Weekend Heller: Mid-Century Modern House for Sale
I don’t usually use this space for real-estate proposals, but this is different. Gene and Helen Federico’s family home in Pound Ridge, New York, the quintessence of Mid-Century Modern design, is for sale. For those who don’t know them:
Gene Federico (Feb. 6, 1918–Sept. 8, 1999), was an influential advertising art director and graphic designer who, during a career that spanned over half a century, transformed and elevated advertising design through his innovations and wit with typography and image.
Helen Federico (Sept. 15, 1921–July 19, 2012), began working for Paul Rand at the William Weintraub Agency, then followed a distinguished career as an art director, graphic designer, painter, illustrator and children’s book author.
Their home is an evocation of their modern sensibilities. And it’s safe to say it is a sweet, pure, well-maintained Mid-century Modern now offered by their daughters Gina and Lisa Federico.
“Our desire is that it be marketed to people truly seeking a Modern house, who will appreciate it for what it is and not tear it down or insensitively remodel it, obscuring its intrinsic MCM qualities,” Gina told me. “As we’ve interviewed realtors with Modern house experience and an understanding of their uniqueness, and explained to them our wish to target a particular audience in their marketing of the property, we have pretty much been told that once it’s out there as a multiple listing, one has no control over who will come to see it.”
Once it’s sold, what happens to it is no business of the seller, but Gina and Lisa feel “responsible to our parents, who put so much of themselves into it, to see to its preservation to the greatest extent that we can.”
To that end, the sisters want to alert friends, and friends of friends, who might otherwise miss the opportunity if the property is marketed solely by a realtor. “We hope that by asking you to selectively spread the word we will be more effective in making a great match than by simply relying on the broad-spectrum marketing efforts of the realtor.”
AIGA call for entries designed by Gene Federico
Here’s the skinny on the house:
On five acres, set back by a long driveway from a secondary road. There are fields and woods, a pond and some lawn. The architect was Leroy Binkley, who worked mostly in the Chicago area; the managing architect was John Black Lee. The house was built in 1951 and added to in 1959. It is 2,600 square feet, not including the attached two-car + workshop garage. There are four bedrooms, three full baths.
The look: Cypress tongue and groove inside and out. On the outside it is preserved with Cabot’s Bleaching Oil and is a silvery grey; inside the wood is untreated. Fantastic new EPDM roof with 8″ copper drip edge. Roof insulation is pitched to lead rainwater to scuppers and downspouts—no gutters (yay!). Many large double-glazed windows. 32” x 36” factory-style windows (like hopper windows but open by pushing a bar through a hole in the frame). Front and back terraces with outdoor eating areas. Floors: natural black slate; ceramic tile (kitchen + laundry); black slate 12” and 6” square tiles. Lots of built-in storage that our father designed and built. The living room features a fireplace wall, made of stones from the property, which separates that room from the library, which was originally a wonderful studio.
The feel: The house and its land have an honest, woodsy warmth and welcomeness, and the spirit of the creativity bred and nurtured within is practically palpable. The ancient high bush blueberries produce bountifully and the denizens of the pond sing, trill and croak magnificently from April through September. In early summer, towering clumps of mountain laurel put on an unbelievable display. The house, in true Modern fashion, is totally integrated into the landscape, not dominant of it, and one always has a nice sense of connection with the out of doors. Passive solar warmth from the large west- and south-facing windows and radiant heat in the floors make it very comfortable and bright in winter, and the deep overhangs and stone floors keep it cool in summer.
The layout: In the original 1951 wing, there are two smaller bedrooms; full bath with tub (in hall for the two smaller bedrooms); one larger bedroom with an en suite bathroom with shower; kitchen with lots of windows; high-ceilinged living room; library/studio; dining room; laundry room; mud room. The 1959 addition completes the house with: one large bedroom, which our parents also used as their studio, with an en suite bathroom with shower and a dressing room; attached garage and mechanical room; plenty of storage; two working fireplaces; all on one level.
Gene Federico’s most well-known ad for Woman’s Day
“Judging by comparables provided by the realtors we’ve consulted, we imagine the house will sell for around $995,000.”
If you or a friend would like to learn more or visit the house, contact Gina.
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