[caption id="attachment_163685" align="alignright" width="300"] Winston-Salem architect Pete Fala’s goal was to enhance rather than reinterpret his house’s original design[/caption] Ask Pete Fala what he likes best about his 1958 modernist
Ask Pete Fala what he likes best about his 1958 modernist home, and his answer may depend on the time of day. “Mid-morning, you get wonderful light through the floor-to-ceiling windows along the back of the house,” he says. “In the evenings, we love the views from our back porch. You feel like you’re up in the trees, in your own oasis.”
Those features were hidden when Fala, a Winston-Salem architect and co-owner of STITCH Design Shop, first spotted the “For Sale” sign on his way to work in 2018. “You could barely even see the house,” he says. “It was so overgrown by trees.”
When he walked up the vestibule’s cantilevered steps, Fala felt transported. Shag carpeting covered the floors, walnut built-ins divided the living spaces, and honeycomb design details adorned the walls. “It was like walking into a preserved moment in time,” he says.
Fala knew that most of the potential buyers who were interested in the lot would likely scrap the house. As a modernist architect, he couldn’t imagine that fate. “It needed a ton of work, but it was next-level awesome.”
In the name of maintaining the integrity of the original home, designed by J. Kenneth Burge, Fala stripped the house to its concrete columns and steel frames and rebuilt it within its original shell. To the back porch, he added dramatic V columns that now support a roof over the patio, which overlooks a wooded backyard filled with native grasses and pollinators.
Fala’s yearlong renovation garnered a 2021 American Institute of Architects North Carolina Merit Design Award. “Being able to preserve this home means a lot,” he says. “Not just because we have a storied tradition of modernist architecture in our state, but it was also important to me to be able to honor the legacy of the original architect.”