The Laundry Room/Art Gallery
Little Free Library
Deck, back yard
Driveway, mail box, front
Tom, the artist: This leaf blower is one of the worst inventions ever.
Jim: I like the obnoxious blower subject - it is one of those things that very few people enjoy, but many seem to have tolerated and accepted that it is not going away. I also like the different versions of varying chaos with the common theme. There seems to be a statement from the series shown together - these infernal things are pervasive, in multiple manifestations.
The media den
The dining area
The laundry room
Autograph signed pieces
Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, and Christo
• Vignelli subway map This framed map is from Watson's personal collection - I got it free as a tourist in 1977 and saved it, not knowing its history as a classic icon of graphic design. During spring 2008, I visited Massimo in his home/office and he signed the map.
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
• Balloon dog, small version of sculpture by Jeff Koons, 5 in the house and office
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.
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).
• Greetings from New York City Overe the toilet is an enlargement of an old postcard in the typical 'Greetings from . . ' style.
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 Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan, 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 bright white, angled walls painted 1: aluminum. 2: rough cedar white.
Furniture: 1: Three free-standing pedestals, one of which contains the sink, with storage inside, accessed from the rear. 2:
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.
Foundation of any respectable art collection
• A Friend in Need0>, 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 vacant lot in Des Moines Iowa.
Overview: The clean orderly environment provides a smooth transition from the car to the house.
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.
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.
• Eames Plywood Lounge Chair Experimenting in the 1940s with thin sheets of wood veneer formed under heat and pressure, Ray and Charles Eames put their design genius to work for the war effort making splints, stretchers, and glider shells. After the war, they adapted the technology to furniture making. With a seat and back sculpted to fit the contours of the human body, Time magazine named it the Best Design of the 20th Century.
• Pavilion Chair This black chair was designed by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona, Spain. The design is based on the classic scissors-shaped chairs that symbolized power in ancient cultures.
• Laccio Table This is one of a set of nesting tables designed by Marcel Breuer of the Bauhaus in 1925. It reflects the experimentation the Bauhaus designers did with bent and chromed steel.
• Finlandia vase (on the Breuer table) Alvar Aalto integrated the natural contours of the Finnish landscape into his freeform vase series. This vase, mouth-blown of lead-free crystal, was introduced at the Paris World's Fair of 1936. At that time, its meandering form and elegant beauty were highly revolutionary - a culture shock. It is now called the world's most famous vase and an icon of 20th century modern design. Inside the vase is a bunch of sticks broken from a bamboo curtain bought at the Pearl River Chinese Market.
• Quovis Tables There are 2 satin-finish stainless steel units along the long wall. They hold the souvenir kitsch and a 3D model of Manhattan and DVDs and a printer. Another table sits opposite and contains a television. A large work table faces the window view and doubles as a dining table when necessary.
• Vignelli/Heller set On the large Quovis table is a setting of durable plastic dishes designed by Massimo Vignelli in 1970 and produced by Heller. They are used here to organize office supplies.
• James the Doorman (by the balcony door) From black+blum, an English-Swiss partnership based in London, this is evidence of their philosophy to design products that are fun and affordable.
• Asterisk Clock In the office is one of a series of clocks designed by George Nelson and produced in the 1950s.
• Deck chairs These two chairs are rustic wood post construction like those found in the National Parks of the west. With the print of Monument Valley, these reflect the wide open relaxed nature of western US parks. The green plastic table with organic pedestal base complements and contrasts the rustic chairs.
• Rashid Ego & ID vase Mounted above the kitchen pass-thru counter is a vase by Karim Rashid, Ego & ID. The profile of the vase is in the form of a human face. The vase/bowl was produced and hand made by mglass. It is probably derived from Renato Bertelli's 1933 sculpture of Benito Mussolini.
• Serenity vase A simple glass vase with sticks and twigs rising up as a reminder to slow down, calmify, and center on nature.
The living room and bedroom are lit by 5 Papiro Lamps. Designed by Sergio Calatroni, these are 9 feet tall stems that can be bent to any configuration. There is one between each of the Quovis units and two in the bedroom, aimed to light reading material while lying in bed. The organic line they form provides a counterpoint to the rigid geometry of the stainless steel units.
The bathroom is lit by 6 spiral energy efficient fluorescent fixtures.
• Thin Edge Bed The bed was designed by George Nelson as part of the Case Study House program of 1949 sponsored by Art and Architecture magazine. This model is cherry wood with a solid foam mattress. It is oriented in the room to take advantage of the view and to show off the graceful biomorphic brackets that support the headboard.
The burgundy bedspread is a copy of the 1933 Bed Cover designed by Lilly Reich (working out of the Berlin office of Mies van der Rohe) for the E 52nd St apartment of architect and MoMA curator, Philip Johnson.
• Bubu stool Another Philippe Starck design - this one from France, 1991 - a dressing stool of orange polypropylene commands the space between the headboard and the closet.
• Dyson Air Multiplier This new unconventional fan, from the inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, draws in air and amplifies it - 15 times greater. With no blades or grille, its safer and easier to clean and it produces an uninterrupted stream of smooth air, with no unpleasant buffeting.
• Vignelli's New York City Subway Diagram 2008 Massimo Vignelli designed a stylized schematic Beck-style map/diagram for the New York City subway system in 1972. He had designed all the graphics and signage for the system in 1966. I got a free map in 1977, now mounted in the apartment bathroom - see below. In 2008, Men's Vogue magazine commissioned Vignelli to revise and update his 1972 map. They offered a limited edition for sale but those sold out within 2 hours. This one in the bedroom was a gift from Massimo and his assistant Beatriz after we visited with them in Massimo's apartment/office for 2.5 hours in May, 2008.
