Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home

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A No-Cost Master Bedroom Facelift

It’s been ages, but you may remember that last summer I posted a series of mood boards of our master bedroom in an attempt to find a bit of inspiration.  I settled on a soothing monochrome that was as far from our current technicolor palate as could be and decided to take us from this:


to this:
Actual bedroom

My main problem–aside from the rather garish décor we were currently rockin’–was that I didn’t have any money to fund an overhaul. But that issue resolved itself when I started to unload what was already in the space. The bedroom dressers and night stands went for $900, the headboard for $100, the Ikea cube shelf for $75, and my DIY owl lamps (remember those!?) for another $30.

Around this same time we scored a new rug for the living room for $75 (my husband thinks says it “fell off a truck” … meaning, I suppose, that he bought it from someone in a dark alley after midnight) and which we’ve since re-sold for $125 (score!).  So the cream shag living room rug went into our room, the rainbow rug went to Logan’s room, and Logan’s green Ikea Hampen rug was sold for $25.  So we actually profited $75 on all the rug swapping.  Of course I then had to buy yet another rug for the living room, but that’s another post. Confused? Here, I whipped up this handy graphic to simplify it confuse you more.


There. That’s settled.

Aaaanyway, long story sort, but the time I finished selling every thing off we had $1180 to play with and keep this makeover ‘free’ … and I only spent $985!   So, without further ado here’s where we stand today.


My poor fiddle leaf fig has been clinging to those last four leaves for a year (remember how lovely it once was??) … it’s a slow death.


Yes, we have cords. *gasp!* And my husband has a sleep apnea machine, sue me.  I’m such a bad blogger. *eye roll.*

The botany prints aren’t the deep blue I was hoping for, but they’ll do. The yellow pillows look better in person, I promise. The unit with the books is actually comprised of four pieces.  I love it. And I love that it was free.


I am thrilled with the mis-matched vintage pieces here.  It gives the room a bit of a bohemian vibe that is simple yet comfortable. I appreciate a design that allow you to make mistakes (because I am far from perfect!) and this set up is definitely very forgiving.


I picked up this enormous mounted tapestry at a thrift store.  I purchased it with the plans to recover it, but it’s growing on me! That little bamboo plant was turning yellow (probably because I had it hidden behind a tv??) so I moved it to the bathroom.

LOVING our new white paint job too.  Everything feels so much brighter and just cleaner — I can’t even begin to tell you. The ‘amour’ sign is actually gone now. My elephant is here to stay awhile though.

Here’s how it broke down:

Upholstered bed: $385, Overstock
Linen duvet and shams: $100, H&M
Knoll credenza: Free, inherited
Brasilia nightstand: $125, vintage and worth every penny
No-name MCM nightstand: $25, purchased vintage a couple years ago
No-name MCM sideboard: Free, Craigslist*
Lamps: $60, HomeGoods
Art prints: $40, HomeGoods
Curtains and thermal liners: $250, Ikea

*We actually picked this up as part of a 6 piece set–all free!–and the rest is still hanging out in our garage while I figure out what to do with it.

So yeah, it’s not magazine worthy or anything–and iPhone pictures are what they are–but I’m digging it. It definitely feels more restful and welcoming and just more …me.

A Gaetano Sciolari Chandelier


When we purchased our home a 2 years ago we inherited two vintages pieces that bring out polarizing opinions from anyone who visits.  Some love the wrought iron piece above our fireplace while others hate it.


There is a signature on this piece that says “Levitt”.  In what looks to be silver Sharpie, but is probably silver paint.  I’ve not been able to locate any information on it, nor have I found one even remotely similar.

Some say our chandelier is wonderfully retro and others find it gaudy.


Personally, I’m not absolutely in love with either of them, but I don’t find them overly offensive either.  Which is why they’re both still prominently displayed 2+ years later.  I don’t think about them much — they’ve just become part of the landscape — but when I do, I’ve passively tried to research their beginnings.


