Step Inside a Perfect Mid-Century Gem
Made for Gatherings

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza
Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

When we launched House Method in September of 2017, I had no fewer than four people from my home town of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, reach out to me with the same message: You need to talk to Marie McKeeman. All of Marie’s enthusiasts had seen her home, had been invited over for a Mad Men–themed party or a documentary screening or simply for dinner or a drink on Marie’s patio. “It’s like stepping back in time,” one Facebook message reads. “You have to get over there.”

So I tracked down Marie and we talked about her home. I first spoke with Marie on the phone in the fall of last year. She was incredibly warm and quite talkative—everything from her work as “literacy missionary” and with a digital learning company to her long-time home of Florida, how much her husband Dylan loves roots music, their months-long journey to creating exactly the home they had envisioned, how delighted they are to have the home they do.

When I finally had the pleasure of meeting Marie and Dylan in March of this year, the two of them welcomed the House Method team into their newly renovated home as if we were old friends. Stepping into the McKeemans’ house is, indeed, like stepping back in time. It seems that no detail in this house is an accident: there’s nothing that’s been chosen, hung, or arranged without thought and intention, yet nothing feels as if it’s off limits. Marie and Dylan have built their home around making sure their doors are open to those who need a place to be, to gather, play, and replenish.

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Entrance The jewel-green double doors are original to the house

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Foyer The foyer, like most of this home, is flooded with natural light. Every detail, from the punched porcelain pendant to the brass planter and geometric wallpaper was selected in homage to the home's age.

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Foyer Even the credenza and hallway table follow clean, mid-century lines

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

The homeowners Marie and Dylan McKeeman are Florida transplants living in Winston-Salem with their Italian Greyhounds, Lucianna and Sofiya (who, by the way, are so extra in the best way)

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Buddies Dylan and the girls getting photo ready

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Living Room Never afraid of a little color and contrast, Marie and Dylan's living room is playful and bright

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Details Every detail matters in this perfectly curated home

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Details Marie scored the pair of side chairs for a steal at Home Goods and had them covered in her choice apholstery

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Details A little bulb of a half-glazed vase with a few fresh-cut stems and a forest green empire chair pulled straight from Don Draper's living room

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Kitchen Marie and Dylan completely gutted the original kitchen and created this sweeping masterpiece that flows across the back of the house

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Breakfast nook The couple often spots birds, foxes, and deer from their sunlit breakfast table

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Dining Room The dining room bridges the open kitchen and wall-length bar

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Details One of the best features of the dining room are the perfectly delicate punched porcelain pendant lights

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

That Bar Have you ever even?

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Details The incredible wall-length bar is filled with little touches like an antique gilded punch bowl that belonged to Marie's grandmother and an antique ice bucket

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Details The open dining room–kitchen is perennially entertaining ready

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Master Bedroom The master bedroom is mid-century meets the Sunshine State

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Master Bath The encaustic tile flooring that completes the master bathroom is from Cle' Tile

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Guestroom How fun is this guest room? Marie has never shied away from a bold print, and this wallpaper from Hygge & West is no exception

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Study Dylan's study and jam space in bright oranges and blues

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Study The opposite wall is adorned with posters from favorite roots music festivals, many of which Dylan has played or organized

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Details Artist and friend Lucy Smoot gave Dylan and Marie this charming rendering of their home, which hangs in their entryway

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Patio This classic biergarten table sets the stage for many a backyard get-together

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Pups Lucianna doing her part to soak up that sun

A brief history of the home

As told by Marie and Dylan

The house is located in the historic Wake Forest neighborhood and adjacent to Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Reynolda Gardens, and Graylyn International Conference Center. Primarily developed as a neighborhood for Wake Forest faculty members and administrators, this unique neighborhood is more than just conveniently located houses, it is an extension of the very character of Wake Forest University and Reynolda Village.

Built in 1961, the house was a one-owner home. The former owners, George ”Jack” and Mitzi Williams, designed and built the house. At our closing, their daughter gave us one of the best gifts: the original house plans, which we had framed where it hangs over one of the three fireplaces in the home.

When did you buy the home?

We bought the house in August 2016 but did not move into the home until December 2016. The BIG renovations took about 20 weeks.

What condition was it in when you bought it?

We like to describe it as a “well-loved” and “well-lived-in” home. During the 55 years the Williams family lived in the house, no major interior renovations had taken place—it was like going back to the early 1960s. One of the top reasons for choosing this house was there had been no CRAZY renovations!

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

What changes have you made to the house?