• More Than Ever poster Milton Glaser, a founder of the trend-setting PushPin Studios in the 1950s, designed the original 'I heart New York' mark in 1977. It has since become a graphic icon, mimicked all over the world. After 9/11, Glaser expressed his feelings by redesigning the classic mark by adding 'More Than Ever' and a slight bruise on the heart. He sent his new version to a friend at the New York Post who, unknown to Glaser, had it run on the full back page the next day. It was a hit. People posted them all over town and they were much in demand. Then the poster version was printed and distributed. This is one of those original posters, signed by Milton Glaser in 2006 (I took it by his office and left it for him to autograph).
• The Gates, Central Park, New York City, Christo and Jeanne-Claude The black-framed piece is a print of sketches by Christo of their first site-specific work in their hometown of New York City. This temporary work, mounted for 2 weeks in Febuary 2005, consisted of 7,500 orange gate frames with hanging orange fabric spaced throughout 23 miles of Central Park walkways. The print is signed by Christo. More info.
Imagined evolution of the property since the Land Run
Left: the original farmstead with a house and barn. A dirt drive came up from the surveyed property edge. Middle: Once the homestead was divided into lots, the farmhouse sat on the second lot up from the3 boundary. The now-unneeded barn was replaced by a single-car garage with storage area. Right: The current house replace the old abandoned farmhouse and the garage was turned into an office.
I saw the possibility for cutting out rooms and closets and creating the diagonal swath and sketched this renovation. Knew I would remodel whatever house I moved in to. But, after I finished the semester, arranged stuff in house. Liked the row of chairs in the dining room and the row of original artwork.
The house was built in 1952. A previous resident put in sliding glass doors from the dining room to the backyard and poured some concrete steps and a small patio, put in a pass-thru counter between the dining room and kitchen, and built a wall in the garage to create a separate laundry room.
Began by cutting wall to install door to the carroom. Whoa, lots of sheetrock dust. Sat down and questioned if I should be doing this. yes, I should.
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
FLW Disney, never finished. laboratory, workshop for new ideas.
1995 Purchase house: May
1995 House: summer/fall
2000 Office building
2002, 2015 Kitchen
2004, 2015 Bathroom
2007, 2010 Office rearrange
2009, 2010, 2012 Fences
20132 Office dog door
2013 Office windows
2014 Great room & bedroom
2015 Bath, kitchen, laundry, deck
2016 Merge NYC apt furniture and stuff into OK house
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.
