One of my favorite inspiration sites...

robincoJanuary 24, 2007

I (admittedly schizophrenically) adore both mid-century modern and cottage decor equally. When I'm in a more cottagey frame of mind (like today), I open my Not So Big House books and am always drawn to the work of Ross Chapin. His small, efficiently designed homes are such a testament to the value of an architect. His web site has amazing plans available but I usually spend my time drooling over the simple, elegant, and relatively economical interiors shown as thumbnails on each of the plan pages. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ross Chapin

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I love that site -- thanks for sharing!!

The combination of cozy spaces and lots of natural light is ideal.

Like you, I go back and forth between modern and cottage. Right now, my DR is cottage-y (black farm table) and my LR and MBR are more modern. Does it all go together? Who knows and who cares!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 11:00AM
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Wow, those homes are very nice. I'll have to check out the books -- thanks for the reference.

I'm no student of design, but some of those cottage houses look like they have a bungalow or arts & crafts influence. I love both arts & crafts and mid-century modern. I used to think this was rather schizophrenic, but lately I've come to think of those styles as being part of the continuum in the development of modern architecture and furniture. Much of this furniture looks great together.

I have a small 1870 tenant/farmhouse which was modestly added on to at the turn of the 20th century and again later. I've decorated it with a variety of styles and periods of furniture and art. (My living room has the widest range of pieces, including contemporary leather sofas, ladderback chair with rush seat, upholstered arts & crafts armchair, pine jelly cupboard, Stickley tables and console, a variety of prints from the 20's-40's, a mid-century oil painting, and a collection of arts & crafts pottery.)

We also have a vacation condo which we decorated with furniture from second-hand stores. It is primarily mid-century modern. I think a lot of the furniture from both places could exist together because they have similar lines. To me, what makes both of these places very different is their setting (woodsy vs. bright light) and color scheme (moody greens, golds, reds vs. brilliant blues and oranges).


    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 1:57PM
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I'm glad to know I'm not the only one sending mixed messages through my decor ;-)! I agree that most styles that stand the test of time can work together. I really like the casual comfort of cottage style (but not the fussiness or clutter that sometimes accompany it) and the simple lines and low profile of modern/midcentury design (but I think it can look a bit cold at times). Make no mistake, though, when it comes to gardening, it's 100% cottage!

What you will find in my house: Amy Butler fabrics, Tord Boontje anything (my daughter has a pink midsummer light in her bedroom), the Norm 03 light (hanging above my bed), Duravit sinks, slipcovered Jasper (Room and Board) sofa and chairs, vintage midcentury wall units and dressers, original watercolors and sculptures by my husband's grandfather, Rosina Wachtmeister, a truly bizarre fireplace built with what looks like a combination of white portland cement and quartz rock, and cheap (but wonderful) JC Penney Manhattan shades, probably a bit of sheep poo tracked in to the entry rug, light blue-grey walls and white trim, Marimekko anything I can afford, and plenty of Target and Craigslist finds!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 6:31PM
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Love that site! The house we are building is a mix of vintage and modern. I have always been drawn to craftsman style and so will incorporate some of that. I've settled with the fact that my decorating style is comfortable, come on in and put your feet up. That is what I like about the Chapin homes, they look like they have been there forever, very welcoming and lived in. Thanks for sharing that link.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 11:53PM
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I was all set to go "bleeeaaagh" because I very much DISlike mid-century modern - I'm a Victorian/English Arts & Crafts/Gothic-Celtic Revival gal - but I'd happily live in many of those houses. (Although I wouldn't want to be as close to the neighbors as in those "pocket neighborhoods", yikes!) I love the Chautauqua house, that pretty cross-gabled shingled number in the large picture on the Woodlands page, and some of the ones at Umatilla Hill ("The Egg & I" - the one with the long sloping roof) and Conover Commons. BTW, those li'l Conover Commons houses are 800 freakin thousand dollars!!!!!! We couldn't afford one of those even with the new 50 year mortgages - I just ran it through one of those mortgage calculators and the payment was horrifying even before property taxes, insurance, etc. being added on. *shudder*

"I've settled with the fact that my decorating style is comfortable, come on in and put your feet up."