Yesterday, while Googling “vintage + Lucite + brass + chandelier” (I swear for the hundredth time), I stumbled on Italian designer Gaetano Sciolari.  The masterpieces that caught my eye weren’t the same as ours, but they were similar enough that I jumped down the Google rabbit hole and started researching his lighting designs.  This is the design that caught my eye.



And then I found it.


Our chandelier.  Listed for $3,500.  A Gaetano Sciolari Chandelier.  And it’s not Lucite … its Italian crystal. Hot damn.


(I know I owe you a post on this fabulous china cabinet. We just picked it up last weekend and I am IN LOVE. I am also obsessed with finding new chairs for the table. OBSESSED.  I have so many ideas to share — hint: vintage + metal)

Anyway, not knowing our chandelier’s value I had been contemplating a variety of fixtures for above this space.  The Firefly II light at CB2 caught my eye.  I feel as though it would fill the space in this giant room a bit better than the Sciolari.  And I have a handsome gift card for Crate&Barrell/CB2/LandofNod so I’m still heavily leaning that way.


All I know is that we need a fixture with multiple bulbs — since the space is so vast it can easily feel too dark.  And I want it to be a statement piece so that it will draw your eye all the way across the room when you walk in.  At the same time I don’t want it to completely block any artwork we hang on the back wall like a saucer light would.

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(1) Popsugar (2) Apartment Therapy, original source unknown (3) Best of Interiors (4) Houzz (5) Euro Style Lighting (6) Modfrugal

And I just realized that almost all my picks are brass … interesting.

The last one is a DIY, which is tempting … but intimidating.  And you know as well as I do that I’d never get around to actually making it.  I can’t even get around to washing my hair most days.

My husband says sell it and I have to say I’m inclined to agree …

So, fine readers.  What would you do?

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Gordon E. Sugar — Custom Home Builder

I stumbled on the obituary of our home’s builder this morning and thought I would share it here.  This is my 100th post here at Mid-Century Modern(ization) so it seemed fitting.  Gordon Sugar built and lived in the home two doors down from us — I believe until his death as the home sold just over a year later.

As published in the Baltimore Sun, February 21st, 2000:

Gordon E. Sugar, 79, custom home developer

Gordon E. Sugar, a developer of custom homes for 50 years and one of the first to build outside the Beltway in Baltimore County, died Friday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of complications from pneumonia. The Stevenson resident was 79.

Through his company, Gordon E. Sugar Inc., he built several hundred houses in the Stevenson Road area, starting in the late 1940s. Most of the houses featured nearly flat roofs and glassed-in areas, and made use of the landscape.

“He wanted to be able to see outside. He loved light and trees,” said his daughter, Susan Sugar Nathan of Ruxton.” Each home was unique to the site it was on.

“His focus was his work and his family,” she said.

In the late 1960s, he built Stevenson Village, an apartment complex that is now condominiums. Twenty-three years ago, he started Pomona, a complex on the former Hutzler estate off Reisterstown Road. It includes gardens, mid-rise apartments and a commercial center.

Born in Bennettsville, S.C., he moved to Baltimore when he was a child. He graduated from Forest Park High School.

He served in the Navy in World War II, spending about two years in Africa.

He married Lucille Waldman in 1951.

He enjoyed swimming, skiing and tennis, as well as traveling.

Private funeral services were held yesterday.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by two grandchildren.

This is the obituary of a man I never met, but who continues to touch our lives on a daily basis nearly two decades after his death.  We live in one of his custom homes, we shop at the farmer’s market at Pamona which he built, and often grab breakfast at a café and even see a dentist at Stevenson Village — a charming little shopping center that he created — nestled just up the road in Greenspring Valley.  Hats off you, Mr. Sugar.

Photo courtesy of Stevenson Village.

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Moodboards to the Rescue

Many apologies for the long absence.  The hiatus was three fold:

1) Having the house was FINALLY painted from ‘meh’ back to white was a long and trying process.  The change, while striking in person, is hard to document in photos since most my readers already assumed the dingy ‘meh’ color coating everything from doors, baseboards, ceilings and closets WAS white (many thanks to iphone filters!).  So, no reveal post for you, though you can check out this post wherein I did a small progress update and highlighted a couple feature walls.  I will show you this though — we painted our door Bermuda Blue to match the fireplace.  Love.