Plan: remodeled house
Rehab of July 2013
• Extensive landscaping in front beds
• Paint steel planter bed
• Install wind sculpture
• Prune plants front and rear
• New front sod
• Move Wright planters to back 'driveway', fill with rocks
• Clear triangle bed, add rocks and gravel
• Replace bases on front Column and bench
• Repair and reswing side gate
• Replace segments and repaint fake office door
• Repair and paint front door
• Repair and paint groj door, and address numbers
• Paint inside of groj to look like carport
• Rearrange groj art
• Repair and paint hot tub
• Paint deck bench
• Paint hammock supports
• Paint side door
• Remove and replace office windows, trim and paint
• Paint shed door
• Frame Sorel, buy and frame Last Supper, rearrange house art
• Buy futon
Rehab of April-June 2014
• New hotub
GREAT ROOM April 6 - May 22
• Move furniture 6 April
• Remove baseboards, door trim, carpet edges
• Refinish floor 8-9 April
• Remove tin 14 April
• Remove carpet, pad, strips
• Remove crown, door/window trim, baseboard
• Scrape bases, doors
• Spackle walls 16-18 April
• Remove curtain rod
• Install trim (rent table saw) 21 April
• Sand all
• Remove blinds, switch plates
• Paint walls charcoal grey 24 April
• Put pads on table/chairs, clean
• Install blinds 26 April
• Install door hardware
• Wash/repair sofas
• Cut closet threshold
• Buy/Install closet door
• Hang art, mobile
• Install door mats
• Install angled wall slats April 30 - May 1 & May 10-11
• Spackle screw holes
• Paint slats white
• Install new sliding doors, paint white May 14-16
• Remove carpet, pad, staples
• Smooth subfloor, fill vent hole
• Install carpet 9 May 9, 15-16 May
• Install outlet/switch plates 22 May
BEDROOM 2-9 June
• Move furniture/art to media den
• Remove blinds, switch/outlet plates
• Remove baseboard, window trim
• Remove carpet, strips
• Scrape, spackle wall bases
• Remove carpet pad, staples
• Level/smooth subfloor
• Install trim, sills, sand
• Paint charcoal grey
• Mop floor
• Set up bed, mount wood corners
• Fill vent hole
• Install carpet
• Wash/Hang blinds
• Clean chair, nitestand
• Install outlet/switch plates
• Hang art
• Replace blind slats
• Buy, install tshirt bolt rods
• Reposition, clean closet shelves
CLOSET 21-24 June
Stuff to buy
• Trim: 8' 24 & 17 pieces
• Paint grey: 11 gallons
• Paint white: 2 gallons
• Rollers, trays
• Sill boards
• Cedar 94 pieces
• Closet door
• Door hinges
• Magnet catches
• Sliding closet doors, track
__ Remove blinds
__ Remove baseboard, window trim; cut edges
__ Scrape, spackle wall bases
__ New window, door trim
__ Remove shower shelf, recaulk wall
__ Clean, regrout existing grey tile
__ Rehab fridge - larger freezer?
__ Refinish kitchen pedestals
__ Install rough cedar, spackle holes, sand
__ Paint walls, ceiling: white
__ Vent dryer to attic, patch groj, paint Office
__ Move art & furniture to house
__ Unscrew desk, move
__ Remove baseboard
__ Scrape, spackle wall bases
__ Paint all white
__ Install outlet/switch plates
__ Install art
2,800 Carpet tiles
1,000 Floor refinish
1,000 Painting labor
600 Cedar slats
690 Lowe's: trim, hardware, doors
100 Home Depot: outlets, switches, plates
35 Miter saw rental
Merging NYC apartment furniture into 424 July-August 2016
Rehab of 2018
• 2016 - New washer/dryer
• 2017 - New hotub
• Paint office floor: November/December and April
• Little Free Library: January
• Remove television: June
• Privacy film on front windows for when people at front door look in. Compensates for the lack of a foyer. June 22
• Move Portfoilio frame: : June 23
• Kitchen: June
Pick new appliances: June13
Pick cabinets, sink, light fixtures
Contractor/designer meeting: June 26
Fotos of the house before the renovation
Fotos taken during renovation
The 2004 bathroom remodel
The 2002 kitchen remodel
The exterior and yards
Sketches of the house and back yard
Below are sketches of the office in the back yard. It started as a Miesian Bauhaus-like structure with a flat roof and evolved to a free-standing garage structure remodeled into an office.
The sketches above were explorations of developing a nature trail environment to connect the existing house to the new office in the back yard. Features: undulating paths, waterfall, pond, and stream, and a bridge across the stream. The sketch on the right uses only geometric orthogonal lines.
Neither have been realized and probably won't - too much expense and work for the small lot. But it was fun playing with these options.
At the top is the office connected to the house by the wide sidewalk. The rear deck and hot tub are next, then the house, and the new driveway and angled parking pad. The landscaping curb zigzags through the yard to connect the office to the main house and continues through the house to the front sidewalk. The angled pergola and parking slab respect the angles inside the house and office.
The front of the house
When I moved in, the front porch was hemmed in by wrought iron railing and the trim and groj door were painted white. The railing was removed within hours of moving in and the white groj door against the dark brick made it the focal point of the house curb appeal.
The front of the house was renovated in 1995 in a style reminiscent of National Park Arts & Crafts. The brick planter uses roman style bricks, noted for their long thin shape and used extensively by Frank Lloyd Wright to convey a low horizontal prairie style. The unique angle at the end of the planter was disguised by a bush, cut down soon after moving in. To enhance the horizontalness of the planter, shutters and the porch railings were removed and broad-bowl planters were placed at the extreme corners to draw one's eye to the side extremes.
The front porch
The Mission Craftsman style influence is in the column and porch bench detailing, the colors of brown and green, the accent color of copper, and the simplicity of the 4x4 posts. The front door is detailed in an Arts & Crafts style with faux copper windows to establish a focal point from the street and invite guests inside with its warm color. The mail slot is hidden in the groj door to minimize embellishments on the front of the house - the panel to the left of the numbers swings in. The bell hanging by the address sign is from Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri's experimental architectural community north of Phoenix.
Address signs: On each side of the garage is a metal sculptural address sign. The lettering was designed in an Arts & Crafts style.
Lighting: classic Arts & Crafts detailing.
In 2004, the 1952 driveway was removed and replaced with a larger one that provides space for parking in front of the house. The parking pad is angled to relate to the angled great room inside and provides a subtle intro to the angles the visitor is about to encounter in the house and office. The pad is stamped and stained concrete to soften the harshness of so much concrete in the yard.
I had wanted to do something special to the planting beds on either side of the driveway. First, I just let the grass grow tall (see foto above). But, that wasn't special enough - there needed to be a more intriguing look to the front yard. During the purge of the Project List in spring/summer of 2013, I hired a landscaper to implement a new look. I gave some other criteria: low maintenance, few droppings from the trees (no acorns, seeds, etc.) and low water usage. Xeriscaping is the art of planting that doesn't require much water. Xeri means dry. The Haloid Company developed a dry process for photocopying and renamed their company to reflect that - Xerox.
• I saw some rough horsetail at a friend's house and liked the way they grew tall, straight, and dense. That filled the steel-edged beds. The small triangular bed by the steps forms a visual 'handrail' and helps frame the steps and accent the porch.
• I also liked the look of smooth river rocks.
• For a kinetic focal point, there is a wind sculpture in the large bed of horsetail. I selected an option that had references to a windmill from the Oklahoma prairie and dandelion flowers.
• Three cypress trees - two in front and one in back - were planted in alignment with the parking pad and the side of the house.
The Uber bench and the Little Free Library
The notion of a bench under the big tree had floated around for several years, but not strongly enough to do anything about it. Then 2 factors changed - I gave up trying to grow grass under the shaded tree and I was waiting for an Uber ride and wished I had a place to sit down. I needed a bench. I looked at some bench options online and was exploring a NYC park bench like those I sat on every evening along the Hudson River. But, the downside to such a bench is that it looks lonely when empty and this bench would sit empty about 99.9% of daylight hours. Not sure from where the inspiration came - but a boulder could serve as a bench and look sculptural and natural when empty. I went to a rock store in Midwest City and the owner drove me around in a golf cart so I could see the many boulder options. I picked 3 rocks and they were delivered and positioned 2 days later.
Below: a bookmark I designed to explain the Little Free Library concept. I place one in each book and leave some in the library for people to take who want more information.
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire a love of reading, build community, and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges. Through Little Free Libraries, in all 50 states and over 80 countries, millions of books are exchanged each year. Library website. Anyone passing by can take a book to read or leave one for someone else to find. The organization relies on volunteers, known as stewards, to construct, install, and maintain book exchange boxes. Libraries are listed on the Little Free Library World Map.