I'm right there with ya. I won't have a piece of furniture you can't really relax on. Nothing where you have to sit up ramrod straight with your feet on the floor and your knees clenched together and your elbows pressed to your sides like in so many of those formal settings, and everything has to resist shod feet being put up on it and food/drink spilled on it and muddy dog paws... hurrah for microfiber and leather, even DH's dadratted Doc Marten boots won't make a mess of it. My coffee table's top is wrapped with hammered, weathered copper sheeting so feet can go on it without a worry, every scratch and ding simply adds to the patina rather than making a wooden top just look beat to crap. :-) No matchy, no fussy, no stress!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 1:49AM
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Jill - I would love to hear more about the house you're building. I agree with you and johnmari that I want a house where you can come in, plop down, and feel at home. Mine is definitely that - one of the "benefits" of having 3 young children who quickly "weed out" anything that can't take a beating ;-) !

And true, johnmari, the houses are PRICEY but many of the ideas aren't (there are VCT floors and even backsplashes in some of those homes) -- I'm just thankful northern Colorado housing prices haven't gone quite that crazy yet!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 10:10AM
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Our home in progress is a cross gable, and will have a covered porch that runs the full length lake side and I visualize having wooden rocking chairs on it. I am planning to have a craftsman type fireplace wall, flanked by small windows, with built-ins on both sides. The built ins will extend to an angled wall that will hold the flat screen tv and electronics. Kitchen cabinets will be craftsman style.

The home has an open floorplan, with a two story great room with big windows looking out to the lake. But the upstairs has sloped ceilings and angles that look more like an old house and I love that. The woodwork will be old fashioned, wider with extra details; I want the square collared newel posts with simple flat wood rails, and the staircase winds around a corner.

For the main bath, I'm hoping to repurpose an old mission table base for a vanity, but use a trough sink top. I'd like to use a couple old icebox doors on a pantry or cabinet. My furniture is a mix of turn of the century oak (clawfoot tables, cabinets, stuff with character), but will be buying new leather seating. I'm no purist, with collections of USA, McCoy and Watt pottery, kitchen utensils, old electic fans, and random 'junque'. I'll have to edit out as I want to get away from the country clutter look and streamline for the new house.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 1:41PM
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Just started reading "The Perfect $100,000 House" by Karrie Jacobs, who was the founding editor for Dwell magazine. Here's hoping that it's possible to find a beautiful, small, functional home that's affordable!

My husband and I are in this fantasy phase where we dream about the house in which we'll live when we retire (and where all our furniture will come to live together). For us, it will be about having a small home that is efficiently laid out and has practical storage. We really don't need anything bigger than our current 1500 sq. ft. house, but we'd like it to be one story, have ceilings higher than the 7ft ones we're living with, filled with more light, two full baths, and a yard and driveway that's easy to negotiate and maintain. Since we have spent the last eleven years renovating an old house that demands using certain materials to stay true to its character, we're looking forward to living in a space that will allow us to focus more on function. Not that this home doesn't function well, it does. But I like the idea of using cheaper common materials in creative ways to give a home a unique look. I agree with the notion of livability and comfort over impractical surfaces that require careful behavior or strict cleaning practices, whether you're talking about furniture or house materials. However, I also happen to like imperfect surfaces, so I don't mind if things develop a broken-in appearance. I detest frilly details, generally like things in their place and a minimum of artwork and "stuff".

Jill, please tell us more about the house you're building. It sounds like you've found just the right mix of styles I like.

Mari, I loved the Chautauqua model, too! I am willing to bet you could be won over to some mid-century modern furniture. Many pieces have a warm and rich look to them, much like the arts & crafts style. The craftsmanship can be lovely on the wood tables and cabinets. (One of my resolutions on the New Year's thread was to share some pictures . . . I'm almost there. I'd love to get your feedback when I finally post. I've always enjoyed seeing your home as it progresses.)

Robin -- I need to get out a designer dictionary to look up some of the names you've mentioned! The Duravit sinks weren't a fit in either of our bathrooms for some reason, but I recall thinking they were lovely. And I've loved Marimekko fabrics for ages. By the way, what does VCT stand for -- vinyl composite something?


