Mid-century modern home showcases the work of famed architect Don Murray
There is a coolness factor to mid-century modern homes.
The houses, built mostly between the 1940s and 1960s, have unique angles, straight lines and lots of glass. It’s retro, meant to bring modern design into the suburbs. People love it or hate it.
Located in a quiet neighborhood off Van Ness Extension in northwest Fresno, the home at 5331 N. Sequoia Ave. was built in 1960. The 5,251-square-foot mid-century charmer, nicknamed the “Sequoia” home by listing Realtors Dylan Johnson and Kaelin Huebner of Guarantee Real Estate, is an entertainer’s dream. But it could make a good family home too, says Johnson and Huebner, who are engaged to be married. The price: $965,000.
Architect Don Murray, who worked in the Pacific Northwest and on the East Coast, designed the original home on nearly an acre of land. Three other designers have since added their own touches to the four-bedroom, five-bathroom U-shaped house that surrounds a pool.
“A lot of mid-century moderns can get really cold. They’re more about style than function and comfort,” said Johnson, who lived for a time in the house that’s owned by his aunt and uncle, who now live in Las Vegas. “I feel like the different additions, the different architects that have worked on this have retained the modern style while still keeping the comfort.”
Two large wooden front doors open into an entryway that leads into the living area, or what Johnson calls the “epic” room. The interior design possibilities are endless, Johnson says, as he points out hardwood panels on the wall, floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the pool, a bar made of granite and a stone wall with a fireplace.
A recreation room and office, the Gene Zellmer-designed portion, was added to the house in 1975. The addition extends out from the stone wall and is partly underground, creating multilevel spaces at the back of the home. Zellmer was an early pioneer of environmentally friendly designs.
From the epic room, walk up a set of stairs to the upper level where windows look out to the backyard tennis court. Then, walk down some stairs into the “subterranean” room that is so well insulated that it could be used as a recording studio or for band practice, and no one would be bothered by the sound, Johnson said. There is also a temperature-controlled wine room down there.
The unique shape of the house creates a seamless flow from one room to another. Next come two bedrooms connected by a Jack and Jill bathroom. The master suite, designed by the architecture firm of Kennedy Lutz, is located on the other side of the house. It has a sitting room and his and hers bathrooms.
The “his” bathroom has a locker room feel with a steam shower and lots of storage. The “hers” bathroom has heated floors, a shower, a soaking tub, storage, decorative panels with teeny slices of bamboo, and a sitting area and private outdoor space for a massage. Fresno designer Michael Weil is credited with remodeling the master suite.
Travel back past the bedrooms and through the epic room to the other side of the house where the dining room and gourmet kitchen are located.
“For the right person, this is still a canvas,” Johnson said. “You can still create here without disrupting the architecture, the original design of the house.”
Address: 5331 N. Sequoia Ave., Fresno
Built: 1960, with an addition in 1975
Size: 5,251 square feet
Details: Mid-century modern architecture with multilevel floors, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking pool, temperature-controlled wine room, Jack and Jill bathroom, master bedroom suite with sitting room, his and hers bathrooms and private outdoor massage area.