Tuesday, November 15, 2011


"CLASSIC MID-CENTURY CONTEMPORARY".  It's all the rage in t.v. shows ("Mademen, "Pan Am"), commercials (any number of them will feature a sleek, low slung house in the background, or a living room filled with Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe furniture sharing space with some mock Picassos and Braques), and movies (The Help... though it's more mid-century history than mid-century contemporary.
You know the look... you either love it or loathe it.  My wife, Amy and I happen to get weak in the knees over it.   Like the classic California Mid-Century... we'll call them Mid-Cens just above..... Is that the bomb!
Or the one to the right... the way all the rooms open out to that long, flat pool... Below, is a MidCen Amy and I fell in love with in Tampa...
Mercifully, it didn't work out for us to buy it... the new owners have spent a fortune on the place.

 The whole idea is borrowed from Spain and its tradition of security and making the most of the climate.   These houses "turn their backs" to the street... In Spain that was for protection.... But once inside.... (see pics right and  below).... there's an intentional blurring of the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces.

It's the most relaxing way to live, and those large open spaces are fantastic for entertaining.
Now, I've got a confession.... I HATE it when people fill up those fabulous spaces with bleak, blonde Scandanavian furniture.   The best way to show off those spaces is to blend the sinuous lines of a great French chest or chair with the right angles of the arhitecture.  Juxtapose the striking lines of a Mies Barcelona chair with the neo-classical stance of a Regency cabinet.
I've actually had the pleasure of listing only one delightful MidCen home... The one just below.  The
carport is the dead give-away.. its called a Brise Soleil (sun break).... those stacked, open concrete blocks that allow the breezes to blow through, but provide a screen against the sun and a little privacy.  The other tell-tale signs are Terazzo floors... ahttp://www.prestonfarley.com/videos/3116_lemon.htmln ingenous Italian invention to keep the house cool... and laminate display areas that look like exotic woods. You can enjoy more of the house on this link:  http://www.prestonfarley.com/videos/3116_lemon.html

I have a theory about why MidCens are making a comeback.  There seems to be a longing for "more simple times". A reflection of the "urban luxury" aesthetic where the economy defines design: less is more, roccoco's got a go-go, black shiny vinyl is cool, sliding glass doors are hot, chintz is not.  People are tired of lots of boxy rooms they don't use... In MidCens there are no rooms "off limits"... they easily flow for entertining and can serve multiple puroses... AND, with the judicious use of screening, outdoor rooms just expand the space.

They aren' for everyone, but they are as much a part of our history as
the great bungalows of Hyde Park
or the Spanish Gems in Beach Park,  and ought to be loved and
preserved.    OH WHAT A LIFE!

1 comment:

  1. Lance,

    Fantastic blog. Steph and I get all wobbly in the knees over mid-century modern as well. We’ve spent the past 6 months re-designing our pseudo-ranch—and it’s been an outrageously enjoyable exercise for us. Steph, a glamorous gal, has done a fine job juxtaposing mid-century modern with a mid-to-high-to-mid-again boho chic. We’ve tried to wrap our designs around one guiding post: equality. Our Cherner chairs and Parsons play nicely together with a rustic elm wood wine cabinet and uptown crystal chandelier. But there are only so many trips to the design/art district a newly-married couple can afford! We’re pausing for a bit—at least through the holidays—to give our pocketbooks some room for Christmas gift receipts. In the meantime, I’ll have to keep busy by giving your blog a read or two!

    Keep up the good work.