P.S. I hear that vintage 2007 sheep poo is going to be quite collectible . . .

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 2:29PM
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For some reason, Jill, your last post didn't show up before I posted. Thanks for sharing about your house -- it sounds fabulous! Such a nice variety to your collections, not a bit stuffy. Could you tell me a little about Watt pottery, please?


    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 2:40PM
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I didn't notice the VCT... for 800k I think I'd be a tad ticked off at flooring that was under a buck a square foot. :-) I would be expecting something more in the lino vein. We figure on using VCT if we can ever scrape up the money to do the kitchen, I keep pawing through my little box of 2" square samples from Armstrong and changing my mind about colors! While I love real lino, there's a good bit I can do with the $600+ difference in just the material costs. Like pay an installer. LOL

Coastal NH prices aren't QUITE that crazy but they're really getting there, even with the market as stagnant as it is... a ~2k sf tract-style colonial in a rotten location (aka the house next door - swampy lot so I can pretty much guarantee it'll have a wet basement, backs up onto a major highway, behind a restaurant) sells for some $350k. Nicer (not necessarily bigger) is waaaaaay more. A custom home like the Chapins would probably be well into the $700s depending on the location. *choke* Going closer to Boston it's a LOT worse. Many people up here in NH commute to Boston every day - DH drives an hour and a half each way, it would be a lot less if there were no traffic but there's already traffic at 6am! - because they just can't afford to live any closer to the city without living in what's euphemistically called a "marginal" or "developing" neighborhood. Been there, done that!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 3:19PM
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VCT is vinyl composition tile - We have a fairly shocking array of colors in our way-too-wacky (in a good way) basement playroom. It works great on concrete sub floors but I have been warned away from using VCT on wood subfloors (bummer 'cause I love it).

Believe me, I'm no design diva - I've just developed quite a list of loves while planning the re-do of my blank slate of a 1967 split level with a little land in northern Colorado. I felt a real need to define my style (still working on that) while respecting my husband's likes and dislikes as well.

I'd be happy to send as much 2007 poo as you would like - it's perched oh so decoratively on top of the most amazing amount of snow left behind by the holiday blizzards...

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 3:26PM
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Yowza, johnmari! I had no idea prices were doing that in your area -- I was completely shocked when a little (1200 sf, maybe) house down the street completely untouched since the 60's (bathroom is adorable, kitchen... needed major work) BUT on 2 gorgeous acres sold for $375K. A house like one of Chapins would be about $500-700K here (of course, depending on location), too. I went with Marmoleum in the bathrooms in our remodel - it's gorgeous (and I got an amazing deal by using remnants) but the installation is far from foolproof...

We're in scrape-up-the-money-for-the-kitchen mode, too - I would like to use VCT but I think I'll probably go with something that could work throughout the main level since the layout is chopped up enough (being a split level).

I've seen your house on the bathrooms forum (I think) - absolutely gorgeous! I wish I had such a clear aesthetic in mind (not to mention your design talent).

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 3:37PM
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VCT = vinyl composite tile. AKA "schoolhouse tile". That swirly stuff most of us remember from schools and hospitals. Cheap, surprisingly attractive if you avoid the pea-soup green they always used in the schools ;-) and wicked durable.

Tina, one of the few MCM things I've ever liked was the tree-slab tables, but the bases usually spoil them for me. (I keep telling Housevixen that I'll gladly take custody of that "tree table" her DH adores and she dislikes. So what if it's literally on the opposite edge of the continent? LOL) I'm sure you MCM fans would plotz at the handed-down stuff I've put out by the side of the road at the first opportunity I had for replacement. :-) I'll be honest, I just like things a bit fussier, I'm more William Morris than Gustav Stickley. I've actually drifted away from American Arts & Crafts furniture and a LONG way away from most Mission... it's mostly just too spare and angular, a bit too much Asian influence for my tastes (especially the Prairie School and the Greenes), while I've fallen in love with things like barley twists and "carved to death". :-) I've got a couple of nice Mission pieces I would love to get rid of if I weren't going to get completely screwed on the money end, but 10 cents on the dollar is just painful.

I can appreciate the craftsmanship on the nicer MCM pieces, like say Nakashima, and I can see why other people like it, it's just not me, that's all.

