Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Finally did some unpacking and got our tiny aluminum tree decorated. We plan to have a much bigger tree next year but the living room is an absolute wreck right now because we're in the middle of painting it & patching holes, etc. I wanted to make one spot nice for Xmas Eve so I managed to make room in our dining area. In a week or two the dining area will be painted (it's currently the same ugly gray/blue color that the previous owners left it) and I hope we can afford to get a rug soon.

The vintage Danish modern dining set was a recent local find. We were told that it was made in the '60s by Dyrlund and it came with 2 leaves so we can expand it if we need to. Best of all? The whole set (4 chairs & table) only cost us $150!!! The clock on the wall was my Xmas gift to my husband this year and the painting was done in the '60s by a Latvian artist named Jurjans who was a friend of the family.

Happy Holidays!!!

Xmas 2010 (Evening Shot)
Xmas 2010

The Aluminum Christmas Tree

Alumium Tree Ad (1961)
Tree Lady
Aluminum Tree Ad (1960)
Family & Tree
Alumium Tree Ad (1961)

Recommended Links:
- Season's Gleamings: The Art of the Aluminum Christmas Tree
- A History of the Aluminum Tree @ Go Retro
- How to Make a Miniature Aluminum Tree
- The Aluminum Tree Museum

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Trim-The-Tree Supper

I recently came across a recipe for a "Trim-The-Tree Supper" in a 1966 issue of Woman's Day that I thought I'd share. It's designed to feed a large group of 10-12 people and the ideas should be easy to recreate today.  I'm not sure how appetizing the "Hearty Seafood Chowder" or "Coconut-Grenadine Trifle" is but if anyone decides to try reproducing any of these recipes I'd love to hear how the results turned out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Napa's 2010 Holiday Candlelight Tour

Aluminum Xmas Tree

Over the weekend my husband and I made some time for Napa's 2010 Holiday Candlelight Tour. This year the tour showcased some beautiful mid-century homes in Napa's Monticello Park area. Here's some information about the area borrowed from the tour brochure:

"... The population explosion led to a post-war building boom, and the area in and around the City of Napa saw the construction of seventy-one subdivisions between 1946 and 1951. Though Monticello Park was part of this post-war expansion, these houses were much larger and more substantial than the nearly identical tract houses intended for working-class families. After its subdivision in 1950, the houses in Monticello Park were developed individually over the next 15 years. The ranch-style architecture that dominated the neighborhood was inspired by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, and popularized in the California Bay Area by famous builder Joseph Eichler. The rambling one-story homes of the Monticello Park area epitomized the rise of the suburbia in post-WW2 America. Wide streets accommodated the large cars of the era and huge lawns were perfect for families at play. Design features developed in California, such as large expanses of windows oriented to the back yard, were associated with the desire to bring the outdoors inside, and gave rise to the term "California Modern." The size, quality, and innovative features found throughout the neighborhood quickly made Monticello Park a desirable neighborhood for Napa's professionals and business leaders, especially those with growing families."

And here's some more photos I snapped.
1957 Red Thunderbird
Custom kitchen with vintage tile (1965)
Montecello Park Neighborhood
1965 Custom MCM Home
1964 MCM Home
1964 MCM Home
1951 Ford Victoria
1960 California ranch home

As locals, we really enjoyed the tour because it gave us the opportunity to learn more about our home town. Small details like finding out what kind of locally quarried stones were used on home exteriors and interiors helped us familiarize ourselves with aspects of Napa's architectural history that we didn't know anything about. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and helpful, which we really appreciated.

The tour organizers must have gotten a few ideas from the Sacramento Mid-Century Home Tour because they also had vintage cars parked outside each of the homes on the tour. This was a great idea that made it much easier for us to spot all the houses on the tour. The only disappointing aspect about the tour was the home interiors. Only one of the homes on the tour (an incredible and extremely unusual modern house designed by Grant Perkins in 1965) contained period furnishings and interior details that I really appreciated. The rest were more conservatively furnished. But many of the homes still maintained original features such as floors, etc. In a way this helped us focus more on the houses themselves instead of getting distracted by lots of designer eye-candy. We also didn't have the opportunity to really meet or chat with anyone besides the generous tour guides because we were trying to hurry a little so we could see the homes before it got too dark.

