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
001
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).

 

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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…

 

 

 

 

 

Cha – Cha- Cha- Changes!

Guest Bedroom
Guest Bedroom

Remember this room? Ah, yes. The newly finished guest room. Functional and cozy. Well….as life would have it, this room will have to be moved downstairs, the office somewhere to be determined….and by September this room shall be a nursery.

Hooray! So this week has been a whirlwind of shifting needs, ideas, furniture, and planning for what the future holds. Being the smallest room of the house, we’ve got to figure out a way to create a cozy nursery and of course, it MUST be in keeping with the mid-century modern theme.

I promise not to spend the next 6 months blogging about baby-related MCM, but just a fair warning that I am feeling inspired since discovering that having a baby in the house doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Case in point, this high chair:

Boon High Chair
Boon High Chair

WHAT THE WHAT!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?! You mean my kid gets to sit in his or her own tulip chair? Yes, please!

Anyway, this weekend, my mother and I did some search and destroy shopping (our favorite kind) in Orange. I’d found a “mid-century atomic rocker” on Craigslist, and had gone up that way to visit for the weekend. Orange just happens to be not too far from where my folks live. After downing a FANTASTIC breakfast at Flappy Jacks, we hit up the Chapman Antique Mall in Orange where this rocker was located. One of the vendors there had advertised the chair on CL and like heat-seeking missiles, we headed directly to where all the mid-century modern wares were held. (Hint to the locals: It’s downstairs in the “basement.”) Long story short, after a failed attempt at haggling and hitting some alternative spots, we returned to claim said rocker (this “rocker” while in great shape, needs to be recovered as it looks like Uncle Bill lost his liquid lunch in a few places). My mother decided it would be her shower gift to me, and that I could have it recovered. Thanks, Ma! It is after all, mid-century; what with its atomic stems. Its small to fit the scale of the room, and completely functional: it rocks, turns, and swivels. WEEE!

So here’s the chair…..I can’t WAIT to start figuring out what fabric to have it upholstered with. I’m thinking something velvety. Yummy.

005 002

Stay tuned for updates, I’ll have to be creative to “fund-raise” on a tight budget. I see even more changes via furniture flogging in my future…and one fashionable nursery.

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.

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

Feature of the Week: Why We Love Midcentury Modern Design

Today I’ll be featuring my favorite article of the month! Houzz contributor Mitchell Parker waxes poetic about what it is that draws us to the mid-century modern aesthetic. I couldn’t pass up sharing this one. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing updates to my ever-changing “retro deco.”

Design Post of the Week

I subscribe to many mid-century blogs, and always appreciate great material and inspiring photos. This week, I’d love to share with you this post featured on houzz.com that’s overflowing with both:

Mid-Century Modern – Doesn’t have to be stuffy

I see so many mid-century modern homes that look, well, cold. Cold, and stuffy.  Here’s a perfect of example of how mid-century modern design can be clean, but fun and colorful.