Beautiful Fare for Everybody: The Vahlberg House in American Home Magazine
by Lynne Rostochil.
The June 1948 issue of American Home magazine features one of my very favorite OKC mid-century modern homes on the cover, the fantastic Vahlberg House in Forest Park. Here’s what the home looks like now:
Pretty amazing, aye? This really is such a stunning home, one that architect Robert Vahlberg designed and built for himself and his family and where they lived for over 50 years. Have a look at the house when it was new and read the accompanying article:
THE ROBERT VAHLBERG’S OKLAHOMA HOUSE … A LOGICAL EXPRESSION OF THEIR OWN WAY OF LIFE
It was hard, those first years of married life in a crowded apartment after the Vahlbergs came back to Oklahoma from the East. Bob had been studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had attained his Master’s Degree. It was hard for him to convince Jane that, because nothing in the city offered in the way of a home would satisfy him, they should wait until they could build a home of their own. Jane wanted a home right away.
Bob had definite ideas about the house he wanted to build. Patiently he explained to Jane that contemporary thinking in architecture is still in a nebulous stage with the average man and woman, but that modern architecture has captured the imagination and creative drive of the young men in the profession — that what the public sometimes regards as merely “daring” is backed by what these architects term “organic certitude.”
The Vahlbergs feel that their home, at last a reality, offers proof of this. Because the house was designed to have the appearance of springing naturally from its setting, lines and compositions fall easily into place, and it looks valid, not artificial. Indoors, the unobtrusive colors of the decorative scheme, planned by Jane to accent natural textures, contribute to this effect.
The house is a logical expression of their own way of living. They like to be informal, relaxed; they like being together. The open planning fosters this. Even Bob’s workshop corner with its drafting board and desk gives him a degree of privacy without sacrificing family unity.
They love the outdoors, swimming, sailing, horseback riding. The house, in a country setting, overlooks a ravine. Its wide expanses of glass across the rear elevation capture sunlight by day, starlight in the evenings.
Maintenance has been made easy by the remarkable unity of the house. The plan is compact; all the space counts. Storage space was planned around the family possessions, carefully inventoried, even to the baby buggy. Small daughter Marcia was given special consideration. The natural wood finishes do not show finger marks, and small matter what she spills on the floors since they are of concrete. Kitchen and dining areas are particularly well integrated.
The conception of a house like the Vahlbergs’ is quite new to Oklahoma. Robert Parks, the builder, says that it constituted an educational process for all workmen involved. Now he is so sold on it that his plans for the future include one similar to it for his own family. He and his wife like it from every standpoint. Vahlberg, with is vigorous, new departure from tradition in architecture, may be pioneering a new housing trend in his own home state.
Unusual screened porch with slanting side flank bedrooms, adjoins dining area, makes roomy play-run for daughter Marcia. Study, living, dining, kitchen activities are all emcompassed in large rectangle with minimum divisions. Oversized fireplace in center of room has two flues, burns 10-foot logs or 2 twin fires.
House turns its back to road approaches, lies long and low. Roof slopes up toward rear facade which is all glass and screen. Wooded ravine insures privacy, overhang shields window from sun.
(Article written by Eugenia White, photos by Johnny Melton.)