Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sunset Books

I have been collecting these Sunset landscaping books for a while now, as I've been dreaming about making the backyard fabulous. Maybe we could have a Japanese inspired garden, or we could build a barbecue pit and a shuffleboard court. And then there's that modern tile mosaic wall decoration that I've been meaning to make.There are a lot of inspiring ideas in these books. So many, in fact, that its hard to narrow it all down. 


The two books in the photo above were published in the early '60s. They're a perfect guide for mid-century modern landscaping. Most of the houses in the photos are modern ranch style homes. The three books below were published in the early '70s. Even though they're past the mid-century modern era, they are still useful. A lot of the images were reused from the earlier books. Even the newer photos (which judging by the clothing styles, were obviously taken in the '70s) still apply to mid-century modern design. Landscaping and patio design must not change as quickly as interior and architecture styles change. 
There's nothing wrong with our yard as it is now. There are some azaleas and other plants and a patio with a cool '50s shape. For furniture there are some vintage motel chairs and a metal glider. We still don't have an outdoor dining set.


I've been casually looking for a vintage dining set for the patio, but I haven't found anything that I can't live without. It could be a wooden picnic table. I saw one that had hairpin legs, which really modernized the classic picnic bench. That would be easy enough to make ourselves. 


I also need to find a patio umbrella, ideally a metal one from Sundrella. Although, I don't think that type of umbrella would look right with a picnic table. Other ideas for a dining set are a very simple, if not modern, wrought iron set, or a plain wooden table with director's chairs. A vintage patio umbrella in bright colors would also be nice.


We've put off the backyard project for next year, so there's still plenty to look through these books and come up with a plan for the backyard. Does anyone else out there collect these old Sunset books?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flea Market Finds

Here are a few of my recent flea market finds. After looking for what seems like forever, I finally found a vintage Mirro cake pan with a sliding lid. This one even has the clear plastic window. When I was a kid, we had one just like it that belonged to my Grandmother. We always used it when we baked brownies, so we cleverly called it "the brownie pan." I'm glad that I now have a brownie pan of my own.
House Beautiful January, 1957

I also got several vintage House Beautiful Magazines from the 1950s. These magazines are filled with mid century modern decorating ideas, so I'm always on the lookout for them. They usually cost only a dollar or two. 
House Beautiful September, 1953

You can see the popular color schemes from the era and find out about all the new products of the day. Plus, the vintage advertisements are fantastic. The magazines are worth buying for the ads alone. 
House Beautiful December, 1954

Although House Beautiful is not my favorite magazine, I still like to collect it. I much prefer Better Homes and Gardens because they were a little more modern in style than House Beautiful. Some other vintage magazines that I like are House + Home, Interiors, and Mademoiselle. 
House Beautiful December, 1956

Two of the magazines are Christmas issues with a lot of mod holiday decorating ideas. There are instructions for making some interesting paper lanterns. The next holiday season I really need to make time to do some of these vintage craft projects. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1950s Atomic Ranch House - This Is For You

A fellow blogger at the super cool 1950s Atomic Ranch House asked to see what was behind the big wall of barkcloth curtains. I showed some photos of the family room yesterday, but I had taken the photos with the drapes closed. There was no telling what might have been hiding behind those giant curtains. Here are a few photos with the curtains open to reveal the gliding patio door and windows.
The house still has its original windows and doors from 1955. Some people dislike this type of patio door for its plainness, but I disagree. Someone who visited our house once asked if we were going to replace them with French doors. GASP!
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the blog, 1950's Atomic Ranch House. You won't want to miss it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

By Request

You asked for it. Here are a few photos of our completed living room with furniture. The new floor tile has been installed, the drapes have been modified to fit the lower floor height, and the furniture has been placed back into the room. It looks better in person than in these photos, I think. I wasn't using the "good" camera and that probably has something to do with it. In person, the furniture doesn't look like it's floating the way it does in the photos. 
While I'm posting about the furnished room, I'll tell you about the furniture itself. It's all vintage from the 1950s. The coral-pink chair was a thrift store find. It looks like Heywood Wakefield, but it isn't. I've had it since I was about 18 years old. After I paid for the chair, I wasn't sure if it would fit in my car, a 1962 Beetle convertible. I put the top down and set the chair in the back seat, sticking up in the back and drove it home. It cost only $15. At the time, it had the original upholstery, which was a fabulous pale pink with threads of metallic gold, green, and black. When I had it reupholstered, I did my best to find a similar fabric. It's a different shade of pink, but it has a similar texture, but no gold thread, unfortunately. Someone really should make 1950s style reproduction fabrics with metallic threads!
We found the sectional sofa at an estate sale in our neighborhood. The original fabric looked terrible and the cushions were rock hard. No one else wanted it. We got it for $10 and had it reupholstered.
The rest of the furniture is vintage Heywood-Wakefield finished in wheat. There is a revolving top cocktail table, a square cocktail table with a "Sculptura" style base, a lamp table, china hutch, and wishbone dining table with dog-bone chairs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy's in Love

