Best of 2013 Midcentury Modern Design

One of my favorite sites, Houzz.com featured the most popular pics/posts in Midcentury Modern design for 2013. I’d like to share that post with you (the pictures are to die for). I know it’s provided me with some great design ideas in the new year…

General contractors, home builders, and more ∨

Ideas for your living spaces, lights and landscape design.
Search for fun counter stools, clocks, sectionals and storage dressers to spice up your basement.

It’s Beginning to Look (and sound) a Lot Like Christmas

Indeed, Christmas time is here. I’ve been busy stocking my Etsy shop full of Mid-Century Modern goods and gifts in anticipation of the holiday season, and it has kept me from my blog.  Still, I managed to get the house decorated, the tree up, and I can report that Christmas came early again this year. My lovely mother sent me a hostess gift in anticipation of our family’s Christmas Eve celebration at my place. Seriously. How thoughtful is she? I could have kittens.

Color WheelI got one of these….. to go with this:

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Now I don’t have to worry about cooking my butterball turkey via electrical fire. Yes, this color wheel is a reproduction, and probably a much safer device to use. To get one of your own, visit the Vermont Country Store.

As if that weren’t enough, my dear husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas about a month back…and he is famous for getting me exactly what I ask for. What can I say? I’m a blessed woman.

This year, I wanted the gift of music. We are a family of music-lovers as the neighbors are now probably aware.

Check out this 1960’s GE beauty:

 

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It has a working record player that converts to 45’s, and it includes reel to reel. It even came complete with the original handbook. I love the sound that an old record player makes. Do I want that particular sound every day? Honestly, no. The best part about this gift is that it’s old AND new. I bought an $8 splitter that hooks into the back of the console and this blast from the past also adapts to my Ipod. Do you know who sounds better coming through those speakers via Ipod than record? Rosemary Clooney and the other “Women of Christmas.” Swoon. (You can find it at Target. I tried online. Impossible. But it is at Target.)

Christmas Belles

I cannot wait to have my Christmas tunes playing at Christmas Eve this year; I can already imagine laughter and music filling the air. The only thing better than receiving these gifts will be sharing them with the ones I love.

‘Tis the Season!

P.S….If you’re on the hunt for MCM gifts for friends and family, please favorite my shop on Etsy.com. I will be adding new items all this week and shipping out prior to the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfulness….

When I think of the Thanksgiving holiday, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel totally and completely blessed.

It seems silly to complain at all, really. But just for fun….let’s talk about something that’s been on my mind that I’m NOT so thankful for: The price of mid-century modern furnishings these days.

I’ve talked about it before….and it seems to only be getting worse; as the popularity of the mid-century modern and retro movement gains momentum, so do the price tags of these items. Okay, okay….so I do benefit from that myself. I am an Etsy shop owner. I do make a very minimal profit on each an every item I find and offer for sale. However, my husband would tell you it’s just enough to keep me shopping and barely covers the cost of me driving all over the place “treasure hunting.” There are others that make a living, or supplement their incomes by sourcing, repairing, and subsequently selling MCM furniture. More power to them! However, with my budget, I’m better off on my own.

Recently I was in an online forum where we were discussing the price of items on the west coast. Comparatively speaking, most California prices are hefty, and it’s better to source what you need from people who are willing to ship to you from across the country. Or, you can do as the pilgrims did, and work for it yourself.

Take my advice and make it a habit to seek out your nearest thrift store. You might be really surprised by what you find. One of my favorite local shops is Angel View. There are stores in Temecula, Murrieta, Hemet and Palm Springs as well. Their organization supports and employs the disabled, so it’s not only fun; it’s also for a good cause. Let me tell you…I’ve scored treasures unlike anywhere else at Angel View. The trick is to go during the week in the early morning hours. That’s when the pickin’ is best. If you are a 9-5er like so many are, maybe make it an occasional lunch break outing. Find a Goodwill or Salvation Army near you, pack your lunch and head out for a quick hunt! Another tip is to sign up for EstateSales.net notifications. They’ll send you weekly emails on estate sales in your area. Most of the estate companies feature photos, so you’ll know what to expect before heading out the door. For you 9-5ers who can’t “thrift” during the week, most estate sales are featured on weekends-Fri/Sat/Sun.