The first Little Free Library was built in 2009 by Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisconsin. He mounted a wooden container designed to look like a one-room schoolhouse (above) on a post on his lawn and filled it with books as a tribute to his mother, who was a book lover and school teacher. Bol shared his idea with his partner, Rick Brooks, and the idea spread rapidly, soon becoming a global sensation. The original goal was the creation of 2,150 Little Libraries, which would surpass the number of libraries founded by Andrew Carnegie. As of November 2016, there were 50,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide.
Making the logo a little better
Left: Existing. Right: Improved
• No books left outside on the bench.
• Tree farther away from the bench.
• The Library box is on a narrower, more accurate post.
• A book with the title on the spine and the grass as the cover has elements popping up.
• The web suffix, .org, is removed.
• The text is kerned more evenly, especially at the leg of the R.
• Both lines of text are the same width.
Above: New logo on a redesigned website. Below: in an email newsletter:
The back deck
The left photo shows the original grid canopy and the hot tub and low tool shed that was added in 1995. The new deck canopy/pergola is at the same angle as the tin walls and detailing picks up the Arts & Crafts style from the front porch. The deck floorboards are loosely spaced TrexDeck that never needs painting or sealing. The hot tub provides a resort oasis with views of the trees and office.
Lighting: the deck light matches the Arts & Crafts style light on the front porch.
In 2014, while remodeling the interior and after reworking the exterior the previous summer, I ordered a new hot tub. First, I had to get rid of the old one, above, and pour a new concrete slab.
New hot tub
Mesh column: A vertical stack of undulating mesh grids.
Pink flamingoes: Well, they're pink flamingoes - what else need be said. Every respectable outdoor collection of fine art must include these time-tested classics of contemporary design.
The big E: The large E with the yellow neon is from a former Eckerd's sign and can represent Edmond.
WindSwirl: This piece, made of several long gooseneck arms, represents the swirling winds and tornadoes of the Oklahoma prairie.
Flag banners: Three vertical poles of nylon fire colors provide slight kinetic movement in the Oklahoma wind.
St. Francis: In the southwest corner of the yard, in a secluded retreat, stands the statue of St. Francis tending to a bird.
Japanese garden: rocks, pagoda, simple bench. This forms a serene restful area by the hot tub. The bench is minimal Japanese style with the same detailing on the legs as on the porch columns.
Note: All the above pieces (except the items listed below) were discarded during the Great Purge of 2010.
Several unique items lie within the stones of the Japanese garden:
The rock with the flat top is a piece of granite from the facade of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, shattered by the bomb of 1995.
The blue-green glass is a piece of slag extensively used by the architect Bruce Goff and was a part of Shin en Kan, his classic house for Joe Price in Bartlesville.
The collection of concrete and bricks is from Watson's childhood home in Dallas that was razed in 2003. There is a piece from the front sidewalk, bricks from the house, part of the driveway, and a piece of the deck that surrounded the backyard pool.
• The chunk of concrete with paint on it is from the old Graffiti Bridge in Oklahoma City. This bridge for the Interurban train that ran from downtown to Guthrie (stopping in downtown Edmond) from 1920s to the 1940s, spanned Western Avenue where Classen now crosses. Youngsters would constantly paint the bridge with Graffiti, slogans, and school colors.
The chain link fence
In 2012, the temporary (for 15 years) wire mesh fence was torn out and replaced with a classic chain link fence. The old fence had been staked, meshed, and supported with junk to improve its barrier. Both Vegas and Brooklyn had found weaknesses in that fence. The chain link is reminiscent of the fences from Jim's childhood, that surrounded the schoolyards and playgrounds at Preston Hollow and George B. Dealey. The fence angles in 2 places to better follow the terrain and to respect the angle in the house, office, and parking pad.
The far corner of the backyard is home to 2 pine trees - the sound of the Oklahoma wind whistling through pine needles is a reminder of Watson's trips through Colorado and New Mexico.
Left: The exit of the dog door installed in 2012. The siding shows hail damage - the siding was replaced soon after.
Right: A treasure hunter searched the yard and found these objects. Wish they could tell us their stories.
Varying states of renovation
The 2014 exterior renovation: landscaping and the groj as a carport
A severe drought and weeks of 100 degree temps settled into Oklahoma in 2011. Hopefully, we thought, it was just a fluke. But, then in 2012, there was another scorching summer. We will need to adapt. In the heat, I would leave the groj door up to let the car cool off in the shade. I had an exhaust fan installed and, so the groj would resemble a carport, I painted the inside of the garage to match the brick color and create 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 (I would sometimes open the stair door to let go up into the attic and out the attic vent).
The 2014 new hotub
The tub, from Family Leisure, was a disaster - scraped side walls, no pump, electrical panel not wired up, old caked chemicals, no usewrs manual. I sold it after about 2 years and bought one online. It is working much better.
The 2014 interior renovation
Goal: minimal, sleek, little detail
Influences: Denver art museum, MoMA, Dallas Museum of Art
Mix rustic with contemporary: charcoal grey walls, painted white cedar
• Demo: carpet, pad, door & window trim, crown molding, tin panels
• Refinish floor
• Install new simple trim
• Install angled wall cover: rough wood strips
• Spackle walls & trim
• Paint all: charcoal grey walls, white cedar slats
• Install grey outlet/switch plates
• Install carpet tiles
BATH: HOUSE & OFFICE
• Demo: trim, boxes, drywall, studs
• Install new recessed cabinet
• Clean, regrout existing tile
• Paint: white walls, ceiling, slats
• Demo: trim
• Install cedar slats
• Refinish kitchen pedestals, install new countertops
• Clean, regrout existing grey tile
• Install trim
• Paint: white walls, ceiling, slats
The interior 1995-2014
Renovation of 2014
Above: The floor, before and after refinishing.
Below: some test sections to explore the grey color and the width of the white planks. The exposed walls are where the corrugated tin was mounted.
