Project Spotlight: Mango Street Lab Mid-Century Home | Fireclay Tile
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Residential

Project Spotlight: Mango Street Lab Mid-Century Home

By Blair Hagensen

Project Spotlight: Mango Street Lab Mid-Century Home

All Imagery courtesy of Mango Street

Purchasing a beautifully preserved 1960 home directly from the architect sounds like a midcentury lover’s pipe dream, but it’s Daniel Inskeep and Rachel Gulotta’s reality with their new-to-them Chicago home that looks lifted straight off the set of Mad Men.

We sat down with Rachel and Daniel to chat about how they stayed true to the home’s original vision during their thoughtful renovations and what drew them to the Mosaic Tile they used prolifically throughout the house (hint: grout joints matter). Keep reading for the full interview!

Meet Daniel and Rachel of Mango Street Lab:

Meet Mango Street Lab.

Can you tell me a bit about yourselves and what you do?
We are a husband and wife team who create photography tutorials for the internet on our YouTube channel Mango Street. Rachel is also a NASM-certified fitness instructor who creates free workouts on her channel, while Daniel documents his experiences with e-commerce, stock trading, and more on his channel.

When did you first become interested in photography? How did you get your start?
We both have always had an interest in documenting our lives, but we started shooting weddings in 2012. This led to us eventually sharing tips, techniques, and behind-the-scenes photoshoots on YouTube – which became our full-time jobs in 2017.

This modern bathroom by Mango Street is beautiful in black. Above terrazzo wainscoting, the walls are clad with 2x2 Mosaic Tile in matte Basalt that echoes the bathroom’s monochrome vanity and sink.

Tile Shown: 2x2 in Basalt

Let’s talk about your house! Is this your first home? What’s the story behind it?
After apartment-hopping for the last decade around Chicago and Los Angeles, we finally decided to buy our first home. We were looking all around the country for our dream house, but we just so happened to find one just outside of Chicago, bringing us back to our midwest roots. We were drawn to the sunken living room, floor-to-ceiling windows, two courtyards, and the large lot in a quiet neighborhood. The home is a (mostly) glass house built in 1960 by Don Wrobleski, a renowned Chicago architect. Since Don was the sole owner of the house over the last 60 years, it evaded the touch of tasteless flippers and dated renovations.

Here's the kitchen before:

How did you pay homage to the house’s mid-century roots?
We tried to stay true to the architect’s vision for the house and didn’t change the footprint. We were committed to only elevating the materials and fixtures we replaced and thoughtfully using materials that would have been found in a home like this in the 60s. For example, the aged Vermont slate floors found throughout much of the home were in need of being replaced, so we imported Italian white terrazzo that could have been found in an original home like this. In other places like the kitchen, we elevated what already existed by adding black 4x4 tiles over a painted black wall.

The kitchen after:

Husband and wife team Mango Street honor their Midcentury Modern home with bold minimalist design.

Tile Shown: 4x4 in Basalt

Can you tell me about your design process? What is your favorite part?
We never actually stepped foot in the house before we bought it, while we were designing it, and throughout the entire renovation – which proved… challenging. We found materials that we wanted to use, Photoshopped them onto the original listing photos, and sent those to our contractor.

We started by choosing a color palette and then designed around it, using the original design as inspiration at every turn. It was important for us to feel like the home had a mixture of old and new finishes, so anything new that we added is a high-quality reproduction of the original mid-century design, like the Cesca counter stools and Saarinen tulip dining room table and chairs.

Matching the original jet black timbers, 4x4 Tile in matte Basalt tastefully updates the kitchen of this impressive 1960 midcentury marvel.

Since we were 2,000 miles away, our favorite part of the whole design process was shipping the materials to our home and seeing FaceTime updates of everything coming together. And, of course, it felt surreal seeing the finished home in person for the first time.

In this petite powder room, designers Mango Street fully clad the walls with 1x1 Ceramic Mosaic Tile in melon-pink Desert Bloom with attractively contrasting grout for a retro look that fits perfectly into their midcentury modern home.

Tile shown: 1x1 in Desert Bloom

How would you describe your aesthetic?
We aren’t sure that we have a singular aesthetic. We believe in embracing and preserving the integrity of a home. Since this was a unique, mid-century house, it was really important that the design reflects that. We came close to buying a loft in Austin and that design would have looked a lot more urban and raw.

Husband and wife team Mango Street honor their Midcentury Modern home with bold minimalist design. Matching the original jet black timbers, 4x4 Tile in matte Basalt tastefully updates the kitchen of this impressive 1960 midcentury marvel.

