Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home


Card Catalog: A Poll

I have this amazing card catalog that my uncle helped me score from McDaniel College — his employer — when they renovated their library last year.  I don’t have a great photo because it’s currently lying on its side under a tarp in his quonset hut,  but here’s a photo of the exact same unit (thank you, Google).2701419

It’s a Remington Rand with brass labels/pulls and dovetailed joints.  It’s solid maple construction and comes apart into three pieces — thank goodness! —  because at 5 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide, it’s enormous.

Funny story: I wrote the proposal when my company bid on and subsequently lost that very renovation project…so I feel a bit of a connection to this piece.  Even if my proposal didn’t win ’em over.  Note: my uncle was on the committee who selected the contractor — no preferential treatment here! ;)

She’s been sitting in storage for months and months, but we finally have the space for her and it’s time to bring her home.  Which brings me to … what the heck do I do with her?!  She’s going to live in the living room, which is a pretty blank canvas right now.  You know, with the missing couch and all…

I’m not the greatest fan of her blonde wood tones, but stripping and refinishing all those drawers sounds about as much fun as the Polar Bear Plunge (which I will also not be doing).  I’ve heard of a gel stain that can supposedly be applied right over the existing finish to darken the appearance, but this piece has a hard shellac-like finish on it and I’m not sold on the gel’s ability to penetrate it.  See?

card catalog remington

While I’m typically against painting quality pieces — especially those in good condition and with such history — I’m beginning to lean that way.  I mean, do these painted card catalogs make a statement or what?!

I’m particularly drawn to this navy and gold combo — maybe because it reminds me of my bicycle canvas that’s across the room?

Source  Oakland Avenue

Source One Dog Wolf

Source The Frosted Gardner

jackie reeve
Source The Orange Room

I could go two-toned, but I’m hesitant because we already have an amazing two-toned piece in the room and I think it may be too competing.

Source Our Prarie Home

Source Crafttest Dummies

Gorgeous though…

Or I could leave it au naturale.  Embrace the maple. It might balance out that dark walnut paneled wall, but man … we have a lot of wood tones going on in that room already.  I may have to see it in the space before I can make that call.

Sources Design Sponge and Poetic Home

And of course, there is always the traditional dark wood finish that would be stunning.

Source Small Notebook

So, what do you all think?



Cycling Complete

Ok, I finally did it — I took 3 minutes and hung the bicycle canvases.  Really, that’s all the time it took!  I don’t know why I put it off for so long.


Truth be told, the only reason I bit the bullet was because Logan finally discovered it perched on the floor behind the dining room table and I knew it would only be so long before he picked it up and put his head through it.


This was obviously before we hung the curtains.  I posted this photo on Facebook right after I hung the art, and completely forgot to post about it here!


The rug was purchased on Overstock.com for about $200 (I had a coupon and it was tax free week!) along with the rug in the master bedroom. Love that O.co has free shipping!


How hilarious is it that the dining room looks all put together until you step back to take in the whole room!  Haha.  Think we’ll ever get a couch?

Some of you are wondering why we’re waiting and the simple answer is this:  we realized that both our car loan and our new hardwood floors will be paid off in January 2015.  If we wait a few months until January 2014 to buy a couch, and take advantage of one of those financing specials that advertise “You don’t make a payment for ONE FULL YEAR!” we’ll essentially be replacing part of those existing payments instead of adding to them.  Besides, we like our Wrestling Room, as we’ve come to call it, and why pay more if you don’t have to?

Don’t worry, when we finally go sectional shopping, we’ll take Blog Land with us.  ;)

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Lyrical Art

After viewing a photo tour of this amazing Eichler house, I was inspired to try my hand at some more large scale art this weekend.   The art over shown over their bed seemed simple enough to replicate.  I liked that it was large and had a good bit of detail, but still maintained an uncluttered aesthetic.  It’s graphic, it’s personal, and it’s fun!


Source: Desire to Inspire

Unlike the bicycle canvases this took me less than an hour.  First I made a quick list of songs that are special to Kirk and me.  One played while we walked down the aisle.  A second played during our first dance at our wedding.  Another we sing to our son when we put him to bed at night.  Yet, another was one we’d request the band to play when we worked together at an Irish pub (as Kirk was my boss, our relationship wasn’t exactly public; thus, Steal My Kisses).  You get the idea.

