Trends are not your friend, Mid Mod lover.

22 min read Why avoid trends in remodeling? Because your taste and your home’s history matter more than what is current.

When it comes to updating and upgrading a mid-century home … trends are not your friend. You know this already. But the pressure to make the same choice as everyone else is SO STRONG. “What about the re-sale value?,” your well meaning advisors will anxiously wonder. But in reality, a timeless choice will always work better than a trendy one!

Here’s the most basic truth: Trendy =/= Timeless. And you don’t want to put all your energy, money and time into a remodel with an expiration date!

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The modern “mid-century” dream kitchen

23 min read Google’s modern mid-century kitchen is slab cabinets, sleek metals, minimalist hardware and simple geometric tile. But YOUR mid-century dream kitchen may differ because your kitchen, your rules.

The modern mid-century dream kitchen isn’t the kitchen that Lucy Arnez or Donna Reed or Carol Brady had. It also isn’t the kitchen you might find in vintage kitchen ads. And it certainly isn’t the kitchen you’ll find in most builder grade ranches. 

So what exactly is it then?

According to Google, it’s slab cabinets in warm wood tones, sleek metals, minimalist hardware and tile set in simple, geometric patterns.

According to home and garden media, it’s an open, busy social space.     

And both of those descriptions hold up! But YOUR mid-century dream kitchen may differ because your kitchen, your rules. 

You are actually the most important element in your mid-century dream kitchen. Your kitchen isn’t just a place to cook; it’s an extension of you! Whether you’re a mid-century purist or someone who loves blending eras, the key is to design a kitchen that works for your life and the way you want to live in your kitchen.

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Why are mid-century kitchens?

19 min read Aspirational mid-century kitchens inspired the kitchens we live in and love today.

In all seriousness … why ARE mid-century kitchens? We’ve chatted before about the history and socioeconomic drivers of the era. And about the default layout of an MCM kitchen and why it doesn’t work for our modern lives so well. But what were those mid-century modern folks really … going for? One thing that made them what they are was …

The TV kitchens that served as backdrops for our favorite mid-century TV families! These show kitchens often included features missing for the builder basic kitchens of the time (and still missing in many of our ranches!) 

After all, an average mid-century ranch, the kitchen was seen as a one-person space. A kind of a home office for a homemaker. In a TV show kitchen, it had to be a place where two people could hold a conversation! That’s something we like in a kitchen today!

So let’s dig into how aspirational mid-century kitchens influenced – and didn’t – the kitchens we live in and love today.

Psst !!! Before we dig into some SPIFFY and fun MCM kitchens of TV history … quick shout out for your best resource for updating your own mid-century kitchen to mid-century or modern glory. Don’t forget to save your seat for the Mid-Century Kitchen Clinic!

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Cooking with gas…ads and sponcon in remodeling “reality” shows. 

20 min read How did gas (and granite and stainless steel) come to seem like our only finish options? Blame it on the sponcon.

Certain elements seem to make it into every renovation. Think gas stoves, stainless steel finishes, professional grade appliances, countertop materials like granite and marble, luxury vinyl flooring. 

Want the most reliably biased remodeling advice around? Head for HGTV. In fact, pick up or turn on any mainstream piece of home and garden media. Now, try to separate expert advice from paid content. What you’ll find is a strong push toward well funded trends that dominate the industry.

Are these the best choices? Unlikely. Are they the best choices for you? Maybe. 

Continue reading “Cooking with gas…ads and sponcon in remodeling “reality” shows. “

The Power of Sketches

22 min read Sketching is the most important visual thinking tool you can use to plan your remodel. Sketches help you generate ideas quickly, explore alternatives without risk and avoid getting bogged down in the details too soon. And YOU CAN sketch…even if you have kindergarten-level drawing skills.

Sketching is the most important visual thinking tool you can use to plan your remodel. Sketches help you generate ideas quickly, explore alternatives without risk and avoid getting bogged down in the details too soon. And YOU CAN Sketch…even if you have kindergarten-level drawing skills.

Now when you think about a drawing that’s related to your remodel plan you are probably thinking of a blueprint. If you are, there are two things you need to know. One, blueprints haven’t been blue since, oh, before I went to design school. And two, they are the least interesting drawings in your remodel.

They also take months, years or even decades to complete depending on the complexity of the project. A sketch can be done in moments. It’s simple and yet surprisingly effective and evocative. 

And here’s why. It’s not just less, it’s centralized. It shows the details that matter and only the details that matter. A sketch is precise to the level that you create it with no expectation of accuracy. It allows us to talk about the shapes and forms of things, the overall relation of length and width.

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Filling in a funky kitchen

3 min read We filled in this kitchen for maximum cooking area, super storage, GREAT flow between spaces and room for multiple cooks.  

Here’s what we were dealing with: a funky 1990’s kitchen remodel that didn’t function well or feel right for the home. 

