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Sleek sophistication

December 19, 2012

[This article originally appeared in the Bloomington, IN Herald-Times on December 8, 2012. See http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2012/12/08/homes.sleek-sophistication.sto. Click on any photo to enlarge.]

december 019Walking into the “Holywood Deco” home of Gary and Linda Anderson is a rare treat. From the vintage chrome cocktail sets to the geometric stencils along the top of each wall, the entire interior breathes sleek sophistication.

Gary is the talent behind Bloomington Design Inc., the local sign-making business. For decades he has painted, worked with cast metal and resin, and joined together diverse elements to create assemblages. In fact, a sign first led him to their present house.

The kitchen; Gary made the "Cherry's Roadhouse" sign on the back wall for his wife.

The kitchen; Gary made the “Cherry’s Roadhouse” sign on the back wall for his wife.

“A realtor called me to put up a sign on this property that was for sale,” he remembered. “She told me about the amenities: two bathrooms, fireplace, 26 acres. I put the sign up in the front yard, then looked in through the door and saw this big living room. So I went home and told Linda, because we were thinking of a bigger house because of our children, Zack and Taylor.”

“We’d just got done with redoing the other house,” Linda said with a rueful smile.

The house for sale was a 1940s cottage with a 1955 addition: an architect-designed living room with wood beams running across the ceiling. There was also a 1965 family room on the back of the house. But the house had gone through many different owners and had not been kept up.

The bed stands on an addition built several steps higher than the rest of the room.

The bed stands on an addition built several steps higher than the rest of the room.

“It was almost derelict,” Gary said. “Gutters were hanging, broken windows had been repaired with Saran Wrap. The deck was rotting. The roof was leaking so badly that the oak floors had turned gray. And the inside had been painted mint green and pink.”

The woods behind the house had grown right to the back of the house, bringing with it countless large snakes that sunbathed in the driveway and crept into the house. Undaunted, the couple began fixing up their new home.

The ceiling of the study has gold and silver stars pressed on using a shaped sponge.

The ceiling of the study has gold and silver stars pressed on using a shaped sponge.

They repaired the house in stages as time and money permitted, doing the work themselves. Linda painted the exterior and single-handedly beat back the encroaching forest while Gary did the interior. Because of his professional expertise, basic household repairs and painting were relatively easy. But of course it was difficult to work all day in the workshop and then come home and do similar work all over again.

Gary constructed this curio cabinet with an old "Rocketeer" transparency as the centerpiece.

Gary constructed this curio cabinet with an old “Rocketeer” transparency as the centerpiece.

As the physical structure of the house was stabilized, they began decorating it. After several starts they settled on Gary’s passion: the streamlined Deco style found in Hollywood movies. Gary had many ideas he wanted to implement.

“Linda gives me an opinion when I suggest things,” he said. “She’s game for anything, she’s willing to take risks. I’m not afraid to fail, or to try something different, although that’s difficult for some people. The house is a laboratory to try things out.”

The furnishings of the entire house are Deco-flavored. In the living room, Gary built a large cabinet to contain scores of small vintage-store treasures, which was constructed around an illuminated transparency of the streamlined poster for the 1980s movie “Rocketeer,” which Gary obtained when the movie first came out. In the corner, a 1930s cabinet was enhanced by a topper that Gary designed and built in the shape of a miniature illuminated band-shell with musicians’ silhouettes inside, with the words “Cobalt Club…featuring the Count Basie Orchestra”.

Many vintage cocktail sets are displayed around the house.

Many vintage cocktail sets are displayed around the house.

The kitchen is contemporary, with solid-surface countertops and small square glass tiles on the backsplash, with recurrent themes of bright red. The dinner table in the family room is overlooked by a large mural, nearly floor to ceiling, depicting Bogart and Bacall in “To Have And Have Not.” David painted many such large murals around the house, using a variety of sign materials as the backing and projecting illustrations onto them that he wanted to duplicate and enlarge.

A study in a former bedroom has a large wooden portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of David’s inspirations. “I admire his Usonian homes,” he explained. A frieze of brightly colored geometric forms runs along the top of the walls here and the ceiling is covered with stars that were applied with a sponge dipped in silver and gold paint.

The arched entry to the home. Note the decorative stenciled frieze above: each room has a different decorative frieze.

The arched entry to the home. Note the decorative stenciled frieze above: each room has a different decorative frieze.

They enlarged the master bedroom by building a raised area for a Hollywood-style bed. Several steps and an elegant banister separate the upper from lower levels. The effect is regal, as if approaching a throne on a dais.

There are Asian influences throughout the home, and Arts and Crafts touches as well.

“All these styles are

The couple dine with Bogart and Bacall each day.

The couple dine with Bogart and Bacall each day.

intertwined,” Gary observed; “they fit so nicely together.” After all, Frank Lloyd Wright was a huge fan and collector of Japanese art.

“Linda and I do this for ourselves,” Gary summed up. “We live with things we like, but we appreciate when someone else comes in and likes it too.” He added, “There are still parts of it I’d like to redo. As soon as we have fixed up something , there are ten more things to do. My job is to be creative, so I come up with more and more things to do, and it’s never done. But it’s always fun.”

Contact Bloomington Design Inc. at 332-2033 or gary@bloomingtondesign.com.

This assemblage, built by Gary, features silhouettes of musicians and its own lighting.

This assemblage, built by Gary, features silhouettes of musicians and has its own lighting.

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