Mid-Century Patio Bench

Our front patio is in need of a bench. There's a spot in the bushes where the old owner put their grill.
We're keeping the grill in the backyard, so we need something to fill the space and some additional seating would be nice.

So I went on a hunt for mid-century benches. Here's what I found.

The uber modern benches (that are uber expensive):
Luma Designer settee

Etra wood settee

Talt Bench

The modern benches that I'm not sure would hold up outside, but have a great mid-century design:
Gus Modern Return bench

Nelson Platform bench

Zeta bench

The you-live-in-Texas retro metal glider bench:

The serious contenders:
Achla Square on Squares bench

Mendocino bench

A Torrans metal glider, we'd probably do a Bellaire metal glider in turquoise or a Thunderbird in aqua

The Future Through Mid-Century Glasses

A few atomic age, mid-century videos have popped up on the internet.

This video is worth watching for the reversible mid-century couch alone.

This promotional video from Disneyland shows just how far we've come in a little more than 50 years.

Selections from two industrial films from the 50s. First, the Frigidaire kitchen from General Motors' "Design for Dreaming," a promotional film for the 1956 Motorama. Second, a section from film coverage of the Monsanto "House of the Future," located in Tomorrowland in Disneyland.

Mid-Century Austin Find: Cedar Chest and Sunburst Mirror

It's not often that you see a mid-century cedar chest, and you can get one for a decent price on Austin craigslist.

You can also find a sunburst mirror on craigslist for a steal.

University of Wisconsin Union Terrace Sunburst Chair

Photo by: sarae

Anyone who went to the University of Wisconsin or has taken a seat at the UW Memorial Union Terrace knows about the iconic sunburst chairs. The sunburst chair image is so much a part of the UW Memorial Union that they use is as their logo.

The die used for making sunburst chairs is owned by the Memorial Union Building Association, which is why you don't see them on every patio in America. You can purchase sunburst chairs from the Union store, and only from the Union store, but only in Badger red or Winter Terrace white. The well-known John Deere green, Allis Chalmers orange and yellow are reserved for the UW Terrace — although they have been known to go missing and turn up in dorm rooms and on balconies in the area.

Some of the sunburst chairs on the UW Terrace have arms and others don't. I haven't been able to find out any mention or reason for this variation — my uneducated guess is cost.

Photo by: TAPorto

The history of the sunburst chair is one of function, more than design:
At the time of its opening in 1928, the Terrace was populated with hickory chairs that quickly proved unable to tolerate Wisconsin weather. By the early 1930s, two versions of metal chairs replaced the wooden ones; one in an early version of the classic stamped-metal sunburst style, the other in this style known as the Deauville, where the sunburst shape was achieved with springy curved strips of steel. The Deauvilles, which by nature of their design were prone to catching water and consequently rusting, were phased out by the 1960s and relegated to the Union Theatre balcony. While a few other styles have been tried and failed, the stamped metal sunburst style, with a sturdy partial hoop bracing the legs at the bottom, remained the popular choice not only for its durability but its ability to stay relatively level on the uneven stones that pave the Terrace.
The Deauville version of the Terrace chair is sometimes referred to as the “garbage can cover” chair and they're available nationally in a variety of colors.

Wisco Industies is the sole maker of the UW Terrace chairs. It takes Wisco approximately two months to manufacture a batch of Terrace chairs. Wisco produces approximately 300 chairs a year, one batch around February and another later in the year.

If you're looking for a mid-century patio chair, the sunburst chair is a great place to start.

Buy Modern Baby Features Our Modern Travel-Themed Nursery

Buy Modern Baby recently featured our travel-themed nursery on their blog.

I hadn't heard of Buy Modern Baby before they contacted me, but I wish I had. If you're adding a little one to your mid-century home and are looking for some modern baby stuff, check them out. They were even able to track down the makers of our airplane light, which is nice because we had no idea who made it; it came with the house.

