On the Market: A Bright and Airy Mod Overlooking the City
text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.
It’s not often that a one-of-a-kind mid-century modern in a reasonable price range comes on the market, but that is definitely the case with this modest mod in Wildewood Hills off of NE 63rd just east of Broadway Extension (not to be confused with Wildewood at NE 50th and Kelley). Even better, it’s a home that has been barely touched since it was built in 1961.
The front exterior is buff brick and siding (painted its original redwood color) accentuated by an aggregate rock wall and capped by a band of windows:
Running along the side of the house, the redwood siding continues and is offset by two chartreuse doors that add a playful splash of color to the place.
Here’s a similar view of the home from 1970 when it was just a few years old:
Love that Buick!
The original owners were Bill and Elizabeth Morris, who were very successful realtors in the ’60s and ’70s. Here they are modeling in the living room with drinks in hand, of course, in 1970:
Soon after the current owner bought the home, Bill got in touch with him and told him that his wife was an Engineering major at OU and designed the house, which he then built. Apparently, they constructed a home just like it on Lake Texoma somewhere, so if you know where that one is, please let us know. Anyway, the Morrises happily lived in the two bedroom, two bath, nearly 1,700 sf house until 1972. Subsequent owners loved the original style of the Morris House so much, that it has been barely touched in the ensuing years. So, after this build up, you’re ready to be done with the history and get on with the tour, aren’t you? Well, okay, here we go:
Let’s begin with the front door with a terrazzo stoop and bevelled glass sneak-a-peek window. It only gets better from here, folks.
Inside is a short hallway with a vintage sputnik light fixture:
This could be a dark, throwaway space as most entry areas are, but the bevelled window next to the front door creates an open and light filled hallway instead:
Just off the entry is the compact but very well appointed kitchen:
There is a ton of storage in the kitchen that overlooks the living and dining areas:
I love how the light from the adjacent living room filters into the kitchen, providing the open plan living that so many people crave these days. And here it is being implemented way back in 1961. That Elizabeth Morris was way ahead of her time….
Here’s the view from the kitchen out to the living room:
I’m so smitten with that floating bar, aren’t you? Here it is looking back into the kitchen from the dining area:
And check out these oh-so-mod laminate counter tops:
No, they aren’t original, but they are so incredibly cool and are in outstanding shape, so a note to the new owner — please keep them! Also, did you notice those fun and funky round pulls on the cabinets? Well, if you think they are nifty, check out them and the unusual light switches that can be found throughout most of the house:
Since you got a sneak peek of the living room from the kitchen, let’s move out of the kitchen and check out the L-shaped dining living space that overlooks a HUGE backyard:
Woo hoo, how sexy is that?! The fireplace, the green cork wall, all of those glorious windows, and that jaw-dropping light fixture! Your heart is going pitter patter, isn’t it? Beginning with the light fixture, those perforated circles are to die for and, either on or off, it creates so much drama in the space:
Here’s the view from the dining room looking out the sliding glass door to the backyard:
Yes, those are built-in shelves and drawers next to the kitchen bar. There’s a ton of clever storage in this home, as you’ll soon see, but look at that backyard!
This photo just captures a small sliver of the yard, which encircles the home. Now that we’re outside, here are a few views of the rear of the house:
The living room doors are on the left and the master bedroom doors are on the right. Here’s a view of the home from 1970:
And approximately the same view today:
I’m sure you’re wondering about the band of windows at the top — they are one of the home’s most dramatic elements, as you’ll soon see. On the back porch, a semi-circular rock garden melds the outdoors with the indoors:
Here’s the view of the garden from inside:
The garden overlooks the large living room and provides our first glimpse of what I think is the home’s most interesting and unique feature, the hall of windows that create an inner atrium that adds a ton of light inside:
They stretch from the living room down the hallway all the way to the master bedroom:
This is such a simple and elegant way to create more light and open up spaces, but I’ve never seen anything like this that has been executed so well. I’m really wishing that Elizabeth Morris had designed a lot more homes, aren’t you?
The great storage continues in the living room with this built-in that once accommodated a hi fi system — yes, that’s a handy dandy place to keep records at the bottom:
Down the hallway on the left is the first bathroom with an original terrazzo floor and a lovely tiled round sink:
On the other side of the hall is the first bedroom but before we go inside, have a look at the clerestory windows that emit light from the hallway to the bedroom:
So smart. The only other times I have seen this feature have been in homes and schools that my grandfather, R. Duane Conner designed. He really liked adding more light and creating the illusion of larger spaces by including interior windows. Here’s an example of a bedroom window looking out onto the living room of one house in NW OKC:
And another in the den of the same home.
