Archive by Author

Homes, Sweet Homes: Stacy

4 Nov

Who: Stacy – we met her through a Scout Living recommendation.

What: 2 bedroom/ 1 bathroom two story home.

Where: South Land Park, Sacramento, CA

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What attracted you to MCM design?

My personal style has evolved over the last 20 years. During my teens and up through my thirties I experimented with shabby chic, nautical, French Country and equestrian/hunt themes. As I’ve matured, so has my taste. I prefer less complicated furniture and design now.  I’m attracted to MCM because of its clean architectural lines and the simple compilation of natural and man made aesthetic. I love the mix and textures of metal and glass, wood and chrome, stone and ceramic. I also appreciate the craftsmanship in each piece. There is an inherent pride in so many MCM pieces. When you run your hand along a teak buffet or heft a glazed pot, you can feel the intentionality and thought that envelops each piece. MCM speaks to a time and place when people knew their neighbors, sat down to dinner and shared about each other’s day and handed down pieces from family member to family member. In such a disposable society as ours, I believe MCM allows us to reimagine that time and bring it back into our lives and homes.

Favorite designers and biggest influences for your style?

My mother has and will always most influence my style because she always supported my experimentation with design. If I wanted to paint my room mauve with sea foam and cream accents one week and primary colors the next, she let me. If I moved my furniture around and rehung posters every month, she let me. She showed me that design is personal and ever evolving. I remember her switching the entire look of our house each season merely by switching out pillows and linens. She would rotate art in the different rooms so that each piece took on new meaning depending on where it hung. She also showed me how to curate collections with both low brow, inexpensive items as well as heirloom and museum quality ones. She was creating vignettes in shadow boxes with African tribal pieces from my grandfather’s collection from the Belgian Congo long before Pottery Barn made a mint doing the same with seashells. I still seek her opinion about pieces and placement. She’s an amazing teacher with an amazing eye.

My favorite MCM designers, architects and artists are: (In no particular order) Paul McCobb, Pieter Groeneveldt, Jean Prouve’, Arne Vidder, Denys Lasdun, Erik Buck, Albert Frey, Mies Vander Rohe, George Nelson, Vladimir Kagan, Milo Baughman, Frank Llyod Wright, Taylor Wooley, Hans Wegner, Stanley Piltz, Alexander Calder, Warren Platner, Eero Saarinen, Arne Jacobson, Aldo van Eyck, Joseph Eichler, and Richard Neutra.

How do you feel about reproductions?

I’m not a big fan of reproduction. I would rather save my money and buy an original. The reason so much MCM furniture is around is because of the quality of materials used and the craftsmanship. I’d rather invest in one or two signature pieces than spend $20 on a do-it-yourself bookshelf made of particle-board that will be destroyed the first time a Delta breeze wafts by. I like the patina of age and wear that comes with purchasing an original piece. Collecting MCM pieces allows me to hear the stories of the people who cherished the piece before I did. I like to imagine the family from Dubuque, Iowa having the piece in their family for years before it found a new place in my home. I do, however, believe in ‘gentle’ restoration. For example, I will re-stuff a leather cushion (B& T Upholstery is fabulous) or wood polish a piece if need be, but I tend to like the scuffs and scratches. Like a scar, they tell a story of the adventure.

Furniture wise, what do you think is something you should invest in?

I think chairs and substantial pieces like a hutch or sideboard should be investment pieces.  For wood pieces, look for substantial joint construction and that the entire piece is made of wood. Most pieces that are knock-offs or reproductions have particle board backing instead of the entire piece being teak, rosewood, etc.

Where are your favorite places to shop for home décor?

  • New York: Obscura Antiques, The Evolution Store, Hell’s Kitchen and GreenFlea Flea Markets
  • Palm Springs: a La MOD, 20 First Modern & Vintage, Swank, Palm Canyon Galleria, Retrospect
  • Sacramento: Scout, 57th Street Antique Mall, Antique Trove, Midway Antique Mall, The Antique Company, Fringe, monthly Antique Fair under the freeway
  • San Diego: Klassik , Antiques on Kettner, Newport Avenue Design Center, Solo
  • San Francisco: Stuff, Past Perfect, Paxton Gate,
  • Seattle: The Mod Fix, Lucca, Velocity Art & Design, Kobo at Higo
  • Ebay, Craigslist, 1st Dibs

What are some of your best finds? From where?

Furniture Piece: I pinch myself whenever I use my Vladimir Kagan coffee table. It’s from the Palm Springs estate sale of Lena Horne. I have the provenance on it and got it for a steal. It actually cost more to ship home than the actual purchase price but it’s worth every penny. It’s sensuous and beautiful and I tell my self that the nicks in the glass came from a Rat Pack stumble and bumble. Even better, it reminds me of my best friends who have shared some of my favorite memories of them being patient with me while I make them traipse through every MCM store in Palm Springs when they’d much rather be lazing around the pool.

