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When Strum moved in, the home was almost entirely brown. She transformed it by painting the walls white with contrasting black beams and installing statement wallpaper. Strum has furnished the home with a mix of Midcentury and contemporary furniture.
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Strum’s California ranch was built in 1959 in Roslyn Hills.
When Jodie Strum bought a Midcentury home in Henrico’s Roslyn Hills neighborhood, she scoured the Internet — and area antique stores — for hard-to-find furnishings and home décor items that would help transform the space.
The only thing Strum had no problem finding was the house itself. Her brother was the listing agent, and when he showed her the 2,300-square foot California ranch, built in 1959, she thought she’d walked onto the set of “The Brady Bunch.” Everything — from the walls to the radiators to the living room fireplace — was painted one of three shades of brown. “I didn’t know what I’d do with [the house],” says Strum, a commercial real estate broker, “but I did know I liked the flow.” She purchased it in May 2015.
Strum, who grew up as a member of a large Italian family in Bon Air, had good reason to be impressed by the open floor plan. “When I was young, we ate at my grandmother’s house every Sunday night, all of us wedged in the tiniest kitchen you ever saw,” she recalls. Strum and her siblings have continued the tradition. “We’re big eaters and big entertainers,” she says.
“I wanted to stay true to the Midcentury feel without getting kitschy.” —Jodie Strum
Strum hired Kauffman Construction to bring the house into the 21st century and took to the Internet to learn everything she could about Midcentury home design. Her plan was to keep the best parts of the house intact, while also making the home extremely livable. “I wanted to stay true to … the Midcentury feel without getting kitschy,” Strum says.
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Jodie Strum stands in her dining area, which features wallpaper by Matthew Williamson for Osborne & Little. The 1970s table and brass chairs are by Mastercraft, and the light fixture is by Jonathan Adler.
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The sunporch features pieces from Strum’s large collection of coveted Russell Woodard furniture, a lucky Craigslist find.
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The serene guest bedroom features soft colors and embroidered bedding from Anthropologie.
In the kitchen, she opted to save the cabinets but reconfigured them, turning an island into a peninsula and moving the location of the refrigerator. The cabinets got a coat of high-gloss white paint and new hardware, but it was the white glass countertops Strum saw on Houzz and tracked down through a New Jersey-based distributor that really transformed the space.
If she was going to make all those large family gatherings happen, Strum knew she’d need more than just a pretty kitchen. To increase her seating, she added a breakfast bar, which she topped with a heavily epoxied wood countertop, fabricated by Wellborn + Wright. And in the dining room, Strum committed herself to finding a Midcentury table that could extend when the whole family came for dinner. She located a burl wood table with brass inlay, manufactured by Mastercraft in the 1960s, through an antique dealer in Chicago and had it shipped to Richmond.
For finding Midcentury pieces online, Strum relies on Etsy, Chairish, 1stdibs and Craigslist. When a pair of 1960s-era Russell Woodard gliders went up for sale on Craigslist, Strum dropped everything and drove her brother’s truck to Washington, D.C., to pick them up. Her determination earned her the admiration of the couple selling them, and she came home with not two but 17 pieces of the highly coveted patio furniture.
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The sunken family room opens to the sunroom and features a cushy velvet couch from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams paired with an Adrian Pearsall chair and a custom table from Epoch Furnishings.
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Strum reconfigured the kitchen and had the cabinets painted glossy white. The countertop is white glass, and the backsplash is clear glass tile.
Selecting new lighting that appropriately evoked the era of the house proved to be one of Strum’s toughest challenges. She went with Jonathan Adler chandeliers in the dining room and the den. In the living room, as well as a guest room, she chose Aerin Lauder pendants, which she ordered from Visual Comfort. And in the kitchen, she commissioned two custom light fixtures — made with milk glass and hemp — from Ro Sham Beaux in Charleston, South Carolina.
The key for Strum has been mixing the old with the new. “I find myself gravitating towards the stuff from the ’50s and ’60s because of the quality,” she says, “but I’ve had to force myself to buy some new things, too.” In her den, a reupholstered Eames chair scored at Born Again Furnishings sits beside a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sofa and a coffee table that was custom made by Epoch Furnishings from locally sourced wood.
“I find myself gravitating towards the stuff from the ’50s and ’60s because of the quality.” —Jodie Strum
That desire to blend the old with the new extends to other design decisions. “I read an article that said the worst thing you can do to a Midcentury home is paint the brick,” Strum says. “I would watch TV and stare at the brick [fireplace in my den] and tell myself, ‘Jodie, the worst thing you can do is paint the brick.’ When I finally had it painted, I came home and said, ‘Oh, it was supposed to be painted.’ ”
Strum credits the house with helping her find her personal style. “I designed this house myself for a reason,” she says.