Our Mid-Century Modern Bathroom Mirror

I received a request for an after photo of our new bathroom mirror. So here it is.

It was pretty easy to install. I followed the old adage: measure twenty times, drill a hole in the wall once. I'm a bit of a perfectionist about things being square and a mirror that I look at every day being off would have driven me nuts.

I'm really happy with how it turned out. It opens up the wall a lot more and gives the bathroom more of that spa look we're going for.

Mid Century Møbler Talks About Broyhill Sculptra

Haighteration has a must-read interview with the boys of Mid Century Møbler.

A while back Mid Century Møbler was kind enough to let me post their photos of a Broyhill Sculptra room divider. Some Broyhill Sculptra furniture also makes an appearance in the photos of the Haighteration piece.

Here's what Julian of Mid Century Møbler had to say of the Broyhill Premier Sculptra collection:
“It catered to a more sophisticated, growing American public, and more modern living,” says Julian. “Those cat eye pulls were actually taken directly from Danish pieces which we’ve come across before.”
The article also gives a solid end date to the Broyhill Sculptra line: 1965. I hadn't heard that before and it means that Sculptra furniture was only made for eight years, 1957 to 1965.

Mid-Century Neighborhoods in Austin: Rosedale

Rosedale, Austin TX
The Rosedale neighborhood is located directly south of Allandale and Brentwood. Rosedale is probably known more for cottages, bungalows and modern builds than mid-century homes, which is why is perfect for finding that mid-century starter home. As the Rosedale neighborhood association puts it:
The majority of the homes in the Rosedale area were built during the 1930s and 1940s, giving them an allure not found with newer construction. The many renovation projects and new construction throughout the neighborhood lend a sense of vitality and renewal. The population of the neighborhood is a fabulous blend of young families, single professionals, and original owners who raised their children here and have many tales to tell.
Located in north central Austin, Rosedale is walking distance from Burnet Rd. — home to some of the best greasy-spoon diners, dive bars and vintage furniture stores in Austin.

Much of the land now known as the Rosedale neighborhood was first purchased by George Spear from the Republic of Texas in 1841. After his death the Rosedale neighborhood, like many neighborhoods in this area of Austin, was turned into farmland, sometime in or around 1866. In the early 1900s, Frank Taylor Ramsey, namesake of Ramsey park, turned a large parcel of that farmland into a nursery, which is why there are many large trees throughout Rosedale. In 1929, the land south of current-day Ramsey park was divided into lots and named Rosedale A, after the many Rosedale Arbor Vitae evergreens in the area. In 1931, the rest of the Rosedale neighborhood was divided into lots, then called Rosedale B, and in 1933 the Ramsey family donated the land that's now Ramsey Park to the city of Austin, which dedicated the park in 1934 after purchasing some adjoining lots.

Housing Data From the 2000 census
Total housing units: 4,157
Homes built between 1940 and 1959: 1,962 (47.2%)
Median year built: 1959
Median housing value: $171,600
Median mortgage: $1,300
Household population: 7,128
Average household size: 1.8
Average family size: 2.78
Owner-occupied housing: 39.8%
Renter-occupied housing: 60.2%
Median age: 35.2

Rosedale Neighborhood Association

Done: Put in new a bathroom mirror

Another weekend, another weekend project. This time we put up a new bathroom mirror. The best way to describe the old mirror is yellow with floral print, so it had to go. You can see the corner of it in this photo:
We installed this mirror because we're looking to make the main bathroom look more like a spa, and because it goes perfectly with our mid-century modern bathroom accessories.

Back when we first started thinking about replacing the mirror, we were going to use the circle version of this mirror, but after looking at the space some more, the larger oval mirror was a better fit. And we got exactly what we were looking for, a clean looking modern mirror that's going to help the bathroom look and feel like a spa bathroom.

