Austin Home Tour on Apartment Therapy

Truth be told, I generally don't read articles that I have to click through to in my feed reader, which usually means that I only read the first half of an Apartment Therapy post (or just look at the pretty pictures). But I was stuck on one particularly pretty picture.
Sure, the dog's super cute, but the painting is what got me obsessed. I liked it, and in the back of my mind I knew who did it, in fact I was pretty sure I owned some of his work myself, but I just couldn't place the name. So I clicked through to read the article and home tour in hopes that the author would mention the artist. And boy am I glad I did.

They don't mention the artist of the painting, but they do have a list of artists/art work in the home. I'm 99% sure that painting is a Jay Ryan. And I was right in thinking I own a print of his, "Running with Scissors" is in our guest bedroom.
I got to meet Jay and pick up a print at Flatstock Austin a few years ago.

Beyond that, I found out that the home belongs to an artist I enjoy, Clay Ferguson (FERG) and that he lives in Austin, which I didn't know before reading the article.

And as I was flipping through the photos of the home tour I realized, I know this house, it's only a few blocks from mine. And then I remember, I've shopped a garage sale at this house. Not sure if it was the Ferguson's garage sale or if it was before they moved it, but those are the kinds of things that make me love Austin. It's packed with interesting people and you never know how or when you're going to stumble upon them.

Broyhill Sculptra Desk Drawer Variation

I happened upon Furnish Me Vintage's images for a Scupltra desk they had for sale and noticed something different than my Broyhill Scupltra desk, the left side drawer on their's transforms into a small table. Whereas mine is just one solid drawer connected with dovetail joints, meaning there's no way to unfold it into a small side table. It's interesting to see a variation like this within the line, I wonder which version came first.

Austin Estate Sale: 8917 Sam Carter Dr.

A collection of antique and vintage items, home and holiday decor and salvage items. Check out their flickr gallery for more pictures.

Here are the details:
8917 Sam Carter Dr.
Austin, TX 78736
May 28: 7:30am-12pm

Mid-Century Packaging Design

There's been a trend happening in packaging design, going back to the look your brand had in the 50s — or just having a mid-century inspired design if your brand wasn't around then. The Wall Street Journal has an article about the whole phenomenon. The interesting part of it is, if you're looking to get your mid-century home looking truly authentic — down to the finest detail, like a laundry detergent bottle — now you can.

Cheap Mid-Century Modern Furniture: Baxton Studio

A manufacturer's name keeps popping up in my mid-century design circles: Baxton Studio. And I can see why, they seem to make knock offs of some rather famous mid-century furniture designs, with a much smaller price tag.

The question with things like this is always, "What's the quality like?" I've never sat on/seen any Baxton Studio furniture, but they are carried by some major American department stores. In some respects, that leads me to believe that there's a certain level of quality. But my guess is that you're probably getting what you pay for.

That being said, not everyone needs to own an original Eames. And I've got more than one knock off piece in my place that I'm perfectly happy with.

The only real information I could find about Baxton Stuido comes from their less-than-substantial website:
Baxton Studios is a Chicago based division of Wholesale Inteirors, Inc. The Baxton Studios line of furniture was designed to be high quality, have the ability to with stand shipping across the United States and to have a modern feel. We stock around 450 different furniture products at a time and very rapidly change our product line to suit the current styles.
Anyone out there in blog land have experience with Baxton Studio? Was the furniture of decent quality? How do they compare to the originals?

Mid-Century Modern Artist: Jan Skácelík

Jan Skácelík goes by handz on esty, and his shop is worth checking out. In his own words, you'll find:
posters inspired by Scandinavian mid-century modern design, Cathrineholm, Stig Lindberg, Marianne Westman, etc. eyechart & letterpress inspired prints, vintage objects and more.
You'll also find some kick ass Star Wars and Gameboy posters. He's also got a blog filled with inspiration photos that's worth adding to your RSS reader.

