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Match metals, mix mid-century wood, and make materials choices

28 min read Take a deep breath! I have tons of tips and tools to help you get your mid mod materials just right.

A style sheet works better than a mid-century mood board to show you the building blocks of your remodel.

The wrong materials choices can send your project into a trend tailspin where finishes feel too of this particular moment. And a bad mix can also just make the vibe feel kind of…off. 

So … how do you create a gorgeous mix of materials perfectly suited to a mid mod update …

A mix of materials is one of the cornerstones of mid-century design and there are some great resources throughout this blog and the podcast, if you are looking for a deep dive.

The first step is to take stock of the materials you have and decide what you’ll keep. Then creating the right mix is about finding mcm-friendly cousins that compliment or contrast those elements. 

Fortunately for you and me – the mid-century era we love wasn’t all about the most high and and lux finishes.  You don’t need to break the bank to make the best choices. 

Many of the “high-end” finishes of the time are actually mainstream now. Stainless steel was a “material of the future” in the atomic era and is still a great choice to mix into your mid mod remodel.

Wood is a bit of a different story. Much of the wood you’ll find in your mid-century home is a resource no longer available in the modern marketplace. Even the 2 x 4’s your house was framed with are far superior to their modern cousins. You may have pine, oak (usually floors) or maple in your home. Teak and walnut are great options to compliment these woods.  To control the budget, you can target use. And some (well deployed) plywood can be the perfect thing! The key decision when mixing wood is in the finish rather than the species. To hew close to a mid mod vibe stick with warm stains that lean toward the amber tones of the period.

In Today’s Episode You’ll Hear:

  • A short history of 2×4’s. 
  • Guidance on how to mix woods and metals to achieve a cohesive space.  
  • Which new materials play best with original materials you want to keep. 

Listen Now On 

Apple | Google |  Spotify

Resources on Mid-Century Materials

And you can always…

Read the Full Episode Transcript

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re about to pick out the new lamp for the living room or a new set of cabinet handles for the kitchen built ins. And you get stuck. There are seven different options for metal type listed and you don’t know which one to pick.

Or you’re setting up to finalize the order for the wonderful amazing going to solve all your organizational and life problems in one go new entry built ins. And you get stuck on the wood type.

What species what stain color, you picked Walmart for the new kitchen built hands, but this entry is right next to an existing window with Amber stained pine window trim with a walnut clash, should you do something else? What are you going to do? All right, today, let’s get into it. Let’s talk about matching metals, mid-century wood and making sense of your material choices generally.

Hey there, welcome back to mid mod remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes. Helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life. I’m your host Della Hansmann architect and mid-century ranch enthusiast, you’re listening to Episode 1707.

So the big news this week is that there is another mid-century design clinic coming up soon. By popular demand, I’m doing a reprise of last year’s style guide clinic. And we’re refreshing and renaming it. I’m calling this the more than a mood board clinic. Because that’s the goal, I want to take you beyond the idea of a mood board, or a couple of houses you’ve seen on Instagram or Pinterest that you wish your house was like. And using that very focused product based vision for how to pick the materials in your house and into a more flexible but focused approach that’s going to let you make decisions quickly and effectively. And compare one material with its other sort of sibling materials that are going to exist in a house, both by all the different things of a similar type, and all the things that are going to exist in a room together.

That’s also very much the topic of this episode. Not a coincidence. But I’m hoping that if you’ve ever felt that struggle of what is the right wood species, what is the right metal, not just overall for a mid-century choice but for your home, that you will reach out and take advantage of the resources that are available to you come to this clinic, it’s going to be an absolute blast.

We’ll be doing it as we always do on Saturday mornings from 11am central to 1pm Central. If you’re not available that time, please sign up anyway and watch the replay of it. This class, unlike a lot of my workshops, which have a lot of slide components, we have a long google doc to go through it is chock full of links and resources and examples. And I’m going to take you through the process step by step showing you how I would go from a couple of interesting images stuck to a Pinterest board into an actual usable style guide that is going to help you make finalize decisions through your house.