Mid-Century Austin Find: Coffee Table and Two Side Tables

We don't have room in our place for any more tables, otherwise I'd jump on these craigslist mid-century coffee table and side tables. Only $75 for the set.

Mid-Century Ranch Home Design Advice

Nick Olsen has some (rather stringent) tips for us mid-century ranch owners, especially around mid-century shutters.

In the end, our home will probably end up looking similar to what he describes - a mid-century ranch, painted white with dark window casings, a black roof and a bright door - but I don't think all mid-century ranch homes need to or should look that way. There are some gorgeous natural brick ranches out. Not to mention the phenomenal siding on top/stone on bottom look. Or any other number of pretty post-war colors.

Let your ranch be your ranch, and dress it up however you want.

The Best Backyard Plans

We were finally getting to a point where we knew what we wanted to do with the backyard. We had picked a mid-century walkway design, we had a pretty good idea where the plants were going and I had a rough idea of what the new light covers were going to look like.

Then we had the hot tub repair man out for an annual cleaning. The hot tub has always been one of those "nice to have, but we would have never put it in" things. The previous owners put it in, and up to this point it hasn't been any trouble. But after many years and a winter of sitting the tub needs some work. Too much work.

So now all of our backyard plans are out the window. We'll take out the hot tub, which means we no longer need a walkway to the hot tub, or ground lights to light the way. We'll probably also rethink the plant layout once the tub is gone. In the end, it will probably be best because it will give us a lot more grass/open area for the little one to play in.

When you own a mid-century home, sometimes it's best not to make plans too far in advance.

Mid-Century Austin Homes: 6004 Cary Dr.

6004 Cary Dr. is in the Allandale neighborhood of Austin. The video is over two years old, but I hope whoever bought the home kept the mid-century tile work in the bathroom and knotty pine kitchen.

Mid-Century Modern Alphabet Blocks

With me being a copywriter and my wife being a graphic designer in Austin, letters and pictures are pretty important to us. So we thought it was about time for the little tike to some nice looking alphabet blocks. In my head, finding some great looking, graphical ABC blocks was going to be easy. In reality, most ABC blocks are pretty ugly.

The one company who seems to have gotten it right is Uncle Goose. Their classic blocks and uppercase/lowercase blocks (pictured above) are the prettiest ABC blocks we could find.

But it seems we jumped the gun on alphabet blocks. All the blocks we found have a minimum age of 2. But in a year and a half, I know what blocks we're getting.

Done: Fix attic light

When we were buying our house a friend told me, "Inspectors should be called lookers - they don't actually inspect anything, they just look around the house." A bit harsh, but his next sentence was a bit of gold that everyone should follow, "Always have a trusted contractor look through the house too."

Many of the things on our to-do list are things that showed up on the inspector's list. We want to make sure that when we go to sell the house (many, many years from now) that all of these things have been looked into an properly fixed for the next owners. That's how "Fix the attic light" ended up on the list: The inspector's note was that the light didn't turn on at all.

I forgot this was an item on our list till I was going into the attic last night. I flipped the switch at the base of the attic stairs and the light came on, just as it has ever since we moved in. My guess is that the inspector did flip this switch when he went into the attic, and instead just pulled the chain hanging from light itself.

Even though nothing had to be fixed, we're calling this "project" done.

Blog Crush: Our Mid Century

I love blogs that include the dimensions, directions and materials of the things they build, especially if it's similar to a project that I'll be taking on in the near future. For example, Our Mid Century has a great post about a fence they built.

I also love bloggers who visit Austin, again like Our Mid Century did. (Insider's tip for Our Mid Century: The hot, new Austin music fest is Fun Fun Fun Fest. And Red River is where the good, non-festival music is at these days.)

