Overview: influences and philosophies
Watson was seeking the openness of a loft type space with a bit of industrial feel yet in a residential neighborhood. The interior of the house was completely remodeled during the summer of 1995 by Watson. An office addition was designed by Watson and built during the summer of 2000; the new kitchen was designed and built during the summer of 2002. A new driveway with parking pad was designed and poured in winter 2004. The bathroom was enlarged and remodeled in spring 2004.
Influences on the design of the exterior
Arts & Crafts Movement: attention to detail, natural earth colors and materials,
Frank Lloyd Wright's early work, horizontal lines, minimal furnishings
Ranch style houses of the fifties
Influences on the design of the interior
Industrial loft spaces
Frank Lloyd Wright's philosophies of:
1. rooms revolving around a central core
2. the open floor plan with room areas that flow into one another
3. furniture built appropriate for the space
Scandinavian and Japanese interior minimalism
The Japanese state that a 'home is neat and orderly with things not immediately in use being stored out of sight.' They use a large storeroom rather than multiple smaller closets.
Themes throughout the house and office
1950s icons representing memories from Watson's childhood
Arts & Crafts/Charles Rennie Mackintosh quad arrangements
Horizontal sets of 3 items (pictures, desk lights, light fixtures)
'Tornado' twisted walls of corrugated tin
Minimalism - Watson is a minimalist: he prefers spaces simple and uncluttered. Ridding one's environment of clutter (or never letting it in) is quite liberating - it frees the mind from petty trappings.
Shelves, end tables, and storage units are industrial shelving, black in the house and aluminum in the office
Shelves and table tops have faux stone tops, some of which are broken at 45 degree angles
The rooms at the front of the house: groj, foyer, living area, and bedroom have grey painted walls; all angled walls are corrugated tin, all other walls are painted white. The tin walls are at a 45 degree angle to the layout of the house. This represents rural Oklahoma twisted by a tornado and plopped down into the '50s ranch house.
Windows in the house are picture windows with Craftsman/Mission detailing grids.
Window blinds throughout the house are 2" white mini-blinds - simple, clean lines, and unobtrusive.
Door handles in the house and office are lever style for easier operation, especially when hands are full or wet.
Electrical outlets and switches in the house and office are the flat Decora style, some are dimmers and some are illuminated for easy locating at night.
All water control valves in the house and office are single lever.
Arrangements of picture in Arts & Crafts quad compositions.
Horizontal sets of 3 items (pictures, desk lights, light fixtures).
Alignments & order
Seating units align with the height of the dining/end tables and the coffee tables.
Fixtures in the bathroom: faucet, coat hook, soap dish, etc, align.
Angled cut corners of table tops align with other features in that room.
Kitchen pedestals align with windows.
Eco-consciousness 'green practices'
Shower head uses minimal water
• Urinals fixtures use no water
No sink disposal, organic material is thrown outside, paper, glass, cans, and plastic are recycled
No dishwasher, the few dishes used are easily be washed by hand
• Wash clothes in cold water
• Don't wash car at home (commercial carwashes use less water)
No gas/electric stove (which sends heat into the house during summer) microwave only
• Compact fluorescent lite bulbs used throughout the house where feasible
• Solatube to light the garage, captures sunlight from bubble on the roof and channels it into the groj
• High efficiency windows
Electric lawn mower
Minimal mowing and edging
The logo identities
The logotype for the house is a type treatment that respects the lettering and typography of Arts & Crafts: double horizontal bars and arms in the letterforms, angles that align with other elements, straight horizontal baselines, and individual elements forming a single cohesive unit. The letterforms are created as original elements to respect each other and their position within the rectangle shape.
The stacked words allow the 424 at the top to be prominent. The vertical lines align and run through each line of type conveying the unity and strength within the house.
This logomark (above right) is a juxtaposition of a diamond and four squares. The four squares are a pattern popularized by the Scottish Art & Crafts designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This pattern is found throughout the house - picture arrangements, bathroom windows, and porch columns. The diamond represents the walls within the house that are turned at a 45 degree angle to the basic house grid. The house is designed on a theme of these two overlapping grids.
The black shapes form 4 arrows spreading out in 4 directions - to represent the open spaces within the house and the fact that one can stand inside the house and look out a window in all four directions.
