28 January 2011

What's at the MOMA until May 2nd

Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen

Counter Space explores the twentieth-century transformation of the kitchen and highlights MoMA’s recent acquisition of an unusually complete example of the iconic “Frankfurt Kitchen,” designed in 1926–27 by the architect Grete Schütte-Lihotzky. In the aftermath of World War I, thousands of these kitchens were manufactured for public-housing estates being built around the city of Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. Schütte-Lihotzky’s compact and ergonomic design, with its integrated approach to storage, appliances, and work surfaces, reflected a commitment to transforming the lives of ordinary people on an ambitious scale. Previously hidden from view in a basement or annex, the kitchen became a bridgehead of modern thinking in the domestic sphere—a testing ground for new materials, technologies, and power sources, and a spring board for the rational reorganization of space and domestic labor within the home. Since the innovations of Schütte-Lihotzky and her contemporaries in the 1920s, kitchens have continued to articulate, and at times actively challenge, our relationship to the food we eat, popular attitudes toward the domestic role of women, family life, consumerism, and even political ideology in the case of the celebrated 1959 “Kitchen Debate” that took place between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.

Featured alongside the Frankfurt Kitchen is a 1968 mobile fold-out unit manufactured by the Italian company Snaidero. These two complete kitchens are complemented by a wide variety of design objects, architectural plans, posters, archival photographs, and selected artworks, all drawn from MoMA’s collection. Prominence is given to the contribution of women throughout the exhibition, not only as the primary consumers and users of the domestic kitchen, but also as reformers, architects, designers, and as artists who have critically addressed kitchen culture and myths.

*I won't be able to get to this until the weather improves which makes me pout.  You can read about it further at this lovely blog.

The Mini-Mod Wants to Retro Renovate

While pouring over vintage home design & decoration guides yesterday afternoon, spawn of P-I-C saw a photo of a teen girls' room circa 1965. It was amazing in it's pink, orange, and white laminate glory with floral linens and curtains.

Certainly a bit too Carnaby Street for my tastes,

23 January 2011

Weekend Finds // January 17-23 2011

I stuck to thrifting this week, I haven't visited my haunts since before the holidays. I think I did pretty well! My weeked started early with an odd Thursday afternoon estate sale.

2 hardcover decorating books. they were $1 for the pair at a local thrift.

Sunday Morning Virtual MidMod House Hunting in Montco PA

I did it again last night - stayed up until 4am cruising the real estate listings in the area after driving through a pocket of gorgeous homes nearby; some that were on the market.

Looking at these homes makes me happy-angry. Happy to see the angles, the lines, large windows, a random orange door or something similar. Angry when I click the interior photos and see just horrible renovations, tacky decor or just plain disrepair.  And the abundance of of granite countertops will someday cause me a brain aneurysm, mark my words.

I know I can't fault these people for their decorating choices or for anything that I find aesthetically displeasing. But in general, I'm a very opinionated person with almost zero filter from my brain to my mouth and since I can't make snarky comments to them in person, I will do it here.

So! On with the tour, these are a few of the more notable listings I found. There are 2 pseudo time capsule homes, and if any listings are repeats from the last real estate post I made, I apologize. I'm tired today from the 3 hours of sleep I had between internet scrolling and the estate sale I hit up this morning.

In no random order:

1615 Terwood  CLICK HERE to read about it!

345 Moredon CLICK HERE to check out some amazing pics.

these 3 shots are all from the same house. the listing said that the designer/orginial owner is selling it but not who the designer is specifically. CLICK HERE for the listing.
You will want to check out this listing... specifically the backyard shot - check out the sculpture back there!

technically this is not in MontCo but it's pretty sweet.

And finally, "1701 Hillcrest". Proof Positive that "time capsule" home does not neccessarily mean your jaw will drop in a good way. Ok it's really not my tastes save for the one living room with orange accent colors, but I appreciate it for what it is.

1701 Hillcrest, there are some really odd photos HERE
when your room has a spiral staircase in the middle of it, may as well put grass green shag rug around it to make it more like you're popping out of a rabbit-hole.
after a few drinks in this fake african safari room, I may give my honest opinion of the decor. :)

 There were many more homes that were rather unimpressive inside and out, yet had either one room or one specific detail about it that was interesting.  I got to see that pink bathrooms are alive and well in  NE Pennsylvania, as well as some amazing old kitchens. I will post those vignettes at a later date, just for eye candy. This week was very good for thrifting finds that I want to photograph and post tonight.

