An accidental hipster.

palimpsestFebruary 3, 2013

I was looking at Real Estate, and decided to look at Levittown, PA. Since the houses are quite small by today's standards, most of them have been extensively remodeled and remuddled.

I came across this one, and my first thought was that some young hipsters owned it because of the furniture in the living room. But when I looked at the rest of the pictures, I decided that the owner must be an elderly modernist who bought the house in the 1950s-early 1970s.

The colors are depressing in that mid-century way, but there are a couple of important modernist pieces in there. This appears to be a fully intact 1951-designed Levittowner model



Multipurpose Room (sometimes divided into 3rd BR)

Kitchen-Dining

Dining-Entry

Kitchen (Catch the under-the-sink Dishwasher, and plastic organizer next to the fridge. I think the washer and dryer used to go next to the fireplace. This would have been an all-metal kitchen if this is a circa 1951 version of the house. The Avocado and plastic bottle glass says post-1966-67 kitchen remodel.

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2

Bathroom

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muse-decor.com

I'm not really into the mid-century modern look, but some of those furniture pieces are truly amazing. I'm loving the sofa, the coffee table and the accent chair that sits to the left of the desk. Awesome pieces of furniture!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 3:43PM
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patty_cakes

Oh my, I think i've just had a flashback. Like I always say, to each his own. And yes, it probably *does* belong to an 'oldster'. ;o)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 3:43PM
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WMA89

Wow. I love looking at time capsule spaces. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:02PM
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kswl2

Love some of the furniture, but not the context.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Fori is not pleased

Is that an actual Levittown Levittown house? So cool that it's held up!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:26PM
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palimpsest

This community is decreasing in population, and socio-economically it is declining as well. The houses are now 50-60 years old, and they are small by today's standards. This area is now a kind of step up to the suburbs for the adjacent poor areas of Northeast Phila.

Aside from the dismalness of the color scheme and all that paneling, (and the obvious "emptied out" appearance of houses older people are getting to leave) the thing that I noticed is how much better the furniture seems to fit scale-wise than what is seen in most of them. I've seen more living rooms crammed with suites of overstuffed furniture, and purple or pink satin full length drapes puddled on the floor in front of those tiny slit windows than I want to see for a long time to come.

Look what happens in black and white.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:29PM
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sochi

Thanks for sharing, wondering pieces for sure. I love almost all the chairs. Very interesting home

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:41PM
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mtnrdredux_gw

I like it. But only because I am fantasizing it comes with Jon Hamm.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:00PM
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arcy_gw

My MIL bought the same TV/and console in the early 1990's. Other than that it is a flash back to my childhood!!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:03PM
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Olychick

I noticed they added a dishwasher at some point. How does it fit under the sink? At least that's what I'm thinking is going on there.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:11PM
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ogrose_tx

Ah, yes, avocado! We bought our house in 1972, and I still have the avocado stove hood and backsplash, as well as the cheapo cupboards and formica counters that are soon to be removed for an update. Talk about outdated, can hardly wait for the contractor to get started!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:13PM
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palimpsest

It has a GE Spacemaker Dishwasher designed to fit under a sink or cooktop. The sink is shallow and has a rear drain and the DW has a tiny upper rack.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:22PM
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anitamo

There is so much to love about that decor...and a couple things to love not so much, but a real flashback for sure. Thanks for sharing Pal.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 5:31PM
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lakeaffect

I want to go to that garage sale, with mr. sandyponder's pick-up truck. And the trailer. And possibly our neighbor's truck as well.

sandyponder

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:45PM
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gsciencechick

This house is very similar to the one where we bought all the fabulous MCM items at the estate sale about a year ago. It had a green tile master bathroom that was pristine, and I hope whoever bought that house did not tear it out.

I'll take the swag lamp and art above the sofa in the LR, and the "Dr. Melfi" chair in the office. Seriously, I would kill for that chair.

This post was edited by gsciencechick on Sun, Feb 3, 13 at 18:55

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:53PM
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covingtoncat

Not my taste at all, but still veddy, veddy cool! I

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:34PM
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funkyart

I love the credenza and the art above it--and gscience, I just saw a chair like that on CL yesterday!

I watched the Eames documentary this weekend-- while none of these pieces are Eames (i don't think), I have a growing appreciation for how the mid century brought together science/art, function/form.. and as I approach move in day, I have a growing appreciation for the scale.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:25PM
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palimpsest

The only piece that is identifiable to me is the coffee table, which is either Vladimir Kagan, or more likely Adrian Pearsall.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:36PM
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kellienoelle

Anybody know anything about the chair to the left of the office desk? I would buy that chair ...

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:26PM
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kitchendetective

Oh my . Hideous and depressing. I'm glad for the preservation, but I would truly loathe being in that environment. Please do not throw tomatoes. We are entitled to our sensibilities.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:12AM
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marymd7

That house and its furnishings are fantastic. Love, love, love it. Ditch some of the curtains, do an inobstrusive lighting upgrade, replace what looks like carpeting on the floor with either real linoleum or cork and some great area rugs, maybe a little juggling with new appliances in the kitchen and it would be good to go as far as I'm concerned.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:33AM
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palimpsest

I posted the picture later on in black and white, because in color, I did find the overall atmosphere kind of depressing. The furniture looks a little better with the color removed. Many of these houses, even the ones with updates and more recent color schemes come off a little depressing to my eye.

