travertine marble top, and burlap wallpaper dating back to 1950. Stepping from this time capsule of 50s chic, guests enter an immense entertaining/living space that is as bright and airy as any open concept home of today.

The living room opens to an enclosed sunroom that runs almost the length of the home. Floor to ceiling wooden doors fitted with glass slide back into the walls to combine the two spaces. Cork flooring pulls the two rooms together.

The Halff’s sixteen-year-old son, Daniel, makes good use of the space where a host of friends often converge after school – Alamo Heights High School is just a few blocks away.

“It’s a gathering spot for the pack,” said Danna. “Most of his friends have siblings, and our house is a great place to get away.” With games of chess, banana grams, super smash video, and a full-size ping-pong table in the sunroom, it’s easy to see why there is always teen activity here.

A passionate activist that includes Jewish causes  (an immediate past president of the Barshop Jewish Community Center) and a veteran member of the local chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, Danna hosts community groups and planning meetings in the space that can accommodate large groups.

“We work in our community with concerned parents and business leaders to encourage a culture of responsible gun ownership,” Danna emphasized. “We know that unintentional shootings are 100% preventable.”

 

Home Interior - 78209 Magazine

Formal Dining
A family piece, the dining table has two additional leaves that expand for large family gatherings. A white artichoke lamp was a gift from Jim to Danna. Art glass disks on wall above vintage sideboard belonged to one of Danna’s family members.

 

With a very large and extended family, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is often for 50 guests. Tables are set up in the living room and sunroom. “We fold up the ping pong table and roll it out, taking round tables out of storage for the family gatherings.” Danna quipped. “And it is wonderful that the space is all on one level for the older relatives.”

The dining room also opens up to the space with a two-sided, wood-burning fireplace connecting the living and dining areas. A wall of stacked limestone bricks of varying lengths makes up the fireplace surround adding visual interest and spatial connection.

Large plate-glass windows in the breakfast room bring light filtered through the branches of massive oak trees. Open to the kitchen, the Halff’s made some necessary additions to the space, yet kept the integrity of the area intact.

Danna designed the kitchen with floor utilizing hypoallergenic linoleum with round disks of color that pop with fifties vibe. They opened the kitchen to the breakfast room by removing a wall and bank of cabinets while pushing the window wall out for additional space.

A peninsula counter of polished granite compliments the granite countertops and backsplash of glass tiles, another Danna design.

With a penchant for Danish modern furnishings, the breakfast room table was a neighborhood find at an estate sale. The leaves of the table can be dropped and, by pushing the table to the wall, it serves as a buffet for family gatherings.

 

Home Interior - 78209 Magazine

Kitchen
Updating the 1950s kitchen for modern living with stainless steel appliances, the midcentury integrity of the space was maintained with linoleum flooring punctuated with pops of hand cut linoleum circles, cherry wood custom cabinetry and glass tiles set in a vintage pattern.

 

Another Danish modern piece opens up to form a game table where mahjong games and book club meetings hold court.

An accomplished seamstress, Danna volunteers, altering and fitting prom dresses for young women in Bexar County Foster Services. Formal dresses are donated, and the girls get to select the dress that they will wear to prom.

With all of the political, social, and family activity that abounds in the Halff household, Danna has a small space where her proficiency at sewing is quietly demonstrated. In addition to making many costumes for her two sons over the years– the older son Josh is now in college – she sews blankets to relax. “It is very therapeutic,” Danna insists.

And the blankets are part of her gift of giving; surly a mitzvah if ever there was one.

 

View Full Slideshow:

Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Living Room
A bank of hand cranked windows bring natural light and fresh air into the living and dining rooms that are anchored with a floor to ceiling stacked rock, two sided fireplace. In the living room, a sectional sofa in orange tweed, a cerulean blue leather club chair and an Ekornes recliner and ottoman in black leather provide ample seating.
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Between a Rock and A Fireplace
Transitioning from the living room to the dining room, a plein-air landscape painting hangs above an Amethyst geode rock that Jim found in South America when he was traveling with a friend who is a geologist. He shipped it home in a barrel.
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Formal Dining
A family piece, the dining table has two additional leaves that expand for large family gatherings. A white artichoke lamp was a gift from Jim to Danna. Art glass disks on wall above vintage sideboard belonged to one of Danna’s family members.
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Entry
A collection of western bronzes and oil paintings are displayed throughout the Halff home, including the formal entry where a custom, built-in cabinet and burlap wall coverings are original to the home.
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Entry
A collection of western bronzes and oil paintings are displayed throughout the Halff home, including the formal entry where a custom, built-in cabinet and burlap wall coverings are original to the home.
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Kitchen
Updating the 1950s kitchen for modern living with stainless steel appliances, the midcentury integrity of the space was maintained with linoleum flooring punctuated with pops of hand cut linoleum circles, cherry wood custom cabinetry and glass tiles set in a vintage pattern.
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine
Breakfast Room
A Danish modern table and chairs were a neighborhood find for Danna, who has a passion for the classical furniture with clean lines and minimal ornamentation. By extending the original breakfast room out toward the front of the property, additional windows were added creating a light-filled space for casual dining.
Home Interior - 78209 Magazine

 

 

BY JOHN BLOODSWORTH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY AL RENDON

 

 

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John Bloodsworth

With over 30 years of journalistic experience, John G. Bloodsworth has covered the gamut of lifestyle stories from interviews with leading regional architects, urban planners and cutting-edge designers to stories about homeowners revealing fascinating features on modern living. With a journalism degree from Texas State University and a concentration in public relations, he began his career with the Pitluk Group, overseeing public relations and advertising activities for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. He has written for national, regional and local publications and is currently a contributing writer for magazines covering architecture, design and cultural trends. Bloodsworth also has a design firm, Little Cabin, that sources heirlooms and unique finds for ranches, coastal getaways and urban environments for retail and residential clients.

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