So anyway, this is all a big rant. Because as I wish literally everyone who was ever going to remodel ever could use this method. I have talked about it before in podcast episode. So if you ever wanted to just dip your toe into the concept, go back and listen to my four part Style Guide series that I gave last. Early winter, early spring. Okay, yeah, that I’ve just done a little pause and research. This is in the April season last year. So episodes 1201, 2, 3 and four are going to take you through the podcast version of this, but I’d love you to show up and join us for the style guide clinic.

And by the way, I’m mentioning it right now because the early bird pricing is still in effect. It’s half off until the end of this weekend. So sign up, save your seat and I will see you there a week from Saturday, that’s June 1, to boil down everything you like about your home. Or if there’s nothing you’d like about your home, everything that you like about mid-century style into a set of simple guides that are going to walk you through the process of making all the choices that are coming up. So you can sign up at mid mod dash midwest.com/clinic And I’ll see you there.

Alright, let’s get into it with a history snippet. Because we’re talking about materials today and finishes and I wanted to get into wood species I was thinking about a type of wood that shows up in a mid-century house that is not a finished material that you will probably not see in your existing house anywhere but is absolutely important and actually is something main worth maintaining original materials around and that is the humble two by four.

So the two by four is everywhere around us in modern buildings. We don’t see it because it’s hiding behind drywall or in a mid-century house behind proto drywall and plaster, but it is what’s holding up most of our buildings now. If you live in an Eichler or a cliff may home, your house may be held up with more solid post and beam structure, but it’s got some two by four dimensional lumber in it probably. And most of the homes that we see in America, everything that’s built today is built of two by fours.

I first really became aware of these in a sense of seeing sort of getting X ray vision and seeing through walls everywhere. When I was in graduate school in 2007, a group of fellow students and I went down to the area that had been damaged by Hurricane Katrina and spent a semester volunteering and studying there working on the problem of how to rebuild after the storm. And what we found getting there about 18 months after Hurricane Katrina had swept through was that a lot of areas had been thoroughly stripped houses had been all of the stuff in the house had been flooded and was moldy trash had been taken out and thrown away.

All of the drywall, all of the electric work, all of the finishes had been taken out, stripped out and thrown into dumpsters and thrown away. And what was left with these shells of buildings that were just two by fours, painted stark white with kills brand, mold, retarded paint, and then people were going to build back. So seeing all of these two by fours everywhere, and just being able to sort of walk literally walk through the walls of the buildings that we were planning new life for was just really eye opening and interesting.

But the two by fours we were seeing in those Biloxi cottages, those homes were all of or before the mid-century era. And they were incredibly sturdy, it was worth it to keep that timber in place. Part of the reason people were keeping it was because they were able to make different finish choices for their houses based on they were basically able to keep their houses on the ground if they chose to take that risk rather than being forced to elevate them above the floodplain level if the house had a certain amount of structural integrity left, and that basically meant the floor, the walls, the roof, the two by fours.

So we started to think about two by fours in that time period and doing a little more research, I learned some fun things. It wasn’t until the mid 1800s Actually that the lumber for buildings began to have any kind of standardization at all before that lumber came from lumber mills and the local sawmill basically just used whatever the specification of the low group builder was whatever they asked for, or whatever was the optimal size based on the equipment that was available in the mill.

But as time went on, milling operation took place further and further from building sites, people needed to have more wood available that there happened to be in their particular area. And there had to be a rough standard so it could be ordered and shipped and sort of called from far away. So by 1900s Two inches wide, was the most common thickness for joists for rafters for studs and one inch for boards that would be used for siding or flooring.

Eventually sawmills began to run rough lumber through smaller edger or rip saws to smooth the edges with a side effect that the saw sized pieces were a quarter of an inch less than the nominal width of two inches. So we refer to a two by four today. But this may be shocking news to you. Or this might be the most common thing you’ve ever heard. a two by four is not two inches by four inches. In fact, today, a two by four is more like one and a half inches by three and a half inches. But in a mid-century house. And you may have discovered this the hard way, if you were trying to align a new stud wall from an old one. It’s sort of in the middle.

