Saturday, August 22, 2009

CF3 Coffee Chat - Hermes Residence

Cincinnati is a unique city. The many hills and enclaves make it a difficult city to navigate at times, yet provide many varying terrain neighborhoods with individual character. The west side of the city is my old stomping grounds, having grown up for awhile in Western Hills. The west side is notorious for confusing, up and down roads that give way to some really private sites, with mostly local traffic.

The Hermes Residence is no exception in its discreet location and intimate integration into the site. The house has been owned for 15 years by the current owners, relatives of local Cincinnati Mid Century Modern architect Rudy Hermes. A long winding driveway climbs the hill to find the Hermes Residence perched at the end of the deep lot. The house consists of a series of flat roof boxes that follow the profile of the site and step away from each other as they descend the hill.

The mature landscape gives little sense of the overall composition on first approach. From the bottom of the site, one enters the house at the end of the line of boxes between two parallel garages. The garage on the left is a very appropriate newer addition to the house by the current owners. The newer roof overhangs the adjacent garage volume that adds a more complex composition to the front entry.

Built in planters and stepped slabs of concrete lead you to the front door complete with center mounted doorknob and glass globe light above. Inside the intersection of the various rectilinear volumes provides a great datum to all the extended spaces. Original materials abound with diagonal terrazzo floors, exposed brick from the exterior, pecky cypress wood, and various other materials.

The most interesting feature in the central space is the integrated koi pond lined with white Bisazza iridescent tile and surrounded by a built in planter. My daughter thought this was the coolest thing ever, a life size aquarium. Above, a set of skylights aligns with the pond. Beyond, a fire engine red painted wall backdrops a pair of black leather Marcel Breuer designed Wassily chairs. Another cool feature in the space is the curvilinear sunken built-in bar complete with curved doors.

To one side of the central space the large eat-in kitchen is decked out with all high end stainless appliances within the original custom wood cabinetry. Cork flooring surrounds the large island that runs the length of the room. The east side of the kitchen is bound by a large expanse of windows. With a built in wine cooler and trash compactor, the kitchen is indicative of the level of luxury noted throughout the house.

A double sided fireplace with integral wood storage splits the formal dining area from the living space. Like many other MCM houses, the fireplace chimney block extends as a mass outside to the large patio. The living area has exposed wood beam ceilings and newer built-in cabinetry. A MCM mobile overhangs an Eames lounge chair and ottoman.

Steps from the central space ascend to the bedroom wing. Interestingly, the master bedroom is closet to the public area of the house and is open to overlook the entertainment space in the entry area. The master bathroom features a curved wall with original grey rectangle mosaic tile. The other bedrooms fill out the rest of the house and each have their own bathroom. The house in total is 3 bedrooms and 3-1/2 bathrooms.

Heading back outside, it's obvious the homeowners have groomed every bit of the peripheral landscape and hardscape. An extensive art collection can be found integrated into the landscape throughout the property. Around the bedroom wing, a gravel bed bound by metal landscape edging is functional, clean and maintenance free. Connecting one side of the house is a large patio that steps down to landscaped terraces. An open wood lattice screen wall partitions a small patio off the kitchen.

The Hermes resi
dence is an outstanding example of MCM residential design. A true party house, the open connection to all the public (and even private) areas would allot a great party. Although the architect is currently unknown, the design of the house echoes that of the western case study style. Seeing a MCM home that has been well maintenanced and cared for is a true delight.


  1. Amazing design!! Check out the wide range of teak lounge chairs from

  2. did you do the renovation design?

  3. I did not do the renovation design. The next coffee chat article will feature a MCM modern kitchen design I have done though!