Friday, March 27, 2015

When I Say MCM....

...I mean a lot of different things. Architectural styles -- Wright's Usonian and Prairie styles, Pierre Koenig's flat-roofed, glass walled Case Study beauties, with minimal ornamentation, furnishings, and motifs from the period following World War II, dubbed, among other things, the atomic age or the space age (from atom bomb testing and the space race between the USA and the USSR). It means the popular music of the 50s and 60s -- from Your Hit Parade to Jimi Hendrix; Sassoon hair cuts and Mary Quant fashions, and Mustangs, Camaros and Volkswagen Beetles.

But much of the time, MCM, as it refers to houses and decor, means things I remember growing up -- some from my parents' houses, some from my friends'...

Recently, some images were posted in one of my MCM online groups that I found especially attractive and evocative. That happens pretty often on my groups, but these images were particularly striking. I messaged the posters, Mr. Brown and Mr. Wagner, and asked permission to bring the photos here. (Many thanks, gentlemen.)

The first two are two views of the same room, a living room, and it is such a sweet room, who could resist it? Yes, there are bigger, more breathtaking MCM spaces with soaring ceilings and walls of glass -- but this one especially speaks to me.  I don't know what the rest of the house looks like, or the exterior, but it might be what's come to be known as "mid-century modest" --  smaller, sometimes tract homes, as opposed to big houses with big name architects and big name builders...  But still, so evocative of the era.
Part of it is without doubt the colors -- the warmth of the orange sectional and green and brown walls.  Of course, with the Internet, you don't know whether the colors are being rendered accurately or not. Nevertheless, in this image, they are the colors that inspire me, and that I want to duplicate in my house. I can't recreate this room, but that's not necessary, anyway. I want to recreate the atmosphere, the slashes of light, the lack of clutter...

Here's another view:

The lack of clutter and the warmth continues, and the atmosphere of the post WWII era is captured in the console TV, the pinch-pleated drapes topped with a wood cornice, and a tension pole holding LP jackets. Just a great room all around.

And then we come to a kitchen that I could well have visited numerous times as a teen in Alabama, at least, as far as color is concerned. I'm not sure when this house was built; the architect was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, which no doubt explains the quality that evokes a yearning in the viewer. The whole house has this appeal.

The computer screen  has rendered the primary colors (counter and walls) as orange and pale green. In fact, the home's owner says the counter tops are Chinese red. Those colors combined with the rich brown of the wood cabinets makes this kitchen a place where you want to stay and visit.

And although there are lots of things visible -- books, canisters, spices, and more, the clutterless feeling comes across unmistakably. I've seen pictures of kitchens with far fewer items on display that looked far more cluttered.

HGTV kitchens with their granite countertops and subway tile back-splashes look coarse and cumbersome by comparison to this room that somehow manages to be both sweet and sophisticated.

K. Wagner
It is absolutely certain I could not duplicate this kitchen, or anything close to it, in my house. But, like the living room above, this space serves as both instruction and inspiration. Although phase one of my kitchen (below) won't look anything like this, eventually, I hope to have orange laminate counter top and back splash -- already have a sample of orange Wilsonart laminate from Lowe's to keep me focused!

The kitchen, Phase One: 

My photo editing skills and my vintage 1999 photo editor leave  a lot to be desired, but this image gives an idea of the minimal amount of "fix-up"-- refinishing the cabinets, painting the walls, refurbishing the tile and installing new flooring. A nice little blank canvas to bring my non-clutter to, I hope. But if the book marketing techniques I'm learning pay off, and the author-services jobs keep rolling in, maybe it won't be too long before the kitchen above becomes this kitchen...

...complete with black appliances and and chrome accessories...
(Lowe's, Etsy)
My amateur photoshoppin' of the living room maybe -- maybe -- shows just a hint of the inspiration and vision that so attracted me to Mr. Brown's living room, but of course lacks the warm of reality, of the play of shadow and light, the subtle color variations... Maybe, when I make it to the Living Room phase of my home's OFMCM makeover, I can make photos what will better capture what I'm after.


Meanwhile, all this MCM-ing is making me nostalgic! I believe I'll bring some '50s and '60s music over from YouTube.... Y'all enjoy!

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