The past weekend was a busy one. There was the Conan O'Brien show at the historic Brady Theater, The Blue Dome Festival, a graduation party for our friends' daughter, plus the usual errands. I still managed to get up early enough on Saturday for my customary trip to the flea market at the fairgrounds. 
The only thing I bought was this vintage Tammy doll. It needs to be cleaned and has messy hair, but otherwise it's in very good shape. The dress has a "Tammy" label on the inside, but there are no shoes. The website Dolls By Altona has instructions on cleaning and repairing damaged Tammy dolls. I'll have to try that when I have more time.
Tammy debuted in 1962 as Ideal's answer to Barbie. The Tammy Family line included her Mom, Dad, little sister Pepper, and brothers Ted and Pete. There was also a slew of other family members and friends. My Aunt had the whole Tammy family. When I was a kid, I got to play with them a few times and thought they were so much more fun than Barbie. Maybe I'll start a collection. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Curtains Too Short

One thing I didn't consider when we replaced our carpet with tile was the length of the drapes. The carpet added about 2 inches of height to the floor. When we removed the carpet, the drapes were too short. They looked ridiculous. The photo below shows how the curtains looked after we pulled up the old flooring.
Luckily, there was enough extra fabric in the hem to lengthen the drapes. I really dreaded this project because I just finished making these drapes and it was quite an ordeal. The barkcloth fabric is very thick and the blackout lining I used added even more thickness to the drapes. Sewing in the pinch-pleats was impossible. My machine just couldn't handle the thickness of the fabric. A local drapery shop had to sew in the pleats. When I picked up the finished drapes, they told me it was the worst job they'd ever had! That made me feel better about being unable to finish the drapes myself.
Now, I had to start working on the drapes all over again. My mom helped me rip out the old hem. The extra help was much appreciated, since I dreaded this project so much.
Just as I began to sew in the new hem, my fairly new sewing machine started having problems. Thankfully, I have my great-grandmother's old sewing machine, a classic black Singer from the 1950s.  Granny's machine helped me finish one panel, and then it also started having problems. I think once I have it cleaned it will work again.
I took the newer machine in for repair and it turned out that it's just a thread snob. It only works when very high quality thread is used. Once I bought some better thread, the machine worked just fine and I was able to finish sewing the drapes. I'm so happy to be done with this project.
The drapes are made from Melinamade barkcloth in Boomerang White. If I were to do this project again, I would use a thinner lining. Blackout lining isn't really necessary with fabric this thick.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New VCT Floor Is Finally Here!

The installation of our new floor was completed on Saturday. The green carpet is gone! We decided to tile the family room and kitchen in VCT to bring back the original look of the house. We kept the original diagonal pattern. However, we went with a different color scheme from the original two-toned brown. 
Instead, we chose to liven up the room with a combination of turquoise and white. The tile is Azrock Cortina Colors in Cirrus and Spearmint. Cirrus is white with specks of aqua, yellow, and coral.
The main reason for choosing the turquoise VCT is that it goes really well with our '50s turquoise kitchen. Getting stuck with the color wasn't really an issue because we will never want to replace the original Formica countertops.
There were worries that this color combination might look too wild. It was also hard to imagine how the floor would look when it was completed. We've seen lots of houses with VCT floors in neutral colors like white or black (they always look beautiful), but we haven't seen anyone do their floors in turquoise and thought that might be for a good reason. We seriously considered using Azrock VCT in Autumn Haze, which is a streaky light tan that looks vintage. In the end, we realized that we're just not beige people. That's one of the reasons we love all this mid-century modern stuff! Colorful kitsch is okay with us.
The floor isn't quite finished. It was waxed today. Tomorrow it is getting buffed. Then, we have to reattach the quarter round molding, replace the air register covers, and move all the furniture back into the room. We should have this project completed just in time for the new carpet to be installed in the living room on Saturday.

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