Pre-2017 tour inside the house
Link to fotos on
Video of the house on local Fox program: Cool Homes, June 25, 2007
Overview: The cornice molding visually lowers the ceiling to a more personal human scale. New doors lead to the groj and to the bedroom. From this area of comfortable tradition, one can then step into the areas of contemporary open spaces.
Purpose: A welcoming introduction to the interior spaces
Floor: Industrial grey carpet
Walls: Grey paint, white trim
Ceiling: White specked. Notice the heat/ac vent grilles - series of three, as a subset unity throughout the house, aligned with the front windows and angled in the corner rooms.
• Thonet Brothers bentwood side chair of the late 1800s is one of the most widely produced chairs of all time.
• Eames lounge chair and ottoman (as in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art). The designers, Charles and Ray Eames wanted this chair to have the warm receptive look of a well-used baseman's mitt. It was originally built just for their personal use, but it attracted the attention of others and has since become a classic icon of the international standard in modern furniture design.
• End table of industrial components with shelf, designed and built by Watson.
Lighting: A trio (a theme throughout the house) of goose neck lamps emerging from within the top of the end table.
Gallery: How Can You Tell, drawing and painting by Keegan O'Keefe of Oklahoma City.
The living area
Overview: The living room is defined by the area rug and the collection of chairs. The best arrangement for visiting and conversing is to align seats at a 90 degree angle so that its easy to look at another person (unlike sitting side-by-side on a sofa) and easy to look away (unlike in chairs that face each other). Sofas make inefficient units for humans to comfortably converse. The individual chairs allow arrangement flexibility and are fun as guests select their favorite style of chair. Some walls in the great room are sheathed in corrugated tin and at a 45 degree angle to the layout of the house. This represents rural Oklahoma twisted by a tornado and plopped down into the '50s ranch house. The angle of the chairs respects the angle of the corrugated tin walls while the rug respects the alignment of the foyer walls.
Purpose: Primary: visiting and conversing with guests, secondary: reading
Floor: Original thin-plank hardwood, area rug to define seating area
Walls: Grey paint, white trim
Blinds: Originally mini-blinds but replaced in fall 2012 with 2" blinds throughout the house. The wider slats are reminiscent of Jim's childhood home and create a dramatic plantation shutter pattern of sunlight inside the house.
• Classic '50s Eames style molded fiberglass chair that began a new era in chair design and materials
• 1950s patio metal chair
• Art Deco style formal chair
• 1950s grid chair by Harry Bertoia
• An auditorium seat like those from Watson's high school.
• The tables are the same industrial shelving with faux stone tops, some of which are broken.
Lighting: spots on the gallery work, built-in lites in the end table by the Eames lounge
• Mobile, based on wire sculpture work by Alexander Calder. Marcel Duchamp named Calder's mobile in honor of the movement. Watson uses one here to provide a focal point to the space, create kinetic motion, and represent the warmth and movement of a fireplace.
• Ultimate Backgammon Board, model, 2013 by Jim Watson
• In Too Deep, by Mike Wallo
• Painting by David Crismon
• The Prom Queen and her Escort, by Mike Wallo (above the auditorium chair)
• Excess, by Rob Smith (on the tin wall)
Tender Words One & Two, signed/numbered prints by Abdullah M I Syed
Squaring the Circle, signed/numbered print by Abdullah M I Syed
Overview: The 1952 closets were removed to enlarge the space. The new closet is a rolling unit with all the necessary compartments. Watson doesn't like the awkward inconvenience of opening and closing closet doors (what is there to hide?) The closet and rolling laundry cart are created from industrial shelving components that are throughout the house. The bed has a slanted headboard and cushion for comfortable positioning, and reading lites. The lite switch is conveniently located on the front of the nitestand. On the bed, Watson uses only a bottom sheet and a comforter or bedspread (depending on the season). Making the bed consists solely of smoothing the bedspread over the bed; no multiple layers, and no sheets to tuck in. The carpet in the house is industrial grey to enhance the loft-tech look.
Purpose: The bed faces the window view of the neighborhood and the UCO campus. There is no TV in the bedroom, nor desk nor easy chair. This room is solely for sleeping, reading in bed, storing clothes, and dressing.
Floor: Industrial grey carpet
Walls: Grey paint, white trim
Doors: Curtains hanging on taut cable suspended from the ceiling. The original wooden doors got in the way.
