Sunday, July 8, 2012

mid-century modern style comes naturally

I grew up in what Pam, from Retro Renovation, refers to as mid-century "modest" houses. These are typically ranch or colonial style houses, that are more mid-century and a little less modern. My mom's taste, however, ran to straight mid-century modern, which apparently imprinted me. My mom and I had fun pulling these pictures together.

mid-century modern lamp
My mom, Donna Minick, adjusting the cool mid-century lampshade.
She is a newlywed in this picture, circa 1960, first home in Seattle.
I was a Boeing baby (mid-century aerospace reference).

blue and pink mid-century bathroom
A pink tub and sink with bluish, purplish tile. My mom says
this house, in Seattle, was really nice. You can see the little tile
ribbon at the top. Nicely done.

mid-century modern door
A typical mid-century cut out door.
My mom's parents and me (Christmas 1963).
This house is probably in Indiana on a Christmas visit.

This following purple sofa will be featured in many pictures. I really like that it is purple. My mom eventually replaced it with an apple green colored sofa that there are, strangely, no pictures of. She insists the apple green color was a mistake but she didn't want to "make a fuss" and send it back. I think she secretly liked it.

mid-century modern sofa and lamps

These are matching peach housecoats made by my mother.
Check out the purple sofa, the cool coffee table with the laminate inlay, and the
tension pole lamp (totally atomic). Oh yeah, the framed Mattise print in the background.
It doesn't get more modern than that.

Purple Mid-Century modern sofa
Looks like the sofa has changed houses... to Ohio.
Another aerospace move, this time to American Rockwell.

My mom had what looks to be an Eames armchair and ottoman. We don't know if it is a knock off or not. I remember it was very solid, had wood and a very strong metal base. She says it was definitely leather. 

Eames chair?
Me with my new little sister in a very Eames style
rocking armchair, maybe the real deal? It had very sturdy
stainless steel underpinnings and was leather.

Eames Ottoman and mid-century fish tank
Mom sitting on possible Eames ottoman with her new baby girl.
Check out the cool mid-sixties fish tank. This is a house in Ohio.

Mid-sixties impasto paintings
Cute new baby, Mom on the purple sofa with some typcial
oil paintings of the era done in that heavy impasto paint style
used by abstract artists in the fifties and sixties. I am sure my mom
created the needlework on the arm pillow. And nice turquoise pants Mom.
Only the hair and lipstick give away that this is the sixties.

mid-century modern lamp
The new baby with a better picture of the white lamp
from the previous picture. Very iconic.

Let's talk about that lamp. I just recently purchased, brand new, lamps that look a heck-of-a-lot like this one. Check this out by Jonathan Adler:

Jonathan Adler lamp picture courtesy of Lightopia
Apple...tree (as in the apple doesn't fall far from...)
Best price at Lightopia but still not as good as vintage.
You can see the lamps in our bedroom here.

My mom and dad constructed a home from a Better Homes and Gardens house plan, around 1967 or 1968. Apparently BH&G featured a house plan in every issue. I looked through this Flicker group of BH&G Five Star homes but didn't see this exact house. My dad was essentially the architect. The original design had a flat roof, and he altered it for the Ohio winters. My parents built this little mid-sixties modern charmer with teal blue stained siding on a half an acre in Gahanna, Ohio. My mom says it caused a stir after it was built because the dowdy neighbors didn't like the non-white color (how dare they).  

Mid-Century Modern Better Homes and Gardens Plan House
Better Homes & Gardens Plan House in Gahanna, Ohio, about 1968. 

Better Homes and Gardens Plan House mid-century modern
Great deck off the back of the Better Homes and Gardens Plan House.

mid-century modern rock fireplace
Check out this cool rock fireplace and concrete hearth with the book shelves on the right.
And in the foreground is one of two black leather love seats that faced each other
with a square glass coffee table between them.
The coffee table sort of looked like this, but not exactly. It had a glass top. I set a glass bottle of Sprite down hard on it once and broke the top. Yowza.

Baxton Studio Circa Modern Contemporary Small End Table with Circles
My mom's coffee table had a circle on all 4 sides and a glass top. This picture gives you the idea.
From Interior Express.

mid-century modern end table
I think this is in the Ohio house facing into the dining room.
My mom made the night gown  (but of course) worn my sister who is playing a mini piano
on the nice laminate covered end table.

