MidModMadMama

So…I’ve been busy.  As in, I had a baby busy. If you’ve ever had children or been around children, you probably know that life shifts from being all about you and what you have to get done each day to whatever they need. Days turn into months, and you don’t have anything to show for your time except bigger kids, and larger messes. Add to that the insanity of summer and no school? Well, you probably get it.

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It’s fantastic and exhausting. This is the best explanation I can offer for why I haven’t been blogging.

Here’s the new addition in his super cute mid-century modern chair we recovered for his nursery. I love his moobs. They’re the best.

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It hasn’t been all kids and no furniture though.

Since my last blog, I’ve been busy with the MidCenturyObsession Facebook page, and sourcing new vintage finds. With help from the husband, I’ve figured out a way to sneak out from time to time during naps to thrift.

Here are just a few new items from the past week that are going up for sale via Etsy.

Lane does Retro Glam
Lane does Retro Glam

Glam 2 Glam 3

Can you believe it?! Initially, part of me went, “Ew. 80’s.” The other part of me fell in love. My second thought was, “Holy Crap! Those pieces are gorgeous and totally relevant today!” Used together or separately, these beautiful pieces made by Lane are functional and fantastic in all their glam glory. If you ever read Emily Henderson’s blog…she’d probably tell you that you need to buy these. Like now. Metallics on cream or white? So on trend.

And then, there was the very rare Torring Mobelfabrik of Denmark find…which will have me smiling for years to come. I just love finding teak. I love it even more when it needs work. And these pieces did, but it was nothing a little sandpaper and some teak oil couldn’t fix, though. (Also during nap time. I am a busy girl.) They are in miraculously great shape….and the TEAK.JUST.GLOWS.

I have a few bites on these guys already as they clean, handsome and are priced to sell. I will be sad to see them go, but happy for them to live in a new home where they will be appreciated.

 

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That’s all for now, folks! Stay tuned, because there is so much more to share.

I can’t wait to tell all about our weekend away in an MCM ranch home in Palm Springs!

 

 

Homey don’t play ‘dat…Etiquette 101 for the clearly clueless.

I don’t think I would be up against much opposition if I were to claim that people are getting ruder and ruder as time goes on. As a whole, we’re less patient, we see more planes being grounded due to ridiculous outbursts from unruly and inconsiderate passengers, witness unprovoked viciousness on social media. A general lack of refinement is rampant, and it disgusts me to no end.  I think one of the things that draws me to that mid-century period among a million other reasons, is that etiquette was more often than not observed. People actually went to classes and learned about proper etiquette – and imagine this: they put it into practice! These days, I am reminded how much of that has gone away – just as so many other wonderful mid-century standards; buildings, cars, furniture – have all been trashed to make way for the new, which is not always better.

Craigslist and Etsy, and some of the people on those platforms have been really testing my patience as of late. I spend a lot of time running quotes for people who “JUST HAVE TO HAVE IT!” and then don’t ever respond to my quote. (The quote they’ve requested that is often less than what I had on the listing to begin with.) That’s the nature of the business…and to some extent, I can understand deciding not to purchase something – it’s the lack of response or disregard for my time that gets to me. Today, I was let down yet again after spending time working with a buyer who wanted to purchase my Brown Saltman Dining Set.

Remember this gorgeous thing?
Remember this gorgeous thing?

She’d seen it on Craigslist, and Etsy, and had been watching it on Ebay – I know this, because she emailed me to tell me so, and that she’d been “lusting” after it, but it was above her budget. Since it hadn’t sold in the two weeks she’d been watching, she’d decided to give me a low-ball offer. Between emails and texts, I could see she was serious about her interest. Being motivated, and less than a week away from delivering my son, I decided, “why the hell not?”  It was less than I was wanting to accept, but if it meant clearing out my living room before baby – well, I’d just give her the deal and everyone would win.

We agreed on price, discussed whether it would fit in her SUV, and decided on a date and time she would be driving down from Claremont (over an hour away) and I cleared my schedule to be available to this person coming from so far.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not driving over an hour for anything I’m not sure I want. Then two days after we settle on these details, my beautiful set gets featured on an Etsy “Treasury.” For those of you not on Etsy 1.you should be, and 2. a treasury can really help to boost your sales. Most Etsy users have “followers.” These followers see what that user “favorites,” or adds to a “treasury” (a/k/a a collection of beautiful pieces with some theme to it). When one of your pieces is selected for a treasury, your views on that item can soar. And so did my Brown Saltman Set, as it was featured on a popular treasury on Thursday. Noticing the peaked performance and increase in views, keeping my “buyer” in mind, I asked her Friday to confirm for me that she would still be coming, and still wanted the set so that I may reserve the item for her online. (Reserve meaning mark the piece reserved so that no one else would buy it out from under her…..and her low ball offer…..God, I’m too nice.) She assured me she did want it, and would still be coming on Saturday.

