Why you need some updates to get a modern mid-century kitchen RIGHT

7 min read The definition of a true mid-century era kitchen is not the laminate counter tops and pastel appliances.  You can recognize a classic ranch kitchen by its layout and by the driving philosophy behind it.

The “retro” look of an original kitchen can charm you or turn you off but the important updates needed for a MODERN mid-century kitchen are much more than cosmetic.  Let’s talk about how kitchens (and the people who use them) have changed in the past 60 odd years!

Continue reading “Why you need some updates to get a modern mid-century kitchen RIGHT”

Fake Shutters are the absolute worst

3 min read Shutters once had a real function.  They were a security measure, a way to close up houses safely at night or when the occupants were away. But they serve no purpose on a modern house. Please don’t glue fake shutters to your siding!!!

So here’s the thing.  Almost nothing makes me eye-roll harder in recent, residential design than badly-deployed fake shutters.  Fake shutters on ranches are even more irritating: not only don’t they work properly, they contradict the mid mod aesthetic!

Continue reading “Fake Shutters are the absolute worst”

Midcentury Style Frames Storytelling in Hidden Figures

7 min read Today, a breakdown of the Midcentury Modern style – both at NASA and at home – in one of my favorite recent movies: Hidden Figures.

I just re-watched Hidden Figures.  It is a fantastic movie that checks all my boxes: painful-but-inspiring untold underdog history about nerd girls who are determined to show everyone what they can do.  Plus, it is beautifully shot with a fantastic soundtrack and some really great acting. What more could I ask?

If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this blog post and go stream it RIGHT NOW.  Continue reading “Midcentury Style Frames Storytelling in Hidden Figures”

Internet “MidMod” kitchens are more Modern than Midcentury

5 min read The definition of a true MCM kitchen is not the laminate counter tops and pastel appliances.  You can recognize a classic ranch kitchen by its layout and by the driving philosophy behind it.

I recently came across a list post of gorgeous midcentury modern kitchens to emulate.  As I scrolled, I realized they had one thing in common – clearly none of them were actually midcentury kitchens.  So today I’d like to break down the differences between a kitchen built in the midcentury era, and those done in a midcentury style, now.  Continue reading “Internet “MidMod” kitchens are more Modern than Midcentury”

Harold Bewick: Builder of My Ranch

2 min read A little insight into my ranch’s inception. It, along with some 300 other local homes, was built in 1952 by a local contractor. Today, I find out a little more.

My ranch was built in 1952 by one Harold Berwick.  The permit – left with some other house papers in a basement cabinets – lists him as “owner” rather than contractor but he never occupied the space, just developed it on spec and passed it along. He apparently did a super speedy job of construction.  Continue reading “Harold Bewick: Builder of My Ranch”

What came before: The Bungalow and Ranch Side by Side

6 min read Today I consider the similarities and differences between two closely related building types, the Chicago Bungalow and the Midwestern Ranch. What can one teach about the other?

These two building types are very closely related.  Specifically, the Chicago Bungalow is very closely related to the Midwestern or “tract” Ranch.  They each share an older  California cousin which features more variation, more drama and was originally designed as one-offs by architects.  They are similar in square footage, in class and in initial cost. Their differences are useful in highlighting the modernism and innovations of the ranch type.  Let’s look more closely!  Continue reading “What came before: The Bungalow and Ranch Side by Side”

Mid-Century for the Kids in your life

< 1 min read Visiting my friend Malea last weekend, I took a chance to peruse her amazing collection of children’s books.  I was reminded how very traditional the architecture shown in most children’s books is … and how much it doesn’t have to be. 

These would make a great gift list if you were looking to hook any kids or young-at-heart friends on Mid-Century Modern this Christmas.

Here are three great kids books that show off the exuberance of Mid Mod.  Continue reading “Mid-Century for the Kids in your life”

In other News: Just Gave a Talk on Underhill at the MREA Energy Fair

3 min read Saturday, I gave  a lecture at the MREA Energy Fair in Custer, WI about the joy of working with my parents to design their timber frame, straw bale, passive solar house, Underhill, completed four years ago.  Here’s some of what I said.

If you happened to attend that lecture, the work I’m doing now might seem very different.  After all, remodeling a 1950’s ranch LOOKs pretty dissimilar to building a timber frame, sod roofed house from scratch.  However, I feel strongly that both projects come from the same place – a desire to use buildings to live lightly on the earth.   Continue reading “In other News: Just Gave a Talk on Underhill at the MREA Energy Fair”

Cliff May and the Origins of the Ranch House

3 min read Cliff May was an artist: a saxophone player turned furniture designer who inspired a modern housing movement. Today I meditate on his 1946 style book, Western Ranch Houses.

For my birthday, I took a break from scraping and re-painting from precariously balanced ladder platforms … just kidding, I was up and painting on the platform at 7am.  However I did STOP at 8:15 when I hit the milestone of getting the second coat of paint on all the area that needs a ladder jack platform to reach.  Then I took the rest of the day off from manual labor.  Instead went down to campus to the Kohler Art Library to (metaphorically) check out Cliff May’s 1946 Sunset Western Ranch Houses.  Continue reading “Cliff May and the Origins of the Ranch House”