Tulsa designer Mel Bean was tasked with an interesting project: transform her client’s childhood home into a modern and functional place to put down roots with his own growing family. As an added challenge, Mel needed to honor the home’s historic architecture — it’s an elegant Tudor built in 1929! “I was really intrigued with striking the line between formal and casual, elegant yet playful and youthful,” Mel told us. To achieve this, she made smart textile selections, added cheerful wall coverings and art, and selected edgy-yet-timeless lighting. In the end, she brought new life to a house that has so much history, both for the family and their Oklahoma community. We sat down with the designer to learn more:
First, tell us a bit more about the clients! There’s a lot of special history in this home, correct?
The homeowners are the sweetest family! During the design process they went from a family of four to a family of five, and are now a family of 6! Between their growing family, Emily’s thriving career as an orthodontist, and their commitments to many local causes and philanthropy, they lead a busy life. Their home was designed to be a haven for their family, kid friendly but also elegant for entertaining. Emily and Noah are childhood sweethearts and shared their first kiss in this home, as it is also Noah’s childhood home.
That is so charming! We’d love to know more about the history of the home.
Yes, Noah grew up in this beautiful home! It’s a beautiful Tudor home in Tulsa’s Historic Maple Ridge Neighborhood. It was built in 1929 and retains many of the original details that make the home so unique, such as the Tudor arched doors. When Noah and Emily were searching for their future home, it was difficult to beat such a meaningful, gorgeous home and also difficult to find such a great lot in this area of Tulsa, allowing plenty of room for a pool and room for the kids to play.
What design direction did they give you? Did they have a vision for the new look of the home?
The clients wanted to make the home their own in a way that was still respectful of the historic architecture of the home. They wanted an inviting atmosphere without formality, somewhere their kids can live and be kids. We knew we also wanted to bring in a playful touch, and doses of color. They had several pieces of art that are playful and colorful and helped guide the initial concept.
Beyond the decor, what were some of the bigger structural changes you made?
An expanded kitchen and family room had previously been added to the original house, making the historic home much more fitting for a modern lifestyle. It also had an unfinished basement and an original staircase leading to an attic mostly consumed by a massive attic fan and other mechanical systems. We were able to finish out the basement to include a game room, laundry room, craft room, and wine cellar and still leave space for a mechanical room and storage space.
Did you take any creative risks along the way that turned out great?
I absolutely adore the bold choices we made. The dining room’s dramatic wall color, Farrow and Ball’s Studio Green. The nursery’s grasscloth mountains wallpaper, colorful rugs and art, and the small powder bath’s geometric wallpaper. And of course, the clients’ willingness to take the risk of converting the attic to an incredible play space has had an enormous payoff in terms of function.
About how long did the project take?
The project took around 1 year to complete from our conceptual phase through the construction/remodel and final installation. It was very fulfilling to do a final install and see the reaction of the entire family. The kids jumped right into LIVING in the spaces and it was a nice reminder of the impact good design can make in the life of a family. And so very rewarding for me!
See more in the slideshow.