17 January 2011

To Clarify; And The History of the World According To My Memory

I'm not German. Partner-In-Crime is like, 1/4th German but his whole 1/2 of Italian is the most prevalent in looks, mannerisms... appetite. I know I gush over German Modernism, and there's really no rhyme or reason for this. My family on my mother's side hail from the Ukraine and Russia. It's rumoured we are descendants of the ill-fated Romanovs, however when you're dealing in research having to do with Russia, fact is nearly an impossible task. My father's side of the family has definitive Anglo roots coming straight from the Mayflower itself and more notoriously ~ The Bordens of Fall River, Mass. I am a bona fide great great cousin of Lizzie Borden who may or may not have whacked her parents with an ax.

So whats with the fascination with German Modernism? It simply speaks to me... screams at me for the reasons listed in the last post. The colors, the (over)use of formica or melamine... the curves... P-I-C is partial to either the very simple Danish designers, and also the Italian Designers. I can't stand Italian MCM furniture or art. I find it overly fussy sometimes to the point where it defeats the whole purpose of Minimalism.

I haven't adequately researched Mid Century Design out of Russia, however I'm assuming that I won't find much. Stalin crippled the country's economy with the Warsaw Pact, which Khrushchev (I hope I spelled that properly) tried to fix.  Also to his credit, Khrushchev launched the world into space exploration and, obviously, the Satellite Age. The Atomic Age, etc. For having been responsible for the whole movement of which we are all obsessed, Russia seems to have little to contribute in the way of MCM design, art, architecture etc in the styles of which we all adore. Keeping in mind that it was still a Communist regime, the economy was still quite poor and consumerism wasn't a part of daily life. I'm pretty sure that any furniture required by anyone in the USSR may have been handmade, or cheaply manufactured.

The closest form of Slavic MCM I've found is also linked on the sidebar ---> Prague Kolektiv. If you Czech out (har de har har) their site, you will see the similarities between the Czech pieces and my beloved German pieces.

Now, the original owners of this house were German, either immigrated here from there, or 2nd generation. They were active (and still are) in the local German-American Clubs and Societies. This house was designed around their social activities, hence the built-in bar, the sliding patio doors in the bar room that lead out to a patio... the deck atop the carport with a fishpond, etc. They were very into hosting parties for their German-American friends and I would kill to see photos of what swanky goings-on happened here back in the day.

I've also been to Germany a few times, and have spent weeks driving from the Bavarian Alps up to Hamburg. I know I've mentioned some of the little things we have picked up while there - they make it easy because the flea markets and shops we find are amazing, the vendors are super friendly and most people are fluent in English. I'm not going to lie -- the German phrases I know the best revolve around shopping and bartering! The flea markets are overflowing with Art Deco and MCM pieces. These pieces are held dear; so much was lost and destroyed during WW2. When we explain that our house is of this period and we are retro-restoring it, we get some interesting and positive reactions.

What I'm trying to say (as my train of thought goes completely offtrack and crashes into a mountain) is that maybe this house is its own influence. I'm not usually concious of it's German roots, and I can promise that the shelves running around the top of my kitchen will never be host to a beer stein collection, but the idea of large crates arriving from Germany make an ordinary day feel just like Weihnachten!

16 January 2011


Downstairs, there's an umbrella stand that is calling my name for a good BKF rub down, but I just got a text from P-I-C, being the true enabler and directing my attention to a slew of goodies that are... per usual, from Germany. I don't know what it is about Germany but their Mid Century pieces weaken my knees. I think it's the colors, the formica, the frivolity of shapes. Czech and Polish pieces are very similar... I'm learning that furniture is much like fashion... post-war designs are always a celebration. Lavish, colorful, excessive... and yes, frivolous in some ways.

This ebay seller is well bookmarked on my laptop, just scrolling their listings weakens my knees.  I love everything about each listing, from the set-ups in the photos, to the detailed restoration vignettes to the photoshopped 'art gallery'. But the pieces stand on their own merit, and all of this formica candy makes me happy. Also their plant stands make mine look like 2nd grade art projects! Sneak a peek -- all photos have a link to the listings incase anyone is inclined to drop a large sum of cash.

