“Reverse living” isn’t revolutionary, but it’s a thoughtful departure from the typical pre-war home layout. The idea is that common space is located on the upper floors—second or even third—and personal and sleeping space is downstairs. It’s a calling card of many Mid-Century Modern interiors, designed to reserve those rooms with the best outdoor views for daily living and indeed to reverse expectations about how a home should accommodate our lifestyle (not the other way around). In this three-story Hans Nuetzel home, built in 1981, reverse living is done right.
The four-bedroom house is cut into its Grandin Road hillside, so that all of the rooms, even those downstairs, are “above grade”—that is, above ground—and filled with natural light. The open-plan first floor wraps around a tidy brick fireplace and built-in bookshelf, a peninsula that both separates and integrates adjoining rooms, all of which feature wall-sized windows overlooking the hillside. An extra large back deck lets you lounge among the treetops. The home also has a striking geometric cutout chimney, a recognizable feature of a Nuetzel home.
The German-born architect was a colleague of local architecture bigwigs Carl Strauss and Ray Roush. He spent his multidecade career filling Cincinnati streets with his high-concept homes and working closely with homeowners to create a shared vision. “It took a sophisticated kind of client to have one of these houses designed,” says Sibcy Cline Executive Sales Vice President Maureen Pippin, who is selling the home for Marty Cooper and Kim Taylor. Cooper bought it from the original owner, Jim Brennan, who worked very closely with Nuetzel to design it. “This was his dream home. When Marty bought it, he expanded it. And he got Hans Nuetzel to come back and work on the project,” Taylor says. That collaborative spirit characterizes this home: Its construction became part of the hillside rather than flattening it; its expanded master bedroom still aligns with Nuetzel’s original design principles; and it is an agreeably modern standout on the otherwise historic Grandin Road.