Austin Renegade Craft Fair Round Up

The fam and I stopped by the Renegade Craft Fair this weekend. We got out of there with only buying a t-shirt, but there were plenty of talented artists who we plan on buying from in the future. Luckily most of them had business cards out. Here's a list of the craft people we thought were worth remembering:

Brainstrom Print & Design
Their America Atlas posters would be perfect for any travel-themed nursery and their Science Set is pretty sweet too.

Clint Wilson
His dinosaur prints would add a nice modern/mesozoic touch to a kid's room.

Some sweet jewelry.

Scarlett Garnet
Some more sweet jewelry, these with a mid-century flavor.

Fern Works
Let's just say there was a lot of great jewelry at the Renegade Craft Fair.

Illustrated Ink
I've been looking for some good, tattoo-inspired art, and I think I found it.

LIttle Things Studio
Some really eye-catching patterns and prints.

The Weekend Store
I have no real need for cufflinks, but I love the romanticism of them. If I were to get some, I'd have a hard time picking between their map and typewriter key cuff links.

Fuzzy Ink
A mustache with guns. Need I say more?

The Medium Control
For advertising/font nerds: a Futura shirt. For mid-century design nerds: a classic mid-century chair shirt.

Empire Press
Posters that remind me of Jay Ryan's work.

Mid-Century Austin Find: Broyhill Brasilia Twin Bed

If you're willing to take a bit of a drive this weekend, you can get a great deal on a Broyhill Brasilia bed. There's a seller on craigslist with a twin Broyhill Brasilia bed for only $50, they just happen to be 50 miles outside of Austin.

See You There: Renegade Craft Fair, Austin

The 2nd Annual Austin Renegade Craft Fair is this weekend (May 21-22). You can check out all the crafty goodness at the Palmer Events Center from 11am to 7pm.

What can you expect at a Renegade Craft Fair? According to their website:
At the Renegade Craft Fair you can expect to find only the best indie-craft and DIY artisans. Featuring both local and national talent, shoppers can anticipate a vast array of independently designed jewelry, clothing, paper goods, home + garden goods, posters, artwork, plush objects, bath + body products and so much more! Featuring hundreds of today’s most exciting makers of handmade goods and several hands-on crafting activities, our free-to-attend indie-craft marketplace is sure to be good rollicking fun!
Sounds like something the family and I will have to check out.

Mad Men Reference Material

It seems the British are in love with Mad Men as much as we are on this side of the pond. Midcentury Magazine has an article on the Mad Men Effect (warning: pdf link). They site some of the reference material Mad Men set designer Amy Wells used when researching for the show:
Wells extensively researched the period by studying early decorating books and magazines, including Fifties Furniture, Creative Home Decorating, The Doubleday Book of Interior Decorating and Inside Today’s Home, before putting her set designs together and scouring for authentic pieces from the original era either from prop houses, American-based design stores such as Room Service, Modernica, vintage boutiques like Deja Vu and antique markets.
Looks like I've got some reading to do.

Mid-Century Furniture Question

My little mid-century blog got it's first reader question. I'm so excited, so let's jump right in.
I recently "discovered" mid-century furniture, even through I'm old enough to have lived thru that era. My daughter just bought her first house (built in 1966) and, as a designer in a previous life, I've enjoyed scrounging for cheap mid-century furniture to rehab for her. We just came across a little credenza for holding records. Remember those?

My question: It is laminated with veneer that is peeling on the sides and on the roll-type doors. Do you suggest keeping it in it's present state and rehabbing the veneer or just filling and painting over it? How valuable are these vintage pieces? I got it for nine dollars!

There are actually a few questions packed in there, so let's take them one by one. And please remember that I'm a novice who loves mid-century design and furniture. I don't have any experience buying or selling mid-century furniture professionally - just my own purchasing record and craigslist selling experiences. And I have even less experience rehabbing pieces.