Collectible: I also love a MCM glove mold I purchased at Obscura Antiques in NYC. I had been a fan of their TV show and really wanted to visit this quirky shop and its purveyors. I trekked about four miles in sub zero weather to the store on my way to dinner at WD-50. The shop is about the size of a closet and while there realized that Anthony Kiedis and Flea were there buying several pieces. It was funny to think of these two rockers as fans as well but they were. Sort of a cool movment that I got my $20 hand while they purchased a two-headed cow in formaldehyde.

Art Piece: My Leiroy Nieman Dressage serigraph. Horses have been in my blood since I was 5 years old. I also grew up with close family friends who collected Nieman’s work. I remember telling them when I was visiting once as a child that I liked the artist who “drew outside the lines”. That such scribbles could be so full of vibrancy and energy was thrilling to me. I had been trolling ebay for his horse related pieces but most were either post card size, prohibitively expensive, or focused on racing. I really wanted one of his Olympic jumping pieces or one of his basic equestrian pieces. After about 11 months, a piece came up. Amazingly, it is one of his extremely rare dressage pieces, my riding discipline, and it was absurdly priced at bargain-basement levels. I immediately snatched it up. It has been authenticated and comes with provenance from a woman in New Jersey cleaning out her aunt’s attic. It now hangs in a prominent space above my couch. Even better, another one recently came up at auction for over $3000, a good $2800 more than I paid for mine. Score!

Greatest achievement in your home? Biggest challenge?

I think my greatest achievement in my home is that it is functional. Every piece is used daily; there is no piece that is off limits because it is too valuable or fragile. MCM pieces were meant to be used and I use everything in my home. I also like that while there is a clear design sensibility to my home, it is not overly decorated. It feels lived in as if every piece was acquired over time and from different places, all of which have now found their rightful ‘home’ with me. My biggest challenge is constantly editing my collection so that I can bring in new pieces that add brightness to the overall feel of my home. I believe in displaying items in odd number groupings 1-3-5-7…I can tend to move beyond 3 of something in a series, like my coral collection or horse sculptures. I am not a hoarder but there are so many stunning pieces, I would need a warehouse to hold everything would love to collect about MCM. Luckily, there are magazines, blogs, and places to visit the exquisite examples that exist elsewhere.

 

Future goals/ projects?

At some point I would love to build a MCM house from scratch on a piece of property along the American River bluffs with enough room for my horse. There are actually many firms that do some pretty amazing MCM pre-fab that would work. And materials today are so focused on sustainable green living that ensuring a low carbon footprint in the home would also be a priority. I appreciate that MCM design is all about the intersection of form and function so I would not need a lot of space. I love the open concept of one room merging into the next. The continuity of MCM creates a ‘loft like’ feel that I miss from living in Seattle and San Diego but have found in the current house I rent. I’d love lots of glass to invoke the feeling of living in a tree house. I’d probably have floating doors to merge inside and out. Sacramento is a great place to create indoor and outdoor living spaces year round.

I have three current drool-inducing goals:

  1. I’m dying to get my hands on a George Nelson for Herman Miller or Paul McCobb floating library shelving unit.
  2. I’d also love the one two punch of a John Stuart teak daybed sofa and an Adrian Pearsell sofa with floating end tables
  3. The stuffed marlin hanging at Scout Living. I have the perfect place for it to ‘float’.

Do you have any home inspiration recommendations for our readers?

I recommend actually keeping an inspiration folder/binder/scrapbook. I keep a hanging file folder in the same drawer where I keep my ‘travel’ wish file and files for all of my purchases, including provenance information. My inspiration file includes photos I’ve taken of pieces in stores and museums, pages ripped from magazines with architectural, art, and design inspirations. I go back to it constantly to help re-imagine what I might do with pieces I currently have and inspire me to experiment as well. I also recommend using frames as a unifying element in all of your rooms. Even though I have different styles and mediums in the art I collect-watercolor, needlepoint, pastels, ink, oil, serigraph, etc-I unify them all by using the same silver frames. Mid Town Framing does all of my pieces in museum quality UV glass and I trust them so much, I can literally drop off a piece and say “Do what you do” and the matting choices will be absolutely perfect for that specific piece. Lofing Lighting is the same w/ my lamps and shades. I really believe in supporting local business. Again, establishing relationships is key. It’s also economical. I get excellent service and often discounts because I bring in repeat business and referrals. I also constantly ‘shop’ my own collections. This allows me to curate my collections and create vignettes and change the look in the house merely by how I choose to organize and display pieces. This pieces that didn’t necessarily ‘pop’ in one placement or collection do so in another place.

Advice and last words?