Here’s one of another home in a nearby neighborhood:
He also used interior windows in many of the schools he designed, including Calvin Coolidge Elementary:
Interestingly, he designed a home just one street over from the Morris House in 1960 that had these same interior windows, so I wonder if that might have given Elizabeth Morris the idea to add these windows to her design. Wherever she got the idea, it’s an ingenious one and I’m surprised it wasn’t/isn’t used more. Here’s the bedroom looking toward the interior windows:
And the view out toward the backyard:
Down the hall a bit more is the laundry closet with a built-in hamper that is accessible from the master bathroom. Yes, that’s right, you can toss your clothes in the hamper in your bathroom and don’t have to move them to the laundry room because it’s right there. Here’s the laundry room from the hallway:
And, on the master bath side, voila, you’re in the laundry area:
Also, the wide shelf over the hamper can drop down to create a spacious folding table, so no need to drag clothes to various areas of the house to fold them. Clever, clever!
At the end of the light-filled hallway is the master suite, which is another space with many smartly designed features. Here’s the view from the bedroom door looking to the giant backyard:
Turning away from this view, there’s a large rolling wardrobe that acts as a divider/closet:
If you’re someone who likes a huge closet/dressing area and a smaller bedroom, simply roll the divider a bit to accommodate your needs. If you want a larger bedroom and smaller closet, just roll it the other way and you’re good to go. Personally, the dressing area/closet is plenty big for me right where the wardrobe divider is. Have a look and see what you think:
The wardrobe itself (on the right in the next shot) is pretty spacious, too:
And, I know I’m sounding like an broken record by now, but there’s so much natural light throughout the bedroom and dressing room thanks to the windows on three sides of the large space. And, if that’s not enough, there’s a skylight in the bedroom that adds even more light:
The light is so nicely diffused in this room, too, which gives the entire space a real calm and peaceful vibe. I like it!
Oh, I forgot about one other, very rare, perk of this already incredible hilltop house. It is sited diagonally on a dead end street to take full advantage of spectacular city views, especially in the winter after backyard trees have shed their leaves. It’s really unusual to get such views in flat-as-a-pancake OKC, making this place truly special, indeed. Obviously, it’s August and all of the trees are in full bloom now, but I did spy some goodies on the horizon from the back porch off of the master bedroom, even during this time of year:
While we’re talking about the backyard, here’s a Googlemaps aerial view of just how big it is:
As you can see, the yard encircles the home — it’s certainly the largest yard in the neighborhood and has tons of potential for landscaping. From this hilltop location, in just a few months, you’ll be able to see downtown lit up at night. Another note to the new owner — please invite me over for some snacks and drinks this winter so that I can enjoy the view with you.
Back inside, let’s check out the master bathroom. Most of the time in older homes, the master bathroom is a tiny space that barely fits one person, but that’s not the case with Elizabeth’s design. She created a surprisingly spacious bathroom with double sinks and a step-down tile shower that’s pretty darned big:
And the pulls on the cabinets in the bathroom are delightful — the laminate floor is a lot of fun, too:
There’s even a cute storage thingy next to the toilet:
I don’t know what you’d keep in those shelves besides toilet paper — little books, maybe? Kleenex? Who knows, but this thing is cool and I now want one.
Going back down the hallway to the common areas, this is the peek-a-boo view you get of that stunning living/dining area:
Let’s take one last look at this space:
Simply charming. That’s it for the interior but back out the front door, I have one last surprise for you. At the back of the carport is a large room that can be used for storage or, with a little work, even a small office:
And how great is that wrought iron gate to the backyard?
I know I say this a lot, but I really mean it this time when I tell you that this home is one of my favorites that I’ve toured. It’s extraordinary and needs a new owner who will savor and enjoy all of its originality.
The Morris House goes on the market this Wednesday, but if you’d like to maybe get a sneak peek, give realtor Monty Milburn a call at 843-8188 and set up an appointment to tour this gem located at 5909 Crestview Dr. Since it’s priced at a mere $119,000, I guarantee that it won’t be on the market for long.