So a two by four in the basement of my house, or in the walls, I haven’t done too much demolition on the main floor of my house tends to be more like one to three quarters inches by three and three quarters inches. That diminishing size of the two by fours only part of the history of how two by fours have gotten less good over time. They have also been sourced from younger and younger trees, originally two by fours came from old growth, they were chopped out a very big round trees. And they were taken from the sort of ideal portion of the tree.

So they were much less likely to warp or bend and have all sorts of failure modes or bending modes for how they might have a flaw in them. But as we used up more and more and more. And eventually most of the old growth pine and spruce lumber in the United States, we have now taken to growing old second growth and third growth forests on those old growth places.

And that faster grown pine that we find in our two by fours is not of the same quality. It’s just you know, there’s nothing wrong with the trees themselves. They’re just younger. And so this is just one more reason why your mid-century house is so wonderful and valuable. And that’s because it has this benefit of the incredible strength of the old growth, the special quality, the old fashioned quality of the even the two by fours that are holding up the house.

I think it’s interesting because the building industry, the forest products industry would have us believe that houses are built with two by fours and a two before it is a two by four is a two by four and because older homes built with two by fours have proven to be incredibly sturdy and rot resistant and strong that since we’re still building with two by fours, so quote unquote, we’re building with the same quality.

But in point of fact, the new dimensional lumber we’re likely to get from a lumberyard. Certainly the kind you’re gonna get from Home Depot, not more local based lumber yard is not anywhere near the quality of what you’re going to find hidden inside the walls of your mid-century house, or the rafters. And so the more that we can preserve and work with the structure of our original house, the better off we are. And the more that we can keep this great old growth lumber out of the landfill, the better our moral character in the world.

So this has been a two by four has changed over time, just like everything else has. And I hope that you have a little fun with this. Maybe I’ll throw an image in Instagram today or, in my story to talk about the ring density, you can see it’s absolutely visible to the naked eye from something from like the early 1900s to the 1950s still good quality at that point. And as we tail off into the 60s into the 70s. And beyond the quality, the grain density of our two by fours really goes down. So if you’re curious about this, I will link to a blog post I myself once wrote about it for another an older blog of mine. And you can find that and the rest of the show notes the transcript of this whole episode at mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1707.

So as we get into these questions about materials about matching metals about picking the right stain and green type for mid-century wood about countertop choices, anything material, all of the finished picking, we hit on a problem that I talked about at the live speedy strategies workshop that was aired on the podcast last week, which is that it’s inherently really challenging to plan a remodel for a number of reasons, many of which are related to the idea of too much and too many.

There are too many people involved in a remodel project for you to be able to hold the idea in your head and then easily sort of spit out the necessary things to people before they need to know them. There are too many options available on the internet to be able to easily point and pick any individual item a faucet a handle, a stain or green color.

The possibilities are too many to pick them one at a time. And so because there are so many individual decisions that you need to make and then communicate during a ramp remodel, it’s not possible to calmly address them in an orderly fashion as one offs unless you make that your full time job. Now when I worked in high end custom residential remodels in Chicago. Coming up on a decade ago, I followed the conventional design services model for many of my clients.

This is not the way we work at Mid Mod Midwest. Our masterplan services are unlike the traditional architectural service model, which starts at a schematic design a rough layout options takes us through design developments prepares documents detailed enough to get multiple bids from multiple contractors and then goes forward from there to prepare the detailed construction documentation set that includes not just drawings of how every single detail and all the various floor plans and mechanical services will work together, but also a number of schedule.

Schedules being architecture speak for spreadsheets.  Laying out the specific paint color, stain grain and wood type species for each piece of trim each door the handle and hinge hardware, all the light fixtures, the plumbing fixtures, tile, flooring, materials, Windows specifications, and so much more.

If you picture the classic architect blueprint, even a simple residential remodel usually has two or more sheets at the end of the construction documents taken up entirely by these lists these spreadsheets these schedules, so this will be even more detailed in my computer where we would track supplier’s times pricing per square foot product length information. And some of these decisions will be made by and given to us by the client a few first things picked, and many more decisions were made on their behalf by me, and then checked with them in detailed finish meetings before passing them along to the contractor.

Now, I always enjoyed that material specification process. But even I found it overwhelming sometimes, and it was my literal full time job. So the way this is more likely to work for you. If you’re going through the process of having a general idea what you want to do hiring a general contractor with perhaps an in house design team.

