Sunday, March 24, 2013

I'm a sucker for sparkly retro things.

Cool, mid-century vintage stuff isn't the easiest to find around here.  There are other parts of the country where it's much more common.  But once in a while you see something good.  So when a friend tipped me off about an estate sale at this house, it sounded promising!



Estate sales around here start on Fridays so usually all the good stuff is snatched up by dealers by the time I can get there on a Saturday. But this time I found one cool thing--and it was 1/2 price by then--bonus!

One is this atomic/retro serving tray.  It's clear, pinkish, iridescent glass with raised gold atomic starbursts.  It's about 18" x 18"-- pretty large.  It is kind of glamorous in a way and I loved it.  It kind of blended into a glass coffee table so that's the reason why it was still available, I think.  At $6, I think it was a bargain.



The second was a lamp that came from the same house but I actually found it at a dealer that I know.  It's kind of 70's glam with a giant shade. The lamp is 43" high and the shade is 18" high and 19" in diameter.  The base is both matte and polished chrome. The shade cleaned up pretty well with a bit of windex.  It's actually made of a very thin plastic material.  I may decide to replace it someday but for now, it's great.

It fits nicely on my Broyhill Brasilia console.

You can see my blurry image in the top!

So those are my latest finds.  I can't wait until the weather warms up so I can hit more sales!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rochester MCM Architect Don Hershey



This beauty in Brighton recently sold in 4 days for top dollar.





Rochester, NY is really a pretty traditional city.  We don't really have MCM neighborhoods--more like "pockets" of MCM homes.  But the ones we have are pretty special and spectacular.  And we had some noted Mid-Century architects from that period.

Don Hershey was one of the most prolific mid-century architects in Rochester.  He designed over 500 homes over a period of 50 years.  They varied in size from the very modest to the extraordinary.  Here are some examples of his homes in
and around Rochester, NY:



This one is at the end of our street and overlooks a golf course.

This one has been recently renovated.  The owners stayed very true to the original vision.

Another view of the above house.  The interesting thing is that it seems to have 2 front doors.

A Don Hershey home owner built a website, www.donhershey.com to help foster a community around Don Hershey homes. Here you can see much more about this amazing architect and his legacy of homes. A great deal of effort has been made to document where these homes are--go check them out to see some really nice examples of mid-century architecture. The following excerpt came from the Don Hershey website.

The following exerpt is from the Eldercraft Newsletter in 1982:

Don Hershey was one of the foremost architects in the Rochester, NY area. He designed about 500 homes, and for over fifty years he conceived his plans, executed his drawings, contracted builders and fashioned a few ideas and dreams into someone’s home at a small drawing board in his home on Landing Road.

“Frank Lloyd Wright was my inspiration,” Don says. “I didn’t imitate him, but I’ve always been fascinated by  the  strength of his designs, his hip roofs, open plans, and his use of stone.

With the recent surge of MCM popularity, there has been a renewed interest in these homes.  Dex and I recently attended an event sponsored by the Brighton Historical Society that discussed Don Hershey and his homes.  Brighton is a suburb of Rochester, NY.  It is an area much more dominated by traditional homes so I was excited to see them honoring a modern architect.

In attendance at the event were Don's two sons--Ken and Al--along with their wives.  The event was amazing because along with the discussion of the architecture, his sons chimed in with funny and entertaining stories of their father.  It was an afternoon to be remembered!

I actually have my own entertaining story of how I met Ken Hershey.  I was out for a walk last summer around my home and there was a older gentleman puttering in front of his lawn in front of a home that I had long admired.  He said a very friendly hello when I walked by so I took the opportunity to compliment him on his home.  He said, "Thank you, my Dad designed it."  I asked him who his father was and he said Don Hershey.  That sparked an hour-long conversation on a sidewalk between two strangers about mid-century architecture that I was thrilled to have.  Ken told me a bit about the neighborhood--I wish I had a pen and notebook at the time.  It was a good lesson on getting to know the older, established neighbors--they are a wealth of information and you never know what you may find out.

Our own home strongly resembles a Don Hershey--in fact, I had an architect come out to consult with me yesterday on some roofing and insulation decisions and when he walked in, he asked me if our home was a Don Hershey.  The previous owner struggled to remember who the architect for our home was but he seemed to think it was someone by the name of David Bishop.  There were a few other architects in the 60's who were designing modern homes around here--the subject of new posts in the future.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Adventures in Stripping: Wallpaper, that is...

An alternative title is:  Kitchen Updates--Part 5.  At this point it should be called Kitchen Saga--Part 5.