From each of these songs I tried to snag some recognizable lyrics.  Some are funny, some sad, some sweet.  I tried to mix it up.  The only rule was that it had to fit in no less than 5 lines of text.  Speaking of text, I played around with it some until I found one that I thought would work. Here’s a secret: I hated the apostrophes from the font I selected so, while my text is Droid Sans Fallback, my apostrophes are all Khmer UI.

I picked up these NYTTJA frames for $1.99 at Ikea <— awesome store

and popped them in one night while watching Criminal Minds.  <— Awesome show!  Love me some Shemar Moore, but I don’t think Kirk would go for his face framed above the bed. ;)


Then I played around with the layout on the floor until I had them arranged the way I wanted them.  Did you know that most readers will automatically look at the lower left first?  Well, that’s the way it is when you read a magazine anyway … why should my master bedroom wall be any different?


I was a bit nervous about hanging them, but really, it only took about 10 minutes (I have a real aversion to hanging art and always work it up to be way worse in my mind than it actually is).  I taped 8 magazine pages up on the wall and shuffled them around until I their spacing seemed about right.  I just eye-balled it, but then followed up with the tape measure to ensure everything was plumb before marking my nail holes.  I drove the nails straight through the magazine pages and then tore the paper off leaving me with 8 perfectly spaced nails in the wall.   Then I just plunked my frames up and called it a day. Easy peasy!


Still need to reinstall those baseboards.


And hang some curtains.  And paint!


The One Where She Ironed for 4 Hours

Let me just start by saying that if you ever have to curtain a 45 foot expanse of glass I suggest you consider your options carefully before buying 14 panels of linen fabric.   Yes, linen an incredible weave that somehow, impossibly, blends both a light-‘n-airy quality with a sink-yer-teeth-into density that anyone in their right mind would covet.  But no one in their right mind wants to stand at an ironing board for four hours.  Trust me.  I know from experience because last weekend this is how I spent my Friday.  And my Saturday.  And my Sunday.


I went with these curtains from Ikea (in gray but the link to the grey ones has been down for weeks) because we had a bunch of store credit and they would work on the existing track system that we had in place.


We’ll eventually have to upgrade to a standard curtain rod or new track system because ours is on its last legs, but that is an expense for another time.  (Or so we thought …. keep reading)

IMG_1400 IMG_1399

The track system we have in place works by threading the metal hooks pictured above first through loops in the back of the curtain panel and then into corresponding plastic tabs hanging on the track system.  Pulling the cord opens and closes the curtains (there actually used to be an electrical switch that would work the curtain tracks automatically, but sadly, it no longer functions).  The track seemed to work ok with the old drapes which were of a VERY heavy and pleated fabric — I think it was the pleats that kept everything looking uniform.  However, with this new lighter weight fabric the panels are looking a little willy-nilly  and not at all like Ikea’s photo above.  Without the stiff pleats leading the way, the hooks just slide along the track randomly stopping at uneven increments along the rod — needless to say, I’m not a fan.

Just to note, there are two rows of rods at each corner of the room because there were originally decorative accent panels hanging in front of the actual drapes — we do not need these second rods for the curtains we purchased since we didn’t buy any extra accent panels.  These pieces can be removed fairly easily — we were just too lazy to do it.

But back to the linen.  When I removed the first panel from its packaging it was, unsurprisingly, pleated into a harsh grid of rectangles roughly the size of its cellophane packaging. I ironed it once.  Then twice.  Then I threw it into the dryer with a wet hand towel to try and steam the wrinkles out.  Then I had to iron it again because the dryer essentially negated all my ironing efforts.  In part because I feared the dryer had “pre-shrunk” my fabric and in part to try and get the heaviest creases to ease I ran all the panels through the dryer two at a time.  And then I ironed them again.  This went on for hours.


And then my iron died. No, I’m not kidding.  So I went to the store and bought a new iron only to return home and iron so more. Le sigh.


Let me just tell you that hours days of ironing and drying and ironing some more does not make for a happy wife and mother.  Husbands and toddlers beware:  When Mama’s house has curtain panels draped over every available surface, she ain’t gonna be too happy about it.

