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Beautifully Modern - The Miller House

On May 10th the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana will be open to the public for the very first time since it was completed in 1958.  There have been very few pictures taken of the home since it was published in House & Garden in 1959.  So this is a pretty big deal in the architecture and design world because there is little doubt this home will become another iconic American modern home.   A couple of weeks ago I started seeing pictures of the Miller home that is mostly constructed with steel beams and glass.  The architectural design is facinating but what really struck me is how livable the home looks considering its architectural style.   After a little research I discovered it was only one of two famous glass houses that was constructed with a family in mind.  My husband, Reid, has always told me he would like to live in a glass house but honestly I haven't shared his enthusiasm for this style of home.  But after seeing the Miller House I may start dreaming right along with him!

Please enjoy the following pictures from the Indianapolis Museum of Art website...

The Millers hired Eero Saarinen, an architect originally from Finland, to design their family home.  Saarinen is also well known for the designing the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Dulles International Airport.  For the Miller House, Saarinen created a system of structural steel columns that creates a grid.  Each corner of this grid allows for private spaces for bedrooms and the kitchen.

The home is filled with a soft natural light as result of a series of skylights that line up with the structural grid.

Alexander Girard, was responsible for the interiors of the home.  Girard's design is modern without being severe.  He was able to accomplish this with strong colors, fun patterns, antiques, and some folk art.  

A sunken conversational area is a major feature of the interior.  The area allows for lots of seating without the visual clutter resulting from additional groupings of chairs, sofas, and tables.  Saarinen once described his ideal home as inspired by the simplicity of Japanese houses who would solve the problem of furniture, with its inevitable 'slum of legs'...instead create a sunken area.

The center living area was also inspired by Mid-West farmhouses were all rooms open to a common room so family members are drawn to the home's center to foster unity.  Supposedly never published photographs of the Miller family taken in 1961 for a LIFE profile show messy desks, kids leaping out of the pit, and wheeled toys used inside.

It's hard for me to believe this home was completed in 1958, over 50 years ago!  Don't you think it looks so current?!?

Girard's design boards, color and fabric swatches are pretty too.  He created textile plans for the changing seasons!


The 96 inch round dining table is made entirely of marble.  The flared support holds a brass pump that supplies water to a recessed bowl at the center of the table which can function as a lily pond, lawn, or fountain.

Girard designed a 50 foot long storage wall to hide all the items the family didn't want to display.  He also designed several rugs in the home.  One of the rugs included symbols to represent family members and special items with meaning to the family.

Dan Kily, a leading figure in modern American landscape architecture, was hired to design the home's exterior spaces.  His goal was to expand Saarinen's architectural vision to the outside.  Like the house, the gardens have a strong geometric order.  The focus is on shaping the outdoor spaces versus creating complex floral combinations.

Here is a picture of the Millers.  Irwin Miller turned a small family business into a multi billion dollar diesel manufacturing company.  He was also a philanthropist who was known for his civic activism.  Specifically, he helped Martin Luther King, Jr. organize the March on Washington.  Xenia was also a philanthropist and was involved in numerous cultural aspects of the community.  Plus they helped design a gorgeous home that will be one for the history books!

Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the informative and beautifully, refreshing blog on the Miller house. Truely an inspiration in desgin and vision!