Friday, September 30, 2011


Why did I not hear about this stuff earlier?  It looks AMAZING!

If you haven't seen Plasti Dip in action, its a spray paint-like substance (it also comes in traditional liquid form) used to coat hard-to-paint surfaces such as plastic, metal, glass, etc.

"What's the big deal? There are a ton of products like that out there," you might be saying.  Well, the differentiator is that Plasti Dip isn't really paint.  It's plastic, so it doesn't actually adhere to the surface and peels off easily, as seen here.  It comes in a variety of colors and looks pretty durable too, as my gear-head friends are using it to paint car bodies and wheels.  The manufacturer states that the product's life, when used outdoors, should be up to 5 years.

Don't like the look of that lamp?  Give it a coat of Plasti Dip (no sanding or priming involved).  Gotten sick of the color?  Peel it off and paint again.  

Just think of all the mid-century DIY projects that you could take on with Plasti Dip.  I might even give it a try on that very tarnished sputnik lamp.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I do love older homes, but boy they can be trying.

See those stairs at the back of the dining room?  They lead up to the master bedroom.  How am I supposed to get anything up those?  They're enclosed, steep, barely over a foot and a half wide, in a corner, and take a sharp turn right at the bottom.  I know that people/things were smaller in the 40's, but c'mon.

Once you get upstairs though, we do have an awesome master bedroom.  It's got tons of space (which is now being put to use as a storage/construction area due to the roof leak), but bedroom furniture just isn't going to happen.  I just about killed myself trying to lug that small Lane Acclaim coffee table up there, so I'd rather not attempt a credenza.  Therefore, we are going to need to find some sort of alternative storage arrangement.

I've been toying with the idea of building a fauxdenza to go along that wall facing the end of the bed (the one with the pitched ceiling).  The Brick House did a really good write-up on what seems like a fairly simple design, so I might give it a try. What do you all think? Fauxdenza or flat-pack?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oh little Sputnik, flying high ...

I think that I'm developing a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Sputnik lamps.  If I could find enough of them, I think I'd end up with one in every room.

Here are a few snaps of the one I procured from a local estate sale last weekend.  Structurally, it's in pretty decent shape.  There aren't any bends, loose joints, or missing pieces.  Cosmetically, it's a different story.  The whole chandelier needs a thorough cleaning and new bulbs.  It originally had an almost-full set of star bulbs, but an overzealous estate sale shopper managed to break quite a few of them against a piano when she tried to carry it out AFTER I'd taken the tag off and paid.

My initial inclination was to polish with Brasso, but I have a feeling that to do so might be a big mistake.  Anyone have experience restoring and removing tarnish from one of these things (or I guess brass lamps in general)?  I'm not sure if it is solid brass or just brass plating.

Monday, September 26, 2011



5:30 AM is just never a good time to get ready on a Monday, especially when you've been up much too late the night prior.

A little background on me:  I'm a geek.  I build computers and play video games, silly things no grown man should do in his precious little free time.  However, I haven't had a chance to play in a good long while with everything going on at the house.

After last night, perhaps that's for the best.  I ended up picking up on my unfinished game of Fallout 3: New Vegas and the next thing I knew it was way, way, way past my bedtime.

Upside: I saved the Hoover Dam and destroyed a tribe of vicious slavers.

Downside: My whole body feels as if it was worked over with a hammer while I slept and I'm going to be completely useless for the rest of the day.

If you've never played Fallout 3, I highly recommend it.  Not only is it a solid game, but the whole thing is set in a retro-futuristic world that should appeal to any mid-century design enthusiast.  I couldn't really find any quality shots of the buildings or interiors (I guess most players are focused on the action rather than the design).  However, you may recognize a few pieces that were "inspired" by real-life Mid-Century Modern designs, such as the Heywood Wakefield M364-G TV table and Eames shell chairs.