In terms of collecting and curating, I have three simple rules to live by:

  1. Establish relationships with quality dealers. Erin and Stefan at Scout Living know me and what I collect and for what I am looking. They are an extra set of eyes and ears to help me find that perfect gem. They never push something on me but they will also introduce me to new names or designs based upon what they know I currently have and to further push my learning. They let me ask questions and never condescend or trivialize my endless curiosity. They also are extremely generous about proving referrals and other connections in the MCM community. It really becomes more of a partnership based upon a common love of MCM.
  2. Buy it when you find it but wait for the right piece. Every single time I’ve seen a piece and thought to myself, “I’ll come back and get it tomorrow”, the piece was gone. I’ve lost out on a few to-die-for pieces because of not acting right then. But I also got my Kagan coffee table because I was in the right place at the right time even though I wasn’t looking for a table at that time. Snatch it up before someone else does! On the other hand, there have been times when I waited and instead of buying a particular piece right now, I waited for the right piece. For example, my buffet took me almost two years to find and was worth the wait. This is also where a relationship with a trusted dealer works to your advantage. I had described the exact specifications of the piece I had in mind and Erin and Stefan kept showing me possibilities. Nothing worked until one day I got the call that they had found ‘the piece’. It was perfect down to every last detail, as if I had drawn the plans and had it built to spec. Waiting, and having a trusted relationship with experts, made it possible to find. It is one of my most cherished pieces.
  3. Mix it up. I don’t think people should be married to only one style or design period. While I have an almost obsessive fetish for MCM, I also have Regency, Art Deco and even Salvation Army and other pieces that speak to my soul. I really embrace an element of quirkiness in my design. I have a rubber shark that cost me two bucks that is one of my favorite statement pieces. Another is a small needlepoint of a dog that reminds me of my beloved schnauzer, Sophie: cost me 50 cents. My coffee mug set of retro animals is garish but they are the exact set I watched my mom drink tea out of while growing up and remind me of lazy foggy Sundays reading on the couch curled up with her. The Design Police aren’t going to come and haul you away if you mix pieces and periods. If they do, I promise to post bail!

Thanks you so much for sharing your lovely home, Stacy. It made me come home and want to change my whole house. 

If you’re interested in having your home featured on the blog, shoot me an e-mail at: midmodlove@yahoo.com

Homes, Sweet Homes: Darrell

9 Sep

Who was nice enough to let us feature their home: Our dear reader, Darrell.

What they told us about the home: “It is a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, a hair under 800 sq feet, on the third floor of a 5 floor building, with a north facing elevation. It is 1 of 3 buildings in the complex. The first floor is commercial space and the 3 – 5 floors are residential space.  The Alexan Apartments is located on the corner of Alhambra Street and  S Street.  Living here is really convenient. I’m across the street from the Sacrament Natural Food CoOp, there’s a yoga studio downstairs if I want to get my ‘downdog’ on, a deli, and a nail salon. I’m also probably an easy 10 – 15 minutes bike ride away from ‘proper’ Midtown.”

Where is the home located: Midtown, Sacramento, California

When was the home built and when they moved in: “The apartment complex is brand new, I think its under 5 years old. And I’m probably sure it’s the newest complex in the downtown/midtown area.  From what I understand the entire complex was built to be sold as condominiums but when the economy tanked in 2009 the developer decided to convert the project to apartments.  I moved here from San Francisco a little over 2 years old.”

Why they chose this home: “I lived in some pretty old Victorians apartments in San Francisco and knew I wanted new construction in Sacramento. Things I had on my checklist were: central air,  garage disposal, dishwasher, in unit W/D – things that I lived without during my tenure in San Francisco.  The fact that this apartment has a brand new swimming pool was diffidently a big plus given want I heard about the Sacramento summer.”

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What attracted you to MCM design?

When I moved to Sacramento, and except for my bed, I lived in an empty apartment for probably three months.  Whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, I had an empty canvas to work it.  Oversized country-looking furniture wasn’t my thing, nor did I have a desire to live in an Ikea catalog.  I hate clutter and was immediately drawn to MCM design due to the clean and simply design.  Certain MCM design pieces, such as the Eames Lounge Chair, are also timeless, so I knew that when I move from one chapter in my life to the next, I can move pieces around and wouldn’t have a home that was stuck in a time capsule.

Favorite designers and biggest influences for your style?

Charles and Ray Eames, Ludiwg Mies Van Der Rohe, George Nelson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Schultz, and Eero Saarinen are a few of my favorite industrial designers and architects from the modern period.  A theme throughout their work that I appreciate is the use of simple forms and clean lines but also something unexpected either in the use of materials or color.

How do you feel about reproductions?

If you have any ambition to be a curator and your budget can handle it – Go Big or Go Home. I think there’s really nothing like having an original Eames lounge chair in your own living room if you can afford it.  The weight of the furniture, the small nicks and scratches, how the color of the wood may be a little off due to age, I feel these are markers of authenticity that you can’t get with a new brand reproduction, licensed or not.  But of course I’m no Bill Gates so I think reproduction in moderation is perfectly fine.

Furniture wise, what do you think is something you should invest in?

After a long day at work I like to be able to relax in front of my stereo system and listen to some music or just veg out in front of the TV so a comfortable coach is critical for me.  It’s something I know I’ll have for a few years and that I will use every day so I’m willing to spend a little more on it.

Where are your favorite places to shop for home décor?

Craigslist, Scout Living, Room & Board, H.D. Buttercup, West Elm, Blu Dot.

What are some of your best finds? From where?