My parents only got to live in their ideal mid-century modern house for less than 2 years.  My dad's job moved out to Southern California (time to build a B1-B in El Segundo) and they purchased a new tract home in around 1969. It wasn't mid-century, but was sort of  in a "French" style. Maybe now-a-days it would be called Mediterranean. 

mid-century modern drapes, sofa and lamp
But the sofa and lamp made the move, and as did the brightly patterned drapes
that my mom made for the Ohio modern house. I love the green and blue together. That is me sitting
on the couch in the living room reading a book (favorite reading spot).
Mid-century modern chair and stero
My sister posing with the cool stero and mid-century modern print
armchair. My mom made the slipcover and it matches the drapes
(in those days matchy-match was to be loved rather than disdained).
And naturally mom made her dress.
Check out the gold shag rug! Slave to fashion much?
We have no pictures of the piece de resistance. I can't even believe she bought the following items as they are just too cool. The below picture is me with a sugar cube mission (San Francisco). Now, if you aren't from California, you may be wondering . . . why the mission? All school children in California are required in 4th grade to build a model mission primarily to torture their parents. Universally, all parents agree there really isn't any educational value in this exercise, but mission building is a long standing California school tradition. I digress ... note the lamp hanging over my head -- a classic Nelson Saucer Pendant Lamp.

Nelson Saucer Pendant Lamp
Me with mission and a Nelson Saucer Pendant Lamp hanging over my head.

Nelson Saucer Pendant Lamp from Design Within Reach
Nelson Saucer Pendant Lamp available form Design Within Reach.

Now I can only show you pictures I have garnered online, as we have no pictures of the actual furniture I want to feature for you of my memories of this house, in the seventies. I am leaning on this table.

Saarinen Table
Saarinen Table, Knoll makes it now with any number of surfaces and finishes.
My mom was pleased she remembered the exact spelling of this table's name (retired librarian).

My mom purchased four of these tulip chairs with bright orange chair pads. Her set looked exactly like this:

SaarinenTable and Chairs from the YLiving site
Knoll table and chairs from the YLiving site.
Her pads were EXACTLY this color orange. It is spooky.

Kate over at Retro Champ Revamp has her own set of tulip chairs and table as well which you can see here. Hanging in the family room was another Nelson Bubble Lamp. This one:

Nelson Cigar Lamp from the Room & Board site
Nelson Cigar Pendant Lamp from the Room & Board site.

Cool stuff. It is telling that many of the pieces my mom purchased in the sixties and early seventies are still available today, which speaks to their enduring design. And Mom's good taste. Her good taste also is demonstrated in this post about her mid-century modern Lenoir House bedroom set.

Related Post:


  1. Gosh, this takes me down Memory lane with our furniture, some lovely statement pieces. Unfortunately as it was my brother that cleared out the house he did not attach much importance to them, as they lived in Germany in 1950's there there two lovely pieces, a low solid wood sideboard. and some matching wall displays, like boxes that interconnected.

    1. Shout out to Gibraltar Aunt Sally. Yes, this takes me down memory lane as well. Hind sight is always 20/20 as they say. If we knew then what we know now. **sigh**

  2. I just LOVE this post with all the great old photos. I would kill to have pics of the old house I grew up in. We have outside shots but nothing like bathroom tile or sofas inside.

    It really is amazing how many things from the '60s look current now--like the lamps!

    1. Well hi Julie and welcome. We really had to dig for the pictures. All the pictures we found had the little girls in them, which pleased my mom. But I am still astounded that my mom had that incredible taste.

  3. Those saucer and cigar pendant lamps and orange cushions bring back memories. Spooky, indeed!!

    1. I discovered the saucer lamp when I was researching a fixture for over our dining room table. I was SUPER shocked to find out it was still being sold. I considered it briefly but then decided it would be too large. But I was really tempted.

  4. You're so lucky that your mom had some style. My mother was totally without the decorating gene, even though her mother had it...and then some. Our house was always a mishmash of hand-me-downs from my grandmother (probably things she thought were no longer in style) and weird, random stuff my mother bought. I credit my grandmother with passing along the love of decorating and shoe-buying. :)

    1. I am lucky! My mom was also an art museum addict which definitely had an influence on me as well. Now shoe buying seems to be something I cultivated all on my own.

    2. Yes you are so lucky, I am the most into styling out of my whole family, it definitely doesn't come in the genes.
      Delores Ensley

  5. This has been a brilliant read and look-see Rebecca. I've loved looking at the pics of your Mum's homes. Those curtains she made for the Ohio house are gorgeous. Is the base of that lamb Bitossi? It looks like it might be...
    Anyway, off to explore more of your blog.

    1. Kylie: Good question on the base of the lamp. It actually looks very Bitossi. It is sadly no longer with us. :( ... The green lines on it were raised up though, which I don't think is Bitossi. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Noticed your mom sporting a Purdue University shirt...Go Boilers!!

    1. My mom and my dad met at Purdue and are Indiana natives. Go Boilmakers for sure. In a pinch, we'll root for IU and Notre Dame.


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