So, today she walked into my home with her husband who immediately asked me where the 4th chair was. There was never a 4th chair, and the buyer knew this. I figured he was running his “game” as so many Craigslist buyers do….immediately picking out perceived imperfections, feigning some disappointment aimed to bring the seller down in price.  I know your game, jerk-off, and homey don’t play. “What’s this?”He says, pointing at some miniscule thing I didn’t even have a response to.” “So you’ve had it refinished?” Yes….Yes….Yes…that’s what it said in the listing. 3 chairs, 1 table with a leaf, original table pads, extra fabric the ENTIRE FREAKING SET PROFESSIONALLY and PAINSTAKINGLY refinished….just as outlined – and none of that has changed. Was I rude? Of course not. I kindly and patiently answered all their questions as they circled the table like a couple of vultures. I was under the impression that they were there to pick it up….not pick it apart. I excused myself just as the woman I’d been dealing with asked me to give them some time to “think about it.”  I replied, “Of course, take all the time you need,” thinking to myself, “What is there to think about? It’s killer. Buy it or get out of my house.”

Did I say that? Of course not. I did dishes as they took their time. Then much to my surprise, the buyer hollered for me, and offered a hand shake. “Thank you, but we’re going to pass. It doesn’t fit our needs.” Fit your needs? It’s a dining table and chairs….What exactly did you think it would do? You had dimensions, detailed photographs, and an exhaustive list of what had been done, and you insisted you had to have it. I reserved the item for you after re-confirming that you were still coming to pick it up, and all of a sudden it doesn’t fit your needs? I fart in your general direction. Are you kidding me? What a huge waste of my time and effort. What a huge waste of your own time. Unbelievable, really.

So here’s a very simple lesson in etiquette when dealing with Craigslist and Etsy or Ebay, for that matter.

Be upfront and honest about your needs. If you’re not sure, just say so. Don’t insist you’re going to buy something if you really aren’t sure.

Feel free to ask questions, but be sure to respond in kind. If you ask for a quote, take a moment to say, “Yeah, thanks but no thanks….I decided not to go ahead.” At least then, you’re not leaving anyone hanging.

Ask your husband BEFORE requesting the seller jump through hoops. It’s really annoying to answer questions, send more pictures, run shipping quotes, etc. etc. only to hear your husband doesn’t like it. If I asked my husband to like everything I bought, we’d be sitting on the floor in a house with empty walls, eating with our hands and wiping our asses with old sponges. (But there would be t.v.).

Say thank you. “Thank you for your time.” It doesn’t take much. This goes for just about anything. Let people know you appreciate the time they’ve spent.

If you’re a seller….beware. Flakes are among us-and they shop on Craigslist. The world is rife with people who say they’re going to do something, then disappear into thin air. Despite this, always be kind, and take vacations – because you will need them. Don’t count your chickens until they hatch.  Be honest yourself, and hopefully more often than not, you’ll deal with delightful buyers. They are out there too-and if you maintain your integrity, they will find you.

I feel better already. Thank you for your time and thank you for reading my post.

This has been a public service announcement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emperor’s New Clothes

Do you ever get the feeling as you peruse Etsy.com or Ebay.com or any of those sites that things are getting out of control? I’m talking about shops and sellers that feature the sale of certain mid-century and mid-century modern furniture, etc. I’m going to be brutally honest, because if you can’t be brutally honest on your own blog, what’s the point of having one?

Having become a shop owner myself, I now have a better understanding of what it takes to score these vintage finds, how much time, driving, gas, and effort is required. The time for sourcing, unloading, refinishing in many cases, cleaning, photographing and listing. Most of my work and time isn’t compensated. I’ll be honest. I do it for the love of the hunt…the thrill of getting something completely unique and cool into the hands of someone who I know will appreciate it. I have been so snarky in the past about pricing being thrifty myself, but since becoming an Etsy shop owner, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut for the most part. This “job” isn’t easy.

