Madison Behny and her fiancé, Christopher Padovano, were looking for a house to flip—not a fixer-upper to fall in love with and turn into their forever home.
“Chris found this house and showed it to me,” Behny says of the Sedgwick County, Kansas, house that sits on one-third of an acre with a small pond. “It was twice as much as what we were looking to spend and needed some TLC, but he said, ‘I can’t stop thinking about that house,’ and so we put an offer in and ended up snagging it.”
So rather than buying an investment property, as was their initial plan, they ended up with a project that Behny has been chronicling on her Instagram account @madisonrhian.
When Behny and Padovano first moved in, they didn’t know much about mid-century homes. Madison started her renovation adventure by joining mid-century modern enthusiast social media groups so she could learn more about the design movement, which is characterized by clean, simple lines, honest use of materials and sparing decorative embellishments.
“I didn’t realize there was a whole mid-century modern community out there,” Behny says.
It was Behny’s internet sleuthing that led her to also start documenting her renovation projects online, which has earned her a small following and a few brand partnerships.
“I’ve really prided myself in the ability to make my home stand out without making it a time capsule for everything mid-century,” Behny says. “We wanted to restore it but without it looking like a museum.”
Behny and Padovano moved into their two thousand-square-foot home about three years ago. The architect who built their house in 1957 built most of the houses on their street. Behny is trying to track down the house’s original blueprints.
Padovano, who is originally from California, where he worked for his dad’s construction business, is an engineer by training. As Behny says, his proclivity for all things construction-related “comes in handy” when trying to rehabilitate their home on their own.
The main living area of the house is what first caught the couples’ attention. Behny and Padovano found the soaring ceiling, large windows, open beams and loft-like space unique.
“We just needed to open it up,” Behny says. They started with a fresh coat of white paint.
From there, Behny began decorating the home with an eclectic style and house plants. “Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big plant person,” Behny says. Padovano custom-built the metal and glass terrarium, which sits perfectly on top of a low brick wall that divides the main living area from the kitchen.
Several of Behny’s prized finds are in the living room, including a circular blonde wood bar cart that opens to create two semicircles, revealing everything needed to create the perfect cocktail.
“I’m really good at thrifting,” Behny says. “I’m always looking for a bargain or a deal, but my biggest thing is I’m always looking for unique pieces. I do think it’s OK to splurge occasionally if you find that perfect piece.”
Behny drove to a small town in Oklahoma to collect the bar cart because it matched her coffee table perfectly.
The coffee table is exactly like a coffee table that her aunt had and that Behny always loved. So when she spotted it on the internet and learned that it was located only an hour away from where her sister lives in Indiana, she convinced her sister to go get it. Behny’s sister later drove it to Kansas when it came time for a family visit. Behny was also able to locate two matching side tables and now has a complete set.
Behny also found a unique apothecary, which she uses to store candles. It sits next to French doors in the living room that lead to a sunroom. “When I found the apothecary, I knew exactly where I was going to put it, and it works perfectly,” Behny says. “It’s never moving.”
Bold color choices and a large Keith Haring-inspired rug make a statement and tie the room together with some abstract artpieces, several of which Behny picked up at her local HomeGoods.
Hanging from the house’s center beam and above the low brick wall that works as a divider between the kitchen and living room is another custom piece designed and built by Padovano.
It’s a metal and glass shelf and pot rack that proudly displays pots, wine glasses and other functional items.
Originally painted a dark red color, the couple painted the area white and then added a dark monotone green accent wall with an abstract relief. Shelving, a bench and other eclectic finds fill out the space.
Behny’s not sure when many of the home’s light fixtures were installed, but she and Padovano have replaced most of them with new versions of mid-century fixtures, and the master bedroom is no different. Along with updating the light fixtures, the couple redid the room’s floors.
Behny and Padovano converted a bedroom into an office space, freshening it up with white paint and restoring the hardwood floors and trim. They also took the doors off of a closet to create a nook and add additional architectural interest. They installed abstract wallpaper and casually placed an ornate mirror against a wall in the space to create a new focal point in the room.
The couple transformed a rather typical laundry room by removing old cabinets and giving the room a fresh coat of paint and finding a unique wallpaper from Lulu and Georgia.