IMG_1392 IMG_1391 IMG_1395

But finally we were ready to start hanging them.  Because the curtain track system makes the panels more difficult to hang than simply sliding them onto a curtain rod, I decided to just hem them in place.  No sense in putting them all up just to pin the hems and take them back down again.  Kirk got frustrated enough just trying to get them hung right the first time (not only was it difficult to figure out how and where each of the three mechanisms opened and closed, but it involved a lot of math as he tried to determine how many hooks each panel should get — just when we thought we had it figured out Kirk realized we hadn’t subtracted the number of broken plastic tabs that were unusable!).  Now Mama and Daddy we’re both irritated.  It should have been no surprise that the kiddo soon followed down that path too.


Since its beginning to get cold out — which is the reason we wanted to get the curtains in place to begin with — and there’s no telling when I’ll actually get around to hemming them, I just wanted to get everything hung and deal with the rest later.  Besides, I don’t just want to hem them, I want to line them as well to make the most of their east coast-chill-blocking abilities.  If that plan for lining them actually comes to fruition (which is likely since my mother and aunt have offered to help) I will have to take them all down again which is fine because between the three of us, I am hopeful we can knock it all out in a day.  So long as we send that baby far, far away for the day.


At that point I will probably have Kirk install new curtain rods too, because throughout this process we learned a few things.  Not only are our existing tracks in poor shape (discolored, missing dozens of hooks, broken mechanisms, etc.) but they are arranged in a strange fashion.  I don’t have a photo with the curtains open to best demonstrate this, but the existing tracks work to open the curtains only in front of the sliding glass doors, meaning there are only two 6′ openings in that long expanse of glass wall.  I would MUCH prefer the panels to open at each of the 6 glass pane/door openings and gather along the existing beams.  I think that would create a streamlined and modern look that would best keep with the design of the home.  The way things are looking now is a bit dated.


Yep, still need a couch — but at least we have a triceratops!

Unfortunately, the only way to make that happen is with new hardware, but I have a few ideas for making my own hardware out of electrical conduit which Home Depot sells for less than $.40 a foot.  Go ahead and call me crazy but that sure beats $2 a foot for a similar looking rod at Target!  Especially given that our living room would need 7 rods at $20 a pop.  So I asked myself: would I rather spend $140 or $22 on a piece of metal that no one is ever going to see?

Stay tuned to see how that (and the lining, and the hemming) pan out!

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Love the History, but Hate the Mystery

I have a few posts in the hopper showcasing some weekend projects we took on, but today’s post isn’t about that.  I’m AM all about teasers though so here’s a sneak peak at what we’ve been up to.

We created some new $16 artwork for the master bedroom…


And hung curtains in the great room (sadly, not a $16 project).


Full details are forthcoming, but first…

Today I’m working on something really exciting.  I have tracked down the daughter of our home’s builder and architect and am contacting her hoping to get some details on our home.  She actually grew up in a home only a couple doors down from ours, and inherited all her father’s holdings when he passed just over a decade ago, so hopefully she’ll have some answers for us.

On my list of questions:

1) The bomb shelter out back.  It’s on a separate deed and her father owned it until he died.  We’ve asked all the neighbors and the sellers but all anyone can tell us is that the neighborhood kids used to play down there.  We have so many questions: Was it ever set up for use?  Was anything functioning (the generators, electrical wiring, the well pump, toilets, showers, fresh air intakes) when she sold it to our home’s previous owners in 2000?  How much did it sell for?  Were there ever mattresses for those 24 bunk beds? And perhaps most importantly, is there some sort of diesel tank buried in our back yard that we should know about?


2) Architectural plans.  If there are drawings for our home stashed somewhere I would LOVE to have them.  Very few modifications have been done in the home as far as we can tell, but the ones we can spot have us baffled.  For example, when we removed the wallpaper in the kitchenette we revealed a chase housing plumbing for the laundry running from the kitchen sink.  We suspect this is not original for two reasons:  one, the wall dividing the laundry from the kitchen is only a temporary partition comprised of paneling and some screws, and two, underneath the wallpaper the chase was unpainted, raw wood.

See the chase (the bump out) along the floor to the left in this moving day photo?