And then moving forward with that person in that contract is you’ll have some thoughts you’ll share with them along the way. They’ll make some guesses and assumptions. You’ll see those turn up in the information they feed back to you about what they’re planning to do and what will cost and at some point, they will schedule a meeting with you they’ll probably call a selections meeting. And that’s where you sit down together and go over pick after pick after pick to confirm all of the materials in the house.

Now in some cases, they’ll be saying here’s what we want to do say yes. And another case they’ll be giving you a couple of options from their favorite supply house, and you’ll be choosing between them. But even in the most limited version of this meeting, if you haven’t planned and sort of previsualized your house properly beforehand, it can break your brain, it’s going to feel like running up a mountain intellectually.

And it’s going to feel fraught with compromises, hidden costs and unexpected decisions waiting for you like shark fins and choppy water. This can go wrong in a number of ways, which is why I’ve built so many systems to try to prevent my clients from ever encountering that moment unprepared. Because if you come to the selections meeting unprepared, you can feel really ambushed by the prices, you can feel just straight up overwhelmed by the number of decisions.

And that can lead to the sort of point and pick process which often has regrettable outcomes, you can be pushed into preferences of the contractor. Because of the some of the things they’ll be discussing with you based on the assumptions they already made about the way they want your remodel work or the way you want your model to look.

They can also push you into selections that are based on convenient relationships they have with specific suppliers in town that are not related to your preferences or needs at all. Not that that’s wrong, as long as it doesn’t diminish the quality of your choice, but it is limiting. And you will be locking yourself into these choices. Anytime you change your mind about these things after that selections meeting will result in a change order and added costs and probably also delay.

But the stress of that meeting, the choices you’ll make is the best case scenario, actually, because a contractor who’s less organized, or is in more of a self-management mode, won’t even set up one full comprehensive meeting about all of the materials together, they’ll just be asking you to make a few choices or making choices before you on a case by case basis or for partial credit, sometimes on a room by room basis.

And in that case, when you aren’t looking at the big picture of the project ever, before you make an individual decision, you can make what seemed like good choices at the time that lock you into other choices down the line without realizing that you may seriously regret. All of which is to say, the solution to this problem is to follow my simple style guide system. That’s what we’re going to be going through in detail at the more than a mood board workshop.

Again, some contractors will ask you to give them a mood board or prepare one for you. And think about that as the answer to the antidote to this situation. It isn’t it can’t be. But the style guide system will prevent you from feeling ambushed at a selections meeting or getting that random scattershot gun effect of just making a choice here and there as it comes up, which is always going to lead to last minute limitations in your options, and inappropriate choices for the house.

So we’ll be getting into that in detail a week from Saturday, I hope you’re going to be there. It’s going to be so fun.

But today I wanted to just dig in a little more topically on some of the case scenarios that come up for me all the time, because I get questions constantly. From Instagram from my master plan in a month and ready to remodel students from my clients asking the right countertop material, the right metal the right wood.

If you’ve ever asked me a question via Instagram, the way I respond depends on several things. If it was easy and obvious in my head to answer your question, and I was sitting at my desk when I was doing it when I opened my Instagram DMS I may have just told you the answer. If you caught me in a more complicated situation, or if I was checking Instagram on a weekend, I may have messaged you that I don’t have the capacity to do individual responses for people. It really does depend on my mental state. So sometimes it’s worth it.

I’m not encouraging you to send me an Instagram DM with your design specific questions because I have consultation calls available for that. But I do hear these questions they add up in my head and I want to give people answers. So this podcast is the best way for me to efficiently give a lot of good feedback on how to think about this. I also get follow up questions from masterplan clients who have hit a certain point in their remodel, where even though they have a general vision for how they want their materiality ago, they have an uncertainty. They get shaken in their vision, they have options presented to them by a contractor, or they just didn’t think quite through far enough.

Until now, the right moment to make a comprehensive big picture choice for your material selections is wherever you are in the moment. Whether that is years before you even begin your remodel, or in the middle of everything with drywall dust swirling around you on the floor, it’s still the right time to pause and take a big picture approach to take a style guide approach to any individual question.

