original kitchen
The original kitchen cabinets and layout still look modern and work well with the new sink, appliances and counters.


Dentist Craig Wakefield spearheaded his status as both midcentury homeowner and realtor in Philadelphia in the last decade. Wakefield recapped his spontaneous move to a 1955 ranch back in 2008 (part 1) and was not only happy with the home’s location, but its need for little renovation. But this purist found it a struggle to mix midcentury and more modern styles.

Other than cosmetic work—painting, furnishings, light fixtures and gardening—the couple had little heavy lifting to do. In the kitchen Wakefield installed new appliances and quartz counters, but kept the original cabinetry, the recent mosaic tile backsplash and even the green paint. “It’s really cheerful and bright and I liked the colors, so I never changed anything,” he explains. “I thought about opening up the wall between the kitchen and dining, but I love the compactness and how this house works.

DARs in the dining room
Looking toward the kitchen and front door, three contemporary artworks include a Rothko-inspired glass piece by the homeowner on the partition wall, a wave-like wood sculpture and a mahogany bench by Keizo Tsukada. Six DARs (dining armchair, rod base in the Eameses’ parlance) surround a vintage Saarinen Tulip table with a ‘stabile’ in the center.

“I am personally more of a purist, but I really believe people should be happy in their houses. There are some homes that are architecturally significant that would be greatly devalued if the kitchen was changed, but that’s pretty rare. Material choices are important, and having granite and all the newest stuff isn’t always great. There were some unfortunate things done in the ’80s and ’90s when these houses weren’t appreciated, but now people are updating their kitchens to today’s technology and for the way their families function; I think that’s all good.”

The couple enjoys a variety of interior design aesthetics: His partner is partial to sleek Italian modern, and their shore house has a totally different look. At this Chestnut Hill home, casual comfort and materials friendly to Lukas, their English Springer Spaniel, prevail. The bright and happy theme begins at the chartreuse front and back doors, and continues inside, with white walls, yellow- green ceilings and living room hues that pick up the colors in the Alexander Calder prints over the sofa. “I think of the red Arne Jacobsen chair, the blue Hans Wegner chair and orange fireplace wall as less ’50s shades and more ’60s primary colors,” Wakefield says.

Staying (Mostly) Purist

Wakefield followed his own advice — he was happy with his new home, even enjoying the small living room. But one feature of Wakefield’s ranch made him defy his purist code. Find out what surprisingly modern change Wakefield made in part three!