Who was nice enough to show us around: Julian of Mid Century Mobler. If you haven’t checked out his amazing stuff, please do so at either http://midcenturymobler.com/ or Past Perfect on Lombard in San Francisco.
What they told us about their home: 2 bed/ 1 bath apartment with a very desirable location.
Where is the home located: Mission, San Francisco, California
When was the home built and when they moved in: The complex was built in 1905 and was destroyed in the great earthquake in 1906. It was rebuilt in 1915 and Julian moved in August 2008.
Why they chose this home: He wanted to live in the Mission area and conveniently his uncle happened to own this building.
Photos by Jake Conroy
What attracted you to MCM design?
The first thing that attracted me to mid century design was old cars. In high school, I bought a 1958 Pontiac Starchief that was a total piece. You could acually see into the car from the outside from all the holes in the roof. But I fixed it up, got it running. I loved everything about that car. The headliner had little stars imprinted in it. Everything was covered in chrome. There were little compartments and knobs and switches and pointless accessories you could add on to it. And I think that’s why I became so attracted to other elements of design from that era: furniture, architecture, etc. There was this unique opulence and hope that’s reflected in all design of the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. It seemed like a time when anything was possible. We were going to space, anyone could live the American dream, everything was going to great.
Favorite designers and biggest influences for your style?
I like organic design, but I also like things that are one of a kind, so I tend to lean more towards designers like Adrian Pearsall, who melded modern and atomic design in interesting ways. I’m a big fan of the space race, so any kind of design that’s reflective of that tends to grab my attention. As far as Danish designers go, I love the organic nature of anything by Kurt Ostervig or Arne Vodder.
How do you feel about reproductions?
I think reproductions are great for the person that wants the look of an original piece without the paying as much, but you can’t beat an original. Personally, I only keep original pieces in my collection, since you just can’t match the patina or history with a reproduction. I like knowing that everything in my place has a past, and you can see that in the small nicks and dings on every piece. It feels good to own a piece of history like that.
Furniture wise, what do you think is something you should invest in?
I’d love to own a pair of Papa Bear or Chieftan chairs someday. Families that bought these originally knew they were getting them as an investment of sorts, since they weren’t cheap when they were new. The kids and grandkids who are inheriting those chairs know what they’re worth, and are holding on to them, so they’re getting a lot harder to find. I think any substantial designer piece will be a good investment for the future.
Where are your favorite places to shop for home décor?
My favorite places to shop are estate sales and flea markets. You can usually get a pretty good deal on quality stuff, and you never know what you’re going to find. Part of the fun is walking into a time warp estate sale, where the original owners bought everything new in the early 1960’s, and never changed anything out. I’ve been to a few of those before, and usually end up buying everything in the entire house.
What are some of your best finds? From where?
One of my best finds is my corner teak bar unit, which I found on Craigslist. The owner who had it lived in Santa Cruz, and had it listed as a “wood cabinet”. I could barely make out what it was from the picture, but I took a chance and drove out there to pick it up. It needed a lot of work, but cleaned up really nicely. It’s a unique piece, and was blown away when I actually saw it in person. It’s now the centerpiece of my dining room.
My favorite piece is probably my Adrian Pearsall for Craft Associates couch. It wasn’t much of a find, since one of my friends bought it at Alameda from another dealer to resell it. When he brought it back to his booth, I couldn’t reach for my wallet fast enough, since I’d been looking for that exact couch for 3 years. It’s still got the original wacky floral back cushions and red wool upholstery on it, along with the original Craft Associates tags.
Greatest achievement in your home? Biggest challenge?
I think the greatest achievement as well as the biggest challenge was just getting the place furnished. I wanted to create a space that looked like it was straight out of 1960 that a swanky bachelor with a lot of $ put together. As a dealer, I come across a LOT of stuff, but since it was kind of a specific look, it took at least 2 years to really get everything together, and there’s still pieces I’m looking for.
Another big challenge was figuring out where to put the sound system in the living room. I didn’t want speakers sitting on top of anything, or visible wires anywhere, so I spent a lot of time mounting each main speaker to a corner of the room. I wired everything around the crown moulding, stuffed a sub woofer under the couch, linked everything back in to the 1970’s JVC globe speakers and receiver for the record player on my small buffet, then wired everything into the main surround sound receiver in my big credenza, so no matter if you’re playing a record, ipod, or a movie, the whole room gets the surround treatment, which is a nice touch.
Future goals/ projects?
I’m going to sound like everyone else saying this, but I’d love to own and restore Eichler someday in Marin with a 1958 Desoto Firedome parked in the driveway. I live in a beautiful Victorian era building right now, but I’d like to have a space that houses everything inside it to match.
Do you have any home inspiration recommendations for our readers?
My best piece of advice for anyone wanting to fix their place up in mid century would be to go slowly. A lot of people want to have everything in place all at once, but finding pieces you really love takes time. A coffee table and a couch are a good place to start. Your tv can always sit on top of that awesome glass and grey laminate CRT Ikea stand you’ve had since college until you find a credenza that fits the room.
Another recommendation I have is to keep it clean. It’s easy to collect a lot of junk and put it everywhere in your place, but if you can stick to a particular look and keep it refined, you’re going to enjoy living in it a whole lot more.
Advice and last words?
My best piece of advice is, if you see a piece you love, get it! I’ve come across a lot of stuff that I think is out of my budget for the time, and I always regret not buying it. Always go with your gut when you see something you don’t think you can live without.
Thanks Julian. You rule!
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