Go ahead and give Fallout 3: New Vegas a try sometime.  Just keep an eye on your clock.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just getting started

After 3 short weeks, Mid-Century Mid West has passed the 1000 pageview milestone and now has regular readers in 23 states and 4 countries.  Thank you all for your support!

If you would like to learn more about your blog traffic, I suggest that you check out a little service called Google Analytics.  While the data it collects might be of limited utility for a low-traffic personal blog, it's really interesting to look over and the installation process couldn't be easier.  Who knows?  You might find a creative way to drive more readers to your site.

Thanks again everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm no Ansel Adams, but at least we have pictures

The office camera is back in my hands for a few days, so I thought I'd start working through my photo backlog.  Please excuse the poor shots.  Whenever I use the flash, the images come out looking terrible.  When I don't, there isn't enough light and they get blurry.  Some day I'll figure this thing out.

I acquired these Lane Acclaim tables over the course of two estate sales.  Oddly, both occured on the same day.  I'd been after a set for a good long while but couldn't find any at a reasonable price.  I even considered paying retail at the local antique mall!  Then, BAM, I was up to my neck in Acclaim (and for practically nothing).

The Acclaim line was designed for Lane by Andre Bus and released in 1963.  It went on to become one of the furniture-makers best sellers.  Take a look at those gorgeous contrasting faux dovetails and you can understand why.  I'd go into a bit more history here, but Jet Set Modern already has it pretty well covered.  They've got a whole page dedicated to Lane Acclaim, so check out the link.

The square coffee table made its way into the sunroom, grouped with the Danish sofa and chairs from the office, while the round one still waits for a home up in the unfinished bedroom. I believe that they are later models, as they have black painted ferrules rather than brass.

The two stepped end tables now sit in the living room.  They really work out great for those with a lot of reading material, as you can load up the bottom level with books and magazines and still have a place to set down your drinks (on a coaster of course), pictures, lamps, etc.

Don't they look great?  You just can't find well-designed, quality furniture like this any more.  And to think, they sold the Acclaim rectangular coffee table in 1963 for the equivalent of $160 today.

All of the pieces are in usable condition, but could use a bit of love.  When I get around to fixing them up, I'll make sure to document the process (If only so that you can learn from my mistakes).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Advice for potential home buyers

Home inspections are a load of bunk.  Some may be given the impression that these people are knowledgeable professionals who perform a thorough structural inspection of the home and its major systems.  That is, after all, what real estate agents and inspectors lead you to believe.

Often, sadly, this is not the case.

You see, many of these individuals are no more skilled or knowledgeable than the average DIYer.  They may specialize in one specific area, but generally have little knowledge of most others.

They also have an incentive NOT to perform their job, as every home inspector stipulates in their contract that they are not liable for oversights.  In other words, all they have to do is provide a quick, cursory inspection that meets state minimum regulations.  If they do a crappy job and miss a laundry list of issues, who cares?  It's not their problem.

So how do they have any incentive to invest the time and effort that a full and proper inspection requires?

My "wonderful" inspector happened to miss the following (among many other issues):
*a whole roof full of completely unsealed flashing
*a large (4'x8') severely bowed area of roofing and rotted wood beams that is now leaking into my second story
*an electrical box that was nowhere near up to code
*a leaking basement

So, if any of you are in the market for a home, don't trust your home inspector.  The guy likely knows little more about construction than your handy neighbor.  Also, be aware that he will not be taking responsibility if the job isn't performed correctly.

Also, while I'm going on my cranky little rant here, I'd like address another very important, but completely unrelated, issue.  Please Facebook, I emplore you.  Stop changing your layout!  When I woke up all bleary-eyed at 5:30 this morning and went to check my messages, I was greeted with a screen full of confusing alert messages and a million different feed windows.  My reaction was this:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

All in all it's just another brick in the wall (unit).

Since the day I had a Broyhill room divider snaked out from under me on Craigslist (The seller promised to hold and I was on my way to pick it up.  Now it's in a certain retro shop down the street from me, listed at an exhorbidant price), I'd been on the look-out for a Danish-style room divider or wall unit.  Something about having all of those shelves and nooks for mid-century chotchkies really excites me.