Tile Shown: 4x4 in Basalt

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Other than the home itself, we drew inspiration from photographs of original 60s and 70s interiors, and honestly, the living room was kind of inspired by Mad Men.

Husband and wife team Mango Street honor their Midcentury Modern home with bold minimalist design. Matching the original jet black timbers, 4x4 Tile in matte Basalt tastefully updates the kitchen of this impressive 1960 midcentury marvel.

Tile Shown: 4x4 in Basalt

What made you want to work with Fireclay Tile for the bathrooms and kitchen? What do you love most about your tile?
The reason why we were actually drawn to Fireclay in the first place was that the Daisy mosaic 2x2 tiles were the closest tiles we could find to the original tile that was used in the primary bathroom. Most modern mosaics have a thinner grout spacing, and while it seems like a minor detail, it makes a big difference in how it looks.

The Primary Bathroom Before:

Once we found Fireclay, we loved that they created high-quality, handmade tile, implement sustainable manufacturing practices, and are a B Corp. On top of that, they were a dream to work with, answering our questions, providing advice, and making the process really smooth.

The Primary Bathroom after:

Midcentury preservation at its finest. After buying a midcentury modern gem from the architect who had been residing there for decades, designers Mango Street thoughtfully updated the primary bathroom with 2x2 Ceramic Mosaic Tile in cool white Daisy along the walls and ceiling for a bright result that channels the original 1960 design.


Tile Shown: 2x2 in Daisy

How did you go about choosing your tile shapes + colors?
Obviously, with the primary bathroom, we were re-creating the look that was already there. We chose black tile for the kitchen based on the black wall that was already there.

Husband and wife team Mango Street honor their Midcentury Modern home with bold minimalist design. Matching the original jet black timbers, 4x4 Tile in matte Basalt tastefully updates the kitchen of this impressive 1960 midcentury marvel.

Tile Shown: 4x4 in Basalt

The other two bathrooms were essentially blank canvases. For the black bathroom, we wanted to play off of the white bathroom next door, creating a sort of yin and yang/night and day feeling, but to keep things cohesive, we chose the same size and shape of the tile.

Midcentury preservation at its finest. After buying a midcentury modern gem from the architect who had been residing there for decades, designers Mango Street thoughtfully updated the primary bathroom with 2x2 Ceramic Mosaic Tile in cool white Daisy along the walls and ceiling for a bright result that channels the original 1960 design.


Tile Shown: 2x2 in Daisy

This modern bathroom by Mango Street is beautiful in black. Above terrazzo wainscoting, the walls are clad with 2x2 Mosaic Tile in matte Basalt that echoes the bathroom’s monochrome vanity and sink.

Tile Shown: 2x2 in Basalt

For the pink bathroom, the color was similar to the pink you’d find in bathrooms of mid-century homes, but we wanted to add more drama and texture to the small space by using a 1-inch mosaic. It turned out exactly how we imagined it would.

Tiny tiles, huge impact! In this petite powder room, designers Mango Street fully clad the walls with 1x1 Ceramic Mosaic Tile in melon-pink Desert Bloom with attractively contrasting grout for a retro look that fits perfectly into their midcentury modern home.

Tile shown: 1x1 in Desert Bloom

Do you have a favorite tile moment in the house?

    It’s hard to choose a favorite because all of the tiles in the house make us so happy, but maybe our favorite would be the 2x2 daisy in the primary bathroom. We love the way it covers not only all of the walls but also part of the ceiling.

    Midcentury preservation at its finest. After buying a midcentury modern gem from the architect who had been residing there for decades, designers Mango Street thoughtfully updated the primary bathroom with 2x2 Ceramic Mosaic Tile in cool white Daisy along the walls and ceiling for a bright result that channels the original 1960 design.

    Tile Shown: 2x2 in Daisy

    Which of our tiles would you love to use in future projects?
    Our dream is to add an ADU on the property to use as a home office. It would feature birch plywood throughout, but we’d definitely go for a mosaic of straight-set 1x4 in Basalt in the kitchenette.

    1x4 tiles in our matte black, Basalt.

    Tile Shown: 1x4 in Basalt

    Inspired to create your own Mad Men moment with our Mosaic Tile? Bring home up to 5 free samples to find the perfect palette for you. And even if you’re 2,000 miles away from your project, our tile experts are available to help every step of the way with free design assistance–fill out this simple form to get started.

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