My dining room table is probably my favorite Craigslist find.  The seller was this woman who finds and restores midcentury furniture for a hobby.  I got a great price for it and we had a “moment” sharing our thoughts on midcentury design.

Greatest achievement in your home? Biggest challenge?

My apartment is a little under 800 square feet and it has a north elevation so I get absolutely no natural sunlight. So the biggest challenge for me was to make the place feel more spacious and lighter than it really is.

Future goals/ projects?

I’ve been at my current place for about 1.5 years now and already outgrown the place so I’m looking to move into a bigger rental or make a purchase.  Apartment living is nice but it would be great to have more private outdoor space for the dogs and to entertain.

Do you have any home inspiration recommendations for our readers?

I’m a big fan of apartmenttherapy.com for practical design ideas and Dwell magazine for inspiration and plain day dreaming.

Advice and last words?

“A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.” Sydney Smith

Homes, Sweet Homes: Toni Okamoto

14 Jul

Who was nice enough to let us feature their home: Yours truly,  Ms. Toni Okamoto. I’m selling my darling home to make a move to the bay area, so I thought I’d show you guys what it looks like in case it sells.

What they told us about the home: It’s probably the cutest 1951, 833 sq ft tract home you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s a 2 bedroom/ 1 bathroom with original hardwood floors, original light fixtures and the previous owners (who had been there since 1964) left me the original metal cabinets as extra garage storage.

Where is the home located: Mangan Park, Sacramento, California

When was the home built and when they moved it: Built in 1951 and I moved in July 2010.

Why they chose this home: I started saving to buy a house when I was 22 years old and it took me about eight months to find anything that was more than half way decent. When you have a low budget it is extremely competitive because of investors. I found myself looking at places that were more like fun houses than homes, they had strange add-ons, unfinished rooms … I even went to a house that had a bathroom that was so skinny I had to turn side ways to get into.

When I found this house it was love at first sight. It had been on the market for one day and I put my bid in immediately. There were several other offers, but because of my Japanese last name and the family’s strong desire to keep the home in Japanese hands, they gave it to me. Here are a few photos of the previous family in the home: https://mimomito.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/back-in-the-day/

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What attracted you to MCM design? My fondness of 1950′s life began as a child. My dad had an awesome pompadour, both of my parents were into doo wop music and our first family vehicle was a black 1953 Chevy.  However, it wasn’t until I met my dear friend Gretchen (who has the most awesome home, by the way) that I really began to appreciate Mid-Century Modern design – in all regards.

Favorite designers and influences in design?

Of course I love all of the big names in mid century modern design, but I think it’s more important to name some of the people who are doing awesome local stuff: Brian Schmitt and his awesome clocks and mobiles, and Two Accordions and their totally awesome quilts are some of my current favorites. If I could afford either of them, I’d hoard all of their stuff.

How do you feel about reproductions?

Personally, I don’t own any reproduction furniture. I find that often times it’s actually a lot more expensive than buying authentic MCM pieces and I take pride in knowing that nothing in my house has cost more than $200 bucks (the credenza). Also, a couple years ago I made a New Year’s Resolution to not purchase any new material goods (with the exception of hygienic purposes and household supplies) and I have stuck to it. Of course it’s a lot easier for me since I’m in the business of resale, but it has saved me a lot of money and has given me piece of mind that I’m trying my best not to contribute to poor labor practices and landfill waste.

Furniture wise, what do you think you should invest in?

Everything in your kitchen. For me, the kitchen is the place of gathering and quality time with friends and family. I love preparing good meals with good quality cookware and then sharing it with my loved ones on my beautiful kitchen table.

What are your favorite places to shop for home decor?

I buy most of my stuff from estate sales or thrift stores, but when I’m looking for something particular I head to Scout Living or check out David and Rebecca’s stuff at Atomic Fantasy Vintage.

Best finds? From where?

Gosh, this is a tough one because I’m one thrifty mofo. To me, my kitchen table is priceless. I picked it up in Stockton, CA for $125 and it’s a 1950’s formica dinette in original, pristine condition. Second would have to be my sofa. I bought two sofas from the same owner on CList for $350 and then sold one of them for $300, making it only $50 bucks

Greatest achievement in your home? Biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is making your home exactly the way you want it. Having done this feature for the past couple years, I’ve found that people always say, “my house isn’t ready”, whether they’ve been there for six months or ten years. I’ve been in my home for two years and I’m constantly switching things around. I’ve gone through two dressers, three sofas, two kitchen tables, etc and I’m barely achieving  the vision that lives in my head.

Future projects?

Well, this is kind of a sad question because I’m moving. I love my home so much, but I need to satisfy my need for exploration and adventure while I’m still able.

Home inspiration recommendations?

This feature on our blog has inspired me in so many ways. The people we’ve met are so creative and wonderful, that I’m constantly being inspired.

Advice?

You don’t need to live in a 1959 time-capsule.

