Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home

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The Perfect Pattern

I’m stuck, you guys.  On a whim I placed one of the cast-off rugs we were debating for the laundry room under the kitchen table and decided that I really liked the look of a rug in the space.  Just maybe not that exact rug (found at Home Goods for $59).


Kirk was sold on it and my mom loved it, but something about it wasn’t speaking to me.  I thought maybe it was that the pattern was a little busy when paired with all those table and chair legs. With that in mind I purchased another rug in similar colors, but with a simplified pattern (it’s priced at $203, but I got it on sale and with a coupon for almost half that).


We’ve been living with this one under the table for a week or so and I’m starting to miss Option #1.  It’s like I didn’t know a good thing when I had it.  Or something.  Now I love this rug, I really do, but it makes this space seem so … heavy.  I think I need to send it back.  I’d keep it and use it somewhere else, but there’s no other room in our house that can handle a 5′ x 8′ rug — it’s way too small.

I know I’m totally over thinking this.   It’s just a rug.   But what do you think?  Is one of these an amazing rug that deserves my adoration?


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Nothing Here to See

These days I’ve been oscillating in a few directions looking for an interesting place to land and try my hand at something crafty.  I thought it would be the laundry room (as I detailed here) and it may still be, but, well… I think my interest there might have petered out around the time it came down to needing to paint the walls and baseboards.  I used to love painting, but this place needs so much prep work that the element of instant gratification (my absolute favorite part of any DIY  project) is out the window.

Instead, I’ve been thinking about ways to brighten up the den.  Thanks to the huge window directly across from the doorway it’s an impossible room to photograph so please excuse this dismal shot (brightened only by two adorable gentlemen).



This room needs a lot of help.  It houses all the furniture from our last home that doesn’t really have a place in our MCM abode.  But since we can’t really afford to upgrade the furniture at the moment, I’ve been trying to brainstorm some ideas for keeping this space more in line with the clean lines in the rest of the house.  We don’t use this room a ton, but it has a huge 5′ pocket door right off the entry hall that makes it a highly visible space.


Here’s a shot of the wood wall from move-in day (we’ve since yanked the carpet and laid hardwood bamboo floors).  It’s beautiful, right?  The shelving system could be improved and the countertop is laminate but those are things we will address another day.

Here’s what we’re working with:

  • The walnut paneled wall and built-in console are original and not going anywhere — we love them.  But they are so dark that this room feels like a giant black hole.
  • The shag rug is a remnant from our last home and its deep colors aren’t doing this room any favors.
  • Our off-white couch on the off-white wall?  Also not the best look.
  • The lounge chair is a hand me down from my mom.  It’s a very nice chair, but we’d like to trade it for something more contemporary.
  • The coffee table is a Lane cedar chest that holds some of Logan’s toys, but I’m not particularly partial to it anymore.
  • The MCM desk and yellow chair I grabbed for a steal at a consignment store last summer.  They’re the only things I really love in this room.
  • Somehow I also need to convince Kirk that his Cal Ripken prints don’t fit that wall… he’s not going to like that.
  • Oh, and the vertical blinds have to go.

In a fit of mania I pulled up the carpet the other night and it made the room feel five times larger and sunnier — if not entirely naked.  I’ve got my eyes peeled for a lighter, graphic rug to replace it with (maybe like this one, or this one … but for way less money).  We can’t change the color of the couch and I don’t want to paint the wall behind it a contrasting color since that would only be adding more dark colors to an already shadowed space (though as you can probably gather from all the dark blue paint samples taped to the wall in the photo above, I was once considering this option).  Instead, I’m thinking of trying a fun graphic like this one that Mandy at Vintage Revivals drew with a Sharpie.  How awesome is that?!  The white on white seems to work really well in this space and it gives me hope for our den.


Update: I’ve listed the dark rug and the coffee table on Craigslist and am thinking of tossing the leather recliner up there, too.  I just need to get my mom’s permission first!   I’d love to replace it with something like this.  It’s causal and comfortable, but it’s eclectic, too.  And I think a lighter color leather will help in this room.  How beautiful is that vintage leather?


I pulled this image off ebay, but the listing has since been deleted.

So that’s where my head is at.  Any ideas?  Suggestions are welcome!


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Outdoor Lighting Updates

When we first moved in to our home we inherited a few … interesting lawn lights.


The mushrooms are my favorite.   This one is outside the dining room sliding door.  There is a matching one out side of the living room.  Don’t they look like something out of Alice In Wonderland?

All the lights work via buried electric running from the house and are operated by light switches near the exterior doors.  They’re fun and we don’t have any pressing plans to replace them, however, the 55+ year paint finishes had seen better days.  Some time around Logan’s birthday in April I picked up a few cans of spray paint and I thought I’d share the before and afters.


