Watch the transformation of an MCR - our mid-century ranch

Watch the transformation of an MCR - our mid-century ranch
Built in 1957 as the model home for the development. 1796 sqft, 3 bedroom, 2 bath.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How we saw the house with our Realtor, July 2010

Den: Sadly all the warm honey colored wood is closer in feel to 70's wood paneling and is not the large sheets of 1/4 inch mahogany luan that is famous in MCMs of the 50's. The carpeting is not bad. Most people don't realize that carpeting was quite popular in MCM design. MCM design is famous for subdued wall colors and flooring and used things like plants and fabric designs to bring in interest and variety. The designers didn't want to detract too much from the overall shape of the room and structure as a whole so they minimized all ornamentation.
The long wall to the left in the picture above has some major discoloration - possibly water damage - to the wood. K and I aren't sure if we want to paint the wood - a big no-no in many MCM circles - or try to work with the wood. If the wood wasn't narrow strips and was large sheaths of luan I would be more amenable to working with the wood. But the narrow strips feel a little more country than cool.
Den: I worry that if we paint the den that it will lose its cozy vibe. But the crown molding is actually somewhat countrified and curly. That will have to be addressed in some manner.
Kitchen - The kitchen is the original kitchen: tile counter and cabinets.
Can I ask if every single house built before 1969 had the same kitchen hardware? You know the type - the hammered dark metal with triangle points on the handles. Was that the only choice from the time or could the builders get it for like $0.02 apiece and therefore put it everywhere? It is a bit of a mystery to me as to why this particular hardware appears everywhere in every state in all sorts of different styles of home.
We are going to try and get rid of the groves in the cabinet doors and of course swap out the hardware. Color is another big choice for this room along with new flooring - possibly cork at this point to cover the linoleum.
The kitchen opens up to the den area - the original 'open concept' plan from 1957.
Hallway bathroom - all original cabinets and tile. The original cabinets slope in at a slight angle. I have never seen that before. I suppose it allows you to stand close to the sink without bumping your toes against the cabinets. The counters are rather low, almost as if for a child. If we can raise the cabinets without damaging the tile we may try to do that. The tub and sink also appear to be original.
Spare bedroom: Rather traditional and odd actually. I don't know why they put chair rail in here and nowhere else in the house. The walls in the house are slightly textured with some kind of sand or grit so merely taking down the chair railing might not be the easy patch and paint job that it seems to be on the surface. We'll have to see what K wants to do in here. There is nothing wrong with the chair railing as it allows for two wall colors but again this is another example of non-MCM styles filtering into the house.
Master bedroom: You will notice in all the bedrooms that there are corner lights. On the surface that is rather cool but unfortunately the design is rather ornate - almost like a Corinthian column - and not in keeping with the MCM manner of subdued ornamentation. All three bedrooms have them - 12 lights in total - that must be addressed in some manner. They are molded plaster so they can't really be taken down easily as they are married to the walls and not merely hung there.
Also all the crown molding in the bedrooms and the front rooms appears to be molded plaster with a somewhat ornate curly-cue patterning. If you look closely in the photos you can see the patterning. More detailed photos will follow of course. Also the molding is welded onto the wall and can't simply be taken down. I am sure we will have many constructive debates as to whether or not we should remove it or cover it.
Master bath - The master is rather small but it is the first house we have had that actually has an ensuite bathroom. When it comes time to resell that will be a feature that modern buyers will like, along with the kitchen opening into the den. The house has a nice blend of 1950's features with features that are popular today.
Of course the flowery tile inserts will have to be addressed - i.e. removed or more likely covered in some manner. I really like the gray tiles in this bathroom.
Front room - This will probably become the large dining area / craft area.
Original dining area. We will probably turn this into a seating area. To the left you can see a built in book shelf that has a sunken planter on the top. This is what I mean when I say that this house isn't a true MCM but has MCM features that we would like to play up. The house isn't what K and I call MCNM - mid century not modern - like many houses built in the 50's. But it isn't a rocking atomic ranch either. So our job will be to accentuate the modern - through furniture and accessories, colors, and texture more so than through architectural details.
Spare bedroom that will become the studio. This will probably be the last space to be updated - or mod-ified - as it will be my work space for the next few years.

When K and I walked into this house we both knew at that moment that this was 'The One.' Frankly we had seen several other spaces and were growing ever more steadily discouraged. We tried to not be the HGTV types who couldn't see beyond the design and belongings of the current residents but some of the spaces were such disasters that they crushed our spirits and desires for that space. We saw awkward add-ons, some of the most kitschy spaces imaginable. Even though we scheduled appointments to see the spaces people were still hanging around. On two occasions we encountered a house full of sleeping children. In one house our Realtor ran into a Vietnam vet named Steve. She startled him and he bounded 10 feet in the air as if a landmine had gone off. He recovered enough to give us the personalized whacked out tour of his parents smoke smelling / hit with the 80's stick house. Let's just say that Steve isn't a selling feature for the house. The price was right but it was such a disaster that we had to move on. Obviously not everyone watches HGTV when it comes time to de-cluttering and staging.
Such was our state of mind when K and I entered the Clarksdale house which I began to refer to as the Episcopal house because it was owned by an Episcopal priest and his family. Even though there were many belongings that didn't fit our style whatsoever we were able to see beyond them and feel the bones of the place. Finally our 'guts' kicked in and we just 'knew.'
Of course we are planning to take the house back to more of a mid century mod vibe. The house has touches of the MCM that we like and hopefully we can accentuate them and bring in even more on our own.
So join us on this journey. We will try and keep this blog up to date as to what we are up to.
Keep checking in now and again.
- C