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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!

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?

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!





Ninja Turtle Sibling?

22 Jan

Remember this dresser restored by the lovely Brittany as memorialized in this post?  She worried she had turned it into a Ninja turtle dresser!

Well, she’s gone and done it again, this time with nightstands.  She had some leftover veneer and paint and renovated these lovely little beauties too!  I think they look awesome.  What about you?  I especially like the Orla Kiely wallpaper pattern in the back.  Despite all my ranting, I am obviously in a co-dependent relationship with Orla.  Will I never be free?


And voila!



Ikea Maskros

21 Jan

Wow.  Yet again another extended holiday from the blog.  Emphasis on holiday because the holidays did me in this year.  Starting a new job and juggling all the chaos around Christmas and New Year was more than I could handle and the blog suffered.  But things did get done, believe it or not.  The happiest of which are the new fixtures in our bedroom.  We had Brett’s parents over for dinner last night and Ida the Great commented that our new fixtures were a bold choice!  Bold indeed and I love them.

Okay, I know it’s overdone.  And I know that even in a short amount of time, people are sick of it.  There are some really amazing Ikea-hacks done to the Maskros lamps, too.  However, I like it as it is.  I just like it.  I fell in love with it when I first saw it in the post I did on Farralone, where is hangs in the guest room that Marilyn Monroe stayed in.

Frank Sinatra

And yes, when IKEA first showed it at the ICFF it started to multiply all over the world like rabbits.  People began to whine about seeing it everywhere and I am sure I will get a response to this post that makes me seem unoriginal and banal.  (Probably not.  All you people are too nice for that.)

I would like to argue that perhaps what we have on our hands with the Maskros is a classic (or a new classic according to this post on Houzz).  Design-forward, unique, accessbile.  Aren’t these the criteria used by our favorite MCM designers to guide their work?  Why does good design need to be exclusive to the elite?  None of those designers would agree with the design snobs of today and are likely rolling over in their graves in despair of those who ‘just don’t get it’.

Well, we get it.  And we fell in love with it.  To replace these decade-appropriate fixtures with something so fun and bold seemed to me the perfect thing to do.  (And, according to my husband, much easier said than done.)

house 33

Plus, I love the way the Maskros echoes the design on our window panels from West Elm.


First of all the top of the Masksros is a narrow cylinder about six inches in diameter.  The hole cut for these lights is more like 12 inches.  We found some covers at Home Depot for less than $10 each.  Granted, I would have prefered a style without the faux molding around the edge, but we couldn’t find any.


And let’s be honest, putting these fixtures together is quite time consuming!  They come in this little box with the usually unintelligible IKEA directions.



And the pieces look something like this…


Ummm…yikes.  So I got on the handy dandy internet and found this lovely stop-motion video about assembling the lamp.

Mind you, I put on the flowers before hanging the lantern, but either would work.

To show the progression, the room has gone from this… (You can’t see the flower printed wallpaper!)

To this…

To this…

And now with the lovely Maskros…



Almost there, but not quite.  In the nook at the end of the room where the dog beds and random nightstand live, I imagine a lovely gray chaise lounge like this one from West Elm.  (My entire bedroom is becoming an homage to West Elm!)

Lorimer Chaise

And perhaps a hanging floor lamp like this one.

Overarching Floor Lamp - Natural

Thought that might be a bit much with the Maskros lamp.  Not sure, but I want something softer than an overhead light for reading in my perfect little corner.

And of course, we need some area rugs and artwork.  As mentioned in this post, I think a painting by Maeve above the bed would be the perfect finishing touch.  And she is already working on, so stay tuned!

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