A Mid-Century Modern Marvel: Les, Tyler, and the Arrival of Stella

A Mid-Century Modern Marvel: Les, Tyler, and the Arrival of Stella

photos by Mal Terranova @dust.and.light.photo

Nestled at the edge of Virginia Beach's iconic Woodhurst neighborhood, Les and Tyler Frankel took on a challenge that many considered a hard-pass. But honestly, you'd really never know it because what was once an uninhabitable fixer-upper straight out of a TV show, has now been transformed into a home so fabulous it seems as if it was plucked from the set of Mad Men and then "jujjed" by The Fab Five. The fact that you can now walk in the front door and feel instantly motivated to explore every nook is a testament to the couple's unwavering dedication (although they're far too easy going to let on about how demanding the 10 month process must have been). Cheerfulness is another immediate feeling upon entry. There's anticipation of a new chapter in the air with the arrival of their daughter, Stella, due in November.

"We chose to paint the front door a bright marigold yellow. We wanted it to scream happy and bright because this house was so dark and dreary for so long. Our goal was for it to be eye catching and welcoming again."

Embracing Mid-Century Timelessness

After taking the first step into Les and Tyler's home, you'll feel transported to an era of clean lines, organic shapes, and timeless charm. It's a place where mid-century aesthetics aren't just celebrated; they're brought back to life. Slanted ceilings, a hallmark of the design period, grace every room, and carefully selected furnishings effortlessly evoke the spirit of the 1950s and '60s focus on minimalism and functionality. "We feel like we have really given this house and property life back." When renovating, the couple found original beams that were covered up with insulation in both the living area and primary bedroom as well as an exposed brick wall in the primary that was hidden behind drywall. 

Les and Tyler's commitment to honoring the 50's-60's era is palpable. "We wanted to stay true to the mid-century modern architecture and add in art and greenery along the way to make it more 'us'." Tyler shared. "We like to add pops of color with rugs we've been gifted and collected on travels like the one we got in Morocco this past spring."

"We love the vaulted ceilings with original beams, the original Philippine mahogany wood accent walls and the exposed brick that we uncovered while remodeling. All the unique angles and characteristics - the house has great bones."

A Kitchen That's the Heart of the Home

The kitchen in Les and Tyler's is more than just a cooking space—it's the heart of their home. It's where Tyler gets creative and makes a weekly menu posted on the fridge for Les to get hype about what's up next. "I just love to cook something different every night of the week - it's my thing, I find it so relaxing." The open layout invites friends to gather around the island and interact in the space made up of the living room, dining area, and kitchen. During our tour, Tyler was prepping to bake some of her famous (secret recipe) chocolate chip cookies for an upcoming get-together.

Discovering Hidden Treasures

Les has a knack for thrifting and unearthing authentic mid-century modern and vintage treasures which all look so perfectly in place that you'd assume they came with the house. These gems, discovered in antique shops, on Facebook Marketplace, and multiple even roadside, continue the home's theme of 'elevated time capsule.'

As we explored, Les pointed out not one - not two - but three of the most gorgeous wooden vintage record players I've seen, each with its own kismet homecoming stories to tell. These once-forgotten relics are now used on the daily, filling the space with everything from jazz to King Gizzard.

One standout piece is a dreamy mint-green floating fireplace, which anchors their front sunroom. Here, Tyler, Les, and their social butterfly/cat named Tux begin each day with a cup of coffee and in the colder months - a morning fire.

A Labor of Love: From Neglect to Dream Home

The journey to this mid-century marvel was far from straightforward. Les, who works in real estate, had dreamed of living in the Woodhurst neighborhood for years. His mission was to persuade Tyler that this run-down property, though in dire straits, was their entry ticket. The previous owner had left behind a trail of neglect, with indoor smoking, scattered ammunition, and mounds of accumulated junk. "We had to air out the house for a while before I had Tyler come meet me for the initial walk-through. We could literally smell the cigarette smoke from down the street when she pulled up."

Amidst the chaos though, they uncovered some intriguing relics. The couple found a metal box filled with over 50 handwritten love letters from multiple women, all dated throughout the 1970s, along with a pristine collection of every 1969 edition of Playboy magazine. Additionally, they discovered a custom-made mahogany door adorned with hand-carved roses and an authentic vintage mcm brass handle door plate. 

When the previous owner reached out after the sale asking for the door, the couple decided that they deserved to keep it after hauling out everything else that had been left behind. "We found things like a cup of teeth, walls that were dripping in tobacco stains, stashes of *very* old military rations and a warning to watch out for grenades when mowing the lawn." The couple jokes that they consider the door their tip for the clean up.

"You know that feeling when you’ve been out of town for a while and no matter how much fun you’ve had you just really can't wait to get home and lay in your bed and just be home? Or that feeling at Christmas time where you may have a fire going and all the other lights are off in the house other than the ambiance of the Christmas tree? That’s how we feel everyday here. It’s a sense of calmness, happiness, peace and just...warmth and coziness."

Anticipation and Aspiration

As Tyler and Les eagerly await Stella's arrival, their most recent project has been preparing her nursery to perfectly complement the house's Palm Springs vibe. Drawing inspiration from a past trip, they chose a retro-esque wallpaper that will endure from Stella's baby years well into her childhood. The room also boasts a framed piece of wallpaper that Tyler acquired from the estate sale of the historic Cavalier Hotel.

Of course, having just welcomed Nora this past January (and even traveling to Morocco to find a rug for her nursery), I couldn't help but be in my feels during this tour. Tyler and Les have created a space where the past and future blend seamlessly. Their mid-century modern home is a tapestry of cherished memories and big dreams, a living tribute to the timeless charm of yesteryear, and a perfect canvas for the unwritten chapters ahead.

And, to my understanding, that's precisely what mid-century design was always meant to be—a beautiful fusion of what has been and what's yet to come.

Roxy: Would you consider yourself a homebody?
Tyler: We are that couple who's always doing something. Traveling or constantly on the go, always looking for something exciting to do. With that being said, we have really taken the last few years to take the time to slow down and enjoy the quiet and tranquility of our home and embrace the “homebody” in both of us in different ways. First there was covid, where we were stuck home which wasn’t our choice but we made the best of it and did tons of home projects. Then we had all of last year where we were planning our wedding and traveling Europe on our honeymoon and now to this year where we are prepping for baby. We keep saying that this is the time to be a homebody before she comes into the mix. We are enjoying spending time at home, enjoying the peace and quiet and also at the same time entertaining friends and showing off the blood sweat and tears we have put into this home. There's nothing like a weekend with nothing to do where we can just relax and sit back and enjoy the home we've made together. 

xo, RH

all photography by Mal Terranova @dust.and.light.photo
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