I had been in the house for 19 years; it was time to refresh and try some new colors and materials. One advantage to owning a house is that it can serve as an experimental lab for design. In 2014, I began a massive overhaul. It was time for some simplifying and I had some new ideas I wanted to implement. I still wanted to maintain the concepts of sleek contemporary mixed with rural Oklahoma.
Changes: all the baseboards have been removed (walls now go right down to the floor); doors and windows were framed with simple slats with less detail; walls and ceiling painted Pantone Charcoal Grey; corrugated tin on the angled walls has been removed and replaced by rough cedar planks painted white; wood floors were refinished to lighten the color; new carpet tiles replaced.and the industrial carpeting has been replaced with Flor carpet tiles.
Below: house before the makeover.
Photos below show the current remodeled condition.
The living area
The media den
The dining area
The laundry room
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.
Map to the house
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)
By Angie Mock, FOX25 Morning News, Oklahoma City, June 25, 2007
Angie and John, the cameraman, filmed the house on Friday, June 22 from 10am to almost 1pm. The two-minute segment on the morning news show covered the location and some of the background to my buying the house. Images were of the kitchen pedestals, the seating units, living room chairs, bedroom nitestand lite switch, and the office.
Was Frank Lloyd Wright or wrong? The noted architect was absolutely right as far as an Edmond Design professor is concerned.
By Dennie Hall, The Oklahoman, July 3, 1996
Jim Watson, professor of design at the University of Central Oklahoma, has redesigned his home to reflect modern European and Japanese minimalism and Wright's philosophies. "These philosophies are," Watson said, "open spaces revolving around a central core, furniture built appropriate for the space and the open floor plan with room areas that flow into one another."
Watson bought the house, 424 East 4th Street in Edmond, in 1995 and then spent "six weeks of pure hell" in remodeling projects. The result is a house interior that perhaps is the most modern and functional in Edmond.
His views are incorporated in every feature. For instance:
A pet peeve is making beds; he built one that requires merely a quick spread of a cover.
He doesn't like to search through closets of open and shut doors, so his bedroom has a closet on wheels with everything exposed to view.
Hallways are a waste of space, he believes, so he eliminated them.
Horizontal surfaces collect 'stuff'. He did away with most of those.
In gutting the house, Watson and the workmen he hired created a great room that contains a living area defined by the carpet and collection of chairs, an office area, a den/media area, and a dining room. To gain the needed space, he eliminated one of the two bedrooms in the 1,080 square-foot house and reduced the kitchen size.
Don't look for a sofa. Watson thinks they make inefficient units for humans to converse comfortably, so he has chairs in several different styles. Some walls in the great room are of corrugated tin at a 45-degree angle to the layout of the house. "This represents rural Oklahoma twisted by a prairie tornado plopped down into the 50s ranch house," Watson said. Other rooms in the house are grey or white.
The office corner of the great room contains industrial shelving with table and desktops of faux stone. A workstation contains an iBook laptop, file cabinet, and digital answering machine.
Watson, who wrote a graduate school thesis on Wright, designed and built 22 modular seating units for the den/media area. Watson designed and built the foam-covered table for the dining area. The base of the table - and those in the office - is a pedestal, thus cutting down on stubbed toes and banged knees. Watson's bathroom and even his laundry room are out of the ordinary. For instance, he dislikes stepping over a tub and under a shower curtain rod. Therefore, the shower stall is defined by a wall of glass block. He dislikes cabinets under bathroom sinks. Furthermore, he didn't want a sink with a large protrusion from the wall or with visible pipes underneath. Persistence paid off; he finally was able to order one he liked from the manufacturer.
Simplicity is a primary goal of Watson's. "We Americans are guilty of amassing stuff we don't need," he declares. Some of the house's other features are a wall clock made of knickknacks, a slot in the laundry room wall so the dogs can come and go, a mail slot in the garage door, dimmer lights, a hot tub beside the deck, and doors that open with levers instead of knobs.
Watson paid $58,000 for the house and spent another $13,000 on the remodeling. "I can't estimate the quantity of work that it took," he said. Resale was no consideration in the remodeling project. Watson is pleased with the neighborhood and the nearness to the UCO campus. Living with him are his two dogs, Dallas and Austin. Watson grew up in Dallas and went to the University of Texas in Austin for his undergraduate work. He has a master's and doctorate from the University of North Texas.
A glance at Watson's watch reveals it has only one hand. A peek at his eyeglasses will show they have no frames over the lenses. What else would one expect from a minimalist?
'The simpler it is, the more beautiful it is'
Dr. Jim Watson, professor of design at UCO, describes his life as a minimalist and why 'less is more'.
By Mary Reinauer, The Vista, September 17, 1996
In a world increasingly filled with the clutter of comfort, UCO's Dr. Jim Watson has less, by design. The design professor, a devotee of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, said he is a minimalist. That means no knickknacks, no undersink cabinets, and few walls. Instead, Watson filled his house with functional items that also happen to be decorative. The overall effect might be described as a loft-tech-meets-Oklahoma-prairie look.
"This house allows me to address all my pet peeves," said Watson. Wasted space and time, obtrusive decorations, and hard to use or uncomfortable items have no place here, he said.
On the front porch of the typical 1950s ranch style Edmond home, Watson explained why less is more and how the ordinary house lent itself to the simple life. "Its all suburban kind of architecture. One story, simple floor plan, etc." The front planter is of Roman style bricks, noted for their long thin shape and used extensively by Wright to convey a low horizontal design that is in tune with the lines of the prairie. There was a lot of interest in Wright's work in this area at the time his house was built. Wright even called his style of wide houses with open floor plans the prairie Style, said Watson. Roman brick is one example of Wright's design that is meant to draw the eyes to the side, he said. Shutters and wrought iron railings were removed, bushes trimmed, and planters added to enhance the strong horizontal line. "The simpler it is, the more beautiful it is," he said.