Here are a couple of my most recent scores located at a thrift shops. They will be recycled and re-loved in my home:

Thrift find.
The coffee table in my den is a thrift find.
Sugar/Tea/Coffee/Flour aaaaand Bread Canister by Crestline 14.99 at Goodwill - and $100 on Etsy.com
Sugar/Tea/Coffee/Flour aaaaand Bread Canister by Crestline. These seem to be pretty rare in this condition, and the only similar one I could find on Etsy is now going for over $100. Say what?! I had to scrub a thick layer of tar off this baby, but it was so worth it. Turns out tar is not just a nasty by-product of the smokin’ mid-century, but it also happens to be an EXCELLENT preservative.

 

Look at her! I found her, in all her original upholstery and glory this week. She's not perfect, and needs a tiny bit of work, but she's mine forever, and I would have paid out the nose for her elsewhere.
Look at her! I found her, in all her original upholstery and glory this week. She’s not perfect, and needs a tiny bit of work, but she’s mine forever, and I would have paid out the nose for her elsewhere.

 

So take it from me, you lovers of MCM: If you’re on a modest budget and aren’t happy about the prices you see out there, do your research and get to steppin’! So as the pilgrims learned to sow the ground they landed on, you too shall reap the benefit of your own sweat and tears! And that my friends, is something to be thankful for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mod Shop – A Palm Springs Must See!

Last month, I had the pleasure of previewing Modernism Week (coming up in February 2014) and some of its offerings. Let me tell you, if you’re ever fortunate enough to get to visit Palm Springs, CA there is one place that you have to visit!

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Located at 1068 North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, Mod Shop by RoomService is the place to see!

We were greeted by Mireya who was super fun and friendly. It’s not very often that I step into a store and become short of breath…but I did here. There’s so much to look at and so many colors and textures to see and feel….it’s just overwhelming (in a fantastic way). The furniture! The pillows! The color! OMG the colors!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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As you can see, this store runs the gamut as far as modern and mid-century modern furnishings and textiles go.  On my next visit, I’ll be bringing the truck, because one of those ball chairs are going home with me!

To see more, go to www.modshop1.com

 

 

Modernism Week Preview

A couple of weekends ago, I was joined by my lovely mother in Palm Springs for a tour of Modernism Week. We had selected a walking tour featuring Modern Commercial Structures of Fashion and Finance. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, and we found the tour to be both interesting and informative. The tour was offered through Modernism Week but hosted by Palm Springs Historical Society. There were people from all over the country and even Canada that joined us to view some of the buildings that line Indian Canyon Road and Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.

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Side note: If you go down to P.S. on your own, make sure to hit the Palm Springs Visitors Center and pick up a handy $5 map of “Modern Palm Springs.” That handy little thing is like GOLD to you MCM nuts out there. It has a detailed map numbered with 82 different points of interest, both residential and commercial. Each of those 82 points are listed and have a small description featuring address, year built, and architect info. JACKPOT!!!!

 

 

IMG_0352 Palm Springs 001

This Union Bank above doesn’t look like much from the outside, but when you get to the terra-cotta wall that faces the street (500 S. Palm Canyon) you’ll see a beautiful story in pictures of Palm Springs history from it’s very beginning to modern-day. This location was an excellent example of desert modernism, as the rock façade (not pictured) incorporates the use of desert elements.

 

 

 

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This Bank of America (formerly City National Bank) building is not what you’d typically expect in MCM architecture, but exhibits use of mid-century modern components. “Brise-soleil” (pronounced bree-soh-ley) is an architectural element popular at the time that shielded the building from direct sunlight, but still allowed filtered light to enter the space. The reflection you see in the windows on the above-right photo used to be covered by a geometrically patterned brise-soleil as seen below.

