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Friday, December 30, 2016

Xavier Pauchard

Xavier Pauchard (1880–1948) was born in France and began his career as a roofer and zinc worker, like his father and grandfather before him, and became the first manufacturer of galvanized steel domestic goods in France under the name of Tolix.

In 1927, Pauchard trademarked the name and expanded his line of products to include chairs, stools, and tables.

The most recognized of Pauchard’s designs is the A Chair, now called the Marais A Chair, which has become a icon of modern industrial aesthetics. It is included in the collections of the Vitra Design Museum, MOMA and the Pompidou Center.

After Pauchard’s death in 1948, his sons took over Tolix and continued to manufacture the same seating models to their father’s original specifications. The company stayed in the family until 2004, when Chantal Andriot took over, reviving and expanding the brand.

From and

Model A

Model A colors

A97 armchair
(same as A56, except for larger backrest)

Armchair C

H stool

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bye-bye shutters

The best gift of the Christmas season was the removal of our ugly shutters. While the boys played with new toys outside in the 76 degree weather, my daughter took the old eyesores down for me. I'm so happy about the difference it makes!

Now you see them...

...and now you don't.

We were expecting to find a difference in the brick color that would require power washing, but luckily that wasn't the case. Just a quick once-over with a broom, and we were good to go.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Project: McGuire bench

I've been wanting a bench to put in our entryway, but I'm not ready to spring for a Nelson bench, which is what I'd eventually like to have. I mentioned that to my former SIL the other day when he came to pick up the boys, and he said he had just the bargain for me.

He picked up a McGuire bench at an estate sale, thinking he'd do something with it. Like so many of us, though, he never found the time, so he said he'd sell it to me for $50...and even give me the fabric to reupholster it. Who can resist a deal like that?

Granted, it's in pretty rough condition, but a piece of high density foam and a piece of MDF to replace the sagging seat will get the piece back in sound structural condition. The rest is purely cosmetic.

Estate sale photo of McGuire bench

Although I usually don't paint furniture, I think this time I will, since it will be in an area with several different wood colors, and I don't want to add another. I'm considering a dark charcoal chalk paint, waxed to a soft sheen, with light gray upholstery. A couple of colorful pillows ought to add just the right amount of pizzazz.

Incidentally, the McGuire Furniture Company was founded in 1948 by John and Elinor McGuire and produced high quality rattan and wood furniture for both indoors and outdoors. The company is still in business today.

John and Elinor McGuire

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Orange at last

We moved into our house in June, and one of the first things we did was get rid of these doors.

For those of you who are hearing this long, drawn-out story for the first time, we had modern slab doors built and installed early in July, and a week later we had a $100 quote from a painter/handyman who had just done quite a bit of work for us. I texted him the day before he was scheduled to do the job to ask if I needed to buy any supplies, and I received a curt "No" back. That's the last I heard from him. He never showed up and never responded to my subsequent texts trying to find out when, or if, he planned to paint our doors.

All the other painters I had contacted wanted $400-800 for the job, so this is how the doors have looked for almost six months...primed, ready, and waiting for us to paint them.

Finally, after seemingly endless procrastination, I am happy to report that I finished the job yesterday, and this is the front of our house now. In the spring, they will probably get a light sanding and one more coat, but, for now at least, they're done. (After a couple of days of drying time, we just might get some Christmas decorations hung outside. Thank goodness the decorating inside was finished days ago!)

Whew! I had almost given up hope.

Next projects: 
  • Taking down those hideously traditional shutters 
  • Power washing the brick
  • Planning the types of ferns, hostas, and heucheras to plant in the spring

Friday, December 16, 2016

Becoming orange: What a difference a day makes.

I just finished repainting the door frame, and I'm much happier with the color. As I had hoped, this neutral color allows the doors to be the focal point of the front of the house instead of an afterthought.

The new color (Sherwin Williams Quiver Tan) was originally my top choice, but I allowed myself to waver. Although psychologists generally refute the idea that it's best to stick to your original answer on a test, I suspect that the traditional folklore may apply to picking paint colors. I could have saved myself a great deal of work if I had followed my first instinct.

After I take a break for lunch, I'll put the final coat on the doors themselves. I should have hardware reinstalled sometime tomorrow and will post photos. This has been a long time coming, but I think it's almost finished.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Becoming orange: Minor setback

Some of you may remember my post about the flaky painter who left us hanging a few months ago. Failing to find someone who would paint our doors as cheaply as he had quoted, we finally decided to do the job ourselves.

Naturally, neither of us wanted to get out in the 100+ degree summer heat to paint, and we procrastinated our way through the entire fall. Finally, though, it came down to this: Either hang Christmas decorations against white primer...or paint the doors.

We knew that we wanted to use the same orange we chose for the door of the "modernist nest" (Sherwin Williams Copper Mountain), but we weren't sure what color we wanted the door frame. After looking at countless chips, we finally chose a darker orange, just a shade darker than the eaves) and got to work on the trim first.