Lighting: Reading lites mounted into the headboard. These shine directly into reading matter while lying in bed. lites next to a bed with a shade do not lite reading material adequately. There are blue rope lite under the bed that faintly lite the floor when going to the bathroom at night. Switches for these lites are in the three recessed holes in the nitestand for convenience of finding the switches at night.
Foundation of any respectable art collection
• A Friend in Need, commonly known as Dogs Playing Poker, one of 16 images of canine amusements painted by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge.
• The Last Supper a paint-by-number kit, first introduced in Detroit, 1952 by Dan Robbins; critics were appalled, calling it 'mass culture' and, therefore, no good.
• Elvis on velvet, bought for $5 at a vacnat lot in Des Moines Iowa.
A clock designed in 1957 by Max Bill (1908-1994), Swiss artist, architect, and sculptor, and designer. Bill was a product of the Bauhaus generation; pupil and kindred spirit of Walter Gropius, le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe. He was a proponent of the International Typographic Style of graphic design - a look that is still significant today for its uncluttered line and layout and emphasis of clear communication. His work is characterized by clarity of design and precise proportions. On the clock, the minute hand points to a ring of numbers for the minutes while the shorter hour hand points to a separate ring of numbers for the hours.
• Recent Projects: framed prints of 6 of Watson's design projects.
• Minimalist bed from IKEA with solid foam mattress. The slanted headboard is attached to the wall, floats over the bed, and has 3 lites integrated into the surface.
• Nitestand of same industrial shelving with custom tops.
• Chrome chair salvaged from the women's dorm at UCO, reupholstered in nifty red vinyl.
Overview: Demolished and renovated: 1995. Remodeled: 2004. Waterless urinals: 2007.
The framed mirror is full length and accessible. Why bother leaning over a counter to get close to the mirror? Mount it where it is easily accessible.
The wall fixtures align and the only electrical outlet is inside one of the medicine cabinets. Countertops and undersink cabinets in bathrooms just collect junk.
Purpose: Bathroom stuff
Floor: 8" charcoal grey ceramic tile
Walls: Painted white, glass blocks, 4" ceramic tile
Window: Reminiscent of Arts & Crafts patterns, especially those by the Scotchman Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Furniture: ceramic fixtures
• Sink: Watson wanted a shallow basin, a small protrusion from the wall, and no visible pipes underneath. No residential sinks fit that criteria. On a visit to an office building, he saw a drinking fountain and realized, "there's the bathroom sink!" Unable to track it down locally, he ordered it from the manufacturer.
• Toilet with the flush handle extended for ease of use.
• Urinal: finally solves the seat-up-or-down dilemma. In 2007, I replaced the urinals installed in 2004 (in the bath and in the office) with Sloan Waterfree urinals. These use a gel filter to trap odors while allowing liquids to pass through. There is no more flushing - saving thousands of gallons of water annually.
• Shower stall: defined by a wall of glass block, popular in homes and offices of the 1930s. Watson dislikes stepping over a tub and ducking under a shower curtain rod. The fixtures and faucets are unobtrusive white.
• Medicine cabinets: set of four, set into the angled wall, in the Mackintosh pattern.
Lighting: on the wall to better lite oneself looking into the mirror and into the shower stall. Spotlite on Elvis over the toilet.
Gallery: Copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, mounted over the urinal in the bathroom (the original was bought by King Francis I of France to hang in his bathroom).
Overview: Concept from the minimalist Japanese. This large closet replaces several smaller closets and cabinets in the 1952 house. Shares a sliding door (representing barn doors) with the bathroom. The custom shelves allow for long hanging garments.
Purpose: Store stuff
Floor: Industrial grey carpet
Walls: White paint
Furniture: White ventilated shelving, file cabinet
Lighting: Fixture mounted on the wall to better reach into the shelves rather than on the ceiling shining down onto the top shelf.
• Pictures from Watson's childhood, his parents, his mother in costume from a ballet.
• Pen-and-ink collage of Watson's life by his sister-in-law, Sandy
• Original blueprint of the house found inside a wall during renovation demolition.
The media den
Overview: In the great room is a seating/reading area and, defined by the modular seating units, a media den. The TV and stereo are positioned to be seen or heard from anywhere in the great room.