So a couple of things that have popped up in my inbox literally in the last couple of weeks. I recently got a message from a client who’s been moving along in their project for a while now and is DIY executing most of the work within their own household so fun, it’s going to come together really nicely and I am beyond excited for them. One of the areas of the work they farmed out though is the work of custom built ins for their kitchen and for their entry area. This is an obvious part of a project handoff if you’re DIY, unless you want to make home improvement your entire personality. I don’t really recommend doing your own finished carpentry, carpentry and build hands.

But um, so they still have some involvement in this. They’re gonna be installing these pieces they’ve been working around them with a trim and the other choices. But when my client got in touch with me, they’ve already ordered and had installed themselves, the built ins for the kitchen. It’s coming together beautifully. And now they’re moving forward to the next phase of the project, which is the living room and the entry.

Yeah, they had a couple of new surprises. So they had chosen sort of, because it was a brand new area it needed a total gutted had been previously remodeled poorly in the kitchen. They felt open ended enough to choose their favorite wood material for their kitchen cabinets. Those are going to be walnut, and they’re coming together so nicely. But now they have a new area of buildings in the front entry. And this is more visually connected to the existing wood in the house, it’s you can see a bunch of window trim from this space. And the windows in the house are that classic pine clamshell shape. With amber Shellac finish. They’re warmer and lighter than the walnut that’s going on in the kitchen cabinets. So the question is, what should they do?

Should they choose a new finish for the cabinets in the hall? You can’t really see both spaces together, but they do feel related? Should they match to the existing wood trim? Or should they match to the choice they’d already made in the kitchen? And honestly, I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer for them. When I chatted with him about it, we talked through the possibilities of either thinking we wanted all the new materials to feel consistent.

And in that case, since this new entry building was going to be surrounding one window, but far away from the other windows in the room, I recommended that they could consider painting the trim of that one existing window white to match the wall so that it wouldn’t be a direct adjacency conflict with Walmart if they wanted to go with the same walnut built in for the kitchen and the entry.

Or they could choose to do a warmer tone stain closely matched to the window trim for the entry built in and just have the same shape of cabinet doors and, and so on. So the question is always going to come down to what works well in the room, and what works well in the house. And while it’s absolutely always possible, and I’ve said this many times before, to have more than one material going on in a house, I’d say for whatever you’re dealing with wood metal tie tiles may be a different example.

But a brick or a stone, you want to have two, maybe three Max variations of that material in the house. So three different metal colors in all the rooms in the house that you default to for handle hardware, light fixtures, transition strips on the floor and more. And then when one room or one sort of area of open spaces, you probably want to have no more than two.

But that isn’t necessarily two specific materials, it might be just sort of with wood, it might be two types of stain color. So if the floor and all the original wood trim is that warmer, it might be both oak and pine, but it has that warmer Amber tone, you can introduce a new metal that’s darker and cooler. As long as they play nicely together.

The second rule of thumb for putting materials together is to hold up samples of the two types of materials in the real space in natural light. If one of them makes the other look worse, or they both make each other look bad, then one of them is the wrong choice. But as long as they can play nicely together, you’re going in the right direction. So when you feel like you’ve done this, like my past client, you picked one material and it’s led you into a troublesome corner, you can always just step back, step back and try to take the big picture fuzzy view of the entire house to check it for coherence and consistency.

And in that stepped back view, it’s easier to avoid conflicts like this in the first place or to resolve them. Because sometimes you do find yourself painted or stained colored into a corner, then you have to make a few choices. So when you’re troubleshooting you can think about what is your what is your most important thing, what are you trying to match or coordinate other things to it might be something that’s already originally decided to the house like the original, universal trim stain color. That might be the most important thing.

And so everything else needs to play nicely with that no matter what because you don’t want to retrain the entire house. Or it could be that you want to make one new choice, your favorite choice you love the walnut the most for another client different situation. We had a house that had been basically a time capsule, and it had been really nicely finished in its original incarnation with a lot of wood paneled walls and wood trim. But in all the social spaces the wood panel on the walls had been it was a slightly artificial finish might have been Luan entirely. And so it had kept its original coloring pretty accurately as far as we could tell. But for some reason, the natural wood trim throughout the entire house had been stained with a finish that had gone yellow over time it had lightened, faded and almost green.