One required task I didn’t mention is research. The more research I do, the more I get this feeling that there are too many delusional sellers out there. Fab.com, 1stdibs.com, even some people selling via Craigslist….I’ll be honest: I LAUGH OUT LOUD at some of the prices I’m seeing these days. Who in their right minds would pay those kinds of prices? I realize that there is a lot of work required in finding these things….and refinishing, and cost associated with outsourcing if the refinishing is beyond your scope or ability. BUT SERIOUSLY. I live in one of the most expensive MCM markets in the country, and I don’t get it. I do, however, get the sneaking suspicion that people are trying to pay the mortgage with the sale of a single chair, for example. Do you feel what I’m puttin’ down?

Allow me to paint a picture. I found a rare Brown Saltman Dining Set….John Keal was the designer, and the set is totally atomic, straight out of the 50’s. Being pregnant, and not able to mess with things like now powdery-foam chairs and refinishing wood with nasty chemicals, I outsourced the refinishing of this piece to a professional. He did such a beautiful job it actually took my breath away. I wish I had an adequate before photo. The seat material was ripped to shreds, and every time you moved the chairs, orange powder spilled out of them (what used to be foam). The wood was scuffed and the finish had seen much better days.

So I had the whole thing refinished….keeping only the maker’s mark and string chair backs untouched. My guy even reattached the Brown Saltman manufacturing tags to the underside of the newly upholstered chairs.

004 006

 

007 012 011

Okay, so are you with me so far? Stunning. The seats are actually a chartreuse color. The photographs give it more of a lime tint, but I assure you the seats are quintessential mid-century mod pops of chartreuse. The wood is a warm and cheery (but still sophisticated) pecan color. Everything is working perfectly….the table pulls out for the leaf extension seamlessly. The chairs. I mean….the legs, the shape. Could you just DIE?

But there are only 3 chairs. Insert sad music here. A bit of a bummer, but I priced accordingly, thinking in today’s market mixing and matching complementing chairs is all the rage anyway. All things considered, this set is currently in my Etsy shop for an affordable and practical $1500.00.  So guess what I found AFTER pricing my table and chairs? A set exactly like this one, (I’m not sure how re-finished) only with 4 chairs on 1stdibs.com for……wait for it….wait for it……$4500.00

Excuse me? I’m sorry, what?

I can’t speak for 1stdibs….but the chair pads look original, as does the dirty material they’re finished in. And they want HOW much for this?

Found on 1stdibs.com
Found on 1stdibs.com

Most people don’t spend that kind of money on their first car. No, really – they don’t. And I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on ANY dining room table and chairs. I don’t care if I had enough money to wipe my a** with. It’s just WRONG.

Am I alone here? Hello? I hope I haven’t offended anyone. It just baffles my mind and all I can think of is The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.  I’m all about making a little cash-but this is a fleecing, 1stdibs.  I hope at some point this MCM mania dies down a bit, and we can all come back down to reality. This stuff should be affordable; just as the original manufacturers and designers intended it to be all those years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nursery Reveal!

I just can’t wait any longer to post this mid-century modern-inspired nursery reveal. I have my reasons: exhaustion, feeling completely brain-dead at this point, and/or the fact that I’m measuring about 2 weeks ahead. That means baby could be here within just a few weeks (or less.gulp).

Let's start with the obligatory BEFORE photo
Let’s start with the obligatory BEFORE photo

Refresher: Baby’s room is the smallest room in the house, and was formerly a guest room. Just as the nursery rhyme about the old lady that swallowed the fly, so too went the office. The nursery ate the guest room, the guest room ate the office and the office is now eating a small corner of the master bedroom.

I had the molding removed and the walls re-textured and repainted. We added a light fixture where there was previously none…and splurged on a Nelson Bubble Lamp from Modernica. With all the downsizing and shifting around, I had to sell my Adrian Pearsall Chair. Adrian Pearsall funded George Nelson. I’m so happy with the fixture, I could eat it.

Sans Molding and Added Lighting
Sans Molding and Added Lighting

 

I wanted to go with a neutral paint color again because I knew I’d be working with a pretty wild color palette.

A wonderful aunt of mine sowed the curtains…

Big Brother is ready. Are you ready?
Big Brother is ready. Are you ready?

Drum Roll please?

Reveal  (9)
Ta-Daaaaa!

Grandma gifted us a teal lava lamp which will work as a little night-light! Not a bad idea!

The side table above was found on Target.com (thanks to Elena!!).  It brings some warm and earthy wood tones which you simply must have in mid-century modern design. Wink.

The gray ottoman pouf is from Walmart.com. (The vinyl ottoman I blogged about buying for the space was too large, and clashed with the rocker. It is now providing a pop of color in our den.)

