Inside the Midvale Courtyard House

A Madison couple transforms an old house into a sleek showstopper

The Midvale Courtyard House has been attracting attention ever since construction began over a year ago. See more photos of the home's interior below.

The Midvale Courtyard House has been attracting attention ever since construction began over a year ago. See more photos of the home's interior below.

PHOTOS BY BETH SKOGEN

Let’s say you’re driving along Midvale Boulevard, the modest one-story homes becoming a blur as you cruise down the street. But wait a minute—was that a cool, angular modern house you just passed?

Indeed it was, and that home—dubbed the Midvale Courtyard House—has been attracting attention ever since construction began in July 2012.

What most passersby don’t realize is the project wasn’t a teardown. Rather, homeowners Dino Maniaci and Jason Hoke strove to maintain the home’s original footprint and structure to keep it harmonious with its neighbors.

“It really is the same house,” Hoke says.

Maniaci actually considered buying the house about ten years ago but instead chose a Mifflin Street warehouse, which he converted into a loft-style living space. His partner Hoke moved in later, and the two now own pet pamperer SpaWoof and downtown bar Woofs. But Maniaci never forgot about that Midvale house, even a decade later.

“One day we were driving past Hilldale and saw the house was for sale,” Maniaci says. The small blue building was a mess inside but the couple noticed only the midcentury-modern bones and potential for creating a light-filled home with a great kitchen and room to display their impressive art collection.

“We both had ideas and we knew we could make it happen,” Maniaci says. “There was no question we were going to buy it.”

After reading a Madison Magazine feature on Stephen Bruns’s minimalist home in Baraboo, the pair turned to the architect for help transforming the house into a modern two-story structure. They worked closely and collaboratively on reworking the home to maximize efficiency and design a streamlined style. In December 2012, Hoke, Maniaci and their whippet Stewie moved in, and construction wrapped seven months later.

As they both lead busy lives—Maniaci also owns a design agency and Hoke is a licensed judge for the American Kennel Club—they wanted their home to feel private and calm. “When we come home, we want it to be this respite,” Maniaci says.

They achieved that goal, partly by creating a space that feels balanced with good flow. They raised ceilings from eight to ten feet and created an airy entryway from which they can walk into the living room or up a flight of wood stairs to the master suite.

The living room, which opens to the dining room and overlooks an interior courtyard, is outfitted in soothing shades of gray, from a long, armless sofa with a chaise end to an original fireplace refaced in slate. A black Barcelona chair provides additional seating, while a trio of floating shelves echoes the buffet that sits on the opposite side of the fireplace, in the dining room. 

The highlight of that space is the large pickled oak table with industrial legs. After a six-month search for a dining table, Maniaci ordered it sight unseen, knowing he couldn’t return it. But the risk paid off; the couple loves the table, which seats eight in streamlined leather chairs.

Just steps away is the kitchen, outfitted with white subway tile, tigerwood cabinetry and a beautiful chocolate brown granite countertop. With the desire to build a chef-worthy kitchen while keeping in mind the scale of the house, the couple opted for a six-burner stove and double ovens (one of which is convection) instead of a microwave.

Antique candy molds from relatives sit on floating shelves, while floor-to-ceiling storage surrounds the oversize refrigerator, which came with the house. Slate floors provide a nice contrast to the dark bamboo used in the living and dining rooms (and kitchen ceiling!).

Nearby, Maniaci and Hoke removed a closet to create a library facing the courtyard, which houses outdoor furniture and a tall wood fireplace, making it a preferred spot to relax in the warm months. The library wall leads to a guest room featuring gray walls and linens and a guest bathroom with Italian porcelain tile and a poured concrete countertop.

Just past the guest suite, a large office with long desks and French and Italian posters opens up to the surprisingly large, fenced-in backyard. The house is twenty by seventy feet and set eighty-four feet from the street—“We’re the only house on the block that sits back,” Hoke says—yet the backyard is an additional eighty-five feet. The pair’s next project will be adding a deck with an outdoor kitchen.

Upstairs, the master suite offers additional outdoor space—a private deck with a fireplace, plus a catwalk that leads to a spiral staircase that ends in the courtyard. The master bedroom boasts a loft style, with exposed steel and wood beams above, plus a skylight and floor-to-ceiling windows. The homeowners purposely chose low furniture so that when they sit down, all they see out the windows are trees.

Two closet halls lead to a spa-like bathroom with a wood ceiling, minimalist tub by a glass-walled shower and large custom concrete sink. 

Here and throughout the house, clean lines and soaring planes meet a mix of textures from the use of wood, slate, metal and glass. Natural hues set a calm tone and give a few bold doses of color—like the orange front door or an accent wall—extra pop.

These choices also provide an ideal backdrop for the couple’s art collection. Interesting sculptures and mixed-media works by Madison artist Martha Glowacki are found in the entryway, guest bedroom and elsewhere, while drawings, prints and paintings by John Wilde, Guy Church, Judy Pfaff and Robert Schultz—all artists with local connections—are carried through the home, in addition to works by internationally recognized artists.

Now that their vision has been realized, Maniaci and Hoke can simply enjoy their modern new home.

“We live in all the rooms now,” Maniaci says. “This is it—unless we move to France or Italy.”

Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine.

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