Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Mid-Century Modern Dream

from Disney's 1956 short "A Cowboy Needs a Horse"

I've blogged before about my penchant for Googie architecture and Mid-Century Modern design. 

I'm not really sure where it came from, since by the time I came along, the exuberant bright colors and exciting angles of the Googie Atomic Space Age had given way to earth tones and mossy shag carpet and rounded mushrooms and flower power.

Maybe it was watching all the cartoons that borrow so heavily from the era. Not just the Jetsons, but many backgrounds in the Looney Tune universe across the late 40s and 50s are decorated this way, from Bugs Bunny to Daffy Duck and all points in between.  Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry . . . I remember having a Little Golden Book called Tom and Jerry's Party and pouring over the illustrations of the house. It was mid-century modern.

above and below, from the 1954 Woody Woodpecker short "Real Gone Woody"

It was the combination of the bright color palettes, the sweeping curves and roofs, the spare lines, the open designs and split levels, the shiny glass and chrome, all of it, somehow, seeped into my imagination early and didn't let go. I get all kinds of happy pouring over photos from that era. (Yes, Virginia, there is a Pinterest Board.)

How does this not make one smile?

And don't miss the wonderful interior backgrounds on The Incredibles. They toned down the color scheme, but didn't miss a beat on the decor.  Check these out.

starburst clock!

seriously, even the desert of Arizona in the Wile E. Coyote cartoons boasts that bright palette with funky geometric shapes that recall MCM.

1949 Long-Haired Hare: Giovanni Jones', the opera singer's home interior

You remember Giovanni, right?


About four years ago, I picked up this mid-century Atomic Chip/Dip set (without the box) for $3 at a yard sale.

and it's my favorite thing displayed in my kitchen.

And this week, I spotted this online:


Every time I look at it, I start imagining having the time, money, and space to scour other mid-century neighborhoods for yard sales that might yield similar era pieces.

Whenever I mentally interior decorate a dream house with MCM decor, it's always in my Aunt Dot's home. It was built in 1960, a long, single floor layout that just begged for a Mad Men type of vibe. If only the den had been sunken . . .

ok, so there's no conversation pit to be had

But there's plenty to work with! And knowing the house seems to help focus how different rooms would come together.

The front door opened into the open plan front room and dining room to the left, vaguely divided from the center hallway by a half wall. There's Mom and I in 1988, with many of the mid-century pieces still in place:

Behind the front/dining room was an even longer open space that held the kitchen and a breakfast area with a low brick wall planter that separated these areas from the den.  

(Aunt Dot passed in 2004 and the house sold in 2005, apparently to a textile place called Mt. Vernon Mills. However, when the Google car last came by in 2013, though, the sign erected for the front walk was blank.)

If I had that house today . . . 

The Entry and Front Room


Get ready, because it will be quite colorful! Most of the house would be done in the bright turquoise-blues, oranges, and lime greens.


If I could change out the yellow tiles for orange and the gray for lime, we'd be set on the porch light!

For the front room, I'd go with a blond wood floor, with a great retro rug for the couch area. I'd paint an accent wall in one of the bold colors from the house's palette, or, since I'm spending imaginary money, do the adjacent wall (the one you can see to the right of mom in our photo above, behind the turntable console) in river rock or stylized brick with a small fireplace.

The interplay of blue, orange, green, and yellow with accent walls 

oh to have such open space. 



Anyway, on to the furniture . . .




I think, at some point, I must at least sit in an Eero Saarinen Womb Chair (in orange, above)

More furniture choices for the front room:



If I could get away with it, structurally, I'd replace the small front windows with giant glass panes that let as much light in as possible. 

BIG windows, please

And a least one wall screen that is truly funky


The Dining Area

I'd go with the Sputnik Lightolier Chandelier

and you could even decorate it for Christmas!

And a Danish Teak dining set, something like this,

or this

Along the dining wall, we need a china cabinet. Tall and wide or short and long?

or both?

The Kitchen

Ignore the wicker and dark browns, check out the googie-inspired hardware on the blue steel cabinets!

And yes, I'd want a blue linoleum floor, but perhaps in the mosaic tile instead:

Big Chill, out of Boulder, designs updated appliances but in the retro style. Soooo cool.

Original $3145.00 (with ice maker)        The Retropolitan  $3545.00 (with ice maker)

The natural gas stove will set you back $5495.00, but the dishwasher cover is just $525.00

The cheaper cabinet option would be to get into the retro-paint color lines of many manufacturers and just paint over the wood, but since this is fantasy money, we'd have to pull out the existing cabinets and install steel ones, which are a pain in the ass to find vintage to fit into an existing space and usually require rust removal and re-painting. How about new? It's do-able from Steel Kitchen Web. No online pricing though, so steel yourself.

This kitchen repaint of the vintage St. Charles white steel that was in place since 1953 is spectacular. 

The kitchen area of Aunt Dot's would be half the size of the kitchen pictures above, assuming the remodel wrapped around the small dining area and window outside of her kitchen and extended the cabinets along the middle wall.

I'd make pinch-pleat valances for the kitchen and breakfast windows in this fabric, since the rest of the long open plan on the back of the house will pick up turquoise, lime, and orange accents. It also has that great surf board geometric and starbursts!


The Breakfast Nook

As I mentioned, the kitchen area is separated from the breakfast area with a wrap around counter, sort of like this:


so I'd like to flip from the predominant blues of the kitchen to the complementary orange as a focal point. Something like the formica below with the lime accents on the wall works. (I'm just saying no to the black and white tile, though.) 

Or orange chairs?
That rug needs to go in the front room!

Franciscan Atomic Starburst  and Atomic Glassware
at least one crazy piece . . . but which one?




Since I keep an ipod dock in the kitchen/dining area now, it's nice to know I can still have one in the MCM house!

If memory servers, there is another "knee wall" (with a planter area in the top? Am I dreaming this part?) that breaks up the breakfast nook from the den. 

The Den

The house may be a pipe-dream, but I'm beginning to understand that I must have one of these clocks in my life, and soon.


I'd like some teak string shelves to break up so much of the low-slung furniture, which would incorporate more of our neglected color, green, with blue accents


The Hopson Sectional in Echo Kiwi, only $3099!

But oh to find something like this in green

With this corner fireplace?


The Wilkerson Console solves the high-tech TV clashing with the MCM decor

Then again, there's something too cool for school with the old set consoles.

And, of course, we'd need one of these




Note that, except for the first image above, a vintage bedroom ad, most of the mid-mod bedrooms I found attractive are relatively staid. 

But then I get distracted by all the seriously funky pieces that call to me...



I'd convert one of the three bedrooms of the house into a study



There is one half bath for guests, which would be along these lines


And one full, which would be substantially more  . . . loud
ok, maybe not as loud as that last one.

(By the way, Retro Renovation is the place to go for this kind of day-dreaming)

Lamps, Shelves, and Wall Art 
that I adore:




Let's be honest. When I look at Mid-Century homes, of course this is what my dream patio would look out on:

And this is what I'd imagine, with deep pockets and the house I know, might be:

Or, more realistically, 

But in complete reality?

still . . .  it's fun to dream.


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