I cleaned, sanded, and recoated the mushrooms in a funky two-toned golden bronze and oil rubbed bronze finish.  I also used the oil rubbed bronze on the five stake lamps out front.


Before they were completely sunbaked and looking pretty drab, see?


Lastly, we have two of these two-tiered lights — both are in the front of the house between the front door and the garage.


Below is a really bad before photo because the light had been completely overgrown by the nearby shrubbery.


I actually owe you an update on this area because Kirk has been busy clearing it out — the big orb bush (almost entirely out of shot to the left) and the holly bush (to the right) have been dug out and hauled away.  Next we’ll be digging up that ground cover.

That’s it y’all, see you all on the flip side!


In My Frigidaire

It’s here!!!


Sully’s face in the cup by the sink is pretty much a reflection of my own.   Not only is it shiny, and white, and really surprisingly large, but it doesn’t create mysterious puddles in the middle of the kitchen floor that I accidently step in with my bare feet.  Win, win!

On Memorial Day I went out and bought a fridge to try and take advantage of the holiday sales.  And boy, did I!  The discounts were so great that I actually ended up buying two refrigerators (don’t worry, I returned one).   Read on for the whole story …



You see, I did a bunch of comparison shopping in the week or so leading up to Memorial Day.  I was originally looking at counter depth refrigerators because our countertops are so shallow (only 24″ deep).  But counter depth refrigerators are expensive and would already extend past our super shallow counters anyway (most are 28″ deep).  Since we were looking at roughly an extra $1k for just a couple inches I decided that counter depth wasn’t really necessary.  Besides, our previous fridge was 30″ and it never bothered us so I figured anything that size or smaller would be fine.  I also spent some time looking at French door fridges and stainless steel because they’re so pretty — but in the end we decided that we liked the convenience of a single door and that the white would really brighten up our space nicely.  So that’s how we ended up with this guy — A Maytag bottom freezer.


Ohhh, ahhhhh….

The best price I found was at a neighborhood appliance shop.  It was about $200 cheaper than the big box stores and they were super helpful.  I made my first purchase there, pleased that I was doing my part to keep small businesses like theirs up and running.  But then I got a call from Home Depot — the fridge I had been interested in (the same one I just bought two hours earlier down the street) was one sale.  And for $175 less than the one I’d just charged on my credit card.  Shit.


So I called up the neighborhood appliance store and asked if they could price match.  Unfortunately, the best he could offer me was $45 credit (basically waiving the fees to switch the door swing and delivery) so I decided to return the fridge and buy it from Home Depot.  I was bummed that I couldn’t help out that lovely little shop, but thrilled that I saved over $500 on the appliance (including a $150 rebate for purchasing an energy efficient appliance).  Squee!



And yes, I am thoroughly aware that our refrigerator is looking more than a little bare.  Don’t judge.  At least not unless you come baring groceries.

Logan is currently really into Shel Silverstein and I loved Where the Sidewalk Ends when I was a kid.   Thus, I’ve had this poem stuck in my head all week.  I will leave you with this little ditty so that you may recite it in your head as you make breakfast, too.


Bear in There — Shel Silverstein

There’s a polar bear
In our Frigidaire—
He likes it ’cause it’s cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He’s nibbling the noodles,
He’s munching the rice,
He’s slurping the soda,
He’s licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he’s in there—
 That polary bear
 In our Fridgitydaire.

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New (to me) Craigslist Finds

Last week I mentioned that I was on a major Craigslist kick.  I had listed a dozen items on the site and have sold a ton so far — I’ve made almost $400!

Before Logan was born I used to fix up furniture that no one wanted.  I bought this dresser from my sister-in-law in a sad state for $10.  I stripped it, painted it, added some knobs (not pictured) and pretty paper to the drawer fronts, and sold it for $175.   (sorry Kate, but thanks!)


This little table I found on a job site at work.  I picked it up for free, spray painted it green, and sold it for $45.  Not bad, eh?


With that cash burning a hole in my pocket I picked up a few goodies this week to fill the empty corners of our home. Craigslist is a great way to “trade up” for very little to no cost at all.  These pieces were great and I loved them, but I picked them up when we were living in a 1930s craftsman bungalow and they look out of place in our new house.  So, out with the old and in with the new, right?

Here are some of my new finds…

This side chair and Lane end table I actually found at Goodwill.  Both were priced at $10.   I think the chair will end up in the guest room.  I’m not sure we have a place for the table, but if I can’t find the perfect spot here I’m sure I can sell it for more than 10 bucks.

IMG_4948 IMG_5076

I splurged a little on this nightstand ($60), but it’s so cute!  It was a fair price, I just usually like to find full blown steals, ya know?  It will go in the guest room, too.


