At home in the '50s:
Golden Valley was a developing suburb in the mid-1950s when Don and Audrey Davies and their three daughters moved into their new rambler — which was next door to their previous rambler.
Both houses were designed and built by Don, a commercial artist who enjoyed dabbling in home design and construction. "It was what he loved doing. He'd always built things with his father and grandfather," said his daughter Jean Nordlund of Madison, Wis.
"He learned things on the first house," Nordlund recalled. That home's foundation was "one cement block short," resulting in a low ceiling in the basement. Her father also designed a flat roof for the first house. "They were in vogue at the time, but it was difficult to maintain," she said, so the second house had a pitched roof.
It took her father "a couple years" to complete the second house because he did almost all the work, according to his daughter. "He hired a plumber and an electrician, but he built it primarily by himself."
Nordlund was 8 when her family moved into the new house, which was so au courant that Better Homes and Gardens magazine sent a photographer to showcase its striking modern architecture. Even though the photos were black-and-white, "they put yellow mums everywhere, a station wagon of mums" to stage the home for its moment in the spotlight, she recalled.
Nordlund has fond memories of growing up in the house. She and her two sisters occupied "the dormitory," an oversized bedroom with a bank of movable closets, designed and built by their father, that they used as a room divider as well as for storage. "It was really fun sharing a room," she said.
Their father built them a scale model of their home to use as a dollhouse. "We played with it for years," she said.
The sun porch with its built-in brick fireplace was another favorite spot. Her father routinely grilled chicken there, and it was where Nordlund liked to watch rainstorms. "It had this wavy plastic roof that was so loud when it rained."
Her father, who was in his 30s when he built the house, lived there until he was 88, when he moved into an assisted-living facility. (He died three years later.) Even in his later years, he maintained the home himself, building a ladder onto the house so he could easily access the roof, where he once fell asleep, leaning against the chimney.
Now that the house has new owners, Nordlund is happy that her father's original design is being appreciated and preserved by another young family. "It's such a solid house," she said. "We're delighted with what they've done. They opened up the whole front entrance, and really made use of the lower level."
But most of the home's original architectural features are intact. And even some of her family's old furniture is still in place.
"It does still feel like my home," she said.