How valuable are vintage pieces?
The most truthful answer I can give is: It depends on the piece. There are some pieces of mid-century or vintage furniture that really aren't worth the wood they're made with. And there are others that would sell for prices that include multiple commas. Price is usually determined by the quality of the piece and the designer or maker, which, much of the time, go hand-in-hand.

In my experience, a quality credenza will usually run you a few hundred dollars, depending on the style and how well designed it is. If it's from a known line or sought after designer, you could easily get in the thousand(s) land.

However, with Paula's piece, there's a tip that it might not be the highest quality, or by a known furniture designer. High quality mid-century furniture usually doesn't have veneer on it, instead it's made of solid wood. That being said, a large part of mid-century furniture design was experimenting with new materials and ways of building. Where would Eames chairs be without fiberglass?

Paula, I'd suggest looking for a designer or makers mark. On credenza's they tend to be in one of the drawers or on the back. Sometimes they're hidden on the bottom of a drawer or on the bottom of the piece. If you find something research the maker and you should be able to track down some info about the piece.

If you don't find anything, it would further lead me to believe that the piece isn't worth all that much to a collector. However, $9 for any mid-century piece that's still functional is a steal, high quality or not. And the most important thing is that you and your daughter liked it enough to add it to her home. Nice find.

Do you suggest keeping it in it's present state and rehabbing the veneer or just filling and painting over it?
Assuming that you don't find anything about the designer or maker of the piece, and it isn't some highly sought after piece of vintage furniture, I'd say do whatever is going to look best, both for the piece and where it lives in the home. Even if it is some highly collected piece, it's yours to do whatever you want with.

I tend to lean towards rehab over painting, but I've never rehabbed veneer. From my understanding it's a giant pain in the ass. I typically steer away from pieces with damaged veneer for this reason. However if you wanted to look into the process of rehabbing wood veneer there are some instructions here and videos here. You could have it professionally rehabbed, but that's going to cost you more than you paid for the piece.

Painting veneer can be just as big of a pain. Veneer is essentially a laminate on top of the furniture and isn't meant to be painted, but that's not to say it can't be done. You can get some instructions on the process here and here.

If you can live with it as is, that's going to be the easiest and least time consuming option (which I supposed could be said for any rehab project). If the veneer is still fully intact and just lifting up from the piece you could just glue it back down. If that's the case, that's definitely the way I would go, because all other options are going to require a decent amount of time and effort.

I hope that helps, Paula. And if any other readers out there have questions, send them my way ( and I'll do my best to answer them.

Modern Fan for the Mid-Century Home

We need a new fan in our place. Our bedroom fan is functionally broken - meaning you can either have the light on or the fan on, not both. We've compensated by bringing a floor fan into the room, but Austin summers are coming up and a fan and light will be nice.

We started out with a giant list of options, from uber modern to old school. And we slowly whittled things down to these:

Hampton Bay Alida

Hunter Contempo

Design House Torino

Hampton Bay Winthrop

The Hampton Bay Marlton came in a close second place, but we weren't sure the nickel look would work with everything else in our house and it might be just a little to industrial for us

So we ended up landing on the Hunter Altitude. It's the perfect combination of subtle feel and modern look (and light and blades that work at the same time)

The History of Ranch Style Homes

I'm not exactly sure why, but the city of West Des Moines has a fantastic housing resource: A Pattern Book for West Des Moines Neighborhoods. It has some landscaping dos and don'ts, histories on various styles of homes and more. It's worth downloading the pdf.

Here's what they have to say about ranch-style homes:
The Ranch style started in California in the 1930s and spread all across the country in the 1950s and 1960s. The style is loosely based on the long, low Spanish Colonial mission buildings of the Southwest. Like the Spanish buildings, Ranches are one story and have a long, narrow rectangular form. They are different, however, in their details and roof – here they borrow influences from the Prairie and Craftsman styles. There is often a low hip roof with wide overhangs – a hallmark of the Prairie style. Trim is very plain. The plan of the Ranch is more open than preceding traditional styles; for example, kitchen and dining are often open to one another and sometimes also to the living room. Picture windows are popular in Ranches, and a 1-or 2-car garage usually extends from one side of the house. Some Ranches have shallow gable roofs and vaguely Colonial details – an attempt to give the otherwise plain façade some character.

