Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Just in time for Halloween ...

we've got clown paintings!

How some twisted individual's mind conceived what is simultaneously the most tasteless and the most terrifying trend in home decor, I'll never know.  Even more mystifying is why people actually bought them.

Did they really find these things stylish and attractive, or was it an attempt at irony?

Were they placed throughout the whole house, or was it just a trend in children's rooms?  If the latter, I bet that there is a strong correlation between the presence of a clown painting in one's childhood bedroom and the likelihood of growing up to become a serial killer.

If I ever found this painting in my home, I would place it face-down, burn it, scatter the ashes, and attend many therapy sessions.

Source: Why I Hate Clowns

The crazy part is, I see people carting these things out of estate sales all of the time.  Just a few weeks ago, I attended a sale where a woman showed up at the crack of dawn just to have a chance to add a few pieces to her creepy clown collection.  Is there some sort of market for them?

Actually, never mind.  I don't even want to know.  I just want to never have to see them again.

... and I'll leave you with this:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Things without all remedy should be without regard. What's done is done."

Ahhhh.  Cold medicine, antibiotics, and a full night of sleep were just what I needed.  Never underestimate the power of a Saturday lay-in to cure what ails you.

Unfortunately that lay-in meant that I missed what was probably the greatest estate sale weekend of the last few months.  One sale alone had a Broyhill Brasilia bedroom set, Brasilia dining set, and an American of Martinsville bedroom set.  That's practically a whole house-full of my favorite mid-mod furniture right there.

Ok, so I may have made a mistake.  Surely I could have dealt with one more day of ickyness and sleep deprivation if it meant a chance to get in on the action.  Oh well.

Also, congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals on their World Series win!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Looks like I need to get out the rake

What happened to our balmy weather?  One day we were basking in the sun an enjoying unseasonable warmth.  Then - Blam! - fall came out of nowhere, and you know what that means.

It's cold season.

Mine started off with just an occasional tickle of the throat and runny nose.  Now I've got a full-blown sneezing, coughing, unable-to-breathe, head-full-of-mucous super cold on my hands.  Add to that, I've also come down with strep throat and I'm not exactly the most pleasant person to be around right now.

The onset of fall also means no more mowing the lawn, no more pulling weeds, and no more digging holes.  Gardening season is over folks, and I couldn't be more happy about it.  For some odd reason, I've grown to have a strong aversion to everything landscaping/gardening-related (most likely due to a childhood of long summers of forced labor at the family homestead).  Luckily, my girlfriend finally got my butt in gear.

Those gnarly old tree stumps are now gone and the holes filled and turfed-over.

We also mulched and planted a new garden along the fence.  These emerald green arborvitae (all 15 of them) should grow to about 8 feet tall and give our yard a bit more privacy.

Not much was done on the front garden, but we did fill those two empty planters with stonecrop.

You wouldn't believe the amount of weeding that I did.  This area behind the shed was previously filled with poison ivy, to which I am now allergic (that was a fun lesson to learn).

I've also set up an area for the lovely hammock that my girlfriend gave me for our 6 year anniversary.  These trees were perfectly spaced and all it took was two eye-hooks and carabiners.  Next summer, this is going to be my main hangout.  Nothing is more perfect than laying out in the sun with a cold drink and something on the grill.

Still to go:
*Paint shed
*Remove old, broken brick
*Spray for weeds
*Re-seed lawn
*Level patio
*Plant vegetable garden

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where was everyone this weekend?

Either there was a huge MCM estate sale or everyone was too busy watching World Series coverage this weekend, because the thrift stores in St. Louis were hot, hot, hot!

I didn't make it out all that early and I still managed to score this:

Yes.  This Broyhill Brasilia gentlemen's cabinet sat at the Salvation Army a whole 2 hours before I showed up.  You can imagine my disappointment when I strolled in and saw another customer giving it the once-over with the tag in-hand, but then he left it behind!

Overpriced perhaps?  Nope!  You wouldn't believe me if I told you what they were charging.  The cashier even gave me a discount off of the ticketed price.  "That's a lovely cabinet," she remarked.  Yes.  Yes it is.  In fact, I'd say that Broyhill Brasilia is my favorite mass produced mid-century line, so this was quite a find.  

After checking out, I had a little look around the rest of the shop and found a fabulous mid-century Basset bedroom set with intricate carved wooden handles, a retro ceramic and brass lamp, a svelte velvet sofa, and a few smaller items.  Usually the thrifts are pretty sparse once noon rolls around, but the pickings were equally good at every stop.   It was too bad I had to switch out the van for my sedan early in the afternoon.  I would have picked up all of these mid-century goodies. 