 

Brise-Soleil. J PEG

Both photos shamlessly scanned from my new "Palm Springs Holiday" book by Peter Moruzzi. You need to get one.
Both photos shamelessly scanned from my new “Palm Springs Holiday” book by Peter Moruzzi. You need to get one.

Palm Springs Holiday

Thanks, Ma!

 

 

Anyway….I’m skipping some…but saving the best two for last.

Palm Springs 012 Palm Springs 010

Coachella Valley Savings and Loan (now known as Chase Bank) and it’s parabolas blew me away….

blog.preservationnation.org IMG_0371

 

 

And the former Santa Fe Savings building was under renovation and will be unveiled soon and will serve as a museum. Can’t wait to get back and see it after completion.

 

 

If you’re into mid-century modern architecture, a visit to Palm Springs is an absolute must. There is such a large concentration of original buildings that have been lovingly preserved and thoughtfully restored. Hooray for preservation!

Albert Frey's star....Frey was considered the father of "desert modernism."
Albert Frey’s star….Frey was considered the father of “desert modernism.”

The next Modernism Week is the biggest as far as tourist turn-out and tour offerings. It is in February 2014 and features more tours than you can shake a stick at. If you’re into mid-century modernism, desert modernism, or celebrity playgrounds of yore, get your butt out to Palm Springs. Some of the tours are already sold out….so if you want to go, you must get your tickets asap! Go to Modernism Week 2014.

 

Lackluster Landscape Update

September last year, I asked myself the question, “What does a mid-century modern landscape look like?” (Click here for the original post)

Being that a year has passed and there has been more money spent at Home Depot than I’d like to admit, let’s cut to the chase and talk results.

Before. Fail.
Before. Fail.
After 1 year of planting and watering....
After 1 year of planting and watering….

Um…. Yeah, so not remarkable success on the hill. As it turns out, all it took was water to bring the original ice plant back to life, and I planted some different variations in the bare spots. It’s amazing how ice plant can re-populate after being pretty much scorched to death by the sun. The weeds were also amazing, so we had to throw some cash at mulch. Nothing worse than paying for MULCH.

Landscape After (1 year) 005 Landscape After (1 year) 006 Landscape After (1 year) 007

The flowers and jasmine that you won’t see died. I had visions of jasmine vines growing like weeds, providing us with fine-smelling privacy from our neighbors, but the dying plants mock my best efforts. Maybe that’s why I don’t generally deal with flowers. It’s an “I’ll dump you before you dump me” sort of dynamic. I knew I’d kill them….or the soil would, or the sun would, and it happened. Even after adding Amend to the soil and watering like the dickens, they wilted away almost instantaneously.  I’m leaning towards more drought-tolerant succulents in the future.

"Green Apple" wins the award for "Best Grower in Caca Soil"
“Green Apple” wins the award for “Best Grower in Caca Soil”

I won’t entertain you with stories of my newly installed sprinklers rotating themselves to water my neighbors slope, and me, getting soaked in my pajamas at 6:30 a.m. trying to re-adjust the sprinkler heads. Three.Different.Times. Evil poltergeist sprinkler heads.

I will however, share with you an example of how when not aimed at  your neighbor’s yard, a little water can go a long way.

BEFORE: Favorite plant and ferns
BEFORE: Favorite plant and ferns
AFTER: Busting at the seams with tropical beauty.
AFTER: Bursting at the seams with tropical beauty.

 

The following section is still a work in progress. Meaning I started the work, but then lost interest in killing myself over the yard.

Before: Remember the ugly shrubs?
Before: Remember the ugly shrubs?

 

After: The ugly shrubs and I are 2 : 1. I replaced the unlucky guy with this plant. A philomenondenroaoamenopeana.
After: The ugly shrubs and I are 2 : 1. I replaced the unlucky guy with this plant. I think they call it philomenondenroaoamenopea.

Okay, technically, it’s a version of Philodendron (“big leaf” I think) and it’s doing quite well in the shade. I’m hoping it will grow tall and wide enough to disguise the rotting fence. One thing at a time, people.