The house at 424 East 4th Street is in the old Edmond neighborhood of Capitol View where residents plan to form a historic preservation association soon. "Right across the street is the old Clegern house," said Watson. The Clegerns were Edmond pioneers. The old farmhouse was probably built in the teens. "Its still there. Now we have a Clegern school and Clegern Drive. When Watson bought the house last year, it required extensive work to achieve the simplicity Watson desired. "We had six weeks of real serious work: I had electricity only in the bedroom so if I took a shower at night I had to take a lantern in there. "I had about two weeks without a shower, but fortunately I could shower outside since it was August. And I had a week without a toilet. I won't talk about that," he said.
When the walls were demolished, workers found an original set of blueprints for the house, designed in 1952 by Oklahoman Richard Henley. Because this find simplified the task at hand, Watson reacted as if he "had found a treasure map." When the remodeling was finished, he had something even better, he said. Mailcarriers especially appreciate what Watson has done to the old house, even Watson has to train them to find it. A hinged panel on the garage door swings inward to reveal a drop box for Watson's mail. "The postman loves it because he doesn't even have to slow down," said Watson.
In the bathroom, the shower has no shower curtain. 1930s style glass blocks serve as the walls of the stall and as windows that provide light while maintaining privacy. A pristine white sink juts directly from the wall with no visible plumbing or supports. The 'sink' is actually a commercial modern drinking fountain. The pipes are hidden within the unit and run behind the sheetrock. Appropriately hung over the toilet is a colorful oil painting of Elvis on black velvet. "It's fitting that it should hang in the bathroom - that's where he died, you know," said Watson. Watson has two roommates. Austin, a space-saving greyhound Watson found on the Bailey Turnpike, and Dallas, an exuberant Doberman-type mutt who adopted him from the pound. "I spend a lot of time on the highway," said Watson of his dog's names.
(Written before the kitchen and office remodel in 2002.) The kitchen is a white recessed space that steps down into the laundry room, where faucets project directly over the dogs' bowls. Unobtrusive recycling bins fit under and to the side of a narrow refrigerator. In the silverware drawer, black handled utensils are lined up in a wire basket like a display at Pier One. A stainless apple corer has found its way into the drawer. "That doesn't belong there," said Watson, apparently restraining himself from relocating it. Don't even ask to see Watson's 'junk drawer.' Minimalists don't have junk drawers," he said. Nor do they have sofas, closets, or elaborate wardrobes. Collections, however, are acceptable if they have function. Watson offers a collection of chairs representing 'classic '50s, Art Deco, and vintage UCO dorm styles for visiting and conversing. "People come in and get to pick where they want to sit," he said. A decorative time piece is really a collection of pop icons displayed on the wall in a circular pattern centered with a generic clock movement. "This way "it becomes more than just a clock. Its functional art."
The floor plan is dominated by the multipurpose great room featuring galvanized corrugated tin on three walls. The low-key silver color lends drama to the area and also represents the Oklahoma rural heritage. The great room includes areas for eating, living, and working. The office area features industrial style shelving and tables that can be arranged in a variety of ways to fit the modular setting. The effect is much like a functional puzzle. "Its messy right now because I am writing a book (The Idea Kit)," said Watson, although a look around might prove Watson has different standards for clutter. The topic of the book is appropriately 'creative problem solving.'
Form follows function...
An open home leads to an open house for UCO professor
By Mary Reinauer, The Vista, October 8, 1996
An open house plan has spurred plans for an open house of a different kind for UCO design professor Dr. Jim Watson. People who got a glimpse of Watson's unusual home in The Vista's September 17 issue can see the whole thing for themselves at his open house at 424 East 4th Street on Sunday, October 13, from 1-5pm. The house, within walking distance of campus, incorporates the industrial loft look Watson admires. But friends and visitors will be mistaken if they expect loft art to adorn Watson's house. Watson is a minimalist.
The Vista's September 17th article described how the principles of Frank Lloyd Wright and Japanese and European minimalism transformed his ordinary house into a showcase of functionality and enduring design. Since then, Watson has been a busy man. "For the first week or so (after the article) I could barely walk from my office over to the Student Union without people wanting to talk to me about my house," he said. Several phone calls a day and even some curious visitors have prompted Watson to host the open house. Everyone, especially members of the UCO community, is welcome, he said.
Although Watson enjoys expounding on the minimalist concept, true to form, he has prepared a brochure to expedite the process (info now on this website). The graphic yellow and black self-guided tour booklet ushers guests through the bright yellow door, through the five room house, and even into the bathroom where the 'King' is enshrined on black velvet. Modifications to the 1952 design transformed the architecture of the house, so typical of the era, to meet a minimalist theory of structural simplicity that suits Watson's busy lifestyle. Visitors to the Open House can check out the newest addition to Watson's minimally mowed back yard - pink flamingos.
Below: The floor plan of Dr. Watson's house before and after renovations were made.