It's literally .... WONDERBAR!   

14 January 2011

The Master Bath aka the "Seahorse Bathroom"

Every day I thank our lucky stars that this bathroom wasn't gutted ~ it came so close! The Real Estate agent almost had the original owner convinced that NO ONE would want a bathroom like this and would see it as a project and get turned off. When we "Squeeee!"-ed at the seahorse tiles, gushed over the Hall-Mack vanity shelves, and got perplexed, then hysterical over the Hall-Mack Relaxation Unit, it was just another reason the original owner wanted us to get this house. We appreciated the little things in ridiculously huge ways.

I don't use this bathroom unless it's an emergency pee break. Since it's off the master bedroom, I initially tried to make it my everyday bathroom but truth be told, the shower is only a stall (albeit a large stall, but... ladies you know how it is) and the overhead lighting isn't conducive to face-fixing either.  This bathroom is perfect Partner-In-Crime size and functionality, so up went the nonfogging shaving mirror, the gorgeous vanity shelves are lined with boy things, and the relaxation unit holds tattoo magazines for the extra manly touch.

The sink and cabinet were re-done at some point, and it is too large for the room itself, so it is on the list of things to take out, and we are checking local Re-Store shops for the perfect matching pedestal sink to replace the current monstrosity. That bathroom is so small it doesn't need it's own cabinet, I just bring the bucket of cleaners in from the  main bathroom when it needs a scrub.

seahorses on flecked tile. the colors are sand with darker brown flecks, cream & tan.  these seahorse tiles are randomly placed all over the shower wall.

11 January 2011

&speaking of ads or product placement!

Words can't express my hatred for winter, and cold weather. I tend to go into hibernation mode (ok it's called seasonal affective disorder but hibernation sounds much cuter and very bear-cuddle-like) and stay in the house as much as possible.  I also sleep alot, it's terrible. I've been longing for summer sun, my bikini, and outdoor parties. What I've been doing is diving head first into all of the projects I put aside in order to do outdoor activities.

First up was the formica kitchen set that we finally found in the colors to match our kitchen. Powder blue with white/grey cracked ice pattern and matching vinyl chairs. Rusty, greasy and grimey from top to bottom! I decided one snowy friday night to drag the table up from the basement and see what I could do with it.

I started with the best cleaner I have ever found:

First Found-Treasure of 2011

I've managed only to get out once since New Years for treasure hunting but I found something that was on my proverbial "bucket-list" of wants. I don't believe in luck, per se, but I wonder what stars were lined up that day to put this into my little hands.

 Found locally, price: 25 cents (!!!)
I had been looking for this book since I learned of its existance, and was so interested in reading it. I couldn't believe that it was on the shelf of my local church thrift. Sometimes, even if you have somewhere to be or something to do, if the little voice inside your head tells you to stop on the way at a little thrift and only spend 5 minutes there, you should LISTEN to that little voice because it's usually right and you will find something great.

01 January 2011

The Return Of The Pink Elephant

I hope no one has seen this guy today! I have not, but it was not for lack of trying. A friend and I split a pitcher of some New Years Punch last night, but sadly never even reached a state of buzzedness. I should of stuck to my usual drink from the establishment I was in: "The Return of The Pink Elephant" . It's comprised of a mystery amount of the following things:  

  • Orange Vodka
  • Lemonade
  • Champagne
  • Cranberry Juice

Shaken, and served in a champy flute that is rimmed with delicious rock candy sugar. For a frothy girlie pink drink, the Pink Elephants pack a punch... I've been known to knock 2 back, think I have my bearings only to promptly fall off a bar stool.  Yep, I should of stuck to my usual last night, but it was a nice night anyway.

In general the concept of pink elephants makes me smile. Like most people, I especially love the illustrations of drunken pink elephants. I only own one piece of pink elephant barware, it's a smallish tip tray:

i know they make larger ones, i will have to pick some up if i ever find more.

In boredom, I did a search of funky old pink elephant items, here are a few of the cute things I found:

And of course, when in doubt of how to make a perfect drink, consult the Sally Draper How-To Guide! (this is the last Mad Men reference I will make in a while I promise).