Through this feauture, I’ve been able to see so many houses that incorporate modern design, as well as highlight the owner’s personality and other interests. I know it doesn’t look like I follow my own advice, but if you knew me it would show that my 1950’s styled house actually does represent my style:)

 
If you’re interested in having your home featured on the blog, shoot me an e-mail at: midmodlove@yahoo.com

Benjamin Della Rosa Design and Illustration

16 May

Ben Della Rosa is definitely one of my favorite local graphic designers, and happens to be our dear Rose’s husband. You can spot his work all around the modern community in Sacramento: Eichlerific blog, Scout Living, Blockhouse Modern and even right here on Mimomito. He does screen printing at Interval Press, too!

Here are some of my favorite examples of work:

I’m so excited that I was able to do this interview with him. He is so talented and if you’re looking for someone to do exceptional graphic design work for you, hit him up!

What brought you into the world of design?

My High school art teacher; to be honest. Art and creativity played a major roll in my life since I was a kid and I always knew I wanted to do something that involved those, I just wasn’t sure in what capacity. My art teacher really helped me narrow down what I wanted to focus on and suggested I look into perusing an education in Graphic Design.

What do you like about vintage design?

I love the forms and colors in MCM illustration. A lot of the illustrators from that era they all just kind of broke the rules. Everything is really streamlined and simplified, that was the biggest draw for me.

When did mid century design begin influencing your personal style?

When I really started focusing on working with silkscreen in 2008 I naturally gravitated towards it. My love for MCM was always there but the specific limitations in the printing process served as an outlet for me.

What MCM era designers can you always count on to bring you inspiration?

I’m a big fan of Charley Harper, Aurelius Battaglia, Jim Flora.

Are there any modern designers that also inspire you?

Genndy Tartakovsky, Sanjay Patel, Hoefler & Frere-Jones, Billy Baumann

Why do you choose to screen print instead of something easier?

I certainly have a have a love hate relationship with silkscreening, but I don’t think there was ever a choice for me. I do it because I like to create with my hands, it’s nice to get into the studio and talk with my colleagues and get messy after sitting in my office at my computer all day. I like to be able hold things in my hands, feeling the texture of ink on paper and the uniqueness of every print these are all things that are lost to digital mediums or a digital print. I would said that’s the main reason why I print, the trend that design is moving in these days is web, and the thought of not being able to work with my hands makes me sad.

What other mediums would you like to work in?

I would love and hope to someday soon be able to work with a letter press. I’d also like to work with motion graphics.

What are some of the favorite pieces you’ve done?

Man that’s like being asked to pick your favorite child. Although here are a several posters and identities that I feel pushed me as a designer: Garrett Pierce, Evan Bailey, Let Freedom Bling, CRA Holiday Card Animation, Indigan, Davepops, and Scout Living.

Are you currently accepting new clients?

I’m always excited to work with new clients, especially those who want to create something fun and memorable.

Homes, Sweet Homes: Julian

23 Apr

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

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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!

If you’re interested in having your home featured on the blog, shoot me an e-mail at: midmodlove@yahoo.com

Homes, Sweet Homes: Scott and Meong

31 Mar

Who was nice enough to show us around: Scott and Meong.

Scott was nice enough to e-mail me and generously offer his home for your viewing. :)

 What they told us about their home: An amazing 3 1/2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom Streng home designed by Carter Sparks.

 Where is the home located: Williamson Ranch, Elk Grove, California

When was the home built and when they moved in: The home was built in 1978 and they moved in 1995.

Why they chose this home: Scott and Meong own a business which provides residential care facilities for the elderly called Camelot Care Homes and when they first decided to shop for their first home for their business, they found their Streng. They loved it so much that they purchased it for themselves and gave up their previous home for their business.

Photos by Serene

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What attracted you to MCM design?

I’m a mid-century modern design myself. I was born in the mid 50’s, so I grew up with it. My uncle had a “sputnik” chandelier in his entry way and I was always intrigued by it – very space age, which was the theme back then. Much of the news had to do with the space race and every day items began to take on the characteristics of satellites, and real or imagined space ships. Anyone born around that time has it in their DNA. The clean lines, the sleek, uncluttered design – it’s very appealing. When we bought our Streng home it was a very gradual process learning about MCM design. And then we bought some George Nelson bubble lamps and things sort of  took off from there.

Favorite designers and biggest influences for your style?

George Nelson, Eames, Noguchi, Arne Jacobson, Saarinen all the usual suspects. We like mid-century modern and modern very much. As for our modern furniture, the Jesse wall unit and bookcase and Bonaldo couch are all Italian design.  I was also very influenced by Zen Buddhism in my 20’s so the concept of simplicity is still important to me.

How do you feel about reproductions?

I have much respect for anyone who is willing to track down an original – (plug in any of the names in the previous paragraph).  To find something from that era that is still in presentable and serviceable condition, or to re-hab it until it is, takes a lot of time, work, dedication and usually money.

My Eames sofa compact, Nelson marshmallow sofa, and Noguchi table are all authentic and license originals but were produced recently rather than in the 40’s or 50’s.  Some collectors frown on this and only consider the old production runs authentic.  The benefit is that you are getting the item in brand new condition and it’s created by usually using the original machines, materials and production process.