I am not sure about the teak (?) armchair. The rope lounge chair could be Hans Wegner for Getama, or a knock off.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:34AM
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pps7

The house itself does need some updating, but I do like some of the furniture pieces- especially the sofa!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:45AM
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outsideplaying_gw

Thanks for the flashback. I liked the bed, and even though nothing is particularly my style, it is interesting to see it all still in a house and in use.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:57AM
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jakabedy

The chair next to the desk is a Selig Z chair -- very collectible. The coffee table is Pearsall. The rope chair in the office is a Wegner knock-off, but of the era and still collectible today.

I don't know lights, but the triple swag is great, as is the pole lamp next to the credenza. Speaking of which, I need that credenza in my living room right. this. very. minute.

In the kitchen, what is the appliance caddy-corner from the refrigerator? Is that a small freezer of some kind? it looks too big to be just a leftover metal cabinet.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:32AM
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awm03

Great fun! Thanks for posting. I love the fireplace and the bathroom. The bathtub has great curves, & I like the sink & toilet designs too. The mosaic floor tile is cool & so is the wall tile color. I could live in that house with that furniture, with only a few upgrades.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:39AM
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palimpsest

The Yellow wall organizer looks like an original Dorothee Becker Utensilo (1969), now made by Vitra. If it is not a genuine Utensilo, it is a close period knockoff. These were inexpensive enough that it could be the real thing.

I don't know about the white metal piece, it looks like a cabinet but its size could be exaggerated by the camera distortion.

Could the modular bedroom furniture be something like G-Plan?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:52AM
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oakleyok

It reminds me of Rob and Laura's house from The Dick Van Dyke Show. And my own house in the 50's, early 60's. I kind of like it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:45AM
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hhireno

What is the selling price on a house like this? In this particular case, is the original furniture worth more than the house? Just based on the comments here, there is plenty of interest in the furniture. I hope they realize that and don't just toss it away.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:50AM
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palimpsest

Even though it is an inexpensive house in a now working-class sort of area, it is still a $250K + house. That is just what the pricing is like in this area.

A house that I was interested in in Center City sold for $600K and was gutted (and sold as a house that "needed" to be.) Values are relative up and steady here overall.

The furniture is iconic but nothing of exceptional value from the region like Paul Evans, Nakashima, or Wharton Exherick. The pieces in this house command a decent price right now but nothing too high.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:18PM
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debrak_2008

That kitchen must have the worst layout I have ever seen. There is no counter space. Has anyone ever lived with a kitchen like that?

When I see older photos IRL from the 60's I always thought it was just the film fading that made every look so faded and blah. Now that I see current photos of the same type of room and furniture I realize it really did look like that.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:19PM
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nini804

That is amazing to see! But I absolutely have no idea how they prepared food in that kitchen...there is no countertop! Well, a tiny bit, but it is in the corner. Now I am no great cook by any stretch, but even a lousy cook needs to spread stuff out occasionally. And I thought people cooked from scratch more back then...how on earth??? Do you think they used the kitchen table? Maybe this is how islands got started.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:27PM
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ingeorgia

Ahhhh Levitt homes. We lived in two, both ranch style, in Willingboro, NJ .
The Levitts first built military housing, then went on to acquire large tracts of land in NY, PA and NJ. These were perfect for G.I.'s and their families with the VA and FHA available loans, little or no money down.
Our first cost 23K. Paid a lot more than that for my truck, sigh. Ours were well built and laid out well and not depressing at all. Thanks for the memories : )

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:30PM
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birdgardner

The corded folding chair in the study, next to the tall paper lamp - does anyone know what it is called? My mother used to have them - they were very comfortable.

Seriously I would like to go to that garage sale. It's not so very far away.

The aqua and gold bathroom - I kinda like it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 12:47PM
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hhireno

The pieces in this house command a decent price right now but nothing too high.
Ah, I see. I still hope they know there is value and make the most of it.

ingeorgia,
As I kid, I lived in Willingboro, NJ in the late 60s. We had a Cape Cod style house. I attended Hawthorne Elementary school.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:04PM
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palimpsest

I had a near identical layout except the sink and cooktop were switched and the dishwasher was next to the sink not under it, when I first moved in my last apartment.

The paper string chair is based on a Hans Wegner lounge chair.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:09PM
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palimpsest

Here is the original, Hans Wegner version of the string chair.

Much modern furniture was intended to be furniture for the masses, but in today's world, fabricating a chair or table with a delicate looking but sturdy structure is much more expensive than building something big and hulking.

One of my school friend's parents had Adrian Pearsall for Craft associates furniture their living room. It was this upholstery but it also included some gothic looking high backed chairs...it was all a coordinating "set".
I remember disliking it a Lot around 1980--I was pretty much a colonial revivalist. My friend's dad worked in a factory and barely made five figures at the time, so it must have been accessible price wise. I am still not a fan of most vintage upholstery schemes by Pearsall or Paul Evans.

This chair is listed on 1st dibs for $1000, which is inexpensive for that venue.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 2:52PM
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mitchdesj

There must have been a black shiny ceramic panther somewhere in that living room, my mom told me they were given one with their bedroom suite as newlyweds.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:13PM
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cat_ky

LOL I have the identical GE avocado oven still in my kitchen. It works perfectly, and is really ugly, but, so far, I havent found a new oven that will fit in the opening, without doing a very costly special order.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 4:30PM
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sochi

I think the avocado oven is more attractive than the white appliances pictured, cat_ky. I like it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 5:30PM
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ingeorgia

hhireno we lived there in the early 70's and my children also went to Hawthorne. small world !

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 5:41PM
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palimpsest

My parents' house still has the double-oven version of those 27" GE ovens in white, and they still work fine except the temperature is a bit off.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:25PM
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