Well, I'd found one in an estate sale listing for last Saturday, but abandoned it favor of a Sputnik chandelier.  It was a difficult choice and one that I was beginning to regret when I pulled up an hour late and saw everyone walking out with their shell chairs, bubble lamps, and the like.

Either the owners were hoarders or family members had brought their own junk to sell, because this place was PACKED full of mid-century stuff.  The wall unit was there too and it was a beauty: solid rosewood and finished on both sides.  A piece of masking tape with "Danish wall unit" written on it was hanging off the side but there was no price tag, so I assumed that it'd sold.  However, I decided to enquire about it on the way out.  It never hurts to ask.

Still available?!  Must be expensive...

It's super cheap?!  SOLD!

I tore that cash out of my wallet faster than you could bat an eyelid and disassembled the unit with the assistance of the very helpful staff.  They even helped me load it up the next day when I returned with the van.  They're a new company and I'll definitely be frequenting their sales in the future.

With that, my whole budget was blown, so I missed out on a pile of other treasures, a few of which were picked up by Mr. Modtomic.  However, after the Sputnik chandelier and the wall unit, I couldn't complain.

Please excuse the Googled photos below (source:  They're of the exact same item, but I don't have a camera at the moment.  I'll try and get some real photos when I set this baby up in the office.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back On Topic

While last week may have been a disaster, I did manage to snag some of the big-ticket items on my checklist.

I'd been fretting all week about which sale I'd attend: the one with the Sputnik chandelier or the one with the another of my most-wanted pieces.  Both began at the same time and they were at opposite ends of the city, so one would have to be sacrificed.  How could I choose?  In the end, I decided to go for the Sputnik.  It's easier to transport and I was considering constructing my own wall unit anyway.  

Surprisingly, nobody showed up until 7, two hours before opening.  There I'd waited, sitting in the cold since 3 AM, all for naught (Admittedly, I did have a lawn chair, blankets, and free wifi).  It was well worth it though.  I got that coveted first spot in line and easily snagged the lamp.  Good thing I did, numbers 2 - 10 all went for the exact same thing. 

There isn't much available on the history of the Sputnik chandelier, but they were (I believe) originally designed by Gino Sarfatti for the Italian lamp-maker Arteluce.  I can't find an exact date, but I would assume that it was produced shortly after its design inspiration, the Sputnik-1 satellite, launched in 1957.  I'm pretty sure that mine isn't an Arteluce, but it may be a Lightolier, a firm that mass produced Sputniks in America during this time period.  I'll have to check if there are any identifying marks (and update with an actual picture of my Sputnik rather than a stock photo).

After checking out, I headed up to the second sale, just to check out what was left.  I figured there wouldn't be much.  After all, I was an hour late and when I pulled up, there was a woman carting out a load of bubble lamps and shell chairs.  And that's where we'll pick up next time.

A side note - They call it a "tag" sale for a reason.  You take the tags off the items you wish to purchase.  If the item does not have a tag, someone has already taken it.  I had 3 different individuals try to walk off with my dear Sputnik this Saturday, one of whom managed to break several of the star bulbs.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A great day for the Mid-Century Modern collection, not such a great day for me

The bad news keeps on coming.  This morning we had to put down our dog, Sophie.  She's been such a wonderful pet and we will all miss her dearly.

Having just lost another dog, Missie, a few weeks ago, this was especially tough.

As you can imagine, I was an absolute mess when I went to load up my pickings from yesterday's estate sale.  I got ahold of some great mid-century stuff, but it's hard to be excited after everything that has happened.  Sorry to be such a downer over the last few days.  It's been a rough week, but I promise that I'll have on-topic updates tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

So my policy doesn't cover roof leaks because they are considered floods. Do they cover damage incurred when I put my foot up their @*#?

