written by:
photos by:
May 2, 2011
Originally published in The Photo Issue
as
20th-Century Fox

Eero Saarinen’s legendary Miller House opened to the public in May 2011 for the first time. Leslie Williamson gives us an intimate tour of this Columbus, Indiana, treasure.
 

Miller House in Columbus, Indiana

The pathway from the pool to the house is paved with the same slate that clads the exterior walls.

Photo by 
1 / 19
Miller House main living room

In the main living room, the pillows in the sunken seating area changed colors with the seasons: reds for the winter and lighter pastels for the warmer months.

Photo by 
2 / 19
Miller House living room with Eames Compact couch

The custom-made sofa in the open-plan living area, with its brass back detail, was originally going to be an Eames Compact couch. But when its exposed back was deemed visually objectionable, Girard modified the piece to suit the room.

Photo by 
3 / 19
Miller House dining room with Venini chandelier

The dining room centers around a custom Saarinen-designed marble-and-terrazzo table ringed by Tulip chairs. Overhead is a Venini chandelier.

Photo by 
4 / 19
Miller House kitchen with a turquoise blue mosaic tile wall

A mosaic tile wall softens the laboratory-like effect of the glossy kitchen cabinets.

Photo by 
5 / 19
Miller House living area with cylindrical fireplace

In the winter, the cylindrical fireplace in the central living area was always ready for a fire. In spring and summer, the base was filled with plants.

Photo by 
6 / 19
Miller House dressing room with custom stool in Girard’s Mogul 081 fabric

Xenia’s dressing room was much larger than Irwin’s and had a custom stool covered in Girard’s Mogul 081 fabric. A few pieces of Xenia’s extensive blue opaline glass collection sit on her dressing table.

Photo by 
7 / 19
Curtains designed by Alexander Girard

Alexander Girard continued to work with the Millers on their house for more than 15 years, adapting the interiors of the house as the family’s needs changed.

Photo by 
8 / 19
Almost every window in the house was covered in a Girard-designed fabric.

Almost every window in the house was covered in a Girard-designed fabric.

Photo by 
9 / 19
The Miller girls’ bedrooms each had a different color variation on the Quatrefoil pattern.

The Miller girls’ bedrooms each had a different color variation on the Quatrefoil pattern.

Photo by 
10 / 19
11 / 19
Pattern instructions for needlepoint for Xenia

pattern instructions for needlepoint for Xenia

Photo by 
12 / 19
Tulip chairs in the Miller House

needlepoint seating pads on the Tulip chairs

Photo by 
13 / 19
14 / 19
Miller House in Columbus, Indiana gate

Girard’s touch is visible in almost every detail in the house.

Photo by 
15 / 19
Miller House original textile master plan

His original textile master plan for the house was recently unearthed in the property’s barn.

Photo by 
16 / 19
Alexander Girard TV room rug design

Girard even integrated the floor plan of the house into the TV room rug design.

Photo by 
17 / 19
Miller House office room

The playroom later became Xenia’s office.

Photo by 
18 / 19
Miller House front entrance with glass screens

The front entrance of the Miller House is flanked by a series of glass screens, designed by either Dan Kiley or Girard.

Photo by 
19 / 19
Miller House in Columbus, Indiana

The pathway from the pool to the house is paved with the same slate that clads the exterior walls.

Project 
J. Irwin Miller Residence
Architect 

In 1952, the industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia, commissioned a remarkable modernist triumvirate to create their home in Columbus, Indiana: Eero Saarinen designed the building, Alexander Girard masterminded the interiors, and Dan Kiley handled the landscape architecture. Luckily, the Miller heirs knew they had grown up in a gem, and when their parents passed away, they generously donated the house, along with many of its original furnishings, to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I have visited my fair share of iconic modern homes, but the moment I walked in, this one felt unique.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016
royan treatment living room stone fireplace vintage new furnishings
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
April 27, 2016
modern netherlands 13 noordeinde schoolhouse parquet herringbone floors stove
Take a lesson from this school-turned-home.
April 27, 2016
The sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio De Janero, Brazil, designed by Roberto Burle Marx
The Jewish Museum in New York City takes it outside with a celebration of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
April 26, 2016
Waterfront home in Belvedere, California
A 1960s home infested with powderpost beetles had to be sacrificed before this this Zen-inspired house could happen.
April 26, 2016
dialogue house
At the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, a geometric home by Wendell Burnette opens up to the surrounding desert landscape.
April 26, 2016
street smarts kitchen full view
A creative couple transforms an old Toronto storefront in Dundas West into a home and studio.
April 26, 2016
hald strand
This architect thinks of everything for his summer escape, pizza oven included.
April 26, 2016
gans turin residence living room
Thanks to a contemporary interior that she’s been updating for a decade, modern architect Abigail Turin has learned to love her traditional 1925 San Francisco home.
April 25, 2016
131
Johannesburg-based design studio Counterspace was founded in 2014 by young architecture graduates Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar. Their projects are collaborative, research-led investigations into possible futures and ideas of otherness in Johannesburg.
April 25, 2016
through living room
A second-story addition and a new indoor-outdoor focus revive a nondescript house in L.A.
April 25, 2016
Modern living room with Flexform sofa and Jens Fager candelabra
An Antwerp home blurs the boundaries between art and design.
April 25, 2016
hillside haven  1
This backyard is its own modern retreat in the Berkeley Hills.
April 25, 2016
Two studios flanks a central volume at this home in Mexico
Art and life meet in the middle at a family retreat in Central Mexico.
April 24, 2016
natural instinct swedish family home kitchen table unfold pendants muuto lilla aland chairs stolab
With Alvar Aalto in mind, a renowned Swedish architect crafts a serene home on a long-held family plot.
April 24, 2016
clearing the table coffee tables boxinbox philippe starck glas italia storage
A half-century later, furniture designers are catching up to painter Yves Klein’s visionary Table Bleue.
April 23, 2016