I also have high quality reproductions of the Barcelona chair and the Jacobson egg chair that I found on the Internet and a pretty decent knock-off of the Eames Lounge chair that I bought at Scandinavian furniture.  The high end reproductions are so good that only an expert could tell that it is not authentic, and the quality is often right up there with the original.  You’re saving thousands of dollars and still getting some very cool furniture!

Furniture wise, what do you think you should invest in?

Whatever you like and can afford.  If your budget is really limited, save up for one nice piece that really knocks you out.  Make it your centerpiece and build from it.  It’s fun to see the puzzle gradually come together.

What are your favorite places to shop for home décor?

I miss Design Within Reach, which closed in mid-town a few years ago.  The nearest one now is in Palo Alto in the Bay Area.  Try Scandinavian furniture, Ikea, Scout Living, and my favorite – Midway antiques on Madison, which features Google Time – the owner has lots of great MCM stuff – especially Danish, Lumens and Limns round off the list but don’t forget the internet as well.  Atomic Ranch magazine has lots of interesting advertisers and some nice websites.

What are some of your great finds?  From where?

I had been searching for years to find a proper cabinet to store my cd and dvd collections (yes, I know there are some younger readers asking, “What on earth is a cd and a dvd?”)  I know these are going the way of the dinosaurs and record albums, but damnit, I have much more music than I can ever store in my iPod and lots of great movies that want and need to be stored and displayed properly!  On that note, the high-end storage units at Ikea allow you to “design it yourself”, and the quality is excellent.  A very modern design as well.

We had also been looking for dining table chairs, and were resigned to spending $300-$400 each when I discovered some very retro/modern molded plastic chairs that went perfectly in our dining room.  The best part is that they were only $99 each. Once again Ikea came through for us.

Greatest achievements in your home?  Biggest challenge?  Future goals, projects?

My wife and I are happy with how mid-century modern, modern, Asian and tropical all work together to create a harmonious but exciting space.

Our biggest challenge is being patient in this economy.  During the go-go years we would just spend the money if it was there or not.  Lately we just save and plan carefully for the next purchase.

Proper lighting is a very important part of a modern home.  Unfortunately Carter Sparks didn’t have room for any crawl space or attic so it is very expensive and time consuming when our friend the electrician comes out.  Instead of just cutting holes and dropping in fixtures from above, all wiring has to be threaded blindly through insulation, fire blocks, and strangely place joists from below.  We still need lots of canned lighting throughout the house to highlight artwork and furniture pieces.  A big section of glassblock is dying to go up in the master bedroom.  The bathrooms need a complete remodel and so does the kitchen.  Ouch!!

 Do you have any home inspiration recommendations for our readers?

Yes.  Just keep plugging away.  To me it is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  Some sections are easy to complete, others come together only after you have completed a different section.

 Advice and last words?

Have fun with it!

Thanks to Scott and Meong. I absolutely love what you’ve done with your home!

If you’re interested in having your home featured on the blog, shoot me an e-mail at: midmodlove@yahoo.com

Happy Birthday Serene!!!

13 Mar

We <3 you!

Atomic Ranch: Midcentury Interiors

8 Mar
Are you as excited about this book as we are?! The editor of the book, Jim Brown, was nice enough to do a short interview with Mimomito about his involvement with Mid Century Modernism and the launch of their new book, Atomic Ranch: Midcentury Interiors. Enjoy reading it and then go to the Atomic Ranch page and buy this pup.
Here is what to expect:
Explore eight fantastic ranch interiors in depth, from warm moderns and split-levels to tract homes and a retro traditional in our newest book. Regionally diverse, locations include East and West Coasts, as well as Cincinnati, Tulsa and Dallas. Homeowners share their experiences with economical finishes and furnishings to adding on a master suite and reworking a tight floor plan. Sidebars on vintage vs. original kitchens and baths, window replacement, paint colors and more give you plenty of inspiration for your own home.
Seriously, everything that Atomic Ranch does is golden. If you haven’t already, check out their current issue! It has a very large spread of Dane’s (from Sacramento Modern) gorgeous Eichler.
First off, how long have you been interested in Mid-Century design, and when did you realize there was a demand for print-form inspiration?

 

My big midcentury moment came when I was a freelance car photographer in Los Angeles and I landed the job to cover in Palm Springs the March 2001 Raymond Loewy Event, commemorating the 40-year anniversary of Loewy’s design of the Avanti automobile.  It was a weekend of exhibits and conferences and the organizers were based at the Orbit In; I had a room there, too. I was surrounded by midcentury furnishings, the exhibit was based at the (current) Visitors Center (an Albert Fry design) and there was a brunch at Lowey’s Fry-designed home in Palm Springs.  It was a total immersion in midcentury, something I was aware of (since I’m that age),  but never really articulated.It took several years for that to percolate and finally, in 2003 my wife Michelle (Gringeri-Brown) and I felt we could make a magazine dedicated to midcentury homes and homeowners. We both came  from magazine backgrounds, so we never considered any other format. Michelle had worked for many years on an Arts and Crafts-era magazine (American Bungalow) and my whole career as a photographer had been in editorial magazines (HotRod, Motor Trend, Car&Driver, Sunset).

