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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!


Other People’s Homes: Bay Area Town House

31 Jul
What I love about this house in particular is the the cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms.  I think it’s difficult to find new cabinets that echo the style of the true wooden mid-century ones.  These do the trick for me.  Enjoy!
(Via Modernica)

Living room featuring two vintage Hans Wegner’s Papa Bear chairs.

A beautiful replica of a 1950’s armoire was built for the entryway.

Dining room featuring Rody Graumans’ 85 Lamps chandeliers.

Kitchen was designed by architecture firm Zack | de Vito.

Bedroom was designed with storage in mind.

Bathroom was designed by architecture firm Zack | de Vito.

All photography by Ethan Kaplan. Interior Design: Antonio Martins. To read this complete story and see more photographs of this beautiful Bay area home, pick up a copy of CA Home+Design on the newsstands now.

Mad Girls

19 Jun

I am truly blessed.  Truly.  When I am crazy busy with work and traveling and have done absolutely nothing on the house, I have an amazing gaggle of girls who keep the mid-century love going.

On my way home from work today, I got a text from Maeve saying they had a ‘surprise’ for me.  Now, as many of you parents may know, a ‘surprise’ from one’s children can be a delight or a disaster.  Now that they are older, the delights outnumber the disasters.  (Though the disasters still happen, don’t get me wrong.)  I would be a liar if I said I had no trepidation about this.  I had a long and somewhat disappointing day and really didn’t relish the prospect of a cooking experiment that left me a crusty and floury and oily kitchen.  So as a typical parent I ask, ‘What is it?’ to which she cleverly responds, ‘Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.’

I walked in the door and everything seemed in place.  The kitchen was relatively clean.  No one was crying, though they were all in tons of make-up as they came to hug me.  In heels and her graduation dress with her hair in a bee-hive, Maeve motions me over to the computer to share their creations with me.

What can I say?  It’s moments like this, as my daughters stand around me giggling and I look at their work, that I know in my marrow why I became a parent. And I also know that these moments have an eventual end, and one coming sooner than I realize as I look at these gorgeous mad women almost all grown up, talented, intelligent, inventive.  Appreciation from one’s children is precious and rare.  These four ladies will run the world someday, I swear.

(Though as I write this, I listen to one asking the other…’Are you ticklish on your butt?’  Ahhh…parenthood.)

These also remind me of another post of photos with the word ‘Mad’ in it.  Biggest difference is that there was no alcohol in the photo shoot with the girls and I think PLENTY in the photos of my grandparents!

Maeve took these photographs and speaks to them with more detail on her blog.  Please check it out at Blue Paper Lanterns.

Reader Inspiration Board: Brittany’s Living Room

2 Jun

Every once in a while I will get an email from a reader asking for advice on a problem area in their home.  Brittany and I have corresponded over the our purchases of our Taylor sofas from Thrive Furniture.  Recently she sent me some photos of her living room asking for my thoughts.  I asked her if I could create an inspiration board with suggestions and we agreed on the following parameters: 1.  Budget of $500 or less.  2.  Apartment living means no painting the walls.  3.  No pink.  (Okay, that one’s not so difficult.)

So here are my initial thoughts:  Great foundation to work from.  Very cool mid-century pieces.  Of course, I love Taylor.  But I also love the surfboard coffee table and the Eames lounge chair and ottoman.  I think the shag rug and wool throw on the chair also add a great MCM vibe.  But as I look at these photos, what is missing for me is COLOR!  The white, tan and yellow are all warm tones that give it kind of an overall ‘beige’ feel.  She has a ‘Thrifty Orla Art’ piece inspired by this post with a great pop of blue color.  (I love it when reader’s actually find my posts useful!)  I decided to start using that as a base.  Blues and yellows are great together.  And as an accent, I thought maybe a little bit of green.  Below is the board I put together but I will go through each piece as well.

First, I wanted to suggest something larger for artwork above the sofa.  I had a similar issue with my recent living room artwork.  I looked through Etsy, one of my favorite MCM resources, and I saw these four prints.  (Click on any image to link to the resource.)

Mid Century Modern Lattice Inspired Art Prints - Set of Four 5x7s (coastal)

These Etsy prints come from the Niko and Lily store on Etsy.  The ones for sale are 5×7″ ($39.95) but I think they need to be bigger for Brittany’s room.  The store also sells 8×10″ individual prints for $14.95 each and I am sure they would make this set larger, which would be about $60 for the four.  Add in some Ikea frames that are usually $15 each and you have lovely artwork for $120.  Okay.  $380 left.  (You know, come to think of it, you could source some patterns in the same colors on the internet, print them out on a high quality color printer and frame them for even less!)

I really think the sofa and coffee table need some balance so we how about some end tables?  The ones on the board are from Etsy as well and a great deal for $89 for the pair.  They are Mersman, which I just bought a pair of myself at an estate sale.  I really like the MCM step style.  Brittany would have to pay for shipping, which I am sneakily not including in the $500 because I think with some patience, she could probably find another set of MCM end tables at a thrift store or estate sale too.  $291 left in the bank.

Mid-Century Danish Modern Step-Up End Table Pair / Lamp Table  -  Nice Eames Era Decor

I love the yellow pillows on the sofa and think they would benefit from a complementary punch of color as well.  I found these pillow covers on….you guessed it…Etsy and would suggest using them on two of the four yellow pillows currently there.  They are a little pricey at $30 each, but I think that they are worth it.  $261 left.