Where did we last leave off...oh yes, we were about to strip wallpaper.   The old wallpaper was more of a wall-covering.  It didn't have a print on it, just texture.  It was really non-offensive but taking down the drapes and installing new countertops had damaged it and left holes in it so it had to go.   Plus it was peeling off the wall in areas where the previous owners had some leakage from the roof.  AND I saw black stuff in those areas which I suspected was mold.  This wallpaper really had to go.

We started by pulling off the vinyl side to reveal the paper backing.  Here is a picture that shows both the wallpaper and the paper backing. 



 At this point I thought this job was going to be a breeze.  My inner voice went something like this:

"Oh, this is going to be easy--our steamer will take this paper off like nobody's business."
"Wallpaper...you can't stop me.  You really don't know who you're dealing with."
"We are wall-paper removal experts!"

 Well, my false wallpaper optimism and bravado was short lived.  Because that paper backing turned out to be FROM H*&%!

We have plaster walls.  And that paper was stuck directly to the plaster with about 10 gallons of glue.  We first had to steam all of the paper off and it came off in about 1" strips--taking CHUNKS of plaster with it.  Then we had to STEAM THE GLUE!  I have never had to steam the wallpaper and the glue in separate steps over an entire room before.  After the second round of steaming, there was still a good bit of glue on the walls so we brought in the big guns--TSP cleaner.  We had to wash the walls 2 times and let it all dry. 

After that, we looked at our horrible plaster and were trying to figure out what to do.  The right thing to do would have been a skim coat but we didn't have much success with trying that in our bathroom plus we were on a time crunch so we decided to repair the worst patches and leave the rest to "character".    Plus there isn't a ton of wall space in this kitchen so we didn't think the rough walls would be hugely noticeable.

After repairing our walls the best that we could, we started painting.  We primed the walls first in case there was any glue left on them and to start with a blank slate.  We wanted our house to have some flow and we are tired of having 25 different paint cans in our storage area so we decided to pick a color from another room.  Our kitchen flows into the great room so we decided to try that color.  The large sample we had looked pretty good in there so we thought "why not".

The color was BM "Cashmere Gray".  Sounds innocent enough, right?  It looks nice in our great room.  It looks nice on sample and with our cabinets.  Well, it looked like crap in our kitchen.  And here is why:


Oh my eyes!!! My eyes!!!

See our subway tile?  Our subway tile is original to our house.  Yes, they had subway tile in 1965.  I've seen websites that say it isn't mid-century and I'm here to tell you it is.  We thought it was much whiter than that.  Check out this picture below--looks pretty white, right?  And that was with a pure white laminate counter.  At least we thought so. 

"BEFORE Picture"

Well, Cashmere Gray made our subway tile look like a dirty beige.  Dirty--not pretty.  After stupidly putting on the first coat of the offensive color, we decided that "it wasn't working" and we had to switch directions.  This was at 9:00pm on a Sunday.  Luckily Dex had off work the next day (some government holiday) but I didn't so decisions had to be made quickly.  I have about 50 million swatches of BM paint so we quickly made a decision:  Let's try Revere Pewter.

I've never used Revere Pewter before.

And my poor husband is tired of painting.

But we decided to risk it.  And boy and I happy we did because here is how the kitchen turned out.

Night shot

Kitchen at night


Kitchen during the day




weird coloring--must have used the flash, sorry!








Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Making a Terrarium

Have you noticed the popularity of Terrariums lately?  They seem to be everywhere--even West Elm is carrying terrariums these days.  My 11-year old daughter and I are usually on the hunt for something fun to do together so we thought we would make a terrarium.  It just so happened that a local nursery (Grossmans) was having terrarium workshops.  For $7 + plant and vessel costs, you could make a terrarium.  So we signed up.

Here is our terrarium.  Notice the cute little bird bath with a frog in it?  That's my daughter's favorite part.



We layered the following:

about 1" charcoal
about 2" rocks
about 3" soil

Then we added the plants.  We used very small plants in the terrarium.  (A mini ivy, a kalanchoe, baby's tears, and a coleus).  We had to divide up the baby's tears pot into a bunch of smaller plants to use in the terrarium.  Lastly, we added the mini bird feeder.

After those layers, we watered it just enough to wet the top 1-1 1/2 inches.  The lady running the workshop said that you only needed to water it every 2-3 weeks.  We ended up buying the vessel at Joann's--I really liked the modern look of it.  I was glad we purchased it ahead of time because the ones at Grossmans looked like they were from Pottery Barn--not modern enough for our tastes.

Little did we know that there was a reporter for the local newspaper at the event and we were featured in the newspaper a short while later!  There is our terrarium in the Saturday edition.  Pretty fun:-)