In August 2014, Cara and Luis Medeiros purchased a summer home on Gibson Island in Anne Arundel County and decided to restore the structure to what the original designer envisioned.

Fourteen months later, the "original architecture has been accentuated … [and] a wonderful piece of history has been brought up to date and restored," said James F. Rill of Rill Architects, whom the Medeiroses enlisted for the project.


But among Gibson Island's many grand summer homes and year-round residences — and even the cottages — the Medeiroses' home is strikingly different.

Theirs is a faithfully restored midcentury modern home of steel beams, glass walls and stone that was designed by architect Ulrich Franzen. They've maintained the integrity of the original 1962 design while further opening the interior to accentuate the wooded property's natural beauty.

The couple paid $1.05 million for their 3,750-square-foot home and then took on a variety of projects. The first-floor master bedroom was reoriented to take advantage of the view from the windows above a stone wall. Two bathrooms on the first level were renovated, along with a complete overhaul of the kitchen. An elevator to the lower level was replaced by an open staircase. An indoor pool was removed to make way for a guest bathroom and bedroom/office. The family room fireplace wall was redesigned and, finally, the rear of the lower level was opened to the outdoors.

Located on an embankment off the road, the house is a ranch style — one story at the front with an exposed lower level in the back. Its stone exterior runs roughly three-quarters up the facade. Steel beams support a wall of windows above the stone, through which a mahogany ceiling can be seen from the driveway.

Still, the exterior can't prepare visitors for what lies beyond the foyer. Three walls of steel beams and floor-to-ceiling windows define the first level. The trees in their fall colors form a living, 3-D piece of artwork. The open layout — except for the bedrooms and bathrooms, which are shielded by the interior front stone wall — provides a perfect setting for the home's minimalist design.

"I think what makes the overall design of the house work are all of the juxtapositions," said Cara Medeiros, referring to the contrast between the hard steel and stone of the architecture with the soft fabrics of the furniture and the plush rugs sitting on imported, ceramic grid flooring.

All of the interior furnishings were purchased specifically for the home; they include a combination of new pieces from Design Within Reach in Georgetown and modern classics by Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller and Knoll, which specializes in reproducing work by such designers as Eero Saarinen.

All of the artwork in the house is by artists with Maryland ties. One standout is an 82-by-92-inch painting titled "Bridge over Lilies" by a Gibson Island Club member, Jackie Moore Watson, who lives in New York. Its soft and bold colors, along with almost Impressionistic-style brush strokes, are a delightful addition to the home's overall neutral decor.

"Everything in the house is neutral," Medeiros said.

And, indeed, less is more when creating the midcentury modern aesthetic.

The kitchen and dining room are at one end of the main level, while a free-standing stone fireplace sits at the center of the floor plan. The living room and master bedroom are at the other end.

The dining room table is a white laminate, center pedestal design by Saarinen that forms a contrast to the dark flooring. A six-globe glass chandelier by Arteriors Lamps hangs over the table. The 8-foot-wide buffet of walnut and stainless steel pops against the stone of the center fireplace. A fan of "tone-on-tone design," Medeiros has placed a white leather bench on top of a white rug in front of the buffet.

A combination of white lacquer and light walnut cabinets define the bright kitchen, which is partially partitioned off with walls topped by 3-foot-high glass panels that reach just below the ceiling. (As in the original design, no room has walls that completely reach the mahogany ceiling.) The island is topped in Cesarstone with a backsplash of white back-painted glass. Miele appliances include a double oven, steam oven and a microwave.

On the opposite side of the stone fireplace, the living room carries over the tone-on-tone theme — in this case, white on white with a few contrasting pieces, such as a black leather daybed.


Medeiros points out that the most-used piece of furniture is in the sitting room just off the master bedroom — the Eames-designed, taupe-colored leather lounge chair and footstool with wood frames.

"Everyone gravitates toward that chair," she said. "It's just the most comfortable thing I have ever sat in."

Rill credits Medeiros — along with project architect David Benton — with knowing, from the very beginning, what the house was meant to be.

'She's living in a piece of art," Rill said. "This is a sculpture that Cara defined."