Reveal  (12.2)
Reading & Rocking Nook

 

I had a very loose forest animal theme. I started by designing a mid-centuryish room I wouldn’t mind living in, then added a few kiddie touches here and there. The diaper basket was a very thoughtful baby shower gift-and perfectly compliments the changing table.

Mid-Century Modern Credenza
Mid-Century Modern Credenza Doubles as Changing Table

We had the art in our old office…I think it works pretty well with the space…

Art by Fab.com
ABC Art by Fab.com

 

I repainted the crib in “granite” gray in keeping with the theme.

Ikea Crib repainted in gray for Round 3
Ikea Crib repainted in gray for Round 3 will convert into a toddler bed later down the line.

Tchotchkes to be added to the Target floating shelf later on, when I’m feeling less spent creativity wise..

Reveal  (2)

That my friends, is all she wrote. Minimalist, but ready. Small, but functional. I love how much of this room has history. The reupholstered atomic era rocking chair, the Ikea crib (that belonged to my son, then my niece, and has been repainted for the baby), the flea market-found credenza. The bookshelf was a Goodwill piece that I repainted and even the toys were inherited from my eldest. I think the mix of old and new came together pretty well! I hope you enjoyed it. Now all we need is the newest and most important addition of all.  If you’re interested, resources for the room are listed below.

Resources:

Paint: Sherwin Williams, Navajo White, Eggshell Finish

Saucer Lamp by George Nelson: Ylighting

Crib: Ikea (model no longer available)

Hourglass Accent/Side Table: Target

Framed Woodland Animal Art: Etsy.com/AldariArt

Bird Mobile: Babies R Us / Skip Hop Treetop Friends

Atomic Rocker: Craigslist Find

Rocker Fabric: Etsy.com/Tangerine Orange/ PopDecorFabrics

Faux Sheep Skin Rug: Ikea

Urban Ottoman Pouf: Walmart.com /in Gray

Credenza: Long Beach Flea Market Find/ Long Beach Veteran’s Stadium

White Floating Shelf: Target

Drapes: HGTV for Joann’s Fabrics/ Boxed in Peacock

 

Psst! If you like the color scheme and modish things, this super-cute diaper bag is available at Babies R Us.

Thanks again, Grandma!
Thanks again, Grandma!

 

Mid-Century Modern-Inspired Baby Shower

Well, we’ve done it. Our MCM baby shower has come and gone. I have my mother and sisters-in-law to thank for all of their incredible efforts. You always worry about things coming together, people having a good time, and they really made all that happen beautifully. It was a fun time had by all and the shower was gorgeous. I’ll dive straight in, and share a few of the sources that were used.

It started with this mid-century modern-inspired invitation by EmilyAnnDesigns:

Etsy Emily Ann Designs

I mean….I’m not Katie Matthews….but that IS my nursery. Down to the gray crib and Nelson saucer light. Heaven.

We got to put my newly-refinished bar cart and Dorothy Thorpe collection to good use before it all sold! (Silver rimmed punch bowl and cups still available here)

Sexy Bar Cart Alert!!!!
Sexy Bar Cart Alert!!!!

The menu consisted of punch, finger sandwiches and veggie cups. And of course, a summery mango cake (that was OMG good).

Finger Sandwiches. And Veggie Cups. Very Retro!
Finger Sandwiches. And Veggie Cups. Very Retro!

 

The shower invitation served as decoration inspiration for the cake! Almost too cute to eat. Almost.

My invite was inspiration for the cake! Almost too cute to eat. Almost.

For those of you interested, Callum (pronounced cal-um) will be the baby’s name. It’s Scottish, as are my family’s origins. The Irish husband got the Irish name for the first child, and I claimed the second. The name is Scottish for “dove” and very seldom used in the U.S.- which is the point. So don’t go copying me, or I’ll have to kill you.

Ahem. Back to our shower!

There were games of course, including pinning a cloth diaper on as many balloons as you could while timed, a game where you had to wear a pink foam roller in your hair every time you were caught crossing your legs or arms, and a baby food naming contest. We also had a little Mad Men-type advertising game where you had to guess advertising slogans – and fill in which company ran the ad.

That's my cutey patootie mom in the background, and my little sis-in-law pinning a diaper on a balloon.
That’s my cutey patootie mom in the background, and my little sis-in-law expertly pinning a diaper on a balloon.

 

My aunt and I comparing tummies
My aunt and I comparing tummies

Guests could make wishes and leave sweet notes for baby on this “wishing tree.”