2) We’re starting to slow down in the frequency of our projects.  The more we get our house feeling like a home, the less compelled we I feel to continue tweaking it.  Don’t get me wrong, this place is far from magazine worthy, but there are more important things in the word.  Which brings me to…

3) Little Miss Quinn was born. This all-consuming bundle of smiles completed our family with her arrival in March.  She must have been born with some respect for home improvements because she arrived the very day our painted crew finished!  (living in a construction zone at 40 weeks pregnant is no joke, y’all!)


Needless to say, she and her brother have taken a good bit of our time an energy lately — we haven’t even paused to rehang the artwork throughout the house in the aftermath of the Great Painting Project of 2015.  Well, except in her nursery.   Clearly this picture was taken while the painting was still underway, but I love how this room came together — you can check out my mood board for it in this post.  I call it ‘tribal glam’.


But now that things are settling down I’ve become consumed with redecorating the master bedroom. I’m not even sure redecorating is the right word here since I never really decorated it to begin with, so you can imagine it was in need of an overhaul.  This is where I left off with the master on the blog — aside from that rug moving to Logan’s room (read about that here) it hasn’t changed a bit since 2013.


In spite of all the windows and aside for first thing in the morning, this east facing room is very dark because of the huge evergreens in the back yard. We painted the walls and ceilings bright white (lighter rooms in the house were painted a grey-white, see the nursery above) in an attempt to get the light to bounce around in there a bit more and I’m happy to say that it worked!  I was stuck, in more ways than one, with the dark furniture though. The two night stands, 8 drawer dresser, and highboy were a gift from my mom when we purchased our first house and are of exceptional quality. Unfortunately, my taste has evolved considerably since then and I was really struggling to make them work here. Being the visual person that I am, I made some moodboards to try and spark some ingenuity and I came up with a couple contenders. Does anyone else love moodboards at much as I do?!

master bedroom green

master bedroom grey&blue

Master Bedroom Inspiration

They were each great in their own way,  but I felt like I was trying too hard to inject bold colors into the room in an effort to overcome the dim lighting and the dark furniture when really what I craved was a calm and airy space. It took a while for me to admit it, but I realized that I needed to get over my guilt of unloading this bedroom set and just bite the bullet. So I’m doing it, I’m selling this wonderful 4 piece set and replacing it with a some mixed and matched pieces that really speak to me.  And so, a new moodboard was born!

Actual bedroom

Everything pictured above I actually already have — I just haven’t fully assembled it all in reality for a real photo yet. The rug we already owned, and the lamps ($39 each) and artwork ($29 each) I found at HomeGoods and purchased with store credit. The duvet ($99) is from H&M, but I used a coupon codes for free shipping and 15% off.  The curtains are the same ones as are in our living room and are from Ikea ($150 for four panels including the thermal liners), and the furniture are vintages pieces that I have collected. Oh, and I still think that DIY pipe bookshelf would be amazing (right now we have one of those 16 cube Ikea shelves on that wall — in black of course!).

I am absolutely in LOVE with how the warm wood tones work with the grey bedding to make such a welcoming space.  With the black furniture it was just too stark, but toss in some vintage pieces and a couple blue accents and I think it’s perfect.  I am tickled with my new vintage finds — a Broyhill Brasilia nightstand that I got for a song (the one on the right) and the Knoll credenza which is a family heirloom.  All told, this redo is only costing us $373 — almost half of which went to my Brasilia spurge item (soooo worth it!!) and the other half to the curtains which, with our harsh winters, were a necessity item anyway.  And let’s not forget the sale of the bedroom set which should fetch upwards of $800 and thus put money in our pocket when all is said and done.  Man, I love makeovers that pay me in the end!

I can’t wait to get it all set up.  Is it the weekend yet?!


