Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Guess who's got a new roof.

This guy.

Yep, it's finally finished.  The fact that I no longer have to go into panic-mode whenever storm clouds come along is a huge relief.  Now I just have to avoid looking at the equally anxiety-inducing bill.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Alton, IL

Man, I've got a lot of catching up to do.  I keep coming up with ideas for posts, but trying to spread them out so I don't run out of content.  Then I end up forgetting about them.

So here's the belated pictures from my trip to Alton, IL.  Mr. Modtomic, Dave, and I all decided to meet up and have a look through Alton's renowned antique malls a couple weeks back.

I arrived first, so I spent a few minutes wandering the side streets and looking at the gorgeous victorian homes.  Like many old, rural river towns, Alton has gotten a little rough around the edges.  White flight, the loss of industrial jobs, and the migration of young people to the suburbs of larger cities have all taken their toll.  However, it still maintains that small-town charm.

Once everyone pulled up, we stopped off a Fast Eddies Bon Air, which is famous for it's cheap eats, cold beer, and huge patio.  99 cent 1/2 pound burgers?  Yeah, that's my kind of place.

 Now stuffed to the gills, we headed to the antique shops.

 Something makes me think that those doll heads aren't original.

This set of "Bertoia Wire Chairs" are knockoffs, but I really want them for my kitchen.  Unfortunately they weren't priced accordingly ($200 each!).

I've been looking for some mid-century art, so it's always good to learn new artist names.  Now I can keep my eye out for similar pieces.

It was love at first sight between me and this kilim rug, but the price tag drove us apart.  I still find myself pining for it.

At that point, the clouds started looking ominous, so we made our way down towards East St. Louis and stopped at an antique mall/classic car showroom.

There was a "no photography" sign in the car showroom, which the proprietors graciously let us see free of charge.  However, you can check out Dave's blog for a few surreptitious snaps.  They had some real beauties there.

I don't think that anyone picked up anything that day, but a good time was had by all.  I know that my calves certainly got a good workout too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

Now that the house is starting to fill out a bit, it's time to start putting together a cohesive decorating plan.  Otherwise, I'll just keep bringing in mis-matched stuff that I don't need and end up on Hoarders.  Thrifting is addicting that way.

So, I had a little fun on Olioboard and put together a few mood boards.  Up first is the living room.

With the exception of the blinds, lamp, vintage paint-by-number, and a cowhide rug, I've already purchased everything here, so this room should come together fairly easily.

Just like Pinterest, Olioboard has the inexplicable power to suck hours out of your day.  Though the "remove background" feature could use a little work, it's very simple and allows even the technologically challenged to make decent-looking mood boards.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bertoia Dilemma

I've searched high, low, far, and wide, but can't dig up any info on how to construct a home-made Bertoia Diamond Chair cover or find a cheap replacement.  Surely some enterprising individual has taken it upon themselves to recover these Knoll lovelies.  I mean, it looks fairly simple, doesn't it?

"Intellectual property... blah blah... Harry Bertoia rolling over in his grave... blah blah... Supporting good designers... blah blah..."

Yes, I know.  I know.

source: Zeitlos Berlin

I'm a bad person.  There, I admit it.  The simple truth is that I'm a cheap S.O.B., and I'll be damned if I'm going to fork over $600 to cover a chair that cost 1/6th of that.

So, anybody out there got the deets?

If not, I might be taking a crash course in upholstery.  If it goes through, I promise to share the results, however terrifying they may be.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dining Chairs

Now that I've got this awesome  Herman Miller breakfast table, it looks like I'll need to pick up a couple chairs to go along with it.


Naturally, I'd prefer something vintage, but with the price of mid-century dining chairs climbing into the stratosphere, replicas may be the most feasable option.

So I've had a look on Amazon and selected a few sets that might work:

Any thoughts?  Anyone out there ever own a replica?  I'd love to hear your experiences and opinions.

Edit: Does anyone know if you can paint the chromed wire chairs?  I might be tempted to do them in black.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekend Haul: Part 2

I still can't believe what a haul I brought in last Saturday.  Most of it has made its way up into the attic/master bedroom/mod cave until I get a chance to break out the antique finish restorer, but this little beauty is staying right here.