Our goal was to modernize the home while staying true to the fabulous layout, light-enriched rooms, and the element of nature peeking in through every window of the house. 

Kitchen: The former kitchen was about the size of a dining table. Before purchasing the home, we hired a structural engineer to ensure we could remove a load-bearing wall between what was the kitchen and formal dining area. The kitchen received a TOTAL renovation designed by Marie. We built cabinets using Ikea bases and designed fronts from California company SemiHandmade Doors. This space is the perfect central location, or what we call the heart of the home, for gathering and building community.

All bathrooms: Total gut and renovation. One of my favorite rooms is our master bathroom.

Electrical and gas: Rewired the entire house—added a gas line for a dual fuel range and gas fireplace in the gathering room.

Plumbing: Added a new hot water heater—all new plumbing in kitchen and bathrooms.

Painted every singe inch of the house! Wallpapered feature walls and the entire foyer with special ordered wallpaper from one our favorite companies, Hygge & West.

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

Why did you choose this house?

Marie: I fell in love at first sight! I immediately felt a connection to the house and knew it would be a place where many would gather—a creative community group. As I mentioned previously, one of our top reasons for choosing this house was there had been no renovations—it was a clean slate to bring back to life…Again, no crazy previous renovations from the ‘80s or ‘90s.

Dylan: Location was a large part of our decision to purchase the house. It is on the campus of Wake Forrest University. It is less than a mile walk from the church where I work. The neighborhood offers both cultural diversity and a high value on nature conservancy. Often, we will be drinking our morning coffee and tea and see wildlife cruising through our back yard—deer, foxes, and birds are quite common.

What drew you to mid-century modern style?

As a young child, I (Marie) would watch old movies from the 1950s–1960s with my grandmother. I fondly remember watching one particular movie, Auntie Mame, and falling in love with both the style of clothes and the designs in her NYC apartment. For the past 21 years, we have been looking for “The One!”

Tell us about a favorite memory here.

Marie: One of my favorite memories in our new home was the Mad Men–inspired birthday party I threw for Dylan’s birthday. Everyone dressed from the time period and brought a cocktail along with an appetizer inspired by the 1960s. 

Dylan: Building community is an important part of who we are.  We love to host gatherings at our home. Recently, Marie and I helped fund a documentary. When we received our early-release copy of the film, we decided to host an outdoor viewing party in our backyard for about 50 folks. The film is about American roots music and featured many of the music festivals we have attended over the years. After the film came to an end, we were inspired! Those who played grabbed instruments and had a two-hour jam session under the tall white oaks.

Tell us about a favorite feature or what you love most about this home.

We love our foyer. As you drive into our neighborhood / Wake Forest University you immediately recognize the beauty of nature. The window-walled foyer, offers the perfect transition from outside to inside—the perfect “power-down” experience.

What is your favorite detail (or details) in this home?

First of all, Marie is obsessed with encaustic cement tiles. We looked all over North Carolina / South Carolina trying to find these tiles and I could not find anything even close to the desired style we want to obtain for our bathrooms. So, we decided to purchase tile from another California-based company, Cle’ Tile. Although the price/shipping was way above budget, it is one of the most beautiful features in our home—definitely a work of art we get to walk on every day.

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method

What part of the home is your biggest indulgence?

Flooring: the encaustic cement tiles and installing white oak wood flooring. Although the house had wood floors in the bedrooms and the former dining area, the foyer, kitchen, and hallways did not. We hired a company to match the original floors—wood and width. The finish was a special formula created by cutting the stain to a 50% lighter shade and a perfect matte finish.

How have you created your home to suit your lifestyle?

At least once a week, we look around our home and express gratitude, often saying, “Wow, I am grateful to live in this house with you!” 

As two creatives, we wanted to build spaces that inspire: inspiration to celebrate the beauty of nature, inspiration to create music, inspiration to cook, and inspiration for community-building.

Has this home at all changed the way that you live?

We were looking to begin our journey of down-sizing, or, what we like to call “The Art of Downsizing!” And yes, there is an art to what often seems like sorting through chaos, but that’s another story!

What does home mean to you?

Simply put, home is where you want to be. We both grew up with families who loved to celebrate: food, drink, music. In fact, food and music were always the thread woven into our childhood homes.

Whether we host a backyard music festival under the string lights and around the authentic German biergarten tables, a evening worship gathering in our light-filled gathering room, a surprise poetry reading party for a dear friend, or, simply, have friends over for coffee and tea—our home is where we want to be.

To keep your home in the best shape, check out the best home warranty options available for you. 

Photo by Lindley Battle for House Method


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