Not bad in theory...
but the big picture is a no-go

The color brought out the darkest orange in the brick, and we were very pleased with our choice...until we got the first coat of paint on the doors. To our dismay, the trim was visually stronger than the doors themselves and made them look small and insignificant.

We've decided to repaint the trim a neutral grayish brown (the color of the mortar between the bricks and the color of most of the wood trim on the house) which should recede and allow the doors to have the dramatic impact we want. Maybe by the the weekend I will be able to post pictures of the finished job.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Remembering Mr. Risom (1916-2016)

Noted mid-century furniture designer Jens Risom died December 9, seven months after his 100th birthday.

Risom helped introduce Scandinavian design to America and will be remembered for his innovative and elegant furniture.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Retro Twister

My grandsons have decided that they want me to give them games and books for Christmas this year, along with new robes and slippers. Every year, they get a raft of toys that are played with on Christmas Day and then rarely touched again till it's time to donate them, in like-new condition, to a local women's shelter.

The idea of giving them useful things thrills me. They both love to read and play games, which is something we do as a family every night for two hours before bedtime, allowing them to unwind and be ready to sleep. (You can't imagine what a positive effect this has had in our nightly routine!)

In addition to several books apiece, I bought mostly board and card games for them, but I ran across a retro Twister game that is an exact replica of the 1966 version (the year I finished high school, incidentally), so naturally I couldn't resist getting it for them too.

Monday, November 28, 2016

In for the winter

Although it's not really cold here yet, the nights are dipping into the 40s, so we decided over the weekend that it was time to bring the outdoor plants inside for the winter. Luckily, we have a huge picture window on the front of the house, which provides the perfect spot for some filtered sun.

This collection of plants includes some that were used in many mid-century homes in the 1950s and 60s, including a rubber plant, palm, and philodenron.

Bringing the outdoors in...literally

Follow these links to older posts on plants that create an authentic mid-century look:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jens Risom

I ran across a wonderful DWR interview with Jens Risom...100 years old and still in the game. This extraordinary man just keeps on contributing to modern design!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Celebrating early

A recent purchase was delivered yesterday, and it feels like Christmas a month early. I had searched for months to find a table the same height and diameter as the one on the opposite side of the sofa...something of a similar material and a similar color without being a matching pair. The search had proven more difficult than I had expected, until I finally found it on the Design Within Reach website.

Here's the little Jens Risom side table that I picked out for our family room. I'm even happier with it than I expected to be.

New Jens Risom T.710 side table from DWR

Tornado side table from CB2, bought years ago

Family room/dining room

And while we're on the subject of my love for Jens, here's a photo of one of my favorite vintage pieces (and one of the first I ever bought)...a classic Risom credenza, which backs up to the sofa.

Risom credenza

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Jens Risom side table

I ordered a Jens Risom side table from Design Within Reach a few days ago and was told that it's backordered, so it might be January before it comes in. You can imagine my delight when I found out today that it should be here next week!

I'm a devoted Risom fan, so I couldn't be more excited about getting this table. I think it will be perfect in our living room.

Jens Risom side table

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Frank Lloyd Wright-Joseph Eichler connection

According to a fascinating article by Colin Flavin that appeared recently on Houzz, there is a strong connection between the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Eichler-built homes that are so revered by mid-century enthusiasts.

In 1943 Joseph Eichler, then working in the family egg and butter business, rented one of Wright's Usonian homes in the San Francisco suburb of Hillsborough.

Sidney Bazett House

Interior of Bazett House

"Usonian" is a term Wright coined for the series of homes he designed in the 1930s at the height of the Depression. They were built to be economical, custom homes for the middle class, and they were typically single-story dwellings which had no attics, no basements, no garages and little ornamentation.

Eichler loved the Bazett House, but he and his family stayed there for only two years, as it was sold to Louis and Betty Frank. However, the time Eichler spent in the FLW home had a profound influence on his life. He left the family business and in 1949 founded Eichler Homes Co. Over the next 20 years, his company built more than 11,000 houses, and those still standing are in great demand for their iconic mid-century design.

Wright's influences on Eichler's homes include floor-to-ceiling glass which provided openness to nature, street walls containing almost no windows, radiant floor heating, and carports.

Eichler innovations included post-and-beam construction, glazed gables, central courtyards, and open kitchens incorporated into multipurpose rooms.

Typical Eichler exterior

Typical Eichler interior

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Famous Case Study House #21 for sale

Case Study House #21, immortalized by photographer Julius Shulman, is for sale. The asking price is $4,500,000. Known as the Bailey House, the 2 bedroom/2 bath 1280 sf home was designed by architect Pierre Koenig for psychologist Walter Bailey and his wife Mary in 1958 and was featured in the February 1959 issue of Arts & Architecture as part of the magazine's Case Study Program.

In 1997 the current owner of the home, film producer Dan Cracchiolo (of Matrix, Lethal Weapon and Conspiracy Theory fame), asked Koenig to supervise a complete restoration, as it had suffered many alterations over the years. The work was completed in 1999.

