The first Christmas in a new house is exciting — it’s fun to figure out your holiday decorating style, to see what looks right and what will suit the character of the home. For Todd and Kristen McMillan, spending Christmas in their new-build was a perfect opportunity to pair their love of
mid-century modern minimalism with holiday warmth.
The McMillans are co-owners and designers at
Ben Homes, a custom design and build company in Burlington, Ontario. In early 2017, when they set out to design their 4,128-square-foot home home, the second one they’d built for themselves, their two kids, Drew, 9, and Fisher, 6, and the family’s beloved dog, Ben (for whom their company is named), there was no question as to the style. “The open concept of a mid-century home allows the festive energy to flow through and creates a great setting for entertaining,” says Todd.
Scroll down to see inside this mid-century modern holiday home!
“We kept the finishes of the home simple, leaving lots of room for art, furniture, music and plants to fill up the spaces,” says Todd. His sentiments ring true in the family’s living room, which easily transitions to holiday mode with the addition of a simply decorated tree and stockings hung from the Douglas fir stair rail.
This area of the living room, with its built-in cabinets and Eames lounge chair and ottoman epitomizes the mid-century modern aesthetic the couple chose for their home. “We all like to read books and listen to music in this corner,” says Todd.
The living room’s fireplace becomes a central gathering point during the holiday season. “You can’t beat the smell of a real wood-burning fire,” says Todd. The fireplace, he adds, is used almost every night throughout the winter months.
The living room showcases some of the McMillans’ favorite mid-century modern pieces. “We searched long and hard for this sideboard,” says Todd of the treasured piece designed by Grete Jalk in the early 1960s. A Cesca chair, part of a set handed down from Todd’s father, a Noguchi lamp and a Saarinen side table add additional mid-century cred.
In the kitchen, the sink faces the dining and living rooms, allowing conversation to flow between all three spaces. The home’s white-painted brick exterior carries over to the backsplash tile. Unoiled soapstone on the island countertop will develop a rich patina over time.
The dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors that open to an outdoor sitting area. “The Douglas fir flooring connects seamlessly into the window and door frames,” says Todd.
A vintage teak Poul Cadovius wall unit holds art books and other inspirations in the couple’s home office. The table is by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller, and the overhead light is a Muuto fixture. “There’s something nice about white furniture in an office; it provides a clean slate,” says Todd.
Horses abound in the bedroom of budding equestrian Drew, where a built-in Douglas fir desk, cabinet and shelves does double-duty as a stable for her collection of toy horses.
Incorporated throughout the house, built-ins create design consistency and, in Fisher’s bedroom, provide plenty of storage for toys and art supplies. “Fisher is really into drawing,” says Todd. “His room is loaded with art and curiosities that make him happy.
In Fisher’s room, a simple accent table serves as a nightstand where a stylized
mini holiday tree adds a festive touch.
A mix of natural materials, pale colors and artful accents creates an oasis in the principal bedroom. A family heirloom painting completes the serene look. As with every room in the house, interior and exterior spaces are in constant conversation via the large windows.
Author: Jeremy Freed
House & Home November 2019
Todd and Kristen McMillan, Ben Homes