Robinco (BTW, is it Robin Co or Rob In Co? I can't remember) thank you so much for the compliments! I don't think I deserve them at all but I'll slurp them up anyway. :-) I've really only "publicized" the two good rooms, the bathroom (and for what we got screwed into spending, it dang well better be good) and the living room which is pretty good but still has two chairs I hate, and cheesy pine trim and mantel that I dream of replacing with oak like in the bath. Folks are wearing me down on those floral drapes that everyone hates but me, too, tired of hearing people b*tch about them just about every time I post a picture of the room! The color of the library was a mondo mistake and I can't get past the heinous melamine bookcases... but, they hold up the books, and even if we could do Ikea (which would be tricky) it would be close to $1500 for the ones I actually like or $700 for the bare minimum. DH gives me the hairy eyeball if I even mention repainting. Let's not even talk about the upstairs or the siding, either! :-)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 5:11PM
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I remember Watt bowls from my childhood when they were giveaways from the coop creamery that had their logo in the bottom. I seem to have a 'thing' for old mixing bowls. I like the utilitarian things that were used, not so much on the fancy depression glass or china, though I've got a little of that, too.

Everything has been packed up for almost a year and a half, so it will be interesting to see what I have. I know I don't "need" any of it. I like that I can use most of my stuff, wash it and put it back on display.


Here is a link that might be useful: ebay watt ware search

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 7:17PM
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Robin CO - We live in Fort Collins (this year "the Great White North"). We had our share of getting skewered by tradespeople this year as well... it doesn't feel good, does it? My husband and I have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding even the mere consideration of another home project right now... we were semi-displaced much of the summer with our three kids (3, 5, 8) and we're planning on enjoying the Colorado summer this year!

Always a work in progress...

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 12:25PM
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robinco, thanks for posting that link! Beautiful houses, and I could live in almost any of those easily (especially on Whidbey Island!). There are some great ideas in those houses. I sure wish I knew if I was going to be in my current house for a while. Some of the ideas on that site are great, but would cost too much to justify for not being here "forever". *sigh*

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 12:45PM
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It is great, isn't it steve_o. If you like that one you might also like the Traditional Neighborhood Design site. I have a couple of their plan books and there are some great (and not-so-great) houses in there. I hope to be able to infuse my house with some of the style and comfort of the Chapin houses, too!

In another vein - there are some charming older homes in my area but lately (as property values have skyrocketed) people have been coming in and taking a nice little cottage and putting these enormous tumorous-looking additions on the back that dwarf the original structure - I wish people would think a bit more before destroying the overall charm of the place!

Here is a link that might be useful: Traditional Neighborhood Design

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 1:40PM
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Jill -- Love both the apple pattern and the mixing bowls. I never knew the apple pattern was Watt. They are so pretty. How fun it will be when you unpack and see the pottery in your new place. It's like you have all these little treasures stored away!

Mari -- Totally get your take on Mission and the more "severe" arts & crafts forms, as well as a lot of the MCM pieces. Sometimes I wish I could fine tune my taste but I must admit I like most arts & crafts period furniture, whether English or American. Love the barley twist pieces. I think I once mentioned that my grandfather was an architect who came from England, and the home he built and its furnishings greatly influenced my taste. I started out loving the ornate styles (still do), and in the early 1980s I purchased a dark oak bedroom set in the Jacobean Revival style (full-sized frame with a detailed headboard, man's dresser, and woman's dresser w/mirror). Absolutely loved this set, and it was so well made and unbelievably heavy. It looked similar to the piece you use for your TV. I had it for more than ten years, but couldn't take it with me during one of my moves and always regretted parting with it. Anyway, I think it's my mother's love of contemporary furniture from the 40-60s that has pushed my taste to include simpler pieces with cleaner lines (I grew up in a small cape furnished with an assortment of traditional and contemporary pieces). So, I am a fan of English and American arts & crafts, art nouveau, art deco, MCM, and even some country and colonial revival pieces. I don't think I'll ever be able to wean myself away from any of those styles, but during various phases of my life the emphasis changes. The style and size of home in which I live often influences or limits the scale of my furniture, as well as its style or fussiness.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 12:24PM
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