Due to an unforeseen series of events, I've been super busy over the last few days and haven't had the time to put out a decent post.  Once we get everything in order, I should be back up and running again.

This weeks festivities included:
* A roof leak at the house that is neither covered by my homeowners insurance policy or my home warranty (my reaction illustrated below)
* Walking in on my co-worker and close family friend having a heart attack and then taking his responsibilities over at work while he is in the hospital
* An unexpected funeral
* 2 cars in the shop

What fun ...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

(Potentially) Big News!

So, I may have accidently stumbled across one of the greatest mid-century treasure troves ever.  I can't give out the details yet, but I'll give you a hint:


This could either turn out to be the score of a lifetime or one huge disappointment, but I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Estate sale madness

Over the years, I've been dragged along to a fair few estate sales, but always came away thinking that they were over-priced and full of junk.  Turns out, it takes a fair amount of dedication, persistence, and sleep deprivation to get the good stuff.

The kind gentleman who sold me the Danish sofa introduced me to and my mind was blown.  All of these years, I'd been relying on Craigslist or Ebay and this site was chock full of mid-century goodness.

I'd spotted the goods.  I'd printed out directions.  I'd arrived early.  I'd brought provisions.  Everything, however, did not go as planned.  It seemed like every week, the piece that I'd waited for was snatched up by a mysterious goateed man.  Coincidentally, or so I thought, the same pieces were appearing on my favorite blog, Mr. Modtomic.  Once this happened a few times, I put two and two together and realized that this WAS Mr. Modtomic!  Talk about salt in the wound.  I'd lose out on all of these great pieces and then have to read about what a great score they were the very next day.

Then came what I thought was my day.  I'd scoped out a Broyhill Brasilia bedroom set on and woken up at the crack of dawn (actually, way before it), but once again I was soundly beaten and left to stare longingly at the now tagless pieces.  If any of you have ever seen Brasilia, you'd know how heartbreaking such an encounter can be.

After that disheartening experience, I thought that I was done with estate sales.  However, on the way home from dropping the girlfriend off at the airport early one morning, I made a last minute decision to stop by a sale where I'd spotted a couple Lane Acclaim coffee tables (another of my favorites).

And there in line, right in front of me, stood Mr. Modtomic.  He'd done it again!  I decided to wait it out anyway, as I was 6th in line and might still be able to grab a few things, but it looked like slim pickings if what could be seen through the windows was anything to go by.

When the doors opened, I watched as the others made a mad dash for the dining room and bedroom.  They were after the Kipp Stewart dining set and the tension pole lamp.  This was my chance!  I quickly made my way to the basement, as I'd seen concrete in the photos, and snatched the tags.

It was a small victory, but victory nonetheless.

Afterwards, I even got a chance to speak with Mr. Modtomic, who seemed like a genuinely nice guy.  He congratulated me on my find and we talked for a while about mid-century design and exchanged emails.  Since then I've tried to forward tips on any pieces that I know he's been looking for or that might interest him in his way.  Maybe there is room in this town for the both of us after all.

Click the link above to check out his blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Well look what I found while trolling Craigslist yesterday.  I haven't had time to take pictures yet, but this should give you a little taste.

We had a bit of a dry spell there, so hopefully this portends of good things to come.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nothing to see here

This weekend, I managed to comb over 16 antique malls/thrift stores as well as 2 estate sales. Despite all of the legwork, I ended up coming home empty-handed. It was a bit disappointing, but I did come across a few treasures, including a Selig sofa, Brasilia headboard, and Sputnik lamp. All were more than I was willing to pay, so I left them for someone else to enjoy. However, my luck may have turned, as I'm (hopefully) bringing home two new additions this afternoon.

In other news, I need a new camera to document my finds.  Borrowing the office camera just isn't cutting it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I was sitting at home one evening, perusing Craigslist as usual, when I came across these funky looking end tables.

