Homes: Remodel and Upcycle
Remodel and Upcycle
Colette Whicker and her husband, Dwain McDaniel, live in a 1960s midcentury modern Urbana home.
Story: Bridget Broihahn
Photos: Bridget Broihahn
It can be an artistic endeavor to bring an older home into the now. Great creativity is needed to keep the original style of the house but renovate it so it fits into today’s world.
Colette Whicker and her husband, Dwain McDaniel, live in a 1960s midcentury modern Urbana home. The original design had a double-atrium style that brought the outside indoors, with lots of natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows and two atriums. They wanted to renovate their home, so that it fit with their needs as a family but retained that midcentury feel.
They also wanted it to work with their grown-up family — the grandkids — and their Scottish deerhounds, Haggis and a little puppy that was just welcomed into the home in early December.
“Her name is Aoife, pronounced ‘Eefa,’ (an) old Gaelic name which means “beauty.” She is a beauty who is very high-spirited and I am sure she and Haggis will become best buds,” Whicker said.
The Scottish deerhound, or simply the deerhound, is a large breed of hound, once bred to hunt the red deer of Scotland. They are considered gentle, docile, friendly and dignified.
Whicker wanted something done to enhance the light, easy and comfortable style that was the original idea for the house. The couple had bought the home from a gentleman who had strayed from that light, easy and comfortable style.
They hired Donica Flint, a licensed interior designer for Custom Flooring and Interiors of Champaign. She came right over. The two women hit it off right away.
“Whatever need I expressed, she was so intuitive,” Whicker said. “She nailed my vision for this home.”
Flint said she started by just looking at the original home. She then began measuring. She looked around again. She measured some more. She had to get an idea of how to redo the space.
“You look at the rest of their home,” Flint said.
Originally, there was a galley kitchen on the south side of the home. The area that was the deck and atrium area was to be turned into the kitchen. A sitting area was to go right off of the kitchen. A stairwell existed in that space on the north side of the home.
“It’s hard to articulate the process,” Flint said. “The point was to make it look original.”
The kitchen was moved to the east wall of the house.
“I didn’t want a wall of cabinets,” Whicker said about the kitchen.
The new kitchen fits well into the midcentury modern concept. The cabinetry is very understated and clean. It is encapsulated and segregated with color and a partial wall that clearly defines it as a kitchen in the otherwise open space. The stainless steel gourmet stove and glass and stainless range hood complement the shimmering mosaic tile work on the east wall. It’s a blocked style, but open at the same time.
“I like blocks,” Flint said.
The space where the kitchen had been is now a functional, roomy laundry room and drop zone from the garage.
The north wall, where the stairwell once was, is now a beautiful fireplace-less mantle with muted colored river rock displayed in the space that would be the fireplace. There are wonderful cabinets that blend in with the wall, and there are rectangular windows below and above, giving the illusion of a much larger window. Plus, passers-by cannot just look in, because there is no window space at eye level. The result is lots of light.
“I wanted privacy and air and to not feel closed off,” Whicker said.
The sitting area has trapezoid windows in the upper east wall, just flush with the vaulted ceiling.
“They stop at the roofline,” Flint said. “Kyle Cunningham at Bacon and Van Buskirk worked on this with us.”
The adjacent ceiling has deluxe skylights.
“They can feel the rain and then they will close. They also have a shade. It’s all programmable,” Flint said.
All around Whicker’s home there are art pieces and colorful furnishings. She has found stunning pieces of art at surprising places. She purchases many of her items from estate sales, antique shops, resale shops and garage sales. She reuses and recycles, too. Flint is on the same page with the reuse theme. She likes to cut down on waste.
For the home’s wine rack, she salvaged some wood planks. For the wet bar, they used teal glass electrical transformer knobs and turned them into light fixtures.
One of the major focal points and the hub of the home is the massive granite countertop island.
“This came from a riverbed in Brazil,” Flint said.
Flint said that Craig Garst, a stone fabricator with Custom Stone Fabrications in Champaign, created the countertop. The base is rough-sawn oak painted black. There are custom-made cowhide and cherry barstools surrounding the countertop.
“The barstools were in my 3-D program,” Flint said.
They liked them so much; they went on a hunt to find those barstools.
“We found them at ‘Custom Made,’ a website, and they are very upscale. There’s exquisite craftsmanship in these,” Flint said.
The countertop is complete with a chef-style faucet and stainless steel farm sink. It all fits into this home that is open, full of light, color and nature. The process was worth it, too.
“It took a year. It wasn’t a hindrance, because it wasn’t portioned off,” Whicker said. *