The Ranch’s popularity rose with the spread of the automobile. Whereas styles of the 19th century built high on narrow lots (because people had to travel by foot or horse to get to the nearest train), the Ranch was designed for the new automobile age. The car made it possible for people to spread out on a spacious suburban lot far from the workplace. The Ranch was meant to express this new American mobility with its sleek, straight lines and efficient yet open plan. It also did away with fussy details of the past, responding to the Modernist movement against traditional
decorative “waste”. There was an emphasis on casual modern living, sending residents out to their spacious backyards to grill on patios or decks.

Cheap Hairpin Style Legs

Besides reupholstering a chair, while my better half was at Spruce they also reupholstered an ugly stool that we've had sitting around the house. It has a good kidney shape, but it had an ugly dark green fabric on it. I promise I'll share photos soon.

But now that the fabric is looking better, we needed to find better legs to put on it and while I was on the hunt I came across something that won't work for us, but could work for a lot of other mid-century projects out there.

They're inexpensive legs that remind me of hairpin legs.
And you can find them at Home Depot.

Sure they're not as nice as original hairpin legs, but they're about half the cost. And if you're looking to do a cheap and dirty restore of an item, they just might fit the bill.

Update: You can't buy these hairpin legs at Home Depot anymore. But you can still order them from the maker, Waddell.  Sadly, the 15" version is no longer being made but you can still get the 28" version.

Mid-Century Ugly to Mid-Century Elegant

My better half did the website design for Spruce, a furniture redesign/upholstery shop here in Austin. And she recently took one of their BYOC (bring your own chair) classes.

We found this chair on craigslist for $25

And after the class it looks like this

A pretty sweet transformation. And it looks really nice living next to our American of Martinsville bar.

Someone Else's Broyhill Sculptra Desk Story

Mr. Modtomic has his own story of finding a Broyhill Sculptra desk on craigslist. Sounds like the desk found its final home in Chicago, that's one lucky Windy City citizen.

Mid-Century Style Art for a Travel-Themed Nursery

I was doing some etsy shopping/browsing when I randomly came across Blanca Gómez and her cosas mínimas shop. I really wish I had found these three prints of hers before we finished our travel-themed nursery. They're a perfect fit for any travel nursery, and the rest of her work would fit perfectly in any mid-century home.

Done: Fix Water Shut Offs and Leaky Pipe

One of the tenets of owning a mid-century home is DIY and learning to do a majority of the jobs around the house yourself. The other is knowing when to call a professional.

For me, that's any time major plumbing and/or electric is involved, which is why we had a plumber come out and fix our water shut off valve. We decided that it was time to stop playing with fire, or water as the case may be, and get the main shut off fixed. Now on the off chance that a pipe bursts, we won't need to scramble for buckets.

While the plumber was at our place we figured we'd have him do a few other small jobs. For good measure, we also had him fix the water shut off valves under the kitchen sink. The hot water shut off knob had broken off long before we move in. He replaced both the hot and cold knobs, because sometimes preparing for something to break, like a 50-plus-year-old knob, is better than calling out the plumber a second time.

He also fixed the leaky pipe towards the back of the house. The inspector thought the leak was coming from the shower run off, so we didn't think of it as too big of a deal because it was a super slow leak (wouldn't run the foundation) and was from run off water. Well, turns out the leak was from one of the hose pipes. So the plumber replaced that section of pipe and all our hose bibs while he was at it. Some were original to the house and needed to be seriously cranked before they'd turn off.

After all that, I followed up with the one thing I was comfortable doing myself: Wrapping the pipes near the new hose bibs in insulation, for the rare times when Austin gets a freeze.