Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home


Shrub A Dub Dub

We love all the windows in our house and, oddly enough, have never felt as though all that glass infringed on our privacy at all.  In fact, I love looking out the window and seeing the neighborhood joggers doing their thing, Mr. Max walking home from synagogue in his suit, or the young family across the street getting ready for dinner. It makes me feel like we are part of something bigger.  Community is important — that’s the main reason why, while we wanted some level of seclusion in our new home, we didn’t want a home where we were a considerable distance from our neighbors.

Which is why this was such a problem.

From the street

Can you see it?  Can you?  No?  Well, that’s probably because there’s an enormous shrub in the way.

That’s right folks, we’ve finally gotten around to cleaning up the shrubbery around here!  For the past six months we’ve only been able to see out of one window in the entire front of our home.  And it’s in the guest room.  Which means whenever the trash truck comes down the road and Logan starts screaming, “Mama! Mama, TRUCK!”,  I have to pick him up and race him down the hall, around the guest bed and to this window so that he can see the trash men do their thing before they’re off again.  It’s my exercise for the week, I’m tellin’ ya.

Here’s an old photo showing the view from our kitchen window (it’s pretty outdated–the wallpaper is all gone now!) to give you an idea of what we’re actually looking at all day.  We’ve got holly free for the picking.  ‘Tis the season!

The holly bush stays green year round, but the shrubs in front of the windows have finally died back to allow for easier trimming.  We planned to trim everything back at the beginning of autumn, but as things typically go, we’re just getting to it now.  Looks like this time it worked in our favor!

Kirk tied a length of twine around each shrub where he wanted to make his cuts and then used both pruning shears and a hedge trimmer to cut about 2′ off the tops.  You’ll note that he had to feed the extension cord out the window (is it unusual that we don’t have outdoor outlets?).

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Per usual, the County Inspector is hard to please.  “What is THIS?!”

Ok, so we only got one shrub bush-wacked before it started to pour, but it’s a start.  Kirk has four more bushes to trim on this side of the house and then the holly tree and two spherical shrubs in front of the kitchen.  Anyone who has come into close proximity to a holly tree or bush knows that that fella is going to be a bear.  We cut a holly tree down at our last house it was pretty rough with all those thorny points.

I’m at a loss for what to do with the spherical shrubs (they’re so large you can’t even see the holly tree behind them in this photo!).


They look nice a round and full from a distance, if not grossly overgrown, but they’re really quite strangely shaped.  The backs are all flat and they grow forward toward the street.  And only the outermost foliage is green –everything underneath is brown.  The long and short of it is that we’re afraid anything we do will expose these “flaws” and make them look pretty bad.  So, this is something we may hire out.

Speaking of greenery…we took this on our walk to the playground this weekend.  So pretty.  I just love living in a walkable neighborhood!



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House Twin

I’m still getting email alerts when houses are listed for sale in my neighborhood.  For the most part this is fun — not so much when I see a place “better” than ours!  But in general, I love seeing how other folks are decorating their MCM homes and it’s neat to see how each home is unique in its own quirky way.

Many of the homes in our ‘hood have similar features — for example, when we were house hunting we saw a couple places with the indoor grill and the paneled wood wall like we have — but no two are alike.  That said, I think a house just came on the market that is as close to a house twin as our home has!  Which is bizarre to ,me because our place seems so distinctive!

Here’s our House Twin!

From the outside the only difference I note is that the garage doesn’t face the street like our does. Or maybe the front door doesn’t face the street? Not sure — have to do a drive by.

It’s located one street over and there are marked differences — namely its two stories versus our one, and its 5 bedrooms versus our 3 — but the main floor is basically the same.  Check out the great room — the fireplace hearth looks slightly elevated while ours is floor height, but the rest is exactly the same.  I want that lacquered parsons table.  And those tub chairs.

Their slate floor (which looks shinier than ours) extends from the front door to the back slider while ours stops at the threshold between the two rooms.  Also, they don’t have the indoor planting bed in front of the sidelight by the front door like we do.  Also, this house may have once served as a barber shop. Or three.

The walnut wall has been painted — GASP!  And note the stairs to the upper and lower levels (so THAT’S how they squeezed in two more bedrooms — I was wondering!).

Same wall of windows in the great room though.  I wonder if these beams are still natural wood or painted brown…my money is on paint.  And check out that parquet floor!

And look!  No idiot planted small trees under the eaves.  And the patio extends all the way to the window — no mulched flower beds up against the glass!