I must say, the Mid-Century Modern breakfast table was an elusive quarry, but with the help of Kristina  and Michael at Rocket Century, I finally bagged one.  And what a prize it is: a 36" Eames Aluminum Group by Herman Miller in white laminate.

It looks  a million times better than the craftsman-style set that was a holdover from my grad school days.  Wouldn't you say?

If I had my druthers, I'd have gotten the dark wood-grained laminate version or, in an ideal fantasy world, a Saarinen tulip table with a marble top.  It'd go a bit better with the dark-stained cabinets and counter tops.  Beggars can't be choosers though, can they? 

Still, this table brings some much-needed MCM style to the kitchen, where it was seriously lacking.  I can't wait to gussy it up with a set of chairs and some suitably modern decor.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rocket Century

Wanna see some of the cool stuff that Mr. Modtomic and I left behind at the Rocket Century sale?  Head on over to his page and check it out!

Seeing that Jens Risom sofa still makes me want to jump in the van and take another trip.  Anyone know an upholsterer who does charity work?   They'd be well compensated in the form of good karma and my eternal admiration ;)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend Update

What a weekend!

Remember that "promising estate sale" that I mentioned in my last post?  Well, Mr. Modtomic, his girlfriend, and I devised a plan, split up the potential spoils, and showed up super early so that we could stake our claim.  We were all alone in line, so we were feeling pretty smug.  Then after half an hour of waiting a fellow early-morning-riser came up and ripped a number off the pad on the front doorstep.  Numbers?!  There weren't supposed to be any numbers!

To our dismay, the estate sale company, Steve & Sheri, changed the rules at the last minute and put out numbers the night before.  Of course, all the dealers had already taken their spot at the top and we were 7, 8, and 9.  Dang!  I'd printed the sheet in the late afternoon and the change wasn't on there, so it must have happened in the evening.  Who does that?

After that fiasco, we decided to head on over to Denny's and drown our sorrows in savory breakfast meats, starches, and maple syrup.   However, I remembered that I'd also printed off the info for a "retro flea market" that we'd wanted to see but didn't think we'd have a chance to get to due to the conflicting estate sale.  Might as well check it out, right?

I'm glad we did, because that place was a treasure trove of MCM deals.  It actually wasn't really what I'd call a flea market.  It was more a mid-century modern cast-offs sale, where most things were a little dinged up, but there were plenty of goodies to be had at very reasonable prices.  

The owners of Rocket Century, who put on the sale, were even kind enough to take Mr. Mod and I in and show us around their shop.  It's always fun to meet people who share the same interests and wow!  They've got quite a collection - everything from Adrian Pearsall coffee tables to Cold War propaganda posters can be had there.  It's a veritable repository of mid-century modern collectables.

After Mr. Mod and I split, I headed back to the first sale, just to see if I could make a go of it.  As expected, it didn't turn out well.  Not only had the estate sale manager changed the rules at the last second, but one of the dealers had taken the first few numbers for himself in order to delay everyone else getting in behind him.  I even overheard the manager and him whispering off to the side about where the items of interest were and how they were priced.  What a crock!  I know that dealers are repeat customers, but everyone should have to play by the same rules.  If you can't stick to them, why even have them in the first place?

So I missed out on my set of Lane Acclaim step end tables and a coffee table, which was a big disappointment.  I've already got a set, but they are covered in water marks from the previous owner and the finish is completely shot.  Here was my chance to get some in what was described as "perfect condition", but a scandalous estate sale company and dealers blew it.  Can you tell that I'm bitter about the experience?  BECAUSE I AM.

Well, after that I decided to take my friend Jon, who needed some furniture for a new place of his own, along for a second go round at Rocket Century and ended up adding a few more items to my load (more on them later).  Unfortunately, I left behind the gorgeous Jens Risom Sofa (which looked almost exactly like the one pictured below) that I'd been eyeing up the whole time.  That thing was HOT, but it it looked like a cat/dog/some kind of vermin got ahold of it and it needed reupholstering.  Hopefully some kind soul will take it in and give it the love and attention that it deserves.

source: Flickr - teawithamouse

With the van already bursting at the seams, Jon and I headed up to the Ron Paul rally at Lindenwood University, but on the way I stopped and for one last pick: these two Danish lounge chairs (first is mine, second is his).

Anyone have any idea who the manufacturer is?  These things are pretty ubiquitous, so I haven't really put much time into learning how to identify them.  The only one I know is Baumritter, but those are usually tagged, right?