Logomark design: 1995: Jim Watson
Logotype design: 2002: Jim Watson
Purchase house, May 1995
Architectural design, 1952: Richard Henley
Architectural, interior, & furniture design, 1995: Jim Watson
Inside area: 1,080 square feet
Remodeling: July 9 - Sept 26, 1995
Spa concrete: Ed
Hot tub: Morgan
Demolition, framing, and drywall: Jim Watson, Lon, Ronnie, Steven, Bob
Debris hauloff: Judy
Chief electricians: Larry, Barbara, Keith,Jim P, Chad
Electricians: Justin, Ty, Charlie, Leo, Pedro, Larry, Jim Watson
Plumbing: Bob D, Darrell, Barry
Bathroom tile: Ron, Carl
Kitchen counter: Bruce, Robert
Drywall and texture: Chris
Painting: Chris, Scott, Jim Watson
Carpeting: Greg, Bill
Corrugated tin: Jim Watson
Porch column, bench, 1997: Jim Watson
Eaves, 1996: Ron, Bill, Rick
HVAC, 2003: Allen, Justin
Purge and rearrangement, January 2010
nest thermostats, August 2012: Jim Watson
House remodel 2013-15
2" blinds, November 2012: Jim Watson
Paint groj door & garage/carport, July 2013: Jim Watson
Tornado shelter, September 2013: Jon, Justin
Interior design 2014: Jim Watson
Floor refinishing, April/May 2014: Brett
Demo and door/window trim: Jim
Painting grey: Chris & Vince
Carpeting Flor: Jim
Wall cedar slats: Jim
Closet: June 21-24, 2014
New circuits, boxes
Plumbing new sink: Ben
Grout cleaning: Adam
Painting white, July 2015: Chris & Vince
Deck railing removal, January 2015: Jim Watson
Deck columns, painting, June 2015: Jim Watson
New furniture: from NYC apt & arrangement: July 2016
Architectural and interior design: Jim Watson
Remodeling: March 30 - June 14
Demolition: Jim Watson
Floor tile: Mark, Tess
Drywall and texture: Mark
Painting: Mark, Jim Watson
Architectural and interior design: Jim Watson
Dates of remodeling: March 25 - May 24
Demolition: Jim Watson
Framing: Danny, Scott
Plumbing: Scott, Harold, Rob
Floor tile: Bryan, Chad
Drywall and texture: Jim Watson
Mirror frame: Larry
Painting: Jim Watson
Door curtains: Jim Watson
Architectural, interior, and desk design: Jim Watson
Inside area: 330 square feet
Construction: June 6 - August 23, 2000
Tree removal: Tom
General contractor: Lance
Concrete slab: Jamie
Concrete sidewalk: James
Framing and drywall: Lance
Chief electrician: Steve
Electricians: Jim M, Bill
Texture and painting: Lance, Rob
Corrugated tin: Lance, Jim Watson
Siding and eaves: Paul
Rearrangement: July 2007
Purge and rearrangement: 2007, 2010
Installed nest thermostats: August 2012
Installed dog door: December
New windows: Scot, Jim Watson, July 2013
New furniture: from NYC apt & arrangement: July 2016
Remove office desk, trim; refinish walls: August
Purged, rearranged office: September-October 2017
Paint white, digital frame art: October
Fill floor cracks: October
Exterior and yards
Removed back fence, vines, trees, fall 1997
Deck, canopy, and railing design, 2001: Jim Watson
Canopy construction: Lorin
Deck railing: Jim Watson
Trex deck: Mario
Bench and column design: Jim Watson
Windows, patio door: Stu, George, John
Front door: Jim Watson
Tree removal: Tom
Landscaping: Martin, Jim Watson
Front yard curbs: Mike, Paul
Fences: Jeff, Jim Watson
Roof, 2002: Randy
Wood fences, 2009 & 2010: Jackson
Chain link fence, 2012: Jackson
Spa removal, 2014: Kent
Concrete pad, 2014: Dan
New hotub, March 2014: Kelly, Zach, Nick
Design: Jim Watson
Dates of construction: March 1-3, 2004
Address signs, July: David
Side door, July: Steve
Driveway resealing: Dan, Craig, 2014
Architectural design: Jim Watson
Dates of installation: May 16; June 4-9
Installation: Randy, Brandon, Nate, Jim
Sod installation, July: Hank, Jesse
Wind sculpture, July
Backyard gravel beds: Jim Watson
Tree bench 2017
Boulders, landscaping grasses: John, August
Trim tree: Taylor, October
Little Free Library: Jim, John, and John dad, 2018
Lowe's: Jessica, June-July
Inventory of furniture, accessories, and artwork
In Jim Watson's house and office
Furniture by designer's name
Harry Bertoia, Grid chair, 1950s
Marcel Breuer, Laccio Table, 1925
Marcel Breuer, Wassily Chair (original name: club chair B3), 1925
Sergio Calatroni, Papiro Lamps
Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf, Aeron chair, 2008
Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Pierre Jeanneret, Chaise lounge, 1928
Le Corbusier, Petite cube chair, 1928
Ray and Charles Eames, fiberglass chair, 1950s
Ray and Charles Eames, lounge chair and ottoman, 1950s
Ray and Charles Eames, Plywood Lounge Chair, 1950s
Jorge Ferrari Hardoy, Juan Kurchan, & Antonio Bonet, BKF butterfly sling chair, 1938
George Nelson, Case Study Bed, cherry wood, 1949
Mies van der Rohe, Pavilion Chair, 1929
Eero Saarinen, Tulip table and chairs, 1955-56
Sacco, Bean bag chair, 1968
Philippe Starck, Bubustool, 1991
Thonet Brothers, Bentwood side chair, late 1800s
Jon Ulm & Jim Watson, Kitchen pedestals, 2001
Jim Watson, End and coffee tables, 2000
Jim Watson, Headboard/lamps, 2003
Jim Watson, Library shelves, 2005
Jim Watson, Pocket shelves, 2005
Jim Watson, Slanted headboard, integrated lites, 1993
Jim Watson, Sofa seating units, 1978
Jeff Weber and Bill Stumpf, Caper Chairs, winner, 1999 NeoCon Gold Award
Unknown: Airplane seat, American Airlines, 2013