This is the patio area off the dining room.  Looks like it’s fully covered and serves as a fully-functional outdoor living area.  Very nice!

Back inside, the layout of the kitchen is very similar.  Their cabinetry appears to be laminate while ours is real wood and it looks like they have a trash compactor next to the dishwasher.  That would be nice — right now our trash can sits out in the open in that corner because there’s no other place for it.  It also looks as though they’ve updated the range and the flooring.  And is that a bread box?  I want a bread box!

Same light fixtures, same layout.  Our fridge is positioned just inside the door giving us more cabinetry to the right and none to the left.  I wonder if their laundry room is located beyond the kitchenette like ours is? And is that a shelf built-in under the window?  Hard to tell…

Someone removed their indoor charcoal grill and replaced it with extra cabinetry.  And they’ve got some nice new double ovens to go with that new range top.

This is the den — this side of the paneled wall got a coat of white paint too.  I have to say, while I like the bright space, I could never paint our wood details.

Check out the master bedroom.  How cool are those chairs?! Our bedroom has a door in that corner to the outside which is nice.  I really like the idea of built-ins though.  Right now we have a tall dresser on that wall with the TV perched on top.  When you walk in all you can see is the cords running behind it — drives me crazy!

No yellow bathroom here — looks like theirs got a 90s update.  Can’t say I prefer it.

This is one of the basement bedrooms — they have it set up as a sitting area.  I’m digging that table and those chairs! I can totally see it in our kitchen.  Maybe I should knock on their door and see if it’s for sale.  Would that be weird?

But here’s the kicker … I saved the best part for last…

HELLO!  Um, why oh why did our house not get one of these?!

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Seriously? I would have taken this sweet pool and hot tub over our bomb shelter any day of the week!


And it could be yours.  If you’re interested in this house (won’t you be my neighbor?) email me and I’ll send you the address!


From Turkey to Conduit

So, we still haven’t had the opportunity to hem or line our drapery panels.  As per usual, life simply gets in the way!  First there was feasting to be done and festivities to be … fested?

We deep fried our Thanksgiving turkey again this year — it was awesome.2013-1128 (28)
The men did all the cooking.  Again, — do I even need to say it? — this was awesome.
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We kept it low key and casual which made for a wonderful day.  Nothing like having a house full of family around the holidays!

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But then there was sickness…. the Coxsackie A6 virus is a nasty one.  Avoid it at all costs!
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After being up all night with a VERY upset kiddo, we were looking a little rough the day after Thanksgiving.
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But fear not! We did get one thing checked off our list before life got crazy.  The day before Thanksgiving we removed all the existing drapery hardware in the great room and replaced it with electrical conduit.  I know, you’re all thinking, “WHAT? Why on Earth would you hang your drapes from conduit?!”  Let me explain…

First of all, our existing hardware was broken, ugly, and configured in a way that we couldn’t even open the drapes in a way that made any sort of sense to us.  They were on a pulley system that opened them in only two places along that 38′ wall of windows.  Why someone would design them that way is beyond me, but to each their own.

When I started looking into new hardware things got pricey really quickly.  We needed almost 45′ of curtain rod (including the sliding door on the dining room wall) and even the simplest rods from Target were $20 a pop — and we’d need six of them.  So I changed tactics and purchased five 10′ pieces of electrical conduit for $2.42 each.  I picked them up at Home Depot — they look like this:
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Kirk worked his magic and was able to reuse the existing brackets.  As you can see in the photo up there, our brackets held the original hardware from above.  He removed each one and reinstalled them facing the opposite way so that they could support the conduit from below.  We fed our panels on …

And voila! Now we can open our curtains at each window for maximum light.  When the curtains are closed you can’t tell it’s conduit at all.  When they’re open it’s pretty obvious that it’s piping, but I rather like the industrial look.  If you wanted to try this and preferred a more traditional look it would be a pretty simple process to spray paint them any color you’d like.

Also, for the stand-alone rod in the dining area I simply glued on a finial I found at Ikea (these in silver) with some Liquid Nails — that way you can’t see strait into the tube and it looks a little more finished.  The rods on the window wall didn’t need finials since the conduit extends the entire length of the wall.  All told, this project cost us only $14 including the 5 pieces of conduit and the finial.

Here’s how the room looked on Thanksgiving — table set with both leaves in and all!
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We moved the furniture from the den into the great room for the holiday because we couldn’t have folks sitting on the floor.  Our new couch has been delayed — hopefully it will be here by the end of the month.

Fingers crossed!