Overall we were just really happy that we got to see some more mid-century homes in Napa and learn about the history of the area. In conjunction with the Holiday Candlelight Tour, the Napa County Historical Society and Napa County Landmarks have organized an exhibit called "From Battleships to Apron Strings: How WW2 created Napa's Swingin' Fifties" on display downtown at the Goodman Library; 1219 First Street Napa, CA 94559 starting Dec. 14 and ending Feb 28, 2011.

I'm really excited about the exhibit and I hope it will give me the opportunity to learn more about my own neighborhood, which blossomed in the '50s. I've been trying to find more information about my home such as the builders name, house plans, etc. but the city hasn't been able to offer me much help. After I visit the exhibit I'll be sure to report back with my findings.

- My Flickr Gallery with more images from Napa's 2010 Holiday Candlelight Tour
- Local newspaper article about the event: Holiday Candlelight Tour visits Napa’s mid-century modern neighborhood

Friday, December 10, 2010

Xmas Tree Decorating Ideas From 1969

Christmas Tree (1969)

Here's some great examples of late '60s holiday decorating. All of these Christmas trees are from a 1969 issue of Better Homes & Gardens. I'm particularly fond of the white flocked trees. If you're looking for inspiration or ideas on how to give your own Christmas tree some swinging sixties flair these images might come in handy.
Christmas Tree (1969)
Christmas Tree (1969)
Christmas Tree (1969)
Christmas Tree (1969)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I've been so busy with work, holiday plans and home renovations lately that I've been neglecting to blog but I thought I'd quickly share a 1951 recipe for Wesson Oil's "Famous Fruitcake." I'm not all that fond of fruitcake myself but I'd like to try making this one someday. If anyone gives it a try I'd love to know how it turns out. Just click on the image to see it full size.

I plan to share a lot more holiday ideas soon. I recently got my hands on some old magazines with great decorating ideas and a lot more recipes. I just need to find some free time to scan them. Happy holidays!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Napa Mid-Century Architecture Tour

I was surprised and extremely excited to learn that the theme for this year's 22nd Annual Holiday CandleLight Tour presented by Napa County Landmarks & the Napa County Historical Society will be "Mad Men Meets The Valley." This self-led tour will highlight Monticello Park, a mid-century modern neighborhood in Napa. Accoding to the organizers Napa's Monticello Park contains "large and lovingly maintained mid-century homes" that "demonstrate the beautiful and innovative design features of post-war architecture and landscape design."

I've only lived in Napa 7 months so I'm still getting to know the area but I've been surprised by the number of beautiful mid-century buildings, houses and neighborhoods I've come across so far. One of the many reason's we moved here was because we loved the area but we continue to be surprised by Napa's diverse neighborhoods. From the lovingly preserved Victorians, to the California modern ranch homes, Napa is easily one of the state's most beautiful small cities and it contains some of of the most wonderful examples of California architecture that I've ever seen.

I'm currently researching my own neighborhood in Napa, which was called "Napa Rancho" at one time. It contains many cute and modest ranch homes and more modern houses as well that I plan to share photos of soon. Our own home seems to be a sort of hybird between the two types of houses we're surrounded by. Needless to say, I was thrilled to discover that there are other mid-century neighborhoods in Napa that I hadn't heard of yet as well as other mid-century enthusiasts who are obviously interested in preserving and maintaining their period homes. I had a great time at The Sacramento Mid-Century Home Tour back in June and although the Napa event seems to be much smaller in scale, I hope it will generate a lot of interest in Napa's mid-century architecture.