Unknown: Aluminum side chair, 1950s
Unknown: Formal chair, Art Deco style
Unknown: Metal patio chair, 1950s
Unknown: Quovis Tables
Unknown: Stained glass light, Tiffany-style dragonfly motif
Unknown: Red vinyl and steel chair
Artwork by artist name
Abdullah M I Syed, Tender Words One & Two, signed prints, 2009 & 2010
Abdullah M I Syed, Squaring the Circle, signed print, 2013
Donna Finch Adams, nosce te ipsum (know thyself), mixed media, 2007
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1970s-2005, signed by Christo
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, A Friend in Need (Dogs Playing Poker)
David Crismon, Hole, painting on paper, 1990
David Crismon, Untitled painting, 1989-95
Doyle Dane Bernback, Think Small: Volkswagen ad, 1962
Milton Glaser, Dylan poster, 1970s, signed by Glaser
Milton Glaser, I Love NY More Than Ever poster, 2001, signed by Glaser
Keith Haring, metal figures
Letitia Head, Watson's shirt
Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa copy
Samantha Leong, Wisteria, 1992
Linda Miller, Distorted Dimension, print, 2001
Clement Mok, San Francisco Pops Concert, 2008, signed by Mok
Keegan O'Keefe, How Can You Tell, drawing and painting, 2006
Rob Smith, Excess
Ruthanne Smith, Great Spirit
Clint Stone, Power, 2004-05
Deborah Sussman, 1984 LA Olympics graphics manual poster, 1983-84, signed by Sussman
Massimo Vignelli, Subway map, 1972
Massimo Vignelli, Subway diagram, limited edition, gift from designer, 2008
Mike Wallo, In Too Deep, 1989
Mike Wallo, The Prom Queen and her Escort
Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe print as a jigsaw puzzle
Sandy Watson, Watson town
Jim Watson, photographers unknown, 5x5 by NY, 2004
Jim Watson, Chorus line of batters, assemblage, 2008
Jim Watson, Highway interchanges, paintings, 1973
Jim Watson, MemorialOklahoma, Oklahoma City Memorial design submission, 1996
Jim Watson, Ode to New York, 2004
Jim Watson, Quad logos, 1997
Jim Watson, Ultimate Backgammon Board, mode, 2013
Unknown: Elvis on velvet
Unknown: The Last Supper, a paint-by-number kit
Unknown: Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa copy, from the Watson Dallas house, date unknown
Unknown: Pedigrees of the English Peers, engraving, 1764
Unknown: US Patent, USPTO, Nov 8, 1977
Unknown: Vintage New York City, three posters
Accessories by designer name
Alvar Aalto, Finlandia vases, 1936
Max Bill, Clock, 1957
black+blum, James the Doorman
James Dyson, Dyson vacuum cleaner, 1983
George Nelson, Asterisk Clock, 1950s
George Nelson, Case Study Bed, 1949
George Nelson, Orange Ball Clock, 1950s
Karim Rashid, produced by mglass, Ego & ID vase
Karim Rashid, Umbra vase
Massimo Vignelli, produced by Heller, Vignelli/Heller place setting, 1970
Jim Watson, Kitsch wall clock, 1995
Jim Watson, Tripod house, model, 1987
Unknown: Good Grips utensils
Unknown: Kitsch wall clock, Jim Watson, 1995
Unknown: Tripod house, model, Jim Watson, 1987
Furniture and artwork no longer in possession
Barber chair, 1970s, Dallas
Bed headboard and night stands, OKC.
Breakfast items, poster from Carl's Jr
Jim Watson, Book shelves, 2006
Cereal box fronts, assembled by Jim Watson, 2001
Dining table with padded top and castered office chairs, 1980s, Dallas.
Abandoned farmhouse, watercolor, Steve Trower of Richardson, Texas
'Parson's' table and director's chairs, 1970s, Dallas
Slanted headboard, integrated lites, Jim Watson, 1993
Vitra Furniture Poster, Vitra Design Museum in Germany
Bubble chair, Philippe Starck, 2002.
Dyson vacuum cleaner, James Dyson, 1983
Eros chair, Philippe Starck, 2002
Keith Haring figures
Mag Table Eric Pfeiffer, 1999
Magazine chairs, 2003
Mouse chairs, 2003
Mission style lamp
MemorialOklahoma, Oklahoma City Memorial design submission, Jim Watson, 1996
Menu graphic, soft drink promotion, Taco Bell
New York City subway map, 2004; hangers, Jergen Moller, Denmark, 1982
New York Kitsch, collection of souvenirs and geegaws
Ronde Chairs, Aldo Ciabatti, date unknown
School desk/chair, 1970s, Dallas
Scientific weather clocks, Philippe Starck, 2000s
Sucker, Droog: Leon Ramakers & Jan Hoekstra, 2005
SuckUK, Digit message tape, 2008
Timesphere wall clock, Gideon Dagan, 2002
Headboard/lamps, Jim Watson, 2003
5x5 by NY, Jim Watson, photographers unknown, 2004
Ode to New York, 96 model Statues of Liberty and 96 model Empire State Buildings, Jim Watson, 2004
Monument Valley, photographer unknown, 2004
MetroCard columns, Jim Watson, 2004-05
Jim Watson, MetroCard columns, 2004-05
Pocket shelves, Jim Watson, 2005
Library shelves, Jim Watson, 2005
Chorus line of batters, assembled by Jim Watson, 2008
Digit message tape, SuckUK, filled in by Jim Watson, 2008
Furniture from previous homes
Freeform desk tops with pedestal column support.
• Clock: Designed by Watson, the numbers on the wall clock are represented by kitsch icons from graphic design, Oklahoma, and the 1950s.
Above left: I bought the barber chair from an individual in Dallas and restored it completely. My mother sewed the new upholstery. We used to get high and spin each other in the chair until the room spun. It was very heavy and a burden to move; I sold it later and, of course, wish I hadn't.