George Mabry
Photo: Keller & Keller
I want my house to be flexible. Dedicating rooms to one purpose doesn't make sense.
—George Mabry,
One might be forgiven for assuming that a 1950 Modern house will be uninviting—all chilly steel, concrete, and glass. But take a walk down the front steps of George Mabry's newly renovated house, and those preconceptions start to unravel. There, chocolate–colored redwood siding and thin slices of rustic stacked stone surround an entryway made even more welcoming by the soothing sound of a nearby fountain. The effect is more serene forest than sterile structure, and any visitor would be hard pressed to say the style holds no charms. The allure of the house—the current TOH TV-show project—is largely the work of Todd Tsiang, an architectural designer who designated the materials, finishes, and details, working from plans by architect Will Ruhl. Tsiang's choices may be 21st-century, but the house still belongs in the class of high-style mid-20th-century Modern, with its floating staircase, streamlined fixtures and lighting, open-plan first floor, and a wall of glass along the back that makes inside and outside a matter of opinion. There's an emphasis on informal living—key for George, who likes to entertain—that hews to the philosophy of Modern design. Combined with traditional, even antique materials, from recycled wood to handmade tiles to farmhouse slate counters, the house belies the notion that Modern homes are cold and soulless. That opinion is best expressed in the words of one particularly reluctant convert, TOH general contractor Tom Silva, who executed the transformation. "This house gave me a new appreciation for Modern homes," says Tom. "I've worked on them for decades—going way back with my dad—and I'd always thought them to be somewhat sterile. But this one has real charm."

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