They looked a bit scuffed up in the ad and the simplicity of the design led me to believe that they might be the product of a little mid-century DIY, but I was looking for something with character to go with the Danish sofa and chairs in the sunroom anyway.

The seller was in Southeast St. Louis, which is always a bit of a pain. If you aren't familiar with St. Louis, picking up Craigslist items in the city can be a bit of a crapshoot. One street might be filled trendy loft apartments and old brick mansions while the next is all crack dens and urban ruins. On more than one occasion I've had to turn back because I wasn't willing to go down an alleyway or street that looked just a little too sketchy (and I work in East St. Louis, so that's saying something).

Luckily, the seller lived in one of the former areas. She also turned out to be English! Her, my girlfriend (a fellow Brit), and I sat and talked for quite a while about immigration, England, and Mid-Century furniture. Did I mention that she is also close friends with the owner of The Future Antiques (my favorite Mid-Century shop in the whole of St. Louis)? What luck! It's always nice when sellers turn out to be new friends. She was even kind enough to throw in a cool hand-made coat rack.

I'll give her a plug, as she is still trying to sell her solid teak wall unit. I'd buy it myself, but I have neither the room nor the money. Believe me, it's worth every penny.  Just look at all those great chotchkie nooks.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Walls of Jericho

So, at first I was really into these plater and lathe walls. They look great and feel extraordinarily sturdy ... that is until you attempt to do ANYTHING with them.

You see, plaster has a propensity to crack and crumble at the slightest provocation - a fact of which I was not aware until after I purchased this home. I, after growing up in my suburban drywall and sheetrock bubble, never realized that walls could be so fragile and difficult to work with.

Got some furniture finish rubbed off on the wall? Ah, we'll just clean it up with a Magic Eraser. Want to hang a picture? Just go and hammer a nail into the wall.

That's how I've always operated.

In other words, I've got some painting and repair work to do.

I was thinking about doing one of the rooms in a matte dark slate grey with semi-gloss white trim, but I'm not so sure where to go from there. Any help creating a color palate that is dramatic but at the same time neutral (I know that is a bit of a contradiction) would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Less is more." - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

While looking yesterday's blog post, I noticed that I'd developed a serious problem:

A dire case of clutterosis and chintzitis!

Those who know me will attest that I am firmly anti-clutter (verging on obsessive compulsive) and that I detest anything chintzy. Yet, there it was: a collection of useless and/or distasteful crap growing right before my very eyes.

Some of it was understandable. After all, I'd had to spread out my belongings as much as possible in an attempt to fill the empty space right after the move. Much of what I had was also handed down from parents and grandparents or found in the garage. However, I've made more than a few inexcusable contributions to the mess as of late.

Some individuals posses the unique ability to tastefully select and properly place clutter in such a way that it actually looks good (see examples below).

(photo credit: Mr. Modtomic)

I am not one of those individuals. My attempts at tasteful clutter end up looking more like this (OK, not this bad, but close):

So, I decided to have a clean yesterday and removed a great deal of said crap from downstairs ... and put it in the second floor/future master bedroom/storage area. Oh well. At least it's out of sight.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The best is yet to come

There really is so much left to do, but the house has come a long way since I moved in at the end of June. It's great to finally have a place to sit down, eat dinner, and store my stuff.

The second story remains in use as a storage closet, but I hope to turn it into a master bedroom at some point (if that bear of a staircase will allow it). A lot of furniture/decor also needs to be bought or replaced (I'm looking at you, curtains).

However, the first order of business is to take care of the garden before Fall sets in. I called in a professional to remove several gnarly stumps from the back yard and it's looking a bit rough. I'd really like to put in a few evergreen trees and shrubs to provide some semblance of privacy. As of now, all that separates us from our neighbors is a tiny chain-link fence - not that there is anything wrong with them. I'd just prefer to have a bit of space to myself.

What do you all think? Is there anything that you would have done differently? I'll admit, there's been a few design decisions that I've regretted, but I have a plan and I hope to remedy them in the future.