By Babs Rodriguez
Photos by Ralph Lauer
An Arlington-based interior designer captures her home’s midcentury essence — and an incredible view.
Megan Kranz’s dream house presented itself before she was ready. But the owner and lead designer of MTK Design Group is a patient woman — and a firm believer in fortuitous timing.
When Megan and husband John Kranz spotted their unique architect-built ’70s house the first time, they were captivated by the thought of living in the four-level home, which hugged a steep hillside in the embrace of long-limbed oaks. The North Arlington neighborhood spoke to them, too, with its sculpturally twisted trees, flagstone paths and stone-and-timber facades. But the one-off house with midcentury modern influences sold before the Kranzes could even form an offer.
When, a year later, the house came back on the market, Megan and John — who works with his wife at the interior design and remodeling company — were ready to pounce. The couple had it under contract and purchased within
Standing in the living room, Megan gestures toward the stunning panoramic woodland canopy and says, “When I saw this view, I said to John, ‘We are buying this house.’ ”
That was two years ago. The couple, who both have a soft spot for breathing new life into older houses, knew there was work to be done. But having won numerous awards for remodeling homes old and new, Megan was undaunted, even knowing they’d be living in the house as they slowly transformed it.
First order of business was freeing the home’s MCM spirit from its Mediterranean overlay. “We think someone either gave the home a Spanish flair or doubled down on what was there, but what we wanted was a more streamlined midcentury vibe,” Megan says, “and a coziness that embraced the setting more fully.”
She began by stripping the split-level living and kitchen areas free of heavily plastered walls and replacing a sea of terra-cotta tile flooring with engineered hardwood. Four arched openings along the edge of the stepped-up kitchen and what was a formal dining space were removed.
On the entry level of the home, a redesigned foyer sets the tone for the warm, modern and delightfully personal remodel-in-progress. A contemporary floral wallcovering with a midcentury vibe gives the entry sophistication without starchy formality. Two artisan-crafted Renwil lamps with organic glass bases glow on a console centered under a canvas print of an image from the movie Dumb and Dumber. The Kranzes are Jim Carrey fans, but Megan also likes the smiles that erupt when visitors recognize the cheeky subject of the black-and-white artwork.
Beyond the entry, the living areas at the heart of the home begin with a newly created dining space stretched along a left-flanking wall that meets the slope of a cathedral ceiling. (What was a formal dining room on the kitchen level has become a home office.) Megan added the wall over two of the four brick-faced arches that originally divided the first and second levels of the home. Adding the wall created a cozy corner where a modern chandelier illuminates a long, rustic table and eight upholstered chairs.
The dining area is mirrored by space dedicated to John’s musical instruments, including a keyboard Megan mounted on a console table to surprise him.
Perpendicular to both dining table and keyboard is a tall live-edge sofa table customized by Blowing Rock Woodworks to accommodate three counter-height chairs that look out across a built-to-fit upholstered sectional. Two green velvet midcentury-style chairs are paired with the sofa, their backs to a modern glass-box fireplace perched on stacked stone that now replaces the other two arches, which formerly divided the living area from the kitchen elevated above it.
The fireplace is a sort of peninsula between the two levels. Installation wasn’t easy. “It was kind of a beating to make it fit perfectly,” Megan says of
the feature as well as the addition of new glass doors on the kitchen side. The increased transparency, further drawing the outside in, proved well worth the struggle.
The steps up into the open kitchen feature Mexican tile risers that inspired the blue-green palette of the remodel and hold a memory of the home’s former life. Adjacent to the kitchen, what had been a formal dining area is now a comfortably furnished home office that acts as a second living space. Sitting at her desk, Megan is flanked by views of the front yard and, across the kitchen, the glass fireplace and woodland canopy beyond. The wallpaper, the same gray floral print that greets you in the foyer, has a coziness enhanced by wall sconces that highlight its slightly metallic finish. A handsome gray leather Sarreid Ltd. sofa and soft green latticed velvet pillows, the branchlike forms of wall sconces, and a Surya black-and-white hair-on-hide rug add the layers of texture and marriage of contemporary and organic elements that are Megan’s signature.
If the home is a treehouse, the kitchen is its crown. Wrapped in glass, it is awash in light dappled by surrounding branches. Clerestory windows slant along the ceiling line at one end of the space, and a rectangular rank of original windows stretches above the sink and counter. A Regina Andrew modern chandelier of gray-tinted blown glass makes a big statement but doesn’t distract from the natural light flow in the room. Newly installed sliding glass doors face a small sitting area on the kitchen side of the glass fireplace and just outside the office.
The kitchen, updated perhaps in the ’90s, was completely reimagined by Megan. “It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t me,” she says. To maintain an earthy flow from the outside, she chose Sherwin-Williams Smoky Blue for her custom cabinets. Counters, backsplash and an oversize island are covered in J’adore quartzite. The bark red and green veins in the stone emulate the home’s woodland surrounds. Paso Robles Ironworks hardware suggests branches but stops short of a literal interpretation. The impression everywhere is of a forested retreat, warm but secluded. “It is all designed as an extension of the trees,” Megan says of the lanky oaks that provide dynamic visuals in all seasons.
Today, the home’s living areas are revitalized and a mudroom and dog feeding station off the kitchen (and above the garage, the fourth level of the home) are complete. A master bedroom sanctuary with a patio walkout — the home’s three bedrooms and two baths sit a level below the public rooms — awaits completion of the en suite bath. In the works: a nursery for a baby girl due in February. Megan says she has plenty of time to curate that special space. All things in good time.
“I just feel like this house has slowly become us. And that we were meant to be here.”