So we've gone through the whole range of emotions here today.  There was excitement, disbelief, disappointment, and joy.  In the end, I'd spent some time with good friends, made a couple new ones, and brought home a huge haul to boot.  Can't ask for anything more than that!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Every thing's coming up roses

Promising estate sales, retro flea market, sunny weather, garden blooming, new roof, new MCM lamp, BBQ pulled pork, and a Ron Paul rally - It's gonna be a great weekend in St. Louis

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not enough Purell in the world for this one (potentially NSFW)

If there was a Thrifts of Terror competition, I think that I might have won.

"Hey, that's an interesting retro Moses figurine.  Let's get a closer look."

"Oh God, what have I done?!"

Please excuse me while I burn my hands off.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mid-Century DIY: Retro Planter

Are you sick of boring, generic plant pots from big box stores?  Tired of trolling Craigslist for mid-century planters and coming up empty-handed?  How about paying over $150 for a reproduction bullet planter?

Finding retro-modern planters can be an arduous and expensive task...

... but no longer!

Today I'm going to show you how to whip one up in a matter of an afternoon and at a cost of about $16.

Bel Air Bamboo Planter (Lowes - Item #293923)
Drill Bits (1/16" and 15/64")
3x Waddell 3" Furniture Legs (Ace Hardware - Item #60536349613)
Fine Sand Paper
Danish Oil
Wood Glue

Step 1: Prep
I've chosen this particular Lowe's planter due to it's modern shape/color and bamboo construction, which should make it fairly easy to drill and work with.  Start by removing any stickers and remaining adhesive.  

Then you will need to draw drill guides onto the underside of the planter using your ruler and pencil.  I planned to attach 3 legs, and so divided the circumference of the bottom (circumference = 3.14 * diameter - Didn't know you'd be getting a math lesson here, did you?) into thirds.  Make these marks at least 1" (the radius of the leg) from the edge of the planter.

Step 2: Drilling
Now you're ready to drill baby, drill!  Using a power drill make small guide holes (I used a 1/16" bit) at the points you've marked.  Given the coiled-bamboo construction of this planter, starting off with a larger bit might result in damage, so don't get hasty and skip this step.  

Once you've made the initial guides, go back and drill out the holes with a bit slightly smaller than the bolt on the legs (I used a 15/64" bit) and clean up the piles of sawdust you've gotten everywhere.

Step 3: Preparing the Legs
Now it's time to get those legs prepped.  Start off by giving them a good sanding, but make sure not to scratch the brass ferrules.  I ended up only using a fine grade, as I'm not too picky about this sort of thing.  If you are looking for a smoother finish, start of with fine and then move on to successively smaller grit sizes until you get them to your satisfaction.

Then clean 'em up, grab a rag, and rub on a coat of Danish Oil (or your finish of choice).  Give the oil 15 minutes to soak in between coats (2 should do it) and let them dry for at least a couple hours.  

Those are some sexy legs, eh?  These things bring all kinds of possibilities to mind.

Step 4: Attaching the Legs
You're almost there!  I'd prefer to use glue in conjunction with a nut and washer to hold this thing together, but the bolt isn't long enough to fit the extra hardware so glue alone will have to do.  Dab a small amount of wood glue around the bolt on each leg, making sure to get it into the threads for extra stability.  Remember, I said a SMALL amount of glue.  We don't want a big sticky mess here.

Next, just screw the legs in and wipe up the excess (because you used too much, didn't you?  I did.).

Another little dab on the inside of the pot where the bolt penetrated should keep everything water-tight.

Step 5: Enjoy
Wait 8 hours for the adhesive to dry and BOOM, you've got yourself a swank retro-modern planter!

If you feel like changing it up, these planters come in a variety of sizes and colors, as do the legs.  I'd recommend 4 legs if you plan on using it for something tall or top-weighted, but 3 should be stable enough for most applications.

So, what'd you think?  It's not a bullet planter or architectural pottery, but pretty cool, no?  I'm considering putting together an arrangement of three in different colors and with different leg lengths to go next to the fireplace.  

Oops, I almost forgot step six...

Step 6: Gimme Some Blog Love
Head on over here, sign in (you can sign in through Facebook or other services if you don't want to make an account), and hit the "vote" button next to Mid-Century Midwest ;)