George Nelson, one of the godfathers of American Modernism, is coined in his online bio as ‘the creator of beautiful and practical things’. We all know and love the ball clock, bubble lamps and of course, his iconic slatted bench. But did you know he designed several local houses?! We think of him as an uber talented industrial designer, but he was first and foremost an architect. These beautiful and practical Nelson designed homes were ‘kit’ houses produced by the local Pease Woodworking Company in the mid 1950’s. Similar to Sears houses, the kits were purchased and constructed by builders on their clients’ lots.
Nelson’s 1945 Book, ‘Tomorrow’s House’, influenced a generation of architects and designers. His forward thinking ideas included the concept of the ‘family room.’ He knew how to design a house for a family and he did it with the affordable ‘Shorewood’ model for Pease – the kitchen was open and in the center of the house (a radical idea at the time), the spaces were flexible (the dining room could actually be a 4th bedroom), he provided plenty of storage and bathrooms (two full!) and made the most of natural light while providing privacy with clerestory windows. These 3 bedroom, two full baths homes came with an at grade 2 car garage or below grade 2 car tandem garage.
There are several of these homes sprinkled throughout the tri-state. There are two in Ft. Thomas (I sold one of them a couple of years ago – and the owner of the other graciously provided me with the plans below), and a couple in Fairfield. We even saw one in Athens, OH while visiting our son at school. I’m sure there are others throughout the region (if you know of any, please let me know)! I have seen Nelson homes in various states of done-up to original to remuddled. But the great design cannot be denied. One in Clifton has a truly unfortunate (and not original!) fireplace treatment, but is on a great street and has a nice kitchen. For some reason, the clerestory windows were covered over – I think it is because of a goofy roof treatment that was added to put a slope on the flat part.
For inspiration, check out what the former owners of a Ft. Thomas ‘Shorewood’ did to their home. The first floor is pure Nelson design. The basement on this house, however was kicked up a few notches and added a family room that would do Nelson proud!