This mid-century Guelph home blends vintage kitsch with colourful decor

“The best compliment we get is that the house looks like Megan Draper’s apartment in Mad Men

Isabel B. Slone
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Wide angle shot of a dark grey rectangular shaped home with a yellow door and large panel windows. Pictured with blue skies and a tree in the background
Architect Richard Pagani designed several innovative, modernist homes in his hometown of Guelph. (Photography by Nathan Cyprys.)

Ever since Cass Goulding was a child, she’s been drawn to vintage kitsch, watching old episodes of Bewitched and scouring thrift stores for 1950s rockabilly-style dresses. Her husband, Chris Bowman, prefers clean lines, Scandinavian minimalism and the modernist designs of Louis Kahn, Marcel Breuer and Pierre Koenig. “I’m mid-century, he’s modern, so together we’re mid-mod,” she says. 

In 2017, Goulding, now a social media manager, and Bowman, a pilot, were living in a cookie-cutter three-bedroom Oshawa house furnished in typical millennial fashion, with a nightstand doing double duty as a TV table. They fantasized about taking their atomic-age aesthetic obsession to the next level and buying a mid-century home. They started their hunt the next year, limiting their search radius to within an hour’s drive of Pearson airport. 

In December of 2018, Bowman saw a listing online for a low-slung rectangular structure by architect Richard Pagani in Guelph, Ontario—but at $850,000, it was out of their budget. The three-bedroom house languished on the market for a few more months, and its price fell by $100,000. The day they viewed the house, it dropped even further, to $699,000. They put in an offer for that amount in 2019, and once it was accepted, the couple only had 11 days to sell their townhouse.

A living room with brown and blue couches, orange rug and various artwork and plants decorating the space
The couple took their time to build out the decor for their dream mid-mod home, scouring the internet and vintage spots for their pieces

Their new, sleek home brims with thoughtful mid-century details. The front door is flanked by large glass panels, and a Sputnik lamp hangs from the ceiling. A set of dark floating wood stairs leads up to the airy living room, which came with massive, commercial-grade floor-to-ceiling windows. 

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Goulding, who’s a big fan of director Wes Anderson’s fanciful and colourful aesthetic, treated her home’s interior design like a movie set. She had the slate-grey exterior painted a dark, stormy blue, punctuated by a cheerful yellow door. Inside, the unifying colour scheme is orange, as seen in the couple’s choice of area rugs, flip clock and carrot-haired troll doll. Goulding and Bowman also painted a blue arch and a tangerine rectangle to break up the monotony of their white walls, and they chose an inferno orange for the bathroom vanity. Scattered throughout the house are splashy and vibrant art prints, including retro surrealist collages by Frank Moth and Thom Easton, along with some of Goulding’s homemade paintings.

Brown dining table with six chairs around it. Pictured against a black and white polka dot wall and framed artwork

Their collection of mid-century furniture includes a 1950s teak dining set and replicas of Goulding’s favourite lamp: the Louis Poulsen PH 5, which she found online for a bargain price. “The best compliment we get is that the house looks like Megan Draper’s apartment in Mad Men,” she says. But the couple’s different tastes occasionally put them at odds: Goulding loves the original 1960s blue bathtub in the main bathroom and the peach sink in the ensuite; Bowman does not. “Both bathrooms need gut-job renovations in my opinion,” he says. Goulding has convinced Bowman to keep the peach sink, but they will jettison the blue tub.

They also have big plans for the basement, which will eventually become a retro-themed lounge where they can host raucous parties—the space even has a curved, wooden built-in bar that houses their extensive vintage barware collection. First, they need to insulate the walls and replace the green shag carpeting that their dogs, Summit and Sushi, constantly mistake for grass. “It’s going to be the best room in the house,” Goulding says.

Two white and brown dogs on leashes in a backyard with their owners—one woman in a striped yellow and blue dress and a man in jeans and a button-down multicoloured t-shirt
Goulding and Bowman share their home with two dogs, Summit and Sushi, and more than 20 plants that the couple have named

Their home has become a part of their identity. Soon after they moved in, Goulding started an Instagram account, @midmodcass, to connect with other atomic-age enthusiasts. For Bowman’s 36th birthday, Goulding commissioned KaloolaJay Studio to draw a custom portrait of the house surrounded by palm trees, an ode to the couple’s love of mid-century paradise Palm Springs. And it’s not their only image of the house, either. In 2022, they saw an illustration by artist Julie Hall that depicted another design by their home’s architect, Richard Pagani, and reached out to get her to draw their house too.

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“I just want to live somewhere that’s lively and fun and makes me feel happy,” says Goulding. Their home is a full one, shared with more than 20 plants that have names like Natalie Portman and André the Giant. (The two pink plastic flamingos on the lawn are called Simon and Garfunkel.) “For the first couple of years we lived here,” Bowman says, “we would look around and say to each other: ‘I can’t believe we actually got this place.’ ”

A bed next to a blue nightstand and various artworks on the wall.