Middle Tennessee Featured Home Series, Vol. 1
The Ahlbrandt Home
You may remember that back in March I posted a short blog entry about this mid-century modern inspired home in East Nashville designed by local architect Ryan Thewes. Fast forward several months and Ryan himself somehow found the post and connected the dots to MidTennMod on Facebook. I was thrilled to hear from him and then one of the homeowners, Jason Ahlbrandt, saw the post and contacted me as well. (I love how the internet brings kindred spirits together!) Jason kindly invited us into their home for a tour and an interview. We loved meeting the Ahlbrandts and building community through our shared passion for mid-century architecture and design. I know you’ll enjoy learning more about them and seeing their fabulous home! Thank you again Jason, Martina and kiddos!
(The Ahlbrandts from left to right: Alianna, Martina holding Josephine, Jason, and Isaiah)
Jason and Martina moved to Nashville from Pennsylvania as newlyweds in 2004. The motivation for the move was Jason’s music career, and by 2008 Jason was working as a full-time musician. He is currently a touring guitarist, songwriter, producer, landscape designer, real estate agent and rockstar dad. Martina, a graduate of Watkins College of Art & Design, is a talented graphic designer who worked for Nashville Lifestyles Magazine and Salem Publishing before going freelance. She is currently a freelance graphic designer, blogger at “My Mid-Century Modern Life” and superhero mom to their three (soon to be four!) adorable children.
The Ahlbrandts were fortunate to get into the Nashville area real estate market early, and in 2005 bought a new construction home in Madison. Their eventual desire was to live in the eclectic East Nashville community, and by 2007 they were able to sell their starter home and follow their hearts. By happenstance they purchased a 1955 atomic ranch in the Rosebank neighborhood of East Nashville, and their passion for mid-century architecture was ignited.
After a few years in their new home, the Ahlbrandts decided to grow their family as foster parents. (You can read more about their journey on Martina’s blog.) They soon realized that their beloved atomic ranch was too small for their growing family. Renovations were considered, but ultimately they decided that building new would be the most cost-effective option to meet their needs. During their online searches for ideas and inspiration they found local modern architect Ryan Thewes.
Ryan Thewes graduated from Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning in 2000. While in school he studied Frank Lloyd Wright extensively and felt inspired by Wright’s “Organic Architecture”. After graduating he apprenticed with architects Don Erickson in Chicago and Robert Green in Atlanta, both former apprentices of Wright. Ryan then moved to New Mexico in 2002 to work with architect Bart Prince, a former apprentice of architect Bruce Goff. After several years of architectural commissions in New Mexico, Ryan and his wife Shay moved to Nashville in 2006 to start his own practice. His designs have received national and international press, and he has been recognized for his advancements in the green building industry.
The Ahlbrandts were impressed with Ryan Thewes’ resume and modern designs and decided to commission him to build their new home. They found inspiration in Eichler designs and mid-mod Palm Springs homes and presented their ideas to him. Must-haves were either a courtyard or an atrium and lots of natural light while maintaining privacy. He came up with a design for them that hit the mark perfectly, and the construction stayed on schedule and within an affordable budget. Their new home was completed in about a year and they were then able to move in from temporary accommodations with family. They have now been in their home for several years and still love everything about it.
Overall if you have specific housing needs but love mid-century modern style, building new “inspired by” construction is a very good alternative. As I’ve stated before, true mid-century modern is rare here and highly sought after. Most, but not all, is in higher end price ranges. We all know how competitive the housing market is here too. So definitely keep Ryan Thewes in mind if you’re thinking about a project of this nature! Jason advised that if you take on building a home, find lots of inspiration photos to show the architect and get creative about your wants and must-haves. Also, when possible, look for a building lot in a neighborhood that fits the style of the home. I hope you have enjoyed meeting the Ahlbrandts and be sure to scroll all the way down for the home tour photos!
(IMAGE CREDITS: The Ahlbrandts family photo taken by them, all others taken by Michelle Kroft)