A Painted House

The painting is happening, the painting is happening!!


We knew when we moved in (back in July of 2013) that we were going to have to hire professionals to paint the interior of the house.  EVERY surface was painted the same pale yellow/beige — not just the walls but the baseboards, ceilings, doors, closets, brick, beams, EVERYTHING — and it’s been estimated that the last time the house was painted was upwards of 20 years ago so you can imagine what wonderful condition it was in.



I had started trying my hand at a few small spaces, but invariably I would get overwhelmed and would quit nearly as quickly as I had started.  The laundry room for instance has had one primed wall for well over a year! There’s just SO much patching and repair work to be done, that it just wasn’t feasible for us to do it while working full time and taking care of a toddler.


But look at it now!  (sorry for the crappy fun-house photo)


We’ve even taken the opportunity to do a little overhaul on this bathroom … removed the handicap bar and replaced the toilet paper holder, towel holder, mirror and light fixture.  Perhaps best of all we got the sink hooked up so it actually has running water (yeah… we’ve not been able to wash hands in this room for at least 6 months — thank goodness for hand sanitizer! Eww, I know).  Here’s a before shot — full reveal to come!


Look at that door jam.  Do you see how dirty this place has felt? It’s now starting to feel so fresh and clean!!

Financially, it wasn’t in the cards to get the place painted before we moved in, but oh how much easier that would have been!  We’re on day 9 of rooming in with our 3-4 person painting crew and it’s such a mess, but at least the end is finally in sight!  The reason we decided to pull the trigger on the interior painting now?  Well, today is the first day of spring and it’s looking like this outside.


And contractors are hurting.  Bad for them, but good for homeowners!  On a whim I decided to get another quote (I’ve become a serial quote collector — historically they’ve ranged from $8-$12k!!) and was delighted when it came in WELL below previous figures.  Thank you, snow!

Oh, and the other hurdle we’re facing?  Baby #2 is due in 4 days. Yes, this is nesting at its finest! People said we were crazy to embark on this project right now (a due date is just an estimate after all!), but after talking about it we realized we just couldn’t pass up such a good deal.  So here we are …



The house is in chaos, but I’m finding such serenity in white ceilings, doors, and frames. :)


Today is supposed to be the last full day of painting and then the crew will come back one day next week to take care of any odds and ends that we spot.  Which means this weekend will be spent deep cleaning and putting the house back together.  Yes, even with this belly.


But I don’t care, because I’m too busy doing my happy dance and shouting good riddance to the beige!


Upcycling a Vintage School Desk

We’ve had this little school desk forever — well, actually Kirk has had it forever.  Apparently he used to do his homework at this desk when he was a kid!   When we lived in our craftsman bungalow and I always figured I’d strip, sand, and restore it.  Well, I never got around to it (although I did dust it off!) and times changed so this period piece doesn’t really fit with the aesthetic of our new abode anymore.  And we have kids now, so I decided it was time to paint it and give it a little refresher so it can be used for yet another generation.

Kirk's desk before

It was a spontaneous project — about 20 minutes after I put Logan down for his nap my eye caught this desk and I thought, “I can’t stand that thing for another minute.”  It resides in our living room and Logan does “work” at it pretty frequently, but really, it was an eye sore.  So I grabbed what was left from when I painted the kitchen wall navy and decided to give it a go.


It took two coats, and I still need to poly the top for durability (and maybe wax the rest), but I think it looks SO much better.  It’s a really dark navy — it almost looks black in this room which is odd because the wall in the kitchen never looks black!  It really pops off the white brick now and I think it plays well with the adjacent Bermuda Blue brick wall, too.  The navy wall in the kitchen is just out of frame though a door to the right and the navy bicycle print is only a small bit away as well — I like that they all tie in together.


