Mad About Midcentury Modern

Montgomery County's architecture isn't all colonials and Cape Cods

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Lines and Panes

Photos by Anice Hoachlander

Born in Sweden, Jonas Carnemark loves Scandinavian furnishings. His wife, Wendy Ann Larson, was born in Japan and leans toward Asian pieces. The two styles dovetail in their Carderock Springs home.

“Jonas and I sort of blended our taste,” Larson says, “and as our taste grew together, we noticed the similarity of the lines of Swedish things and Asian things and midcentury things. It’s sort of fun to play with.”

Carderock Springs was built by developer Edmund Bennett in the early 1960s, with homes designed by Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon, an architectural firm inspired by Charles Goodman. The homes have lots of glass to let in light, but wide eaves to block the summer sun.

Photos by Anice Hoachlander

They are tucked into hillsides and forests along winding streets. The neighborhood was designed without sidewalks, and it’s considered the first subdivision in the country to have underground power lines, all in an effort to let as little as possible get between the homes and the natural setting.

“You drive in and it’s like magic,” Larson says. “You’re sort of transported.”

Carnemark, 55, owns an eponymous Bethesda design/build firm. When he and Larson bought the home in 1994, they set out to open its open floor plan even more. The couple renovated the living room in 2000, removing the dark wood paneling, adding skylights and knocking down a wall. They took on the kitchen in 2009, bringing down a wall that divided it from the living room. A bathroom remodel was done in 2012.

“I enjoy clean lines,” says Carnemark, who then invokes the philosophy of late German architect Walter Gropius by adding, “the deliberate lack of arbitrary ornamentation.”

“I like that,” he says. “And the views.”

Photos by Anice Hoachlander

Natural-stained oak floors fill the living room. Danish modern chairs that used to belong to Larson’s parents sit by the window wall. “Every family picture we have, they’re in those chairs,” Larson says. The blue upholstered sofa and ottoman come from Thrive Home Furnishings, a Los Angeles company that specializes in midcentury modern reproductions. The house is ringed by a wraparound deck where the couple hosts Swedish summer crayfish parties. Downstairs, Carnemark, a guitarist, has a professional studio where his band HüsBand records.

When the couple remodeled the kitchen, they added German Konst cabinetry, porcelain tiles on the floor and walls and Caesarstone countertops. “It’s been a journey,” Larson, 55, says of the couple’s merging of tastes. “And a nice one.”

Modern Then and Now

Photo by ©

Book a stay at Michael Cook’s Airbnb listing in the Hammond Hill neighborhood of Silver Spring and prepare for a trip back in time, with a twist. Cook and business partner Steve Wheeler bought the house in 2012 and spent a year renovating it. The 1950 one-story Charles Goodman home features the stunning wall of windows and recycled brick fireplace that Goodman houses are known for. But Cook nearly doubled the size of the original 880-square-foot home with an expansion that is invisible from the front and jaw-dropping from the back.

Cook duplicated the height of the original windows and the style of the brick to pay homage to Goodman. He also added redwood siding and a contemporary butterfly roof, which honor midcentury style without mimicking it. “To be honest, I don’t think Goodman or his contemporaries would be really happy if 60 years down the road in modern architecture nothing’s changed,” Cook says.

This expansion on the back of a Silver Spring home, originally designed by architect Charles Goodman, nearly doubled its size. Photo by ©

Because he planned to rent the house on Airbnb rather than sell it, Cook, 50, says he got to flex some architectural muscle. He calls it an “anti-Realtor-driven design.” “Curb appeal is not so high on the priority list,” he says, “but rather the internal space drives the design.”

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