Home of the Week: Midcentury modern in Black Mountain

Jake Flannick
The Asheville Citizen-Times

Before he even considered learning to weave, Mikkel Hansen built himself a loom.

A retired architect, he was more interested in the composition of the wooden instrument, and how its foot pedals made it hum, rather than the things it could create.

“The logic and beauty of this piece of equipment intrigued me,” Mikkel said of the loom. It was not long until he took up the craft, and he has gone on to win awards for his fabrics that include at least one first place at the N.C. Mountain State Fair.

He came to weaving as he had approached many other aspects of his life, he said, through the conviction that “Beauty makes so much sense.”

It is perhaps his fascination with functionality that’s key to his appreciation of the simple, cozy dwelling in Black Mountain where he has lived with his wife for the past 25 years or so.

Beyond its midcentury modern flair, the house is not particularly flashy. It has no glittering chandeliers, high ceilings, grand staircases or the like.

But on a recent visit, the most charming aspect of their house was that it indeed felt like a home.

With about 2,000 square feet, including two baths and two bedrooms, the house is accented with cozy spaces, family photographs and hardwood floors.

In the light-filled living room are colorfully patterned carpets Mikkel received from his parents, a wall of paintings and a wood-burning fireplace, along with a wall-to-wall bookshelf the couple has filled over the years.

Perhaps most remarkable is its sizable north-facing windows, which look out onto their wooded backyard that includes a stone patio adorned with flowers and plants. The property encompasses a little less than an acre, with the house situated atop a slope.

As for their dining room, it is “adequate,” Mikkel said of the nook. Next to the front door, it features a small wooden table beneath a single light hanging from the ceiling. The adjoining kitchen is also compact, along with the laundry room next to it.

At one end of the house is a glass-enclosed room with a checkered vinyl floor where Mikkel keeps his loom and that once served as a so-called breezeway, separating the living quarters from the utilitarian side of the house. Adjoining it is a bright master bedroom that Mikkel said might have once served as a pottery studio, judging from its electrical outlets.

In their mid-80s, Mikkel and his wife, Jytte, a former longtime research technologist, are originally from Denmark. They came to the United States by boat around the time their home was built in the mid-1950s. Its designer was also an architect, who lived there with his wife for a time.

The couple initially wound up in Kentucky, where Mikkel found work at a power plant. Less than a year later, they moved to Chicago, living there for decades. They have a few grandchildren who live in the Upper Midwest.

In 1990 the Hansens discovered their Black Mountain home, after spending time traveling the country while keeping a cottage in Michigan. They bought it from a doctor, who was only its second owner.