The McConnell Residence was the third stop for the Oklahoma Modernism Architecture Tour. Our two huge tour buses pulled into the obviously well-to-do neighborhood, attracting attention from the cars driving by and neighbors. A lady in her Mercedes actually stopped and asked me what was going on and why I was taking pictures of the house. I explained to her that the house was a mid century modern gem designed by an architect George Seminoff in 1957. Julius Shulman took pictures of the house and we were revisiting some of the places he photographed in the Oklahoma City area. She seemed very impressed.
The McConnell Residence is located at 2532 Pembroke Terrace, Oklahoma City. As the name implies, the house was originally built for the McConnells, a paving contractor and his wife. It was Seminoff’s first commission after completing a degree in Architecture from Oklahoma State University. Seminoff’s design for this one-story ranch home was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. The house features many elements that are seen in Wright’s work, such as the use of natural materials, the 30- and 60-angles instead of the 90-degree angles, and sliding shoji screens.
The house is currently owned by Cara and Robert Barnes. The couple purchased the home in 2006, shortly after they were married. They spent next the 10 months renovating the 2,700 square-foot house back to its original design. Cara even contacted the house’s architect, George Seminoff, in order to keep his intentions intact. The only structural change they made was the removal of a kitchen wall, which was necessary to open up the kitchen to the rest of the house.
The house opens up in front of you as soon as you walk in the unique front door featuring a sunburst pattern. There is a small room that is used as a bar before you walk into the living room. The unique feature of this room is the leather flooring (yes, leather!). Here you also notice the beautifully restored center-cut red wood ceilings that continue to the rest of the house. The shoji screens divides the bar area from the large living room filled with mid century modern inspired custom furniture. The colors of sofas and chairs and the colors in the restored terrazzo floor complement each other very well. The floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass door in the back of the living room look out over the beautifully landscaped backyard featuring the patio and pool area.
The living room opens up to the kitchen, the breakfast area and to the dining area. The custom made dining table matches the unique angles of the dining room and cove lighting up above. A guest room located just off the kitchen, used to be a “mother-in-law” suite. It was actually designed for the mother-in-law when the house was built. On the opposite side of the house from the guest room, there is a master bedroom and office. One side of the master bedroom features the shoji screens similar to the ones in the living room that serve as closet doors. The master bath features a sunken multi-sided shower beautifully retiled with transparent blue tiles. Small penny round tiles in various shades of blue were used elsewhere. The vanity was enlarged to accommodate two sinks, but rebuilt to match the original triangular shape. The office is located around the corner from the master bedroom.
Cara and Robert Barnes had done a very good job renovating the house, respecting its original integrity. The couple successfully turned the typical clean-line mid century modern gem into warm and welcoming home showing their personality. I would like to thank them for welcoming us into their beautiful home on that rainy day.