The house sits on a 12,450 sf lot in West Hollywood and has a spectacular canyon view.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wire Base Side Table from Inmod

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Inmod and asked to review a piece of furniture from their new Origins line, and I agreed to do so.

Today I received the Wire Base Side Table, which is Inmod's reproduction of the Charles and Ray Eames Wire Base Low Table. I must say that it is quite faithful to the original design in dimension (H 10" x W 15.5" x D 13.25") and appearance. The table was designed to be stackable or used side-by-side as a low coffee table, and because of its size, I think that would almost be necessary. Alone it could look awkwardly small, unless paired with just the right size chair or sofa.

As soon as I lifted it from the box (fully assembled, incidentally), I immediately noted its substantial weight. The layered plywood top with flat melamine surface is extremely attractive, as is the sturdy wire base. The workmanship is impressive, and the Inmod price of $179 (currently on sale for $99) is more economical than the licensed table produced by Herman Miller and sold for $205 (or Design Within Reach's $215 for the Herman Miller version), especially since, as far as I can tell, there is virtually no difference in the products. Like the tables offered by the other retailers, Inmod's table is available in black or white.

The original Eames design was inspired by the low profile of Japanese furnishings, and, according to the DWR site, was used in the Eames home for a tea ceremony including Isamu Noguchi and Charlie Chaplin.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with Inmod's Wire Base Side Table. It will go upstairs in my grandsons' gameroom, where it will fit perfectly between two low-slung kids' chairs. If this piece is representative of their classic mid-century Origins line, I can't wait to see more!

Note:  I partnered with Inmod for this post and was encouraged to provide an objective review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Walter and Greta von Nessen

Walter von Nessen (1889-1943) was a German-born industrial designer. Prior to World War I, he was a student of Bruno Paul at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin and a teacher at the Charlottenburg Art School. After the war, he was employed by architect Peter Behrens. From 1919 to 1923, he designed furniture in Stockholm.

Greta von Nessen (1900-1975) was the daughter of an architect. Born in Sweden in 1900, she graduated from the School for Industrial Arts in Stockholm and married Walter von Nessen.

In 1923 the couple immigrated to the United States and in 1926 founded Nessen Studios in New York, where they almost exclusively designed and fabricated architectural lighting.

The couple attracted the attention of top architects with their sleek lamp designs and soon rose to prominence in the New York design world, becoming part of the vanguard of modern industrial designers, along with such notables as Raymond Loewy, Donald Deskey, Eliot Noyes, Russel Wright and Gilbert Rohde.

Walter von Nessen's career culminated with the introduction of a series of swing arm lamps, while Greta von Nessen's most famous design is the Anywhere Lamp, which was introduced in 1951. It has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art.

After her husband's death in 1943, Greta von Nessen continued to design lamps out of their studio, now known as  Nessen Lighting.

From and

Table lamp - Walter von Nessen

Floor lamp - Walter von Nessen

Tripod lamps - Walter von Nessen

Swing arm lamp - Walter von Nessen

Anywhere Lamp - Greta von Nessen

Double cone lamp - Greta von Nessen

You might have noticed our Greta von Nessen double cone lamp in a recent post.

Greta von Nessen lamp in our entryway

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Stylish? Get back to me on that.

According to a recent Bloglovin' article, we vintage lovers have finally arrived. Once outliers operating on the design fringe, we are now au courant. I ticked off everything on the list, and I bet most of you could have too...years ago.

Listed in "7 Things Every Stylish Person Has in Their Home"* are the following:

1. A mix of vintage and new furniture...Check!
2. A gallery wall...Check!
3. A statement rug...Check!
4. Houseplants...Check!
5. A carefully styled bookcase...Check!
6. Sculptural objects...Check!
7. Mixed materials...Check!

Funny thing, though.  Being "stylish" wasn't my goal when I started buying vintage furniture and accessories. I just loved the stuff. I think I liked it better before everyone jumped on our bandwagon.

New/Vintage/Rug/Mixed materials/Houseplants:
New Joybird chairs and vintage Paul McCobb table
with a 9' x 12' "statement rug" and Ficus elastica (rubber plant)

Houseplants/Mixed materials:
 Dracaena marginata in living room,
textiles, wood, glass

Houseplants/Vintage/Mixed materials:
 Architectural Pottery, bullet planter,
Sansevieria (mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant)
and Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail plant)
in my bedroom

Sculptural object/Mixed materials/Vintage:
Metal, wool, wood, glass, ceramics, brick, tile,
and another vintage Paul McCobb table

Gallery wall:
Prints by artist friend René West

Styled bookcase/Mixed materials:
Sculptural objects, metal, pottery, wood,
glass, woven natural material, brick, stone

* The grammatical error in the title of the article drives me crazy, but I taught English for a living, and I know that I care more about the number of pronouns and antecedents than most people do.