Purpose: Watching television, lounging, listening to music, and conversing with guests.
Floor: Industrial grey carpet and hardwood
Walls: White paint
• Chaise lounge. Termed a 'relaxing machine' by designers Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Pierre Jeanneret; produced in 1928; and inspired by on-deck recliners used on 1920s ocean liners.
• BKF butterfly sling chair with the original style welded frame, originally by Juan Kurchan, Antonio Bonet, and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy, 1938.
• Bean bag chair (based on the original 1968 Sacco chair from Milan, Italy, by Piero Gatti and Cesare Paolini).
• Designed and built by Watson, 22 seating units provide visual unity and flexibility for sitting and reclining in a variety of positions. These units align with the height of the dining/end tables and the coffee tables; providing order and unity. They are covered in a loose black canvas.
• Bullet planter, original white fiberglass, inspired by 1950s space age fascination: Sputnik and rockets.
• Column iPod speaker, television, DVR
• 3 gooseneck lites with fluorescent twist lamps in patriotic colors, attached to a narrow shelf ledge
• Ambient room lite from the central seating unit floor fixture
• Painting on paper, Hole, 1990, by David Crismon
• Distorted Dimension, an original print by Linda Miller, UCO graduate.
• Power painting by Clint Stone, Oklahoma City.
• 100 spectrum colored half-inch cubes in one undulating line on the corrugated wall.
• 2 metal figures of Keith Haring sculptures.
The dining area
Overview: Created by a table positioned so diners can watch TV (which is on a swivel base) or look outside and enjoy the yard. Nearby is a closet for brooms and cleaning supplies. The door to this closet is hidden to minimize intrusion into the purity of the tin siding.
Purpose: Eating, visiting, minor working
Floor: Industrial grey carpet and hardwood
Walls: Corrugated tin with white trim
Furniture: Tulip table and chairs designed by Eero Saarinen in 1955-56. Saarinen felt that a designer should seek the solution in terms of the next largest thing. If the problem is an ashtray, then the way it relates to the table will influence its design. If the problem is a chair, then its solution must be found in the way it relates to the room. He designed the pedestal Furniture, not because he was thinking about that particular shape, but because he was thinking of the environment that would contain them. "The undercarriage of chairs and tables in a typical interior makes an ugly, unrestful world," Saarinen said. "I wanted to clear up the slum of legs. I wanted to make the chair all one thing again." A standard dinette set would have 20 legs; the Tulip set has just 5 legs. The pedestal legs minimize stubbed toes and banged knees.
Lighting: A minimal and unobtrusive spotlite shines down on the table while another spotlite highlites the painting over the table.
• Print, New York City Marathon, 1990, by Edward Sorel
• 3 posters of vintage New York City.
Overview: An all-white kitchen helps this space blend into the background when viewed from the great room. The entire kitchen was remodeled in the summer of 2002. The inspiration was a couple of home furnishing stores in SoHo seen in March of 2002. The concept is to not have cabinets and counters up against all the walls. The main counter tops are pedestals that are floating in the room, away from the wall. The faucet set allows easy access with the high faucet, one-touch control, and built-in soap dispenser. Storage in the cabinets that were removed is now accommodated by cabinets in the laundry room and new cabinets in the kitchen. The appliances are hidden in the cabinet by the refrigerator. There is no dishwasher nor stove. Those are unnecessary for a single tenant who is satisfied with a microwave oven.
Purpose: Storing and preparing food
Walls: Painted white, angled walls painted aluminum.
Furniture: Three free-standing pedestals, one of which contains the sink, with storage inside, accessed from the rear.
Lighting: Ceiling spotlites aimed on the wall to highlite the art. The hanging minimal fixtures over each pedestal are similar to fixtures designed at the Bauhaus in 1926.