Wishing cards with adorable quotes printed at the bottom were also found on Etsy.com

at FreeSpiritCrafting

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Another really great idea were the retro-ey aprons and “photo booth” area complete with a Polaroid camera, and scrapbooking accessories. Guests were asked to dress up with the props of their choice, snap a photo, then decorate a page that would later go in a scrapbook for me and baby. A sweet and fantastically thoughtful idea!

Aprons for "photo booth"
Aprons for “photo booth”
My son and I posing at the end of the shower for a "photo booth" shot.
My son and I posing at the end of the shower for a “photo booth” shot.

Shower Photo Booth 7.19.14

Guests got to go home with little sticky note favors and handsome bow tie cookies.

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Thanks to awesome Etsy shop owners, the creative minds on Pinterest, and most of all –  these three awesome ladies…

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Baby and I are so blessed.

 

 

 

DIY Teak Restoration

Nesting: It is a blessing. It is an affliction. At this very moment, I have about 25 different projects up in the air. Some, the validity of which is questionable. Why do the walls in the garage bother me so? Because I’m nesting. Everything MUST be perfect. Now. I can tell the garage walls haven’t been painted since the late nineties when our home was built, because there are other children’s heights and corresponding dates still on display. Add to that the one million nail and screw holes that decorate the space taunt me as I pull the car in each day. It was livable before this phase…at the current moment however, it is intolerable. Since I’m in the middle of painting and organizing my garage, I thought I’d rewind to a much more interesting subject: restoring teak wood.

This teak desk restoration project has probably been one of my favorites to date. (The only thing perhaps equally gratifying was the rust removal I got to do on my Saarinen tulip table way back when.)

Below are the BEFORE photos. This desk, although completely functional with sliding drop leaf, and drawers that can be moved from side to side depending on your preference, was in pretty rough shape. I can report fading, white drink rings, and what looked to be a burn stain at one side of the desk. I still felt like I was stealing it when I found it at a thrift shop. I mean people….this is TEAK we’re talking about here. Only the most gorgeous wood on the planet.

Desk 1 Desk 2

I consulted a trusted source of mine – someone who I have purchased a few pieces from over the years and who really knows her wood refinishing. I was surprised when she recommended I dilute some ivory dish soap, and clean the piece before deciphering the damage. You can really see the color potential when the teak is damp…

Wet with Ivory...
Wet with Ivory…
Desk 4 burn stain
Burn Mark? Let’s call it character.

Once the piece dried, it went right back to blah. I was ready to sand!

Here's our soap clean desk after drying
Here’s our soap cleaned desk after drying

I happen to have the sander my father so kindly loaned to me – complete with fine sand paper, which I used for this project. Here are some sanding shots:

Desk 7 Sanded Desk 6 Sanded

Important notes…with a drop leaf, you need to have the drop leaf extended for all-at-once-sanding, and don’t forget go with the grain! I used the electric sander for the desk top, which was in the worst shape. For the remainder; legs, sides, etc….I sanded by hand, using extra fine sand paper.

Once the sanding was complete, I again cleaned the piece with diluted ivory dish soap. Once dried, I applied two coats of Teak Oil – about 30 minutes apart. I used Watco Teak Oil. The scoop is, to apply liberally, let it soak in for about 30 minutes, wipe down, and reapply if necessary. Wait an additional 15 minutes for absorption of the second coat before wiping the excess oil away. Two coats were all I needed to completely transform this piece and bring it back to life!

Desk 9 2 Coats of Teak Oil Teak Desk Finals (1)

After 8-10 hours of drying, your teak is ready to go! See how the drawers can be moved side to side? Fantastic.

Teak Desk Finals (4) Teak Desk Finals (2)

AFTER:  BOOM!
AFTER:
BOOM!

I don’t think there is anything more gorgeous than oiled teak. This desk sold almost immediately, and I was a little sad to see it go. I hope to find another piece like it in the future – until then, I’ll be readying our garage for the next project.

Nursery Nutbag & the Pouf Problem

I’m obsessing. I know I am. I can’t help it. I’m not a designer, nor do I have a bottomless budget for this new project I’ve embarked upon. Perhaps that’s why it’s taking me so long to finish our mid-century modern inspired nursery.

I’m getting there, but I don’t think I’ve ever given so much thought to one room. This really makes me re-think my “abilities” in the department of design. Okay, okay, so the budget is part of it. I can’t just see stuff and buy it. I have to scrounge, Craigslist some things to buy other things…I have to save, I have to be creative. (Let’s not forget I’d much rather recycle and reuse than buy new.)

I don’t want to give too much away yet…but I do need help from all you designer-istas out there!

Once again….here’s where my inspiration began:

Here's the idea board found on Pinterest.
Here’s the idea board found on Pinterest.

