Retaining Walls

4 Mar

I don’t know if we’ve ever shared one of the things about this house (or property) which disturbs us the most.  I think we have simply pretended it doesn’t exist.  You know, one of those things that you just look the other way because taking it on will be so massive and such a headache and you have fantasies about wiggling your nose and it’s all taken care of?  For free?

We have a swath of land to the south of our house that looks like it has been carved out of the earth.  Some efforts have been made at reinforcing the base of the huge evergreens, but the row of cypress have roots that are still exposed.




We have been pretty lucky this winter in that we have had no real storms or snow.  This gave us the opportunity to final tackle putting in a much needed retaining wall before we lost some lovely trees.

The big question was materials.  Now we probably could have gone and used interlocking bricks that are common around here.  And done it ourselves for about half the price.  Our issue was that we didn’t think they really fit with the mid-century feel of the house.  Plus, they have to be placed at an angle and wouldn’t have the nice lines of a straight wall.  (Our other issue was did Brett we really want to take on such a back-breaking project?  Really?)

Inspired by a few photos I found on this website Eichler for Sale, the vision began to come together.  (This site has some wonderfully inspiring photos for all mid-century home remodel needs.)



Our contractor brought out two samples for us:  a traditional cinderblock and a more textured block of the interlocking kind.  Guess which I chose?



Of course, neither match the stone retaining wall at the front of the house.  Pesky little detail.  But I think we will solve that by building a gate between the two, marking a separation between the front and the back of the house.

The project will start in about two weeks and I cannot wait!  Stay tuned for updates and let us know if you have any experience with retaining walls that would help us.


MCM Fireplaces

11 Feb

Yesterday the lovely blog Retro Renovation was asking people to upload photos of their mid-century fireplaces.  I flipped through them and found nothing, and I mean NOTHING like our very….ummm….unique fireplace with which I have a love hate relationship.  Some images from the Retro Renovation site:

Gavin in Scotland


And a few other favorites from my Pinterest board MCM Fireplaces:

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Okay, so now our design dilemma.  This is our fireplace.


Hmmm.  This has always flummoxed me.  For one thing, I like the shape.  The angles on the chimney are totally mid-century, as are the cement benches on either side.  However, the brick has seen better days and there is a wood-burning stove insert in it.  I can imagine a beautiful open fire once we remove the stove but the brick is the dilemma.  It’s old and no matter how much we try to clean it, it’s inconsistent and looks dirty.

We considered painting it.  (I am not one of those people who thinks there is a special place in hell for brick painters.)  But as you can see to the right, the brick wall continues outside through the window and the front door.  So if we commit to painting the fireplace, I think we have to commit to painting those walls as well for the sake of continuity.

Brett has suggested covering the chimney with metal like the photo above with the sunken living room.  I like the idea, but we are still stuck with some challenging brick.

Would love other people’s opinions!

Kerf Design

10 Feb

We visited another house designed by Fred Bassetti, the same architect for our house.  (More on that later if they let me share the photos!)  Of every cool thing I saw in that house, and there was plenty, I fell in love with the original cabinets.  Yep, an entire kitchen full of the original plywood cabinets and the (almost) original stainless countertops.

But where does one find such things in this day and age?  Our kitchen was renovated about 20 years or so (I’d guess) with a more traditional cabinet choice for that time, as you can see.

Unfortunately, while nice cabinetry (made nicer with our paint job!),  they don’t quite go with our vision of what a mid-century kitchen should look like.

I loved the cabinets in this other Bassetti designed house on the island and would love to get something close to this.  But beyond, IKEA, where does one look?

Then I saw and ad for Kerf Design in the most recent issue of Atomic Ranch.

Located right here in Seattle, Kerf makes ‘plywood cabinets and furniture for the modern home.’  Their website has one of my favorite quotes about form following function. 

“If it is not useful or necessary, free yourself from imagining that you need to make it.”


So join me in my fantasy kitchen (and bathroom) indulgence with the following photos.  Such wonderful inspiration for dreaming…

Ummm…yes, please?

Come together…right now…

3 Feb

I am so happy that the bedroom is almost completely finished.  We have the drapes and the linens and the orange lamps and the Maskros light fixtures.  We were in need of artwork over the bed and rugs and my chaise lounge, which should be here any day now!

Below is the big reveal of Magnificent Maeve’s artwork and I couldn’t love it more!





















I love the way it pulls the room together with its warm colors.  And once we hung Maeve’s lovely art, I went on a rug buying spree.  I just couldn’t help myself.  There was a 20% off sale at West Elm.  (Our bedroom is really becoming the West Elm room.)  And I bought some shag rugs reminiscent of the 60s rugs I grew up with.  And that’s when it all came together completely.


And in terms of a room coming together with a rug, I got another large shag for the living room as well.  I moved the rug we found at the Mercer Island Thrift Store to the dining room and made way for the lovely and larger one we also ordered from West Elm.

I just love the way everything is coming together.   I will share the photos when the chaise arrives to.  Finally, my own little nook in the house!





The ABC of Architects

30 Jan

As a follow-up to my previous incredibly geeky primer on architecture, I have to share this wonderful video on The ABC of Architects from Ombu Architecture.  So fun.

Who’s your favorite and why?

Color Psychology

29 Jan

Color is such a touchy subect as I have discussed here. And here. And here.

So when someone sent me this infographic from Macy’s, I thought it was worth sharing. Makes sense that I prefer green because I need a LOT of balancing and orange because I like a cheery room.  (Or hallway.  Or door.)

Color Psychology: Style Your Room, Design Your Mood

The Magnificent Maeve

23 Jan

In the past few posts about our bedroom redux, I have mentioned that we need a piece of artwork over the bed.  But what to choose?


Well, duh.  I have one of the world’s most amazing artists living under my mid-century roof:  The Magnificent Maeve.  And if you don’t think she is magnificent, check out her blog BluePaperLanterns.  So I commissioned a painting from her.  I agreed to pay $50 plus supplies.  I showed her some images that I liked as inspiration, like the one below.  But I also told her I wanted her to do it however she pleased.  I’d like the colors to work with the room but other than that to go wild.

Mid Century Modern Art Painting Eames Era Tiki 60's Retro danish modern Modernist 60s

Well, she started it today and already I am amazed!  I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  Right now it’s looking like aboriginal art and it was inspired by the artist Yayoi Kusama.  And yes, she’s doing it with a Q-Tip.  I can’t wait to see the final product!





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