Balogh / Nagy Open House
There will be an open house at this unique home on August 9th. Tickets for the 2 PM or 3 PM event are $15 and may be obtained at http://www.a2modern.myevent.com/ .
Think of a 90° angle tilted left 15° and you have the framework for this 1968 house. “With limited resources we certainly got an unusually interesting house,” says Andrew Nagy, who with his then-wife Joan Nagy, hired modern architect Tivadar (usually called Tiv) Balogh to design a house on a lot that they had purchased in Huron River Heights.
Neither of the Nagy’s had much experience with houses—Joan was just 22 and Andrew had always lived in apartments, so they were open to new ideas. “When he [Balogh] said he had always wanted to build a trapezoidal house we said ‘why not?’ We loved the way the house turned out,” says Joan. Balogh had been in private practice just six years when he accepted the Nagy commission in 1967. Prior to that, he had worked six years as a draftsman for Robert Metcalf, another U-M architecture school graduate who was also a modernist.
The Nagy’s developed a close working relationship with Balogh, who they came to admire and like. After tweaking the plan to their liking, Balogh oversaw the construction. At first the Nagy’s did not think they needed eating areas in both the kitchen and dining room, but Balogh convinced them otherwise. “He said his kids were in the ‘food throwing stage’ and that a separate area was needed,” recalls Andrew. The plan had an option for a copper roof, but that turned out to be equal to the cost of the rest of the house, so they substituted cedar shakes.
Balogh achieved both privacy and light for the house by having the roof go all the way to the ground on the driveway side and putting large windows on the front and back. The Nagy’s loved the fireplace that Balogh designed for them. Made with Chicago common brick, which are smaller and a lighter color than traditional ones, it’s the focal point of the living room and goes up two stories.
In the ten years they were in the house, the Nagy’s made only one major change, which was to enclose the balcony in their bedroom. Joan liked being able to see out part of the living room windows, but when their children got to the age when they liked to jump on the bed, both Nagy’s worried about whether it was safe.
When the Nagy’s needed more room they thought of adding on but found it too expensive, so they hired a builder to construct another house for them. They were able to replicate the fireplace in their new home, but other features like the vertical grained wood doors and tongue in groove cedar proved to be too expensive by then.
Kelly Salchow MacArthur, the present owner with her husband Jay MacArthur, has the same positive opinion of the house that the Nagy’s had. “It’s mid-century but not low and flat,” she says, adding “I like the angles, the way the rooflines affect the rooms. I love the interesting way the built-in shelves mimic the outside proportions.” She and Jay have kept the modern look by not over furnishing the house, an endeavor helped by the fact that there are many built-ins. For new furniture they have focused on the classics such as Eames and Bertoia. Kelly’s design work hangs throughout the house. Be sure and note the mailbox in front of the driveway that she designed to relate to the house.
.written by Grace Shackman