I’m not sticking to it 100%….there will be more vintage furniture than new – but you get the idea.

Here are my colors:

Color Pallette
Color Palette

And here was part of my challenge this week:

Feeding & Reading Nook - in need of side table and foot stool/ottoman
Feeding & Reading Nook – in need of side table and foot stool/ottoman

The scoop: this room that is becoming the “mid-century modern-inspired” nursery is the smallest room in our entire house. Tiny, in fact. It goes without saying that every square inch needs to feature clean design while being multi-functional. This particular corner that backs up to the closet – will be the “feeding & reading nook” as I’ve named it. After an exhaustive search for the very trendy floor “pouf” or ottoman, I decided to stick with traditional MCM instead. Can I just say how ridiculously expensive the little balls of fabric and stuffing are? Oh.My.Goodness!

A pouf such as this one from CB2 will cost you $80 before shipping:

knitted graphite pouf from CB2
knitted graphite pouf from CB2

…okay, so maybe not terrible, but it wasn’t quite the right color, and it was more than I wanted to spend. On a pouf. Do you feel me? Plus, my anal-retentive personality kicked in and all I could think of was trying to vacuum dog hair, dry spit up, and crushed up Cheerios from between the knits.  Stay with me….

So then I thought….how about a leather pouf? Or better yet, a Moroccan Pouf!!! In TEAL!!!

Moroccan Pouf Found on AllModern.com
Moroccan Pouf Found on AllModern.com

That’ll be $139 before shipping. And too big for my tiny space. Beautiful. Fun. Colorful and functional. Don’t get me wrong. Just not what I needed.

So then I turned (as I have a milllllllion times before) to Etsy.com. Low and behold, I found it. My solution. An orange vinyl foot stool/ottoman with fantastic atomic legs just like those on my sweet little rocker.

Hello, Gorgeous!
Hello, Gorgeous!

Stool top

Once I get the okay – I’ll let you know what shop I found this little treasure in! This little guy will soon be on its way to me – and I can’t wait to be able to feature it in the room reveal.

Here’s what I need help with from my design-savvy readers:

Finding an affordable side table that is small, functional and affordable. I was originally thinking a Saarinen tulip side table (not necessarily name brand)…

Tulip Side Table Repro
Tulip Side Table Repro

… and then Google knocked me down a few notches. Even the reproductions start at close to $200. Vintage is twice that! Yikes!

So then I got to thinking about our very loose “woodland animal” theme… and thought about bringing some different materials in. What about a wood side table? Have you seen these around?

Eco-Friendly and Pretty unique.
Eco-Friendly and Pretty unique.

Eco-Friendly Wood Stumps…your thoughts?

That’s where I’m, well, stumped. This Nursery Nutbag needs help. Texture? Color? Materials? Functionality? Any suggestions would be sooooo welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elbow Grease

It’s amazing to me what a throw-away society we live in. I see it all the time in my MCM groups on Facebook. Pictures of gorgeous solid wood furniture, thrown out with the trash. Completely salvageable and not to mention beautiful pieces left on street corners, alleyways and in dumpsters. Luckily, there are folks out there that value the old, and can see the sometimes hidden potential. I can’t say I’ve been dumpster diving before…but I have great admiration those that have. I’ve seen some really stunning pieces saved and given new life by some of my fellow MCM fanatics.

While I tend to find my treasures in thrift shops, (my city is considered wine country, and its overrun with rod-ironed Tuscan fever. Yikes) I almost feel a duty to regularly frequent said shops to “save” neglected pieces. When I take a break from stocking my store, or looking for something for my own home, I feel as though somehow I’ll be missing out on something. (That might also be considered addiction…but who’s judging!?)

In recent weeks, I’ve found some pretty serious treasures that just needed some good old-fashioned elbow grease. In fairness, I can see how someone might have passed them by; either too busy to bother, or maybe they just didn’t know what they were looking at. You’ll see why I’ve been busy – but not busy blogging. I’ll bust these out into separate DIY tutorials later…but for now, here are some of the things I’ve been working on:

PROJECT 1: Bar Cart Revival

-So this piece was Nasty McNasty. Cobwebs, worn finish, scratched glass from being used to hold flower pots outdoors…

BEFORE PHOTO 1
BEFORE PHOTO 1
Bar Cart Project
BEFORE PHOTO 2
AFTER: Cleaned, sanded and painted.
AFTER: Cleaned, sanded and painted.

I kept the glass, just cleaned it up a bit and refinished the frame with some gold spray paint. Voila! We are so HOLLYWOOD!

