Monday, March 2, 2015

Mid-century cool

My parents bought their first house soon after I was born but couldn’t afford furniture right away so they lived in it using a bunch of miscellaneous stuff from their single days – just like we did.  But as soon as they had saved enough (this was about 1958), they bought several rooms of furniture in one big shopping spree (how fun would that be?)...  living room, dining room and a bedroom set.  They purchased it from a furniture maker in Portland, OR and it was all Danish modern in style. 

I remember my dad having a colleague from work over for dinner – I must have been about four - and when my parents were in the other room, I began bouncing on the sectional and telling the man that I wasn’t supposed to jump on the furniture so please don’t tell my mom and dad.  I remember many Easters hiding eggs underneath the coffee table (and in my grandfather’s armpit).  I remember Christmases with the Nutcracker playing on the huge stereo console with the built-in speakers. 

This was taken in 1967.  I am there on the left wearing a new bathrobe my mother made. I guess I still loved stuffed animals when I was 11?  In contrast to my little brother who got a gun that year.  Even my grandmother looks disturbed that an 8 year old was given a gun for Christmas.  Now that I think about it, this photo captures how different my brother and I are, though we no longer hit each other over it.

I remember laying out the custom-made table pads on the dining room table and setting it for many holiday dinners with my mom’s bone china.  I dusted that furniture with Pledge and helped my mom rearrange it a hundred different ways.

midcent e
Don’t you love the 70’s tone of this photo from 1970?  Instagram now offers this filter!  I wanted you to see the couch back in the day but the only close-up I could find was with me posing before my 8th grade confirmation.  Please note the corsage.  And the large white ashtray that was also in the last photo.  And our dog hiding under that sectional. 

Eventually I grew older and reached that precious age when I suddenly knew everything.  Our furniture was completely out of style!  Nobody I knew had curved sectional couches without arms.  Nobody had round coffee tables with nesting tables underneath. 


As the rest of the world moved into the 70s, 80s and 90s, my house remained firmly, embarrassingly stuck in the 50s.  I lobbied for a rattan princess chair to replace the contemporary Eames-style lounge chair but no deal.  How about an overstuffed couch and matching recliner in a burnt orange plaid?  Nope.  My dad saw no reason to replace perfectly good furniture.   

Norm and Bernie didn’t know how cool they were.

Because now?  All of that furniture that I was so embarrassed by is trés chic.  Someone cleverly named it ‘Mid-Century Modern’ and for lots of hipsters and millenials it’s very must-have.  I still think it’s amazing that when I G**gle ‘mid-century modern furnishings’ I can point out sooo many images and say ‘We had one of those!’

We are in the somewhat long process of selling these treasures.  We’ve been trying to price things based on similar stuff we find online and so I go to bed at night with phrases like “tapered pencil legs” “iconic retro look” and “surfboard coffee table” swirling in my brain.  We’ve sold quite a bit of it… The living and dining room furniture is gone.  So is this ‘atomic’ teak and brass chandelier:

lt fixture
A couple drove over an hour and paid lots of money for that beauty.

But much is still left to find new homes.  Like a lot of furniture and this lamp…
Someone is going to love that look.  It’s just not me.

So if you’re in need of a seven-piece Mid Century Danish bedroom suite made in the early 1950s of solid walnut with some wear commensurate with its age, message me.  I’ll make you a deal!

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