To stay within budget, Han and Mihalyo spent seven months and all of their free time building the house. As a result, the couple is well-acquainted with every square inch of their home. As Han says, “If there’s a nail in the wall, we know exactly what’s behind it.”
All of the plywood, concrete, and steel surfaces inside the house were left unfinished. “We like to use natural materials in their raw state and minimize the use of synthetic surfaces and drywall,” says Mihalyo.
Sheets of hot-rolled steel were used as exterior cladding—as well as for parts of walls and countertops indoors—to heighten the industrial effect. “When hot-rolled steel comes out of the factory, it’s a very even-toned, blue-gray color,” Han says. “But we wanted to have a pattern. So we stacked the sheets of siding outside in the rain, and let it sit there so that the water would create texture.” Putting up the siding was messy, since each sheet had to be carefully dried before installation and then covered with a water-based clear coat to prevent surface oxidation. The result, though, is a quietly mottled surface that Mihalyo says “looks like slate” and will change color over time as dark brown tones begin to appear beneath the basic steel gray. Like the circular windows that seem stolen from the airplanes flying over the house, the steel siding is an architectural element made possible on a small budget only by Han and Mihalyo doing it themselves. As Han exclaims, “Can you imagine specing this out for a contractor?”