Clock: Orange Ball Clock by George Nelson (1908-1986), designed in the 1950s. It typifies the spirit of the times - a firm belief in progress and a post-war economic boom. Nelson sought to bring modern design into the American home. Nelson felt that designers must be "aware of the consequences of their actions on people and society and thus cultivate a broad base of knowledge and understanding". An early environmentalist, Nelson's ultimate goal as a designer was "to do much more with less." As Nelson tells it: "And there was one night when the ball clock got developed, which was one of the really funny evenings. Isamu Noguchi came by, and Bucky Fuller came by. I'd been seeing a lot of Bucky those days, and here was I and Noguchi, who can't keep his hands off anything, you know - it is a marvelous, itchy thing he's got - he saw we were working on clocks and he started making doodles. Then Bucky sort of brushed Isamu aside. He said, "This is a good way to do a clock," and he made some utterly absurd thing. Everybody was taking a crack at this, pushing each other aside and making scribbles. At some point we left - we were suddenly all tired, and we'd had a little bit too much to drink. The next morning I came back, and here was this roll (of drafting paper), and I looked at it, and somewhere in this roll there was a ball clock. I don't know to this day who cooked it up. I know it wasn't me. I guessed that Isamu had probably done it because (he) has a genius for doing two stupid things and making something extraordinary, out of the combination, (or) it could have been an additive thing, but, anyway, we never knew."
The toaster is attached to a cabinet door and swings out for access. The blender and coffeemaker are inside another cabinet, hidden from view when the door is closed. Electrical outlets were installed in each wall of cabinets.
• Classic framed colorful cereal boxes, each being a cereal from Watson's childhood.
• The utensils hanging from the counter/shelf are Good Grips, originally designed for ease of use by those with arthritis. They work well and look good for the rest of us, too.
Floor: 8" dark grey ceramic tile to match the industrial grey carpet
The laundry room
Overview: Laundry rooms were not common in 1952. The dryer, previously to the left of the door has been moved to sit side-by-side with the washer. A built-in shallow storage cabinet was walled over and new overhead cabinets installed. In the door to the outside is a smaller door for use by the canine residents.
Purpose: Laundry units, dog feeding station, and storage.
Floor: 8" grey ceramic tile
Walls: White paint
Furniture: Built-in cabinets and dog feeding station
Lighting: Standard white ceiling fixture
Gallery: Painting of Watson's shirt by Letitia Head.
Overview: The clean orderly environment provides a smooth transition from the car to the house.
Purpose: Storing car, workshop
Floor: Concrete, area rug by the laundry room door. A storm shelter was installed in September, 2013, in response to a tornado that touched down 3 miles away in May.
Walls: Grey paint until 2013, then brick color to match exterior so the groj looks like a carport when the door is left up during hot weather.
Furniture: Wall-mounted white shelves for tools, hardware, and storage.
Lighting: Solatube to let in natural sunlite and overhead fixture with energy efficient spiral bulb
• Paintings of highway interchanges by Watson.
• Painting of a Cowboy by a former student.
The groj as a carport
I painted the inside of the garage to match the brick color and creating a darker interior. I removed the artwork (yes, I have art on the walls in the garage) towards the back so it would be less visible from the street. The goal was to minimize the prominence of an open garage when viewed from the street. I even painted the pulldown attic stairs to be less obvious.
The in-the-door-mailbox swings up out of the way, so I installed this mail basket for the times when the door is up. The style matches the address signs.
Photos of details
Link to fotos on
nest - the learning thermostat
Put in these new digital learning thermostats in August 2012 in both the house and the office. Simple to operate and they monitor energy use. I can control both thermostats anywhere from my phone or pad.
Installation was easy - the manuals and website videos were very clear and easy to follow. A first class product: great attention to detail and very well thought-out. Check it out here.
The great purge of 2010
After I retired in spring of 2009 and decided to no longer teach studio courses (I continue to teach the history lecture course), I conducted a major purge of stuff in both Oklahoma and New York. I did a major purge of every closet, cabinet, and room in the house.
• Corner shelves in bedroom - I donated all the puzzles and mind games to a school teacher to use in her classroom.
• Aluminum chair in the bedroom - kept the red one, there is just no need for 2 chairs in the bedroom.
• Reduced size of entertainment center - purged videotapes and downsized the shelving unit that holds the television.
• Home office desk and chair - I moved the office functions to the main office in the back of the lot.
• Book case in home office - moved most of the books to the shelves in the back office.
• Alvar Aalto vase
• Padded table with office task chairs
• Custom-made table with padded tabletop
• Backyard sculptures
• Wisteria,an oriental brushstroke painting (a 1992 gift from a former student)
Fotos of furniture from previous arrangements and homes
• Clock: Designed by Watson, the numbers on the wall clock are represented by kitsch icons from graphic design, Oklahoma, and the 1950s.