This 1955 home situated in a historic area is just one of many beautiful examples of mid century design on the block. The owners were hoping to turn back time a bit while adding features to make modern living easier. They hoped to transform the kitchen into an organized space where everything has a distinct place, while adding warmth and personal touches. 

Our goal was to highlight the original design features of the home – beautiful beams and a great layout – while re-allocating the main space to create a functional entry and cohesive, welcoming living spaces. We wanted to design a multi-cook and kid kitchen connected to the social spaces.

Our Funky Kitchen Solutions

This kitchen needs to do a lot.  It’s a cooking space (for multiple cooks), a social hub and an “everything” family  space. Our schemes tweak or modify an existing plan and improve the layout to give it a shine in both practicality and style! We focused on allowing for maximum cooking area, more storage, GREAT flow between spaces and a better way for two or more to gather around the island.  

SCHEME 1 – Fuller Within the Footprint

SCHEME 2 – A Bridge to Nearby Spaces

SCHEME 3 – Filled with Function

Can’t get enough of kitchens?

Thinking inside a box(ed in kitchen)

2 min read A clever layout shift may be all you need to take a shoebox kitchen from cramped to comfy.

Here’s what we were dealing with: A tight kitchen with very little space for expansion, a desperate lack of storage and out-of-date appliances.

This splendid architect designed 1964 home was nestled in a neighborhood of similar unique builds. The original single-cook kitchen tucked into a corner between stairs and exterior walls. Beautiful original paneling created warm social spaces in the adjacent dining and living area which opened onto a lovely in-ground pool.

Our goal was to pack in as much functional storage as possible while opening up the space to accommodate two cooks a little more comfortably. With little space for expansion, we worked within the existing footprint and discreetly snagged some space from the adjoining utility closet.

Our Solutions

Our three schemes show creative options that stay (mostly) inside the box. Condensed full-height built-ins give huge flexibility for storing kitchen wares or hiding appliances. Cleverly designed built-in furniture in front of a window can be a way to increase storage while maintaining natural light. A mini-island adds bonus storage plus a shareable work surface.

SCHEME 1 – Mini-Island/Maximum Storage

SCHEME 2 – Generous Galley

SCHEME 3 – User-Friendly U-Shape

Looking to break out of your kitchen planning box?

Best of Our 25 Days of Design

This week we’re revisiting the best of our 25 days of design in hopes of sparking your sense of wonder about your home, boosting your remodel confidence and providing concrete advice on making your 2023 remodeling dreams come true.  

‘Tis the season! Around the holidays, everyone likes to add a little charm to their home. Shortening daylight makes us think about how to maximize the comfort and joy inside. Bringing out seasonal decorations makes us take a fresh look at the space where we spend our days and share holiday traditions. As well it should – we need a recurring chance to reevaluate how well our homes suit our lives!

This season of revelry and reflection is a great opportunity to dream a little bigger than holiday decor. While you’re thinking about how to make your house merry and bright for the season, let’s also think about how to improve it in the medium and long-term!

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A kitchen to connect everyone – inside and out

3 min read We designed kitchen options to connect everyone in the main social spaces of this 1954 stunner, plus to the outdoor entertaining area and lake views.

Here’s what we were dealing with: the classic closed off mid-century kitchen … but also it was re-finished in 90’s beige. Yikes!

The rest of the house was pretty stunning. Built in 1954, this architect-designed home already had both a unique beauty and an amazing location, nestled next to Lake Michigan. The owners have plans to make the most of the yard by adding a pool and asked us to design main floor options to optimize indoor and outdoor flow. 

Our goal was to make the most of the layout to create a flowing, open living and social space. Improve the flow between outside and inside space to connect out to the yard and (future) pool beyond. Create a flowing, open living and social space to contrast with a pleasantly separated office / studio wing.

Our Connected Kitchen Solutions

Each scheme improves flow between outside and inside spaces to transform and expand social spaces and to connect out to the yard and (future) pool beyond. We also provided options for grab and go storage at entry points to make coming and going a breeze.




Can’t get enough of kitchens?

How Do I Pick a Mid Century Faucet? (Or any other finish material for my remodel?)

14 min read If you’re struggling to pick out a mid-century faucet (or any other part) of your remodel … start right here!

What should you do when you can’t make up your mind, when finding a mid-century faucet seems impossible?

Before I get into that: ARE YOU SIGNED UP FOR THE FREE MASTERCLASS? IF NOT, WHY NOT? Come (LIVE) on Saturday 27th at 11am central or watch the On Demand Replay as soon as the class is over.

The abundance of choice is a HUGE factor in feeling in over your head when you are trying to choose finishes for your home update.  With the entire internet at your finger tips … or even the plumbing supply show room that your plumber directed you to … you can feel like anything is possible and nothing is certain. 

Avoid Remodeling Overwhelm with a plan: get Help at this weekend's mid-century master plan master class!

Here’s the thing though – only a few of these myriad options are actually going to be right for your style and your house when you get right down to it.  

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