The Napa Mid-Century Holiday CandleLight Tour takes place on Saturday, December 11th from 3pm-6pm and starts at the Hay Barn Gallery at Gordon Huether Studio, 1821 Monticello Road. For more information please visit the Napa County Landmarks site or the Napa County Historical Society site where you can purchase tickets online.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Early Holiday Shopping

Vintage Xmas Finds

Took some time out this weekend to enjoy the 60th Annual Thrift Shop Christmas Bazaar in Napa and picked up some cute vintage Christmas decorations for our home. We found some more elves to add to our growing collection, including a very large one that's animated and plays music. He still works pretty good but could use a good cleaning. We also picked up a cute gold deer and some really pretty tear drop style ornaments. The money generated at the Thrift Shop Christmas Bazaar goes to non-profit organizations including the local chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. You can find more information about this yearly event in a recent story published in our local paper online: Shoppers flock to Christmas Bazaar

Vintage Xmas Finds

Last week we also picked up this amazing solid walnut Kent-Coffey cabinet/dresser for just $85 at a local Goodwill store. It was part of the companies "Town House" line that I believe was originally created sometime between 1962-1966. Kent-Coffey was an American furniture company based in North Carolina and they were competitive with Broyhill. A lot of the companies furniture lines shared a similar style. I absolutely love it and I've seen similar pieces selling on Craigslist for as much as $550 so I think we got a great deal on it. It's in wonderful shape with just some minor scuffing and signs of age but overall it's still a really nice piece. We're not sure what we're going to do with it. We've talked about trying to put together an entire Kent-Coffey bedroom or just using it as a cabinet in the living room for now and maybe even a media stand. It's really beautiful and has incredible lines, the original handles, a beautiful tone and dovetail joints. The picture below doesn't flatter the piece very well. It needs to be really cleaned and but we're still deep in the middle of renovations. You'll also notice that our cat Maximilian decided to run past just as I was taking the picture.

Kent-Coffey Dresser

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween Costumes 1950-1969

Things are still incredibly slow going at the new homestead mainly due to our budget & time limitations. Right now it's all about getting a new roof put on before winter. It's been a long process trying to get estimates and figuring out what our best and most cost effective options are. But my office and work space is almost complete and once it's done and somewhat more organized I'll share some new photos.

In the meantime I thought I'd share some pictures of vintage Halloween costume patterns from the '50s and '60s. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I love looking at pictures of old costumes. I think these patterns were really wonderful but many of the designs haven't changed all that much so they'd be easy to reproduce today. I especially love the alien/space man outfits for little boys and the flower costumes for women.

Halloween Costumes (1950-1969)

Halloween Costumes (1950-1969)

Halloween Costumes (1950-1969)

Halloween Costumes (1950-1969)

Halloween Costumes (1950-1969)

Halloween Costumes (1950-1969)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September Update

Max & Dot

Apologies for the lack of updates lately but at the moment all our energy, time and money has been going towards getting estimates for a new roof, which we need to take care of before the winter and fixing some emergency plumbing problems. Both are very unglamorous tasks but need to be done.

We also welcomed two new family members into our home. A couple of adorable kittens we've named Dot (silver tabby) and Max (black & white fluffy tuxedo). Dot and Max were shelter kittens in desperate need of a new home.

I recently started doing some volunteer work for the Whiskers, Tails and Feral animal shelter (trying to help them build a website, blog, etc.). They rescue abandoned cats & dogs in Napa as well as feral cats and try to save adoptable animals who are scheduled to be euthanized at the Napa city run shelters. Our current cat Uschi seemed like she might enjoy some kitty companionship so we started considering our options. We were only going to adopt one more cat or kitten but when we saw Dot and Max we fell in love with them both and we didn't want to separate them. They grew up in a cage together and they were extremely close.

We picked up Dot & Max a few weeks ago and couldn't be happier about our decision. The young furry siblings are incredibly sweet, extremely affectionate and very playful. Dot follows her brother Max around like she's his shadow. One of the many pleasures of finally being able to own our own house is having the ability to share it with animals in need and Andis and I love cats so I'm glad we could give Dot and Max a good home. 3 cats seems to be our limit but we loves all sorts of animals so who knows what the future holds? A fishtank? Some reptiles? Anythings possible.