Since the rest of the kitchen had been painted pink prior to being wallpapered one would assume, if original, this chase would have been painted to match.  Or at the very least it would have been primed and sealed and not left in its raw wood state.  So our question then is, where was the laundry prior to its current location?  The garage?  The opposite wall?  We haven’t found any other hookups so they must have been drywalled over.

Also, if this room wasn’t originally a laundry what was it?  We suspect the addition of the half bath may have been part of this renovation as well since it has newer fixtures (why only upgrade this dinky half bathroom and not the full ones down the hall?).  When we saw that our neighbor’s house across the street with a similar floor plan doesn’t have a half bath here our initial impressions were somewhat confirmed.  Other homes in our area have an in-law suite on this end of the house so I’d be curious to see if it was originally a 4th bedroom.

Why do we care?  Well, for one, we have discussed moving the laundry down the road, but rerouting the plumbing is a big expense.  If there are hookups already in place somewhere else in the home, they might work for us and they would definitely save us some cash.  But also, not knowing is driving me crazy.  I love the history but hate the mystery of older homes!

So here’s to hoping we can find some answers. Wish us luck!

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Have you seen these 3D vector wall panels?


I want one.



I need one.


Now, imagine this:


Covering all the dated paneling and pointless glass pass-through in our kitchenette.


Do me a favor and also imagine lots of white/light paint, white counters, and some non-fugly flooring, m’kay?

That is all.  Have a great weekend!

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Off the Grid

I know, I know.  I’ve been MIA for a couple weeks.  I have a really good excuse though: both my bank balance and my energy levels tanked simultaneously.  This left me without much to chat about, but the show must go one, eh?

The truth is I have been working on a couple of spend-free projects here and there, but I’ve seen nothing through to completion yet.  But then I remembered that this blog isn’t about the finished product, it’s about the process.  So without further ado, here’s a little run-down of what I’ve been up to:

Two weekends ago, I removed all the wallpaper from the eat-in kitchen area.  You’ll remember that we pulled off the first decorative layer on move-in day (still visible on the mystery switch below — no idea what that knob does!).


It left behind this fuzzy yellowed backing with faint white slashes as a constant reminder of the awesome paint splatter pattern that once was.

???????????????????????????????  ???????????????????????????????

Removing the backing darkened the space considerably since one wall is paneled in dark walnut, but rooms in transition always look worse before they start to look better, right?  We’re planning on painting the walls a soft aqua.  Remember our color swatches?


Our new neighbors across the street actually have a similar color on their kitchen walls and they offered to let us slap some of their leftover paint up to see how we like it.  Maybe I’ll get to that this weekend. I’m on the fence about painting the paneling blue though.  In my head paneling should be white, but at the same time, I’d like to keep the wall color as consistent as possible and I will be painting all the drywall aqua.  Decisions, decisions.

I had mentioned in a previous post that the wallpaper was giving me a hard time (as is obvious from the photo above — removing those one and a half panels took for.ev.er), so I thought I’d share the tactic that finally worked for us: near boiling water in a spray bottle.  I saturated the wall, and waited for about five minutes.  Then I sprayed it again.  And again.  After three rounds and about 10 minutes of futzing the adhesive was completely broken down and the wallpaper pulled off in one long sheet.  Then I just took a wet rag and wiped down the wall.  Easy, peasy!  But very messy which is why there are no pictures of this step.

The scary part was when I pulled off the first panel and realized the room had once been painted this color.


(source Retro Renovation)

I panicked for a moment but I soon discovered that they had slapped a sloppy coat of primer over most of it (presumably so that it wouldn’t show though the white(ish) wallpaper.  But can you imagine?  Even the brick was pink!!!  You can see a strip of that Marmie Pink on the soffit up behind to vent hood if you look closely.


So this is what our kitchenette looks like currently.  I still need to remove the wallpaper from that back hallway, the backsplash, and the soffits around the kitchen before painting can commence.  Until then, we’ll dine in a time capsule twice daily.

And that other free project I worked on?  I finally added the spokes to the bicycle I painted a couple weeks back!


Please excuse the blur and the cheese.

We still need to hang it on the wall, but I’m excited to finally post a current picture of the dining room once it’s up.  Y’all haven’t seen our new rug yet and I think it ties in to this piece really well.

Here’s a preview if you just can’t wait.  ;)