Category Archives: mid-century modern

Tour Guide

Access to cool apps was the reason I bought my iPhone – yet I’m usually too much of a cheapskate to actually pay for them. But I may have to make an exception for some of the new historic architecture apps.

It started when I learned about FanGuide’s collection of mobile guides featuring stories, photos, maps, audio and video of Prairie School style architecture in Illinois and modern architecture in L.A.

I can’t wait to try out the Los Angeles app, but, while I appreciate Frank Lloyd Wright as much as the next girl, it got me wondering if there were any programs focused on the kind of older architecture that’s more my forte.

Turns out New Orleans, Charleston and Savannah (all on my vacay wish list) have walking tour apps centered on historic homes, buildings and districts. There’s also a similar app for Montreal.

On the west coast, What Happened Here? offers up historic trivia based on sites in San Francisco and L.A. (for instance, did you know the first electronic image was transmitted from the bottom of Telegraph Hill, marking the birth of TV? Or where Robert Louis Stevenson lived and wrote in San Fran?)

It’s a little early for Halloween, but Wicked Walks provides information about supposedly haunted old houses and locales across the U.S.

Finally, Historic Places is a more general app that searches your current location for districts, sites, buildings and objects with historical significance.

So that’s the run-down for now. I’m crossing my fingers that some techie Craftsman fans are hard at work on a few bungalow neighborhood tours at this very moment.

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Filed under bungalow, historic houses, mid-century modern, old houses, travel, Victorian

Hi Ho, Silver

I heart old houses – on wheels.

 It all started with Sunset. Ever since my July issue arrived, I’ve been pining for the shiny silver Airstream on the cover.


I always thought Airstreams were cute with their gleaming aluminum and  spacey shape. But lately I’ve been noticing the retro trailers nonstop – on our trip to Ferndale, camping in the mountains last weekend, cruising down the freeway through our town. I’m officially obsessed.

Apparently I’m not the only one. Renovated Airstreams for home, work or play have recently been featured in the aforementioned Sunset, as well as at Design Sponge, Dwell, The Tiny Life (pictured below) and the Washington Post.


We’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately – which I love, don’t get me wrong – but I miss the coziness of our little, old house when staying in hotel rooms. And I miss the convenience of showers and a stove when I’m sleeping in a tent (I know, I’m really bad at roughing it). Wouldn’t it be cool to take a familiar place –showers, stove, maybe even the pets – on the road with you?

There’s just one obstacle. New and gently used Airstreams are expensive. Really expensive. Like, you-could-buy-two-or-three-small–cars-for-the-price-of-one-small-Airstream expensive. The only way it’s going to happen anytime soon is if we buy a used rig in not-so-hot condition, gut it and start over, which would be quite the undertaking – though it has been done.

Until that happens, though, I can satisfy my dreams of silver glory by drooling over the mid-century inspired photos in this book.

Ordering lunch from this Airstream window next time I’m in Seattle.

Borrowing someone else’s trailer for a night.

Or by settling on one that’s more my size.

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Filed under mid-century modern, renovation, retro, travel

Mid-Century Modern Revival

Maybe it’s all that time spent watching Mad Men, or maybe it was just inevitable. Either way, I’ve finally started warming up to mid-century modernism. 

Sutter Buttes/John DiDomenico Photography

I was raised by parents obsessed with old, lived-in, one-of-a-kind houses. To them, ranch houses of the 50s and 60s represented everything they wanted to get away from – suburban sprawl, cookie-cutter sameness and disregard for the past. 

For years, I followed in their footsteps, drawing the line at art deco and shunning everything that came after as “new.” That is, until I realized two things. One – this stuff was popular more than 50 years ago and therefore is actually “old.” And two – that my house is not a period movie set and there’s nothing wrong with a little mixing and matching of eras. 

Ranch home near my neighborhood

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to rush out and outfit my home in full-on atomic age fashion. My heart still belongs to Craftsmans and Queen Annes. But I’m a lot more open to the era since realizing a lot of the features I love about bungalow style – like clean lines, stained wood and bold patterns – can also be found in mid-century modern pieces. 

Here’s a quick rundown of some transitional pieces that appeal to my newfound respect for all things Jetson-esque. 

Leave it up to Urban Outfitters to offer funky yet simple retro decor at affordable prices. 

Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

Wouldn’t this chair look as at-home in a 1900 Craftsman as in someone’s Palm Springs patio? 

Crate & Barrel

In my mind, vinyl and mod go together like peanut butter and banana. You don’t even need a record player for this guy. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but I have one of these bowls by chicalookate and, trust me, they look cool in real life – and they’re awesome for storing your sunglasses, keys, remotes, etc. 


Groovy patterns and tiki style get a modern makeover at Bradbury & Bradbury

Bradbury & Bradbury - Wonderwall paper

Bradbury & Bradbury - Island wallpaper

Not sure if this qualifies as modern, but I’ve been coveting this Jonathan Adler whale pitcher since I first saw it advertised on Young House Love, my go-to site for decorating inspiration. 

Jonathan Adler

 And of course, no mid-century modern would be complete without a swingin’ Shag print. 

Shag - Relentless

For more mid-century ideas, I like the blogs Retro Renovation and Mid-Century Living, but there are literally hundreds of sites out there devoted to postwar living – just check out Retro Renovation’s blogroll. Apparently I’m a little late to the block party.


Filed under interiors, mid-century modern, retro