I’ve seen this happen in a couple of cases. I don’t know what original material combination of stains turns green over time, but there is one or several And it’s happened in a couple of the houses we come up with. When all the original trim work in the house is kind of a sickly yellow green. The client and me both feel less attached to it. So we had a couple of options for how this could be remedied how they could fix this weird contrast and sort of like a light, sickly outline around all of the original wood paneling.

The paneling looks good, although it wasn’t solid wood, and the trim looked terrible. So we workshopped some options in my workshop. I mean, we photoshopped and we put together some sketches of various things, we could remove all the paneling and keep the trim, we could keep the trim as is with a white wall chosen very specifically to try to be the best sort of color compromise to the yellow green trim, we could preserve the panel and replace the trim with something new that was stained to match it properly.

We could return we remove the trim and paint it and put it back how it was sending up a new condition, it would still be kind of an outline, but we would focus our attention on the original wood paneling. Now in the end, because of some other reasons, we decided to elevate the living room ceiling, because we had the ability to bring it up to closer to the roofline. And it really transformed the space. That meant all that original wood panel was only going to come up partway. And we really wanted to emphasize the new height by having paneling go all the way up.

So the decision they made was to raise the ceiling. Yes, that’s their prime decision actually. And because they didn’t love the original wood paneling, and they really didn’t love the original woodwork that had gone off, they decided to replace all of it with a new, darker stained trim, and replace all of the wood panel with a new slat wall design done in the same type of dark walnut stain that their new kitchen cabinet system would be in.

So the entire social floor of the house being done at one time would have a new type of woodwork that was neither the original trim nor the original panel. This isn’t always the right choice. But in this case for the work they wanted to do the way they wanted to change the shape of the house the way they were changing the entire layout of the kitchen. They had enough start from scratch energy happening that it made sense for that space.

Now the question will be as they work their way upstairs to their Phase Two project for the owner suite and the bedroom area. They have no wood panel up there. But they do have the original trim, they may choose to paint that they may choose to re stain it might be easiest to stain it darker to match the what’s happening on the social floor, or to replace it with a new trim that picks up the wood stain and green tones of the downstairs area. So this is a different compromise. The right answer is always going to be based on what you’re doing for you.

But if you’re thinking about wood, let’s talk about some rules of thumb. If you want to create consistency, again, you don’t have to have one type of stain and grain for the whole house. But you do need to minimize the number of new materials you’re bringing into the house, particularly if you’re trying to preserve any of the existing ones. So again, goal is no more than three wood species visible in the main areas of the house and ideally two per room.

For your mid-century oriented wood choices, you’re looking for a warm tone, generally whether it’s light and warm or dark and warm, you don’t want anything with a cool undertone to the woodgrain or the stain you’re looking for if you’re trying to be preservationist that ampere, shellac on Pine effect, it’s honey-ish, it’s warm. And not every single piece of wood in the house needs to come from the same tree but you want to feel like it’s part of the same family.

You can go darker if you tip towards the walnut choices, but you want to avoid going too dark and you also with the dark woods want to avoid anything with a really strong grain pattern. So, uh, contrast between the darkest part of the wood and the lightest part of the wood is going to give an old timey feeling of farmhouse, a craftsman of Victorian style. Joseph in a lot of 80s era remodels. So you may see that in a mid-century house that’s been remodeled in the mid periods. And that’s going to happen most often in Oak but several other options.

And for those of us who love mid-century, even if we’re modernizing it, you want to avoid anything to blonde because the lightest words are always going to read as more contemporary. It’s going to call up an idea of Scandinavian minimalism, modernism sort of industrial chic, so raw plywood and exposed to buy can be fun and playful, but it’s not the right choice for mid-century home.

So your rule of thumb of general species to play with is going to be pine Beech maple in a pinch, all with a warm, darkening stain put on them, or a walnut or a teak if you want to go darker and a little bit more high end.