If you happen to live in Northern CA and are thinking about adopting a kitten please consider adopting from Whiskers, Tails and Ferals in Napa. The local Petco in Napa allows the organization to operate from their building but they're not associated with it and they're trying to purchase or rent their own building because they're overrun with unwanted or abandoned animals that need responsible new owners. They currently have a LOT of adorable kittens that need homes. We've adopted 3 cats from Whiskers, Tails and Ferals in the last few months and all of the kitties have been sweet-natured and loving. For more information please visit the Whiskers, Tails and Ferals Facebook page.

You can find more pictures of Dot & Max in my Flickr Gallery.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wood Privacy Screens

Painted Wood Privacy Screen

Earlier this month I shared a post about exterior ideas that we were considering for our house and in the post I briefly discussed the idea of adding a wood privacy screen that would give us some more privacy, extra shade during the summer months as well as add a decorative element to the front of our home.

Midcentury Madam was kind enough to take the time to comment on my post and she mentioned that she was also interested in the the idea of possibly adding a wood privacy screen to her own home as well. I thought I'd take the time to share some pages from some magazines and books that feature decorative wood screens added to mid-century homes in case other folks find them as inspiring as I do. There's a lot you can do with some wood and paint!

The first images are from the Better Homes & Gardens Landscape Planning book originally published in 1963 and the last article is from an old issue of Popular Mechanics (just click on the images to see larger versions of them).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vintage Furniture Finds & Shopping Tips

When we're not working on our house, my husband and I have been hunting for fixtures and furniture at secondhand shops, antique stores and at local estate & garage sales as well as searching Craigslist and eBay for bargains. A lot of the things we currently own were handed down to us from family members or bought to fit into our old apartment and they just don't work in our new place. We knew we were going to have to spend some money on these things so we planned for the extra expense and worked it into our budget when we were preparing to buy our home.

My husband is 6 ft. 5 in. and he has a lot of trouble fitting comfortably into the low sofas and chairs that were popular in the '50s and '60s. Over the course of the last few months it's been a real challenge finding pieces that we not only both like and can afford, but also pieces that are comfortable and look good in our house.

One of our biggest disappointments was discovering that some colorful molded plastic Eames chairs we wanted to get for our dining room were just too tiny to accommodate my husbands tall lanky frame. We also had our eyes on a beautiful Case Study style daybed only to discover that when my husband sat on it his knees were almost hitting his chin. This has made us really cautious about buying anything online.

Thankfully my guy seems to fit really well into Danish modern furniture, which is not only beautiful and affordable, but it's also really comfortable. Danes tend to be tall and since my husband's family happens to be from the Baltic area (Latvia to be exact) it probably shouldn't be too much of a surprise that he's comfortable in Danish furniture and in the last few months we've found some beautiful Danish modern and Swedish pieces for our home.

Our first find was this incredible Dux sofa. Unfortunately it was badly stained and damaged. It also had a nasty musty odor that may have been cat urine so we're getting it reupholstered. Thankfully we were able to find some beautiful vintage Danish fabric in a color that we both really like so the sofa should still maintain its vintage appeal once it's reupholstered. I also like the idea of recycling all these vintage materials (sofa and fabric) to make a piece that will really be our own and reflect our personal taste. In the process we're learning that reupholstering anything can be really expensive so now we're taking this into consideration before we buy any vintage pieces.

New old sofa!

Our next find was these two lovely chairs. They have no obvious markings but we believe they're Danish modern. They were in wonderful condition and just needed a good cleaning.

New Old Chairs

Our most recent find is this beautiful Swedish credenza with a matching hutch. It's also in terrific shape and looks amazing considering its age.

Mid-Century Modern Hutch

All of these pictures were taken at the places where we purchased the items. We always bring our camera as well as some measuring tape along with us whenever we go out looking for vintage furniture so we can be sure that we're making smart purchases. In the past our excitement has occasionally overcome good sense. We once bought a sofa that was too big to get into our apartment so now we're extra cautious.