It's hard to tell from the photos, but the cabinet was is in what I'd call "fair" shape.  There were a few small chips in the veneer along the bottom edge, some surface scratches/gouges, and a water spot on top.  Nothing too bad, but it definitely needed work.  I'd intended to get pictures before I applied the Howard's, but as you can see, my excitement got the best of me.  Oops.  This is after one quick rubdown, so I'll post the finished photos later.

It works really well in the dining room with my Kent Coffey Perspecta dining set, as the two look somewhat similar, but the Brasilia definitely has a bit more flair.  Don't you think?

I love it!  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's here! It's here!

It's finally here!

Dana over at Mid2Mod and I both ordered replica Howard Miller by George Nelson spindle clocks (Model No. 2239) from The Foundry way back on October 10th.  The site touted its speedy 2-day shipping, but it would appear that there was a slight miscommunication.  12 long days later, I came home to a big, brown box on my doorstep.

There are a number of manufacturers of knock-off Nelson clocks, but this one turned out to be a Verichron.  The total purchase price was $51.  However, I received a $10 discount off after calling up regarding the shipping delay.  You know what they say, "The squeaky wheel always gets the grease."

Now, I must preface this review by stating that, for the price, I was satisfied with my purchase.  The clock looks great and is as consistent with the original as could be expected.  The only differences that I could ascertain were that the color of the hands is off (white hour hand and orange minute hand vs. black and white, respectively) and it is slightly smaller (18.5" vs. 22").  This is also likely the cheapest Nelson replica you'll find, and, naturally, when you go cheap, the quality isn't going to be all that.  However, I just want to be sure that my readers are aware of several additional issues with this model before committing their purchase.

The first, and most obvious, issue is the "George Nelson" label on the face.  I'm not a big fan of such things and the pictures showed the clock sans label on the website, so that was a bit of a bummer.  I'd remove it, but there is some sort of lacquer or film over the face and I wouldn't want to mess it up.

Next is the face itself.  The website stated that it would be "brass metal", but I'm somewhat skeptical.  It doesn't feel cool to the touch and has a hollow, plasticky sound when tapped.  I'm pretty sure it's either a paper thin layer of metal over plastic or just entirely plastic.

The "metal" also doesn't wrap all the way to the back of the clock and only covers about one-third of the side.  A bit of ugly, glossy grey plastic (I wish that they would have at least used matte black) extends about an inch beyond the cover and, when viewed from the side, sticks out like a sore thumb.  I presume that this was done to save on material costs.  However, it seriously detracts from the aesthetics of the clock.

Lastly, the little contrasting bands on the spindles aren't a different shade of wood or even painted on.  They're strips of colored electrical tape!  In my case, the tape came loose in transport and needed to be redone.  They at least put the seams around back, but you can see some serous cost-cutting was done here.

Despite all of the issues, I must say that it is an attractive clock once hung.  If you squint and look at it just right, you might even mistake it for a real Nelson.  With the price of higher-quality reproductions running into the hundreds, I can certainly overlook the differences until I can get my hands on an original.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

We're still waiting on that Verichron clock, but here's another retro-modern gadget review to hold you over.

Need some retro-modern audio equipment to go along with your mid-century decor?

Well, then Sony has you covered.

The Sony MDR-V6 has been the music industry standard since it was introduced in the 1980's, in part due to it's wide frequency response.  While your average set of headphones reproduce frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, these cans reach all the way down to 5 Hz and as high as 30 kHz.  Unlike most, they also have a very neutral sound curve that doesn't over-emphasize either the treble or the bass.  If you enjoy a bit of extra thump and brightness, you might look elsewhere, but these treat you to music as it was originally intended to be heard and don't fatigue the ears.

They're also solidly constructed with quality materials (leather pads, solid metal enclosures, thick cables, and minimal plastic) and extraordinarily comfortable while sound-leakage and the intrusion of environmental noise is kept to a minimum due to the circumaural design.  It doesn't hurt that the MDR-V6's are, in my opinion, very attractive as well.

While I'm no audiophile, I've owned a wide range of low and mid-level headphones and can attest that the MDR-V6's are, by far, the best of the bunch.  They really do add something special to the listening experience, as you can hear background instruments and extras that would never come through with a lesser model.  If you've never listened to music with anything other than bargain bin headphones, there really is an easily perceptible difference.

As you all know, I'm always on the lookout for a bargain, so you can bet that the price is right.  While they list for $120, a set of MDR-V6's can be had for $50-70 from a number of online retailers (Amazon).  This is right at the inflection point on the value-per-dollar curve. There are, obviously, better higher-end models, but investing additional money beyond this point would net less and less return.