 

Living our whole lives in southern California, working at/attending Art Center College of Design, and growing up during that time period, we were surrounded by midcentury but until that ‘moment’ it wasn’t something special that called for intense attention.  But then, once we opened our eyes, we saw it everywhere and knew it would be an interesting story.

 

Your last book is one of my absolute favorites; and it also featured fellow Sacramentans, Tony and Donna. How does it feel to have sold over 20,00 copies? What were your original expectations?

 

 I’m glad you liked Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes (quite a long title, huh?). Tony Natsoulas and his wife Donna (he’s a crazy creative ceramicist) drew us to Sacramento to photograph his Streng and they hooked us up with Paul Torrigino and Richard Guiterrez who also own a Streng. It was interesting to see the variation from the standard Eichler design.

 

It’s great that our first book keeps selling after six years; it’s in its sixth printing. People who now come to our magazine and find that the early issues are sold out have the opportunity to see many of the same houses in a shortened form in the book. That first book is a broad survey of the topic; it illustrates the major characteristics of the architecture and shows the commonality of ranches despite the wide geographic range. That’s really been our main theme from the beginning — good ranches can be found almost everywhere.

 

 Through your books, do you continue to draw inspiration for your own personal home style? 

 

 More like drawing envy from all the homes I’ve visited. I wish we could start acquiring art for our ranch like I see in the featured homes.  We’re still changing our furnishings, finding what works for us and our pets and editing what we don’t need.  We’re fairly minimalist in our aesthetic and really not into collecting “things.”

 

What do you hope readers gain from your newest book, Atomic Ranch: Midcentury Interiors?

 

For Atomic Ranch: Midcentury Interiors, I hope that in addition to seeing that ranches are everywhere, people will appreciate styles that perhaps don’t speak viscerally to them but still fit within the midcentury framework and have value.  To a broader audience, the people who never even considered a ranch before, I hope they’ll see how practical and beautiful they can be. We limited the book to just eight homes,  but those eight were carefully selected for stylistic and geographical diversity and also that each had enough depth to support 20-24 pages of coverage. After reading the whole book, I hope that people are inspired by the ideas they see and also use the tools and resources the text provides to emulate the midcentury look.

Homes, Sweet Homes: David and Rebecca Take Two

6 Mar

Who was nice enough to let us in their home: Our wonderful friends, David and Rebecca. I met them when I was selling at the 57th St Antique Mall, and shortly after, they invited Mimomito to take a peek at their super awesome apartment in San Francisco. Since then, they’ve redefined their style and transformed their place into a more sophisticated, playful home.

Also,they’re awesome MCM dealers at “Stuff“. Check out their page on Facebook @Atomic Fantasy Vintage.

Here is what they had to say from their original interview:

What they told us about the home:

David: It’s better on the inside than the outside.

Rebecca: We live in a two bedroom flat in a four unit Victorian building. What this truly means is a long hallway with lots of rooms lining that hallway.

Where is the home located:

David: On the border of Strollerberg and Hipsterville (Noe Valley/Dolores Heights, San Francisco).

When was the home built and when they moved in:

David: Built circa 1907, directly post-earthquake. Moved in January 2007.

Why they chose this home:

David: It had parking. And malleable character.

Rebecca: David was already living here when we decided to move in together. And his place was larger than mine at that time.

Photos by Jake Conroy

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It’s been over a year since we last saw your home, what’s new?

D: Nothing is new. Everything we have is old. Room and Board has new furniture. You could try them.

R: She means what’s different. The decorating bug really stung us this year, so pretty much every room is different.

D: I thought it was the hoarding bug.

R: Probably, yes. But to answer your question, our pair of Italian MCM chairs with geometric cushions arrived a few months back. We got them at the Alameda Antique Faire from our friend Dennis who is a dealer there. We also have a reproduction George Nelson marshmallow sofa that we found on Craigslist, and our pretty nifty tiki lights in the kitchen (a gift from our friend Bev!)

Would you say your style has changed since then? If so, how and what new influences inspire you?

R: Looking back on last year’s photo shoot I feel that our collecting has matured.

D: Our collecting has matured into an illness. Like gambling, except there isn’t any winning involved.

R: We used to be into anything kitsch. The kitschier the better. We still love buying things that make us laugh, but our focus has shifted towards functionality and durability. Since I restore furniture, this means more to me than ever.

D: Mimomito inspires us. When we see the beautiful homes of others featured, with their comfortable and artful sense of arrangement, it reminds us how nice it is to be strategic in furnishing and less haphazard. Then we curse them bitterly for having taste and restraint that we lack.

R: Seriously, Jon & Jose’s feature last year inspired the wall of Starburst clocks in our bedroom. Of course, they were more subtle, only clustering a few clocks here and there instead of covering an entire wall as we did. But then, they are normal and not hoarders like us.

Do you have a favorite new addition?