But remember, with all finished choices, and particularly when you’re in conversation with contractors or material selectors, they’re going to assume you want the nicest things and they’re going to want to a bigger percentage of a high price material. They’re going to suggest luxury finishes to you  – marble, very high end wood types, but you don’t need to go high end to get a good result most builder grade mid-century homes were finished with oak floors and pine trim and cabinets and plywood for whatever they could.

So stay away from the oak, the cherry, the poplar, the hickory and the bamboo. But generally speaking, feel free to make good quality builder great choices. And know that remember the mid-century era is all about the practical, the playful, the easy to live with choices, not the high end ones.

This is absolutely true for metal choices as well. Let’s get into our rules of thumb for making metal choices. Again, I would say you don’t have to choose the same metal for every room in the house. And you don’t have to limit yourself even to one metal per room. Even a small room like a bathroom can have two things happening in the metal family at the same time. I wouldn’t go to more than two for one room and I wouldn’t go to more than three for the whole house.

You want a theme and it’s going to help you it’s going to boil down your choices is going to let you rule things out which is what you want when you’re dealing with that too many too much problem of material selections. But when you’re thinking about what kind of metal to choose, you’re going to ask what already exists in the house if anything, if you have any unmodeled areas.

Think about what was common at the time. And then you need to ask yourself what is your mid-century style? Era preference? Are you more preservationist? Did you score mid-century vintage on the mid-century style quiz? Or are you updating and upgrading still within the mid-century umbrella, and in that case, you’re gonna make different choices with those two responses.

In an original particularly a 1950s mid-century house, there’s two things you’re gonna see you’re gonna see stainless steel and brass or bronze, stainless steel probably for all the bathroom fixtures and for hardware, maybe in kitchens and bathrooms. And then throughout the house you might find a brass or bronze hardware on doors, windows hinges, that sort of thing.

Now, buyer beware, I just said brass or bronze but that doesn’t mean you should go to the store today to get brass or bronze labeled items to replace into your mid-century house. They are an entirely different animal. Modern brass and bronze fixtures and finishes are going to be an anodized finish. That means they will have the sheen and the shine that they have forever. They will never get that lovely patina, which we appreciate and a mid-century brass original door handle or hinge.

So the kind of update that’s labeled mid-century style on the internet or in a sort of home shelter magazines will often choose rather than using stainless steel finishes they’ll choose a warm tone metal, a brushed brass or a rose gold for an updated bathroom for a kitchen to hit that same warm tone we get from the brass of the bronze in the original mid-century finishes.

So I would recommend this to you only if your style quiz results are modern mid-century and not if you’re interested in preservation for people who want a time capsule house, stainless steel is your choice. That was the hot new material. At the time the mid-century houses were being built. And they actually regarded the brass the bronze that we that I personally love myself as the builder grade finish as the lower end.

To them the future the Space Age choice that was stainless because it was stainless. It didn’t need to be polished it didn’t need the same sort of treatment and high end care that older things did. It was easy low maintenance and playful all of the things in love in a mid-century house.

When you’re branching out from stainless or brass bronze, you want to avoid anodized brass is going to read 80s or Victorian. You want to avoid brushed nickel, any matte finished silver metal is going to read intensely early 2003 model now and forevermore. I’ll caveat this, I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me to tell me that their home contains original hardware in a brushed nickel finish, and they’ve got the evidence to prove it. Photos exist. It did exist but it’s not common.

It’s never the choice I would recommend as a baseline unless that is already in the materials palette of your home. My best recommendation is to stainless it’s going to wear Well, it’s going to be easy to take care of and it’s never gonna date your house to a particular moment in time for the remodel. If you do have brass or bronze in the house you want to coordinate with like for example, if you’ve got original doors, you want to keep the original hinges, but you want to update all the door handle hardware, perhaps from knobs to levers for greater accessibility.

Then in that case, I’m going to point you towards something that isn’t labeled brass or bronze but has a matte finish that’s similar to the patina of original brass bronze and a mid-century house. That would be a matte black, a matte brown, a matte bronze or possibly an oil rubbed bronze finish when you’re looking at the labels on the boxes. But really, with metal in particular, you’re always going to want to go check your sources, you’re going to want to get a sample one by one object, take it to your house, see how it looks in the space. See how the color tone isn’t warm or cool as a yellow that’s showing up underneath the corners of the aged bronze, the oil rubbed bronze finish and how does it work with the existing metal in your house.