Here's some of my tips for buying vintage furniture:

1. Size Matters: Before buying any piece of furniture make sure you measure the area where you plan to place it twice. Occasionally your good sense might become blinded by a beautiful piece of vintage furniture that looks great where it is but won't fit into your home.

2. Comfort Matters: No matter how beautiful a vintage piece of furniture is, you should also make sure you can fit into it or use it comfortably before purchasing anything. Returning furniture can be complicated and expensive unless you happen to own your own moving van. Sellers on Craigslist and eBay rarely take returns and many second-hand shops don't offer them either.

3. Bring Your Camera & Some Measuring Tape: Whenever you go shopping for home furniture make sure you bring a camera and don't be afraid to snap a few pictures of the items you're thinking about purchasing. You can use these photos for personal reference and if you don't purchase an item right away you'll have the photos to take home with you so you can make decisions later. Also make sure you measure any item twice that you intend to purchase before buying it. Even if you think you know the size of something after reading a description on Craigslist or talking to a seller, their own measurements could be wrong so it's better to take your own measurements so you won't have any regrets later on.

4. Reupholstering Can Be Expensive: Before you buy a vintage piece really take the time to consider if you can live with the condition it's in. If a chair or sofa needs to be reupholstered it can be an expensive process so make sure you consider those extra costs before buying an old piece that needs some work.

5. Delivery: If you don't own a vehicle that's large enough to haul your own furniture purchases and don't have a friend or family member that can help, you may have to rely on the seller or yourself to get your furniture purchases home. Make sure you ask about delivery costs before purchasing anything so you can factor that into the cost. If you have to take care of delivery yourself you should also research local rental places to find the best deals on car rentals or moving vans and trucks. Also make sure you have someone to help you move heavy items if the seller won't lend a hand.

I hope some of these tips are helpful. Most of them are just common sense suggestions that you've undoubtedly heard before but I figured I'd share them anyway since I have to remind myself of them all the time. My own common sense tends to disappear when I come across a beautiful vintage piece that I want for my own home. Before I measure anything or ask important questions I find myself pulling out my wallet, which has gotten me into trouble in the past. Hopefully someone can learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Exterior Ideas

A few months ago we decided on what colors we wanted to paint the exterior of our house. We also started looking for accessories that would flatter the place so I thought I'd share some of our ideas.

I fell in love with two particular houses in the Atomic Ranch book last year and we've been using them for inspiration. We also really wanted to create some kind of perforated wood screen wall for the front of our place as a decorative element and for added privacy. During the Sacramento Mid-Century Home Tour we saw lots of incredible homes with beautiful outdoor screens so we wanted to incorporate that idea into our own exterior plans.

Eichler Inspiration

Eichler Inspiration

MCM Home

MCM Home (window detail)

Once again, we used the exterior Eichler color palette as a basis for our own color choices. We picked Benjamin Moore's Black Bean Soup for the ceiling beams/outside trim and we're planning on using Bear Creek for the main exterior walls. We also plan to use Shy Cherry and Super White as accent colors on the front door, between the ceiling beams, etc. I think these colors will work great with the Japanese influenced landscaping we're planning on doing.

Exterior House Colors

Recently we ordered some red house numbers and a red mailbox from Chiasso to add a little more color to the exterior of our house. I don't know when we'll be able to hang them up but I think they'll look great with our red door. Although the mail box was a bit bigger than I had imagined it would be. I probably should have studied the measurements a little more closely but at the moment our mailbox is too small so we need something bigger. As for the numbers, we plan to mount them on some white backing board so they'll really "pop" on the outside of the house and maybe figure out way to light them from behind.

House Numbers

For fun I decided to try out some of our exterior ideas using Photoshop. Obviously the "After" picture isn't perfect and I'm sure we'll make lots of changes before we actually start painting, but I figured I'd share the results anyway.

Our house now
Our House

Our house in the future (just one possible future)
House Plans

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