Overall, they're a well-built, aesthetically pleasing, and solidly performing set of headphones at a bargain price.

Sony MDR-V6 Monitor Series Headphones

*Attractive retro-modern design
*Long cord (10ft)
*Solid build and materials
*Wide frequency response
*Neutral, distortion-free sound
*Fold for travel and include leather carrying pouch
*Listen-all-day comfortable
*Don't require a headphone amp for portable devices

*Neutral sound - If you enjoy gobs of treble and bass, these are not the phones for you.  Check out the Grado Prestige Series SR60's, which also come highly recommended
*Pads tend to wear out after a few years (but are user-replaceable)
*Not as portable as your average set of earbuds

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Great Expectations

Christmas is just around the corner (or at least that's what retailers seem to want us to believe), so you better get shoppin' and stimulate that economy.  If anyone is at a loss for ideas of what to get me, you're in luck!  I've found this teak mid-century modern boomerang desk on Craigslist.  It's basically my dream desk.

It's finished on all sides and has a built-in minibar and bookcase, all for only $1200.  A bargain, I say!  That's not asking too much, is it?

In other news, we've (hopefully) got everything ready to go with the roof.  Unfortunately, the inspection company only covered 2/3 of it.  While I would have preferred that they paid the whole thing (as it was, you know, their fault), covering the extra several hundred dollars was much easier than taking them to court.  It's a good thing they waited to get back to me until AFTER all of our great weather passed and we are now firmly in the dreary, rainy part of the year.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dear Ikea,

Why do you not have a store in St. Louis?  Look, I know we're no Chicago, New York, or L.A., but c'mon.  We're still a major city - a dangerous, blighted, dying city, but a major city nonetheless.

I know that most of your furniture is nothing more than sawdust held together with glue and a prayer, but I can't resist your fashionable, cheap home decor.  Take these planters, for example (priced from $1.99 to $5.99):

They're sleek.  They're modern.  They're just what I'm looking for.  However, your nearest store is located in Chicago, a full 300 miles away.  I'm not going to drive up to the windy city just to pick up a few pots, so the obvious solution is that you open a retail store here.

How else am I supposed to get my mid-century modern planter fix? The only places you can currently find such things in St. Louis are artsy hipster shops where they charge an arm and a leg.  I beg of you.  We need your mass-produced Scandinavian wares.

Kind regards,


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Get 'em while they're hot!

Also, if you are interested in picking up a few mid-century reproductions, head on over to The Foundry.

They've got a daily deal on with a great selection and reasonable prices.

Source: The Foundry

Office Chairs, Revisited

Look what I found!

Source: Furnish Me Vintage

Do these chairs look familiar?  They should.

It looks as if I've finally identified the make of the pair of chairs from the office.  They didn't have any marks or tags and an I'd almost given up after a long, fruitless search of the internet.  I couldn't find anything at all until this week, when not one, not two, but three sets came up on Craigslist.

They were manufactured by the Jasper Chair Company, which was founded in 1921 and still operates out of Jasper, Indiana.  I perused their catalogue to see if they still had anything of interest, but they now just sell typically bland office furniture. 

When I first took them home, I didn't think to look for the cushions, as the, for lack of a better term, "butt groove" led me to believe that there wasn't any.   I'll have to check where they've run off to.

Does anyone else think that they look similar to the work of Hans Wegner?  They're really beautiful, well-made chairs.

Source: Life Interiors

Monday, October 10, 2011

Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun, and I say it's alright.

Whenever anyone visits my home, two pieces always seem to elicit a lot of questions/interest.  The first is the Sputnik chandelier, and the other is this sunburst clock.

This little beauty comes courtesy of Target and is "inspired" by the designs of George Nelson (although gives him zero credit).  The "spikes" are slightly less elongated, the color scheme is a bit off, and there is that irritating logo on the face, but other than those few small differences, it remains pretty faithful to the original design.  If I ever feel up to it, I might get out the spray paint and gussy it up a little.

I've seen a few original Nelson spike clocks pop up on Craigslist recently and reproductions are available through Vitra, but they all cost hundreds of dollars.  That ain't gonna happen.  While I understand the draw of originality and designer names, I'm just looking for the maximum style + value per dollar.

With coupons, my total came to $35.63.  The next cheapest knockoff I could find was $178 and Design Within Reach wants an absurd  $327.25 for a Vitra repro!  Sure, nobody will ever mistake this clock for a Nelson, but with a savings of $291.62, I think I can live with that.