D: I like the color organ, which is on one of the speakers in the front room. For you young’ns who don’t know what that is, it’s lights in a box with a corrugated plastic face. The different colors respond to low, middle and high frequencies from the speaker connector. We watched that while listening to ELO albums. It was our entertainment. Also, we had to walk ten miles in the snow back then, to get to school. Without shoes. And there was no such thing as breakfast.

R: I have been collecting Franciscan Starburst for a few years. I received a spoon rest as a gift recently. It made me happy.

D: We got a pair of really cool modern cube end tables with dark glass tops at Scout Living, which is the best place to shop on earth. Also we just (yesterday at Alameda) got a circa 1958 RCA Victor Deluxe television on a stand with wheels. We’re going to have a party so everyone can come over and watch static.

Since your last interview, have you found any new places to shop (in-store or online) that you’d like to share?

R: Our car now has a homing device set to Scout Living. We also end up going back to Sebastopol quite often, so it’s also a favorite.

D: We just went shopping in Chico for the first time, and came back with some groovy lamps. And I got a gumball machine. There is also this site called eBay which has old stuff. The pickings are waning there though. Something about imminent implosion…

R: We should also mention Stuff since it wasn’t around when we were last featured. The turquoise metal cabinet in our bathroom was purchased there.

Is there a specific piece or item that you’re looking for that you still haven’t found? If so, what are you using instead?

R: I would love to find a small Danish credenza that could be used as a cabinet to store David’s stereo equipment. Preferably one that has already been adapted for this purpose since I would hate to drill holes in a beautiful piece of furniture. Oh, and a Hans Wegner Bear chair.

D: I’m looking for a black ceramic hanging lamp, to replace the one I broke with my head. It looked like a beautiful black moon, hovering in the air, anchoring the one slender thread of purposeful decorating in the apartment. When it broke, I just kept looking down at the pieces on the floor with disbelief. Now we have a green and yellowish globe lamp in its place, which resembles a Death Star decorated with hearts. It’s no moon, though.

R: I really do not think David has been the same since he killed our lamp. Luckily, he’s hard headed.

What are things that are always on your radar for your home?

R: Plant stands particularly bullet planters and multicolor Formica stands. It has become a bit of an obsession for me. Now if only I had a green thumb.

D: I would like to find the ONE missing piece (white bishop) for the Austin Enterprises 1962 chess set. I also want a Wham-O Magic Window.

R: Drinking glasses with carriers. Tumblers, mainly. After clustering them on a bookshelf we realized how stylish they were, especially since each caddy is slightly different.

Tell us more about your collections.

D: They exist in a quantifiable state common to inanimate objects. Most (well, all) of the items in our collections are composed of molecules, which in turn consist of atoms of various types, depending on the compound(s) involved. It is possible that they are represented in an infinite number of parallel dimensions in forms that may or may not resemble what we collectively perceive. Should I tell them more, or is that good?

R: That’s probably good.

D: Also, some things are shiny.

R: Okay. We have started collecting soda advertisement memorabilia. It started after stumbling upon a collector’s retirement sale of advertisement clocks in Healdsburg a couple of years back. It has now expanded to include signs, bottles, and cans. Even with rust, each is a work of art. The funny thing is that we don’t even drink soda.

You sell at Stuff in San Francisco – how do you decide what to keep and what to sell?

R: The beauty of becoming MCM dealers is that we can proudly come out as non-committal hoarders. It has become a joke among our friends…

D: I still don’t have any friends.

R: Okay, a joke among my friends is that our apartment is ever changing. I have lost track of how many coffee tables circulated between our living room and Stuff. If we get bored with something we know it will eventually find a new home. But to answer your question, I think the choice declares itself in time.

D: I’m working on a system for keeping everything and still generating sales revenue. It involves tracking all purchases and then hiring thugs to steal back what we’ve sold. This can only work if the cost of theft remains manageable. Does anyone want to buy a super nice pair of table lamps? Email me your info, and I’ll send you a photo.

In Haiku form, please tell me about your love for Mid Century Modern design.

D:
Oh you pointy legs!
What flame you ignite in hearts
Anachronistic

R: Yeah, what he said.

Do you have any future goals for your home or as MCM dealers?

R: My aspiration is to transform our front sitting room into a swank lounge.

D: I’d like to write and produce a musical in which all of the characters are MCM pieces. When the spotlight hits that little dresser, and the sweeping ballad starts, the tears are gonna well up in your eyes.

Thanks so much to Rebecca and David for the constant support from the beginning. We <3 you!

If you’re interested in having your home featured on the blog, shoot me an e-mail at: midmodlove@yahoo.com

Furry Furniture Friends: Hola Gallo!

29 Feb

Just picked this beauty up for FREE in sac and Gallo (our dog) loves it. We live in Roseville and love your site and the things you do for mid century lovers.

-Kassie

Gallo is so adorable. And so is that awesome sofa. What a score!

Show off your cute animal companions (hanging out on your MCM furniture) by sending us photos and maybe a little blurb about how awesome they are. Send them over to: midmodlove@yahoo.com

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