Mid-Century Neighborhoods in Austin: Brentwood

Brentwood, Austin TX
Brentwood completes the triangle of mid-century Austin neighborhoods in northwest Austin - the others being Crestview and Allendale. Move to Austin has the best simple breakdown of the area that I've read:
Crestview has the oldest homes, built in the 1940-50s, and are the smallest of this area (but to me, have the most charm). Brentwood was built next in the 1950s and 60s, and the homes are a little bit bigger. Allendale came next, in the 1960s and 70s, and has the largest floorplans.
Brentwood is home to many unofficial Austin landmarks: Dart Bowl (try the enchiladas), Threadgill's (Janis Jopli's old stomping ground), the Wall of Welcome (120 feet of welcome) and Burnet Road (shops, eats and chicken shit bingo). There are a variety of home styles in Brentwood. Classic mid-century style homes are pretty easy to come by, as are bungalows and modern homes.

The Brentwood Neighborhood Association has a pretty on-the-mark description of the neighborhood:
Brentwood is now a trendy and popular area that is home to gorgeous tree-lined streets and established homes. Many of the homes are bungalow style homes, normally one story, and have a low to medium pitched roof and simple, rectangular shapes. Many were originally two bedrooms and were purchased by GIs who wanted to start families following WWII. The combination of original residents who never left the 'hood and a growing number of young professsionals have built a strong community which fits perfectly with the style of Austin.

The area that's now called Brentwood was once cotton farm in the rural part of north Austin. Austin purchased the farm and annexed most of Brentwood in 1946. The remaining parts of the neighborhood, including Brentwood Park, were annexed in 1951, which is also the year Brentwood Elementary School opened.

Housing Data From the 2000 census
Total housing units: 4,157
Homes built between 1940 and 1959: 1,962 (47.2%)
Median housing value: $171,600
Median mortgage: $1,300
Household population: 7,128
Average household size: 1.8
Average family size: 2.68
Owner-occupied housing: 41.7%
Renter-occupied housing: 58.3%
Median age: 35.2

Brentwood Neighborhood Association

Mid-Century Austin Estate Sale: 9524-A Quail Court

If the pictures are any indication, this should be an Austin estate sale that any mid-century enthusiast should stop at.

Here are the details:
9524-A Quail Court'
Austin, TX 78758
March 4: 10am-2pm
March 5: 9am-3pm

New Mid-Century Austin Look

If you don't read this blog in your preferred RSS reader you may notice a few changes: a new banner and color scheme. I'm making some minor edits to the blog that may lead to some more changes in the future. From what I can tell, everything is working fine and I didn't break anything - but if you see something that looks weird, out of place or broken, please let me know and I'll do my best to fix it.

And for those of you reading this in a reader, hop on over to the home page if you want to see what I'm talking about.

Real Simple Kitchen Remodel

Because I'm obsessed with my future kitchen remodel right now, I'm a little obsessed with other people's kitchen remodels. I really like this Real Simple real-life kitchen makeover.

It includes something that I fell in love with while I was looking for something else entirely different: Schoolhouse Electric hand-painted, modern light fixtures.

On a related note: If anyone knows what to call, or where to find, those multi-colored pendant light fixtures that you see in greasy-spoon diners, retro bars and old-school bowling alleys, please let me know. The kind that look like this light
and this light
had a baby. Kind of like this one, but more monotone and retro (and not ugly)
My Google ninja skills are letting me down and I can't find them anywhere.

Done: Fix leaky shower head in master bath

It wasn't actually the shower head that was leaky, it was where the hose met the wall for the handheld unit. There was a gap between the connector pipe coming out of the wall and the connector piece on the hose. Every time you tried to turn on the handheld shower head (which has a hook on the wall so it functions like a normal shower head), you'd get sprayed in the midsection too. It wasn't the worst thing, but it made it difficult to soap up and properly shower. Up till now our solution was to just use the overhead rain shower instead.

I knew the fix would take a little research and a little creativity, and in the end that creativity took the form of putty: epoxy putty. A bit of putty to fill the gap and make sure the water goes where it should and things are all set. I took my first shower with the putty in place and everything held and is functioning.