(If you’re looking for ideas for your own yard, this month’s Sunset Magazine features a special “Water-Wise Design Guide” and offers great ideas for your fall planting.)

The lesson here is mid-century modern landscape means different things to different people, and certainly different plants for different soils. You have to work with what you’ve got. The mid-century modern movement aimed to create a seamless transition from the indoors to out. Nature, whether in the form of tropical or succulent, is to be enjoyed and appreciated. I’m hoping that at some point these beautiful plants will draw my visitors eyes, and butts, outside.

 

 

 

The Elusive Dorothy Thorpe

Let’s talk about mid-century name brands. Branding is important; Don Draper would be the first to tell you. So how do you determine if something is the real deal, or a reproduction? Does it matter? You can find many a heated discussion on the subject on mid-century modern blogs and Facebook Fan pages. I’m here to tell you, when it comes to Dorothy Thorpe, it’s really hard to know. You’ve seen Dorothy’s work…real or reproduction on Mad Men, and you’re probably starting to see it in your friends homes.

MadMenSeason3

According to the only seemingly reliable information I could track down, Dorothy Thorpe sold her interest in her company in 1953. At the time, she was well-known for her floral work and sand etching.

Here’s an excerpt:

Thorpe passed away September 4, 1989 in Carlsbad, California. Based on this revised information, it seems that Dorothy Thorpe only ever did floral and similar decorations which include the etched pieces such as coffee pots and trays that have lucite handles and bear the DTC logo. The company that purchased Dorothy C. Thorpe of California Inc., went on to produce Silver Band and other known pieces with the same attention to detail and quality as was the rule when Dorothy owned the studio herself. All of the floral and etched decorations are referenced as “Dorothy Thorpe Originals” and by the time of her retirement, she was famous for her floral decorated glassware that was owned and displayed by celebrities, galleries and museums.

The author goes on to surmise that the silver band “Mad Men” barware that we so often see labeled as “Dorothy Thorpe” is most likely the work of the company that purchased and took over the Dorothy Thorpe Company name after 1953, and further that these pieces were largely experimental. I’m thinking the gamble paid off. With the resurgence of interest in mid-century modern accessories, these glasses are a must-have for the true MCM enthusiast. If you’re hot for Thorpe or the “roly poly” barware, I’d like to share with you a few sellers who have something to offer.

This most exemplary set of 6 are offered on Etsy.com Search "RustBeltThreads"Photo Credit: RustBeltThreads
This most exemplary set of 6 are offered on Etsy.com Search “RustBeltThreads”
Photo Credit: RustBeltThreads
Set of 8 with caddy again offered by RustBeltThreads on Etsy.com Photo Credit: RustBeltThreads
Set of 8 with caddy again offered by RustBeltThreads on Etsy.com
Photo Credit: RustBeltThreads

 

Don't like the silver-band? Check out awesome Etsy seller WestTexasVintage. This set of 7 is only $28! Photo Credit: WestTexasVintage
Don’t like the silver-band? Check out awesome Etsy seller WestTexasVintage. This set of 7 is only $28!
Photo Credit: WestTexasVintage
Silver-Banned Cocktail or Juice Glasses again by WestTexasVintage. Photo Credit: WestTexasVintage
Silver-Banned Cocktail or Juice Glasses again by WestTexasVintage. Photo Credit: WestTexasVintage

 

Authentic Dorothy Thorpe or not, these roly poly glasses are HOT and they’re everywhere, and I must say that I really want a set for my wannabe Mad Men bar.  There is nothing yummier than seeing Don Draper sip from one of those roly poly glasses; personally, I don’t care who made it. Until the final season of Mad Men is released, I’ll have to get my hands on some “Dorothys” and settle for a drink alone.