Mid-Century Modern Blue Pillow Cushion Cover 16 x 16

And to sit on the lovely end tables and coordinate with the sofa pillows, I love these yellow lamps on  They are $45 each, including shade, leaving us $171.  (I feel like I am on the Price is Right or something.)

Nothing adds polish to a room like drapery.  I like these blue linen panels from CB2.  Now they are $60/each, which is also a little pricey and if Brittany has any talent with a sewing machine, she could probably make them for much less.  I would also throw in a curtain rod, which is probably about $20.


 Eeek…that leaves $31.  Let’s rethink that.  These from Target for $11.89 each.  Much better!  With a $20 rod and the Target panels, we have $127 left.

Target Home™ Farrah Window Panel.Opens in a new window

And while you’re at Target, go ahead and pick up a simple white bookcase to put in the corner in place of the floor lamp.  The corner needs some brightening up.  The one I am thinking of is $54 and three shelves.  Grab a pint of paint and paint the insides a cheery yellow to get the effect of the bookcase below.

And we have $73 left.  On the board, I included photos of some object d’art for the end and coffee tables that say mid-century modern to me.  They are green glass vases from Target for $25 each, a blue bowl from Etsy for $19.99 and an Eames-like bird on rockers from West Elm for $29 (which I may just need to buy for myself).

Green Glass Vase-Bell.Opens in a new windowMid Century Modern  Ceramic Covered Dish Blue Teardrop

Rocking Birds

So the grand total is $526, a wee bit over.  However, I think that the green glass vases and the blue bowl are things you could find at thrift store for way less, so let’s just call it $500 even, shall we?  I hope Brittany likes the inspiration board and I am sure she is open to your comments and suggestions as well.

Putting It All Together

1 Jun

In the past week, I’ve shared a lot of recent estate sale or thrift store purchases.  The rug.  The lamps.  The end tables.  I intentionally didn’t show you their new homes because I wanted the effect of the whole reveal.  I also knew I needed to go buy some accessories that I wouldn’t want to buy in thrift stores, like pillows.  (I am kind of squeamish about thrift store fabrics, as I have mentioned.  Just think it’s harder to get the cooties out of there.)  So I made a trip to Tar-jay to see what they had to pull it all together.  I came home with two lampshades ($19.99 each), two turquoise vases ($25 each) and three pillows (on sale for $13.99 each).  I probably could have found the vases at a thrift store for way less, but they were right there and just jumped into my cart.  This seems to happen a lot at Target.

So other than the items above and Taylor the sofa, everything in the living room has been bought at an estate sale or thrift store.

Side chairs:  $90 for both (Okay, the upholstery was not cheap.)

Side table between the side chairs:  $19

Sofa end tables:  $20 each

Rug $50

Lamps:  $20 for the pair (plus $1.45 for the other)

Parvez Taj art piece:  FREE

And just to remind you what things used to look like when we first moved in:

To the middle stage:

To final:

From the other direction:

To now:

And, of course, gratuitous photos of Molly the Beagle…a Snoopy-inspired very mid-century breed.

I love the whole thing and am super proud of how we have gone about it, buying things that weren’t new and things that we really loved.  The room has a sense of history and authenticity and is probably, for me anyway, the most peaceful room in the house.  In fact, I am sitting on Taylor writing this post right now.  (I would like a coffee table but it works without one for now until the right thing comes along.)

I have one thing I am not sure about.  That’s the Parvez taj piece over the sofa.  I love this piece of art.  Love it.  Love it because I love Parvez Taj and love it because I won a $500 piece of art in a contest from Grassrootsmodern!  I would also love your thoughts and opinions on the piece and whether or not it works.  Just not 100% convinced.

Mersman End Tables

31 May

Remember the estate sale where we scored the super cool Drexel Heritage dining set?  Well, we scored something else I haven’t written about yet.

As we were leaving I did one more sweep through the house to see what may be left.  The sale was almost over and everything left was going to charity.  I had seen the end tables earlier but hadn’t paid much attention to them.  They were paired with a very traditional sofa and coffee table.  Once the sofa and table were gone and I saw them standing there all by their lonesome, I saw the mid-century style in them.

They were priced at $65 each, which was a little too much after just buying the dining set.  But I wanted them.  They were Mersman, which I didn’t know anything about.  And they were solid wood with veneer on the top.  Not my favorite thing but still cool looking.

And this guy knew he could get another sale out of me.  I am a sucker.  He offered them to me for $20 each.  Done!  I couldn’t get anything this cool or cheaper at Ikea.  Once I got them home, they looked even better than I imagined.  I love them.  Stay tuned tomorrow for all these finds come together.

First Blogiversary

30 May

Wowie wow wow.  How can this be?  I’ve been writing this blog for one whole year.  This is the 184th post, which is a better average than I realized.  To celebrate, I thought I would do a look back.  There is a part of me that thinks…sheesh, is this all we’ve accomplished?  There is another part of me that, when I look at these photos thinks ‘Wow!’  and is inspired to keep going.

I am going to use this post as a new page at the top of the blog as well.  Enjoy!

The Main Bathroom

It had only one sink, wall paper, a rubber-type baseboard.

And this is after painting the countertop, removing wallpaper and painting walls and cabinets, putting in a new sink and baseboards.

The Main Hallway

Painting hallway and making the end atomic orange and creating the hanging gallery.

Maeve’s Room

Painting and installing bamboo blinds.  Her room was the easiest of all.

Family Room

Painted and new furniture!  Also, Orla art, a thrifted desk and a thrifted media cabinet.

The Dining Room

The Living Room

The Deck/Rockery/Planting Bed

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