AFTER PHOTO 2 - Bar Service
AFTER PHOTO 2 – Bar Service

PROJECT 2 – Dorothy Thorpe Roly Poly Glasses

-These guys were simple…they just needed some time spent polishing them.  Come on now… who wouldn’t do a little work to have these beauties at your bar?

BEFORE: Dorothy's looking pretty varnished
BEFORE: Dorothy’s looking pretty varnished
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DURING PHOTOS: I used a soft silver cleaning cloth in order to minimize silver loss, rather than using harsh chemicals. After all, they will be used to DRINK out of.
DURING PHOTOS: I used a soft silver cleaning cloth in order to minimize silver loss, rather than using chemicals.
Do you see the difference in the three on left and three on right? Night and day. I did feel like I might be developing carpal tunnel, but the end result was worth it!
Dorothy Thorpe (1)
AFTER: Oh it’s HAPPY HOUR, GUYS AND GALS!
AFTER: Oh it's HAPPY HOUR!
No seriously, these are going up for sale tomorrow in my store! 🙂 If you want them, go get them! https://www.etsy.com/shop/MidCenturyObsession?ref=si_shop

PROJECT 3: Arne Vodder Teak Drop Leaf Desk FOUND!

-This desk was dull and sad-looking. He had some white water stains, what looked to be a burn mark, and just needed a facelift. Challenge accepted!

BEFORE: Arne Vodder Danish Teak Desk
BEFORE: Arne Vodder Danish Teak Desk

Desk 4 burn stain

DURING PHOTOS: Stains and all, this baby just needed some lovin'.
DURING PHOTOS:
Stains and all, this baby just needed some lovin’.
AFTER: BANG!
AFTER: BANG!
AFTER:  BOOM!
AFTER:
BOOM!

I’m not tooting my own horn, here. This is just what I love to do. I’ve learned that despite whatever others might tell you, wanting to improve things and make them beautiful again is not a shortcoming, it’s a gift. The best part is that these projects are relatively simple. You just need a little time, maybe some caffeine and some tenacity. Next time you’re in need of something for your home, consider hitting your local thrift stores; recycling and reusing. Try to resist the “immediate gratification” we’ve become so accustomed to. The amount of pride you will get out of bringing something unwanted back to life again is worth the wait (and the elbow grease).

 

Bubble Lamp Splurge – George Nelson in the house!

I’ve alluded to my obsession with the George Nelson Bubble Lamp. Here’s a little spoiler alert: I bought one. Not for me…but for the nursery. Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpson’s where Homer Simpson buys a bowling ball for his wife Marge, and the ball is inscribed “Homer?” Ha! Well, it’s sorta like that. I’m a frugal gal, despite what my husband likes to think. I shop at Goodwill and Salvation Army and prefer to reuse instead of consuming new. However, my son will be covered in hand-me-downs for the next 4-5 years of his life; he will be sleeping in his brother’s old bed, playing with his brother’s old toys and reading his brother’s books. The aforementioned is how I’ve justified shooting my wad on a new light fixture for his room. Would I rather have it in my kitchen perfectly perched over my tulip table? Yes…but baby’s room lacks any kind of overhead lighting and I can not think of a cooler accessory for the newest member of our family.

This was delivered a couple weeks back...
This was delivered a couple of weeks back…

 

Wait for it....wait for it!!!
Wait for it….wait for it!!!
BAM!!!!!!!
BAM!!!!!!!

Totally Fantastic Medium Saucer Bubble Lamp by George Nelson – manufactured by Modernica!

Here’s a proper photo from YLighting, where I purchased this one:

YLiving
YLighting

In case you’re in the market for a bubble lamp, I ordered from YLighting because they seemed to offer the lowest price on new lamps out there, and they offered FREE shipping.

My mother tells me that my grandmother had a cigar lamp like one of these beauties…

Cigar Lamp

…Apparently fabulous taste runs in families. 🙂

Now I know you’re usually used to seeing them in living rooms and dining rooms, but rules are meant to be broken-especially when designing a mid-century modern nursery!

Here are a few shots of where you usually see these guys.

I do so love the clusters of lamps at different heights…but the practical part of me says “dear LORD, that’s a lot of money hanging from the ceiling.”

Found on midcenturymodernfreak.tumblr.com
Found on midcenturymodernfreak.tumblr.com
Found on midcenturia.tumblr.com
Found on midcenturia.tumblr.com

 

Found on johnlumarchitecture.com
Found on johnlumarchitecture.com
Found on nytimes.com
Found on nytimes.com
Found on dwr.com
Found on dwr.com

For more bubble eye candy….go to my original post on George Nelson Bubble Lamps.

