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Sunday, August 28, 2016

1970s time capsule

I received an email from Estately public relations manager Candace Ramirez with photos of a house she thought I might find interesting. Although the decor is past the cutoff date for the mid-century design that I love, it is too much fun to pass up.

Listed for $624,900, the 3600 square foot home in Framington, Massachusetts, was built in 1969, just a year before I finished college. It has 14 rooms, including a 21' living room, large formal dining room with separate serving room containing a built-in buffet, a St. Charles kitchen with separate 12' breakfast room, a multi-room master suite with sitting room and office, and a 19' family game room with wet bar. The professionally landscaped grounds feature a 40' x 21' heated gunite pool with loads of decks and brick patios.

Amazingly, it looks as if the interior has been hermetically sealed for the past 40 years or so.

All images from

Finally, my favorite. It's so garishly awful that it tips over into awesome. If this didn't bring a smile to your face, you must be having a seriously bad day. Cheer up!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Upstairs, downstairs

Our focus has been on the lower level of the main house till now, because that is where we want to put the bulk of our money. However, we have finally started buying a few things for the upstairs garage apartment. If you are trying to furnish a new home or apartment on a budget, I think you will like some of these bargains.

First, we picked out an upholstered platform bed from  It has 4.5 stars based on almost 600 reviews, and, depending on the size, ranges in price from $268.99 to $308.99.

Ortho Therapy upholstered panel bed by Zinus

We also got the Jonah cream/smoke shag rug by Corrigan Studio from AllModern. The 8'6" x 12' size we purchased is on sale for around $400, while the 5'3" x 7'6" size is only $149. Granted, it is polypropylene rather than wool, but it serves our purpose and was easy on the budget. This rug received 5 stars based on almost 800 reviews. The existing carpet in the upstairs apartment, which will probably be replaced with hardwood at some point, is a generic beige, so the rug ties the carpet and gray bed together nicely with an iconic mid-century pattern. We plan to create a very minimalist look by using a pale cream comforter with gray/tan throw pillows on the bed.

Corrigan Studio Jonah shag rug

Again, AllModern was the source for a 60" TV stand/console in a taupe reclaimed wood look. It received 4.5 stars from 24 reviewers. It may be replaced later if we find a bargain on a vintage credenza, but for now it fills the bill, coming in at around $350.

TV stand/console by Monarch Specialties

We are still looking for a couple of easy chairs, but I am sure we will find something soon. Till then, we are happy to be making progress...and even happier that it has been accomplished relatively inexpensively.

Note: AllModern offered no incentives for my writing this post. All items were purchased from their website the current listed price.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Our hawks

As I walked out the front door a few days ago, something huge whooshed out of our flower bed and lit on a low tree branch. When I recovered my wits and got out my cell phone, I was able to snap this photo.

I'm no ornithologist...not even a casual birdwatcher, in fact...but my best guess is that it was a red-tailed hawk, though I have no idea whether it was male or female.

I read that some hawks are monogamous and may defend the same nesting territory for years. They mate in the late winter/early spring, and the eggs hatch in about six weeks.

Later in the day, I spotted two small hawks perched on our back fence, which is probably safe to say were maturing babies, as their size seemed to fit the mating/hatching timeline. 

While this may seem at first to have nothing to do with owning a mid-century home, it actually does. We have 21 live oak trees in our back yard, which were probably planted around the time the house was built in 1950, so they are extremely large and very tall...just where hawks like to build their nests. Living in a house with a yard that was established over 60 years ago has all sorts of benefits, including the opportunity to see wildlife you might not see in a newer neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Window treatment dilemma

We seriously dislike our current window treatments, but we may be stuck with them for a while.

We plan to take down the aluminum mini blinds in the living room and family/dining room and opt to use nothing at all there, since the landscaping and the angle that the house sits on the lot afford us enough privacy for bare windows in those common areas.

But the bedrooms are another story. Those windows, for obvious reasons, need to be covered. My bedroom and the boys' bedroom have old white roller old that they won't roll anymore. Besides the fact that they aren't functional, they're just plain ugly...the strictly utilitarian type used in schools. The master bedroom has plastic mini blinds, which are only slightly better. At least they work.

White vinyl roller shades in my bedroom

More white vinyl

We had someone come out and measure all the bedroom and bathroom windows for an estimate on custom roman shades, my daughter's first choice. I think she was genuinely shocked when the bid came in at $7000+ for the shades plus installation. When we said that was more than we wanted to spend, they offered us a discounted price of $5000. Still no deal.

I suggested that we check SelectBlinds, an online company I had used several years ago when I purchased wood blinds for a previous home. I was happy with their service, as well as the quality of the blinds, and I knew they would be significantly less expensive.

By deciding on a modern roller shade with a cassette-style headrail that we could install ourselves, we were able to get the price down to the $1500-2000 range. This image from the SelectBlinds site gives you an idea how they would look.

Textured roller shade in Crystal Truffle

Just as we were about to place the order, my daughter backed out, because she started to have serious reservations about the color we had chosen.

You see, all our bedrooms have the original golden oak hardwood floors with a slight reddish tint...not quite as red as teak, but definitely not a neutral gold. We had picked a color that coordinated with that flooring. The problem is that my daughter wants to have the floors refinished a darker color at some time in the future, so she wanted to order more samples and try to find something that would look good now and later. The "later" may be a few years, but she couldn't justify even a $2000 outlay for something that would have to be replaced when the floors are redone, and she is certainly right about that.

We ordered a dozen new samples, and we received them a few days ago. We tentatively narrowed it down to these two:

Select Blinds Sweet Tea

Good Housekeeping Gingersnap

I'm currently leaning in the direction of the Sweet Tea, because I think it has enough colors present to look good with almost any floor color. Also, it provides slightly more privacy than the other shade. My daughter still can't make up her mind and may want to order more samples. Therein lies the dilemma. Which one do you like?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Nutone Golden Eight

Above a door in our kitchen is a Nutone Golden Eight Electronic doorbell chime. I've walked by/under it countless times since we moved in at the beginning of May, but I just now realized what good condition it's in and what a treasure it is.

A little research turned up some interesting information. The Golden Eight was Nutone's first electronic model in the 1960s, and it was the only one to have a cool atomic logo. It played eight- or four-note tunes on three tone bars (not Westminster chimes). When connected to the doorbell and an intercom system, the tunes...real sounds, not beeps or artificial tones...could be broadcast to all rooms.

The original intercom is still hooked up in our house, but we can't figure out how to make it work, even though it's clearly still getting power. We've discussed having someone come out to see if it could be made operational again. An electrician who came out to do some work for us said it would be no problem to rewire the doorbell. Now that I know what a fantastic chime we have, I guess we'd better add that to our To Do Someday list.

Technical information about the Golden Eight from a comment on Flickr by ZephyrSkunk

Our Nutone Golden Eight doorbell chime