The down side of Craigslist is that you have to act fast.  There were a number of items that I wanted that I didn’t get.  The mid-century couch and six drawer dresser that I mentioned in this post for example, I missed out on.  I’m still mourning the dresser big time (it was only $90! The next day I saw that someone had purchased it was reselling it for the more reasonable price of $200, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger knowing what I could have saved)  and Kirk is really bummed about the profit we could have made flipping that free couch.

Funny story: when I went to pick up the nightstand above that couch was in the sellers living room!  I had my hands on it and still missed out.  Sometimes I wish we owned a truck, but by the time I got one a few hours later it was gone.  So sad.

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Pruning, Mowing, Mulching, Weeding, Etc., Etc., Etc.

When spring finally sprung here in Baltimore it sprung with vengeance.   It was as though the rubber band that had been holding the greenery silent and dormant all winter had snapped.  And it looked like shit.

We don’t have a tremendous amount of landscaping at our house which we love (our last home had a professionally landscaped yard that was nearly impossible for us to maintain).  It’s just the stretch of planting beds along the front of the house, another along the back of the house, and this weird courtyard area off the dining room.  It seemed manageable, but let me tell you… it took hours, and hours, and HOURS to get it looking presentable.



As you can see above, Kirk did a little tree trimming.  That tree may have to come down as it’s awfully wrapped up around that beam, but for now Kirk has managed to get it looking pretty nice.  I think he gave it at least one more year of life.


He also found this impressive root.  It was maybe 40 feet long and nearly the size of my wrist.  We’re still not sure where it sourced from — maybe one those maple trees?


Speaking of the maple trees my mom came over and debrided them.  Did you know that every year you have to pluck off all the dead branches?  As the tree grows the branches fork — one lives and one dies.  If you don’t snap off the dead branch it will look like hell.  I don’t think anyone had cared for these trees in a decade or more, so poor mom had her work cut out for her.

Also, note above how high the mulch is in these beds.  In some places it was cresting over the foundations and pressing up against the windows.  I spent a couple hours with a shovel and a wheelbarrow trucking all the excess mulch to the back of the yard and depositing it against the property line.  Yup, I moved all that dirt!


Much better.  Nice and level.



Throughout all this, Kirk was busy on the other side of the yard trying to rid us of this nasty, rotted wood pile.  He managed to get all the wood to his truck and to the dump without getting bitten by snakes.  My hero.  And look at the patio space we regained!


He also uncovered this little slate walkway leading around to the front of the house — it was also buried under 786 feet of mulch.  Cute!


A little power washing, a little leaf blowing…



And a little fresh mulch and we called it a day.


(Note, the maple tree on the right my mom had already worked her magic on while the one on the left was still in it’s neglected state — quite the difference, right??)

Fast forward a few weeks and its all filling in nicely, though I don’t understand why the holly tree is dropping its leaves on my pretty, fresh mulch…




Eventually we’d like to change things up out here.  Neither of us are fans of the maple trees planted up against the windows and I’d love to see some pre-poured pavers set in pebbles there instead.  But for now, it’s looking pretty decent.

Time to focus on the front yard!


I Want to Buy All the Things!

I’ve been on a Craigslist kick lately.  It all started because I listed the two rugs from the den and laundry room that we don’t have a use for anymore now that I’ve replaced them.  Then I finally got my act together and took photos of a few other projects I’ve had laying around gathering dust (an antique school desk, a vanity, a Lane cedar chest, and an early 19th century end table that I refinished pre-baby and never sold).

Then, since we suddenly had so much room to fill — and a little cash in our pockets from those sales — I started looking at other listings.  This is what I found.  No links because I’m selfish and might actually go buy some of these things!

I would looove this little nightstand for the guest room.  Most of the furniture I listed on Craigslist has been living in that room so it’s looking pretty naked these days.  I love that plant/pot too!


This dresser looks a wreck, but it’s priced accordingly and I’m sure it could be fixed up easily enough.  This would also work well in the guest bedroom.


OMG.  I love this couch.  I’d put it in the den in a heartbeat if I found $1200 laying on the sidewalk to put toward it.


And this chair is fabulous.  It’s only $40.  If there were two I would make them mine and put them in the living room in front of the paneled wall.  The contrast would be stellar.  But alas, there is only the one. Whomp, whomp.


These chairs would be cute seating in the laundry room. Dirt cheap for vintage, too (even if they are knock-offs).


This slat bench would also work well in the laundry room or even as a coffee table in the den.  Hmmm…


This rattan rocking chair is precious.  Guest room?  The master?  It’s so quirky, I love it.


And this couch is ugly as sin, but I’m pretty sure it’s an Adrian Pearsall original making it worth several thousand dollars.  Of course it needs to be completely reupholstered, but it’s listed in the free section.  Free!


And this because wow.  Would love to have some awesome outdoor seating like this.  Can’t afford it though.  Sigh.


If any of these goodies make their way into our home I’ll be sure and let you know!