Better than Booze: Don Draper
Better than Booze: Don Draper

The Elusive Dorothy Thorpe

Let’s talk about mid-century name brands. Branding is important; Don Draper would be the first to tell you. So how do you determine if something is the real deal, or a reproduction? Does it matter? You can find many a heated discussion on the subject on mid-century modern blogs and Facebook Fan pages.  I’m here to tell you, when it comes to Dorothy Thorpe, it’s really hard to know. You’ve seen Dorothy’s work…real or reproduction on Mad Men, and you’re probably starting to see it at your friends bars.

MadMenSeason3

According to the only seemingly reliable information I could track down, Dorothy Thorpe sold her interest in her company in 1953. At the time, she was well-known for her floral work and sand etching.

Here’s an excerpt:

Thorpe passed away September 4, 1989 in Carlsbad, California.  Based on this revised information, it seems that Dorothy Thorpe only ever did floral and similar decorations which include the etched pieces such as coffee pots and trays that have lucite handles and bear the DTC logo. The company that purchased Dorothy C. Thorpe of California Inc., went on to produce Silver Band and other known pieces with the same attention to detail and quality as was the rule when Dorothy owned the studio herself.  All of the floral and etched decorations are referenced as “Dorothy Thorpe Originals” and by the time of her retirement, she was famous for her floral decorated glassware that was owned and displayed by celebrities, galleries and museums.

The author goes on to surmise that the silver band “Mad Men” barware that we so often see labeled as “Dorothy Thorpe” is most likely the work of the company that purchased and took over the Dorothy Thorpe Company name after 1953, and further that these pieces were largely experimental. I’m thinking the gamble paid off. With the resurgence of interest in mid-century modern accessories, these glasses are a must-have for the true MCM enthusiast. If you’re hot for Thorpe or the “roly poly” barware, I’d like to share with you a few sellers who have something to offer.

This most exemplary set of 6 are offered on Etsy.com Search "RustBeltThreads"
This most exemplary set of 6 are offered on Etsy.com Search “RustBeltThreads”
Photo Credit: RustBeltThreads
set of 8 with caddy again offered by RustBeltThreads on Etsy.com Photo Credit: RustBeltThreads
Set of 8 with caddy again offered by RustBeltThreads on Etsy.com
Photo Credit: RustBeltThreads
Don't like the silver-band? Check out awesome Etsy seller WestTexasVintage. This set of 7 is only $28!
Don’t like the silver-band? Check out awesome Etsy seller WestTexasVintage. This set of 7 is only $28!
Photo credit: WestTexasVintage
Silver-Banned Cocktail or Juice Glasses again by WestTexasVintage.  Photo Credit: WestTexasVintage
Silver-Banned Cocktail or Juice Glasses again by WestTexasVintage.
Photo Credit: WestTexasVintage

Dorothy Thorpe or not, these roly poly glasses are HOT and they’re everywhere, and I must say that I really want some for my wannabe Mad Men bar. There is nothing yummier than seeing Don Draper sip from one of those roly poly glasses.

Better than booze: Don Draper
Better than booze: Don Draper

Modernism Week in Palm Springs Fall Kick-Off!

Modernism Week Header

This week, I’ll be your informational fairy godmother…..Here’s the email I received from the folks at Modernism Week. Get your wallets out, and start clicking!!!! I’m defo doing the bus tour this year!!!!!

October 11-14, 2013

Modernism Week presents the “Fall Season Kick-Off” in Palm Springs over Columbus Day weekend October 11-14, 2013. The events include architectural walking and bike tours; festive cocktail parties; the ever-popular “Lost, Saved and Endangered” lecture; not-to-be-missed Modernism Week Double Decker Bus Tours; the Modernism Yard Sale with unique items; and PS Mod Com’s Annual Preservation Awards Luncheon.
Tours will depart from the Palm Springs Hilton Hotel, and advance reservations are required. Participation in events and tours helps support the mission of Modernism Week, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.
Tickets on sale now at modernismweek.com. All events are open to the public.
Special $139++ rates are available if you book before 9/20/13 at Hilton Palm Springs Resort, Modernism Week’s Official Host Hotel. Contact (760) 320-6868 or use the following link for reservations: Book Now