Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Midcentury Modern and a Road Trip

I've been in my suburban house for exactly 3 months today.  It's been a rollercoaster ride with a car accident and a new car, frozen pipes, broken boiler and a ton of other stuff that kept my attention in fight or flight mode for most of the last 3 months.  A new person in my life kept my attention in better places as well. 

As daylight hours grow longer, I'm beginning to look around my new place like I'm seeing it for the first time.  Since I'm living in the middle third of the house, I really haven't spent any time in the other 2/3 of the house!  Sunlight falls in new places on the walls. Actual sunlight!  Last week I saw light in a weird place in the basement and I started a bit before realizing that it was the natural stuff, made by the big guy upstairs.

My house is Midcentury Modern, designed by an architect and built in 1962, the middle of a time now known as the Midcentury Modern period, roughly 1950 to 1970.  (I can't find a pic of the house right now) Houses were designed to blur the lines between inside and outside.  Huge walls of windows bring nature into the house, and natural building materials like stone and wood make it seem like the inside is outside.  In the 50 years since my house was built, the original owner enclosed a few outside rooms, and covered up the walls of glass with thick curtains and drywall.  And awful pink paint.

But she left the blueprints behind and I can see how this house was originally full of light and air.  The room you see across the kitchen peninsula used to be open to the outside, a porch, before she made it closed in and dark and weird. Now that the string of winter emergencies seems to be over, I look at this room and imagine opening it up again, with glass walls on all sides and no roof, like it was designed.  I'm dreaming midcentury and salivating over Ebay listings of Eames furniture and atomic lights.

Which is how we come to be making a road trip to New Hampshire this weekend to pick up a $69 bench that I saw on Ebay and couldn't resist. I bid low, but was unopposed.  Apparently other people are too socked in by winter to furniture shop.  It was too easy.

Yeah, I know, I'm not looking for furniture.  But the price was right and I was looking for an excuse to take the new-to-me car out for a long spin and get a change of scenery to boot.  Plus, this bench totally fits in the house.  Here's a picture showing the room I'm using as a bedroom, and the wall of windows.  It's supposed to be a living room.  The air conditioner completely messes up the lines of the room and if I can stand it, it'll be gone, gone, gone after it stops being so bloody cold.  The curtains and blinds mess up the space too and are going away as well, after I prudently wait a bit to make sure it won't be too hot in there in the summer.  The prior owner really loved to cover up the windows.  And the floor?  And the 1980s-era ceiling fan?  I'm still thinking about what to do about those.

Here's another porch and another wall of windows. I haven't figured out what to do with it yet, but in the short term at least, a hammock will be involved.
See?  Can't you tell I'm past the whole winter series of emergencies?  Someone caught in the throes of getting through each frozen day doesn't have time to think about architecture. I'm too busy making dastardly plans and dreaming MidCentury dreams to be glad, but it sure feels good!


  1. Any luck selling your other house?

  2. Not a bite! Not a nibble. Nada. The person who was going to see it last week drove by and decided that it's too far off the beaten path for her. If nothing happens in another 2 months or so, I think I'll rent it out.