 

 

This little addition to our little one’s room gets me even more excited to welcome him into the world! Hopefully he’ll find his room as cozy and welcoming as I’m trying to make it. If he doesn’t, I can always steal back the lamp…

 

 

 

 

 

Hokey-Oak Bookcase Remake D-I-Y

It’s no secret: I’m having a baby, and we’re on a budget for the mid-century modern-inspired nursery. So far, I’ve repurposed and repainted my first born’s Ikea crib, reupholstered a vintage 50’s rocker found on Craigslist, and found a mid-century modern credenza at the Long Beach Flea to double as storage and a changing table. Wanting to knock out all the furniture-related needs asap, I jumped at the hokey-oak bookcase I found at Goodwill a few weeks ago.

Let it be said that I really dislike oak. You know, the honey-hued late 80’s and 90’s stuff with the moulding and rounded edges. Well, when I was at the Goodwill not too long ago, that’s exactly what I spotted. Just begging to be painted and repurposed, this solid wood baby was $30.

Solid Oak, custom corner cabinet...just waiting for a makeover.
Solid Oak, custom corner cabinet…just waiting for a makeover.

Here’s a re-cap of my inspiration board found on Pinterest. We’re working with a very small room for our babe-on-the-way so the corner cabinet fit the bill.

Here's the idea board found on Pinterest.
Here’s the idea board found on Pinterest.

I just loved the pop of color from the orange and white book case. So out to Home Depot I went and had a quick chat with the nice man in the paint department. He suggested I get the paint + primer. Wise counsel is never a bad thing. For $15, I had my hands on 1 quart of “Tart Orange” bookcase paint.

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“Modern” Line Home Decorators Collection by Behr. Color: Tart Orange

Here’s what you’ll need to prep your piece:

Prybar & Hammer (to remove hideous moulding)

Krud Kutter (to remove excess wood glue)

Electric Sander (because it’s just plain fun to use power tools)

Putty Knife (for jimmying off excess wood)

Fine Sandpaper (to scuff up your surface)

Painters Tape

Toooooolzzzzzz
Toooooolzzzzzz

I had a couple “Oh Sh*t” moments during this project. The first was that the custom cabinet makers did such a good job of gluing the molding at top and bottom of the piece that the wood splintered and wouldn’t come completely off.

In stepped the Krud Kutter. When that did it’s work, we still had some wood and glue residue left over. (They REALLY didn’t want that moulding to come off)

After the Krud Kutter dried, I enlisted the help of Mr. Power Sander and Mr. Putty Knife (Wearing “safety aviators” and a Michael Jackson mask, of course!)

A rather un flattering photo of me courtesy of my 5 year old. Thanks buddy.
A rather unflattering photo of me courtesy of my 5 year old. Thanks buddy.

After sanding, and chipping away, then sanding and chipping away again, and again, I was over it….and this is what I decided was going to be good enough for a friggin’ kid’s room. Don’t anger the pregnant lady.

See the glue line?
See the glue line?

I wiped the mess away using Murphy Oil Soap. (All of these items-except the paint were in my arsenal already, keeping the cost of the project minimal. It was allllll labor on this one.)

011

So after removing the molding, scuffing up the shelves and sanding down the excess wood and glue, I gave this piece a nice wipe down with Murphy’s. And it’s paint time, baby!

Dear Lord...
Dear Lord…

This was my second “Oh Sh*t” moment. As in, “Oh sh*t, I’m going to have to paint each shelf 5 times.” As it turned out, the magic number was 4….but my quart of paint was plenty enough to cover the challenge.

Let’s skip ahead here…

002

4 coats and about 4 days later, we’re ready for the white! I grabbed some Rustoleum ready-made latex paint (Semi-Gloss in White) and started rolling the edges.

009 (2)

A few days after that….I gave the piece a clear coating using some clear spray paint I had in the garage. At this point, I was so tired of the project, that petroleum jelly could have done. I was over it.

Could I have gone to Ikea, and bought a Billy Bookcase for $99? Yes. I could have, but I much prefer re-using and recycling if possible. I got to rescue a piece of furniture that was otherwise unwanted. In the end, my project cost less than 1/2 what a new bookcase would have AND I got solid wood, versus particle board.

Billy Bookcase from Ikea
Billy Bookcase from Ikea

The end result?

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Up the stairs to the nursery she went….and my 5-year-old son lovingly placed his old baby toys and books on the shelf for his brother-to-be. That sight made all the work worth it.