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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What Makes A Good Party?

Trying to become a better host or hostess? Need some new ideas for your next party? Check out this entertaining instructional film called What Makes A Good Party? from 1950.


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