Anyway, I just wanted to share this little update with you all because I’m totally smitten … and not just because when Logan noticed he said, “Ohhh!!! Mommy! You did this for me?! THANK you!”. :)


2014 House Resolutions — Pass or Fail?

In January of this year I made a list of resolutions for our then-new abode (read about them here).   It included projects that were begging for attention, projects that had stalled, and projects that I just thought would be fun.  Care to wager which of those project categories actually saw completion over the last 12 months?  Well, it’s now December and it’s time to come clean and share with you how we fared.

1) Get rid of the last of the wall paper.  At first I thought I’d actually did this one, but then I walked over to check and realized that, nope. The closet doors near the garage still have the fuzzy beige wallpaper backing.  In fact, the walls in that hallway still have traces wallpaper glue on them, too. It’s funny how when you walk by something every day you just start to accept it and don’t even notice the flaws anymore. FAIL.


2) Paint the kitchen/laundry/half bath.  Nope. Nope. Nope.  I did paint the paneled wall navy and that made a HUGE difference.  I also did some drywall patching.  One wall in the laundry room got a coat of primer and half the brick wall in the kitchen was refreshed.  Yep, half a wall.  Even my toddler pointed this out to me the other day.  “Mommy, you painted this?  But not this??”  This is another FAIL.



3) Address the kitchen and the yellow bathroom floors.  Ahh!  I did this one!  It was a month of pure hell, but we got new VCT floors in the kitchen, laundry room and half bath.  And we love them.  The yellow bathroom?  Yeah, not so much.  Every once in a while I look for deals on carpet squares to replace that weird patch of loose carpet in the sink area, but haven’t found anything great yet.  And I have no idea what to do about the missing yellow ceramic tiles.  For now we just cover them with a bath mat.  Out of sight out of mind!  I’m going to be generous and give myself a PASS on this one because even though I didn’t complete the bathroom floors at least I’m still actively thinking about it — which is more than I can say about that wall paper…



4) Address the fireplace situation.  Another PASS!!  This one was actually a pretty fun project.  I decided to paint the brick around the fireplace Bermuda Blue and it looks fantastic.  We get compliments on it all the time.  I even painted the brass fireplace surround a matte black which was oh so necessary.  My mom is still getting on my case about doing something with that iron art piece, but I think other than giving it a good cleaning , I’m pretty happy with it as is.



5) Get the guest room in order.  Hahahahahaha!  Hahaha! … Ha.  So  yeah, the guest room.  Well, for a while there the guest room was looking so nice that it was my favorite room in the house (you can see it here).  I love the light that it gets and the vintage furniture I’d gathered throughout the year along with the textiles I’d collected had really brought it together nicely.  Then we added a crib and suddenly it wasn’t a guest room anymore — it was an awkward, shared baby/guest space.  But, last week we painted it (and finally patched and caulked the baseboards which was a huge undertaking!) and hung curtains and it’s looking lovely, so that’s something.   So even though we still need a headboard and updated track lights (new paint made those cans look crazy yellow) I’m giving us a big fat PASS.



6) Finish pruning the shrubs.  We did this.  I think.  Yes, I know we did, it’s just that we now need to do it again.  But really, we spent many hours pruning and digging and planting and watering and for that we get a pass (and a round of applause) on our front landscaping.  But if you swing by, just don’t mind the leaves that need raking, or the overgrown shrub that needs trimming or the four plants along the back of the planting bed that died.  M’kay?


But for all the items that we didn’t get to, there were a bunch of unforeseen projects that we did tackle.   Like a thrifted and refinished coffee table, a made over den space, a few new rugs and kitchen chairs, and a cleaned out and updated indoor planter!

As for next year?  Here’s what I’d love to get accomplished:

1) Paint the bedrooms and hallway.
2) Paint the kitchen, laundry room and half bath (this would include final wallpaper removal).
3) Figure out the carpet situation in the yellow bath.
4) Install quarter round in the master bath/closet (there’s stills gaps around the sides from when we had the hardwood floors installed two summers ago) and fix busted drawer front.
5) Hook up the water to the new sink the half bath. And to the ice maker while we’re at it.

My plan was to hire out the painting work, but that was before we were planning on paying for two kids in daycare.  Guess I’ll have to suck it up!


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