Again also when you’re choosing stainless is also a great choice because it’s pretty consistent by everyone’s products, but for anything else for a gold for brass or bronze for a mat, for an oil rubbed bronze, the same label from one company to another from a light fixture supplier to plumbing fixtures supplier may not look the same at all. So don’t believe what they say on the box, get a sample, get one of them, hold them next to each other in natural light in your house. And that will guide you.

Bottom line is bring it back to the style guide, bring it back to your big picture choices. And it will always help you simplify your individual product pics. We’ll talk about this more at the more than a mood board clinic. So let’s pull it together with a pep talk. Which is basically that I want you to always stand back from a choice when you have an individual product to pick an individual material or what species decision to make. You just step back and think about the bigger picture of the whole house.

This is where your style sheets are going to be absolutely essential. I had a fun email from a client this week. They are in the last stages of picking out materials for their amazing kitchen remodel, I cannot wait to see how this is going to turn out. But they’re feeling stuck on the last choice to nail down a countertop material, because they have a couple of options they like and they’re quite distinct indirection.

One is a bold terrazzo style pattern that I think has a lot of mid-century credibility to it, but might feel like it’s a little bit of this moment, looking back on it and time. The other is to go with a solid green and a solid surface material that actually without being a colored for mica has a really wonderful feeling of colored Formica and maybe is a bit more of a retro choice.

Now they were asking me specifically how this would go with a couple of choices. They had already made walnut cabinets, and a grey terrazzo floor, but not having the images in front of me I couldn’t really give them the answer they were looking for. Yes, pick this also, it is a matter of personal preference, my designer’s eye is only going to take you so far beyond what you yourself like, which is why I directed them the same, I’m going to direct you to the idea of a style sheet. In their case, I had already prepared them some sample style sheets, and they just needed to substitute in some materials to have a look at it.

But for you, you can put an array of the materials you know you’ve got locked in existing things in the house choices you’ve already made together with a new material or a couple of new materials and see how they look. In a fuzzy unfocused way when you stand back, when you cross your eyes, when you look at them together, do they blend does something stand out to something feel too cool or too warm, too loud, too noisy, sort of too boldly patterned, you should be able to get a better sense of the way it’s all going to work together.

When you can set the samples next to each other in real space in natural light. Or when you look at a style sheet and see how the different images and materials that together. This is always going to be the best approach. So whenever you feel stuck on how do I pick one thing, step back and think about what’s the type of logical choice I’m making? What kind of metal? What kind of wood? What kind of shapes what color family am I working from, and then focus back in?

And you may find that the specific options in front of you suddenly resolve themselves into a single definitive choice. So that’s where I’ll leave you for now.

But if you are feeling stuck on any kind of a material decision, I encourage you to bring your problems to the group come along to this amazing more than a mood board clinic we’re having a week from Saturday, on June 1, we are going to be going in great detail into how to get from things you like in the world, a neighbor’s house, a house you’ve seen on the internet, something at atomic ranch, and boil that down. Not just to how to copy and paste someone else’s home into yours, but how to essentialize their style, and then be able to fit it into your life in a way that works with the house you already have.

And with the budget you already have. Yes, style guides are intimately connected with budget. So I really hope you’re gonna join us for that, you will find all the details about that course what it involves to our time slot, it will be recorded, you’ve got access to the replay if you wanted, and the early bird price is still going through this weekend.

So go to mid mod dash midwest.com/clinic to get yourself all signed up or just to read about it a little more. You can find all the other references to everything I’ve said today at our show notes page. Also you’ll find a link to the clinic there at mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1707

And that is it for today. We’ll be back next week to talk about a topic I get asked about all the time. This is a huge frequently asked question for me which is how to and or should I replace the windows in my mid-century house.

This is something I’ve done for and with clients. I’ve done it on behalf of ready to remodel students. And I realized it was many times that I’ve answered that question for various people. I’ve never recorded a podcast episode about it. So I’m really excited to dig into windows with you the benefits some original windows and how to replicate them if you have lost them. And that’ll be next week see you then.

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