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”

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”

Micro Update: DIY Frosted Glass House Numbers

2 min read Sometimes when you can’t decide on either the high, or the low, version of available products, the only option is to DIY.

When I painted last fall, I stripped off the mailbox, lights and house numbers.  I’ve got the new box and lights in place but was having a hard time deciding on the right kind of numbers.  The commercial options were either blah, or a little pricy for my budget.

Here’s how I split the difference and created my own solution.  It highlights the original mid-century front door, enhances privacy, simplifies the entry and glow cheerily at night. Continue reading “Micro Update: DIY Frosted Glass House Numbers”

Micro Update: High/Low Mailbox and Entry Lights

2 min read Fans of modernism all know that sometimes you have to pay through the nose for minimalism and great design … and sometimes you get away with the cheapest option in the shop. In this case, it was both.

I removed the original lights, house numbers and mailbox when during the painting process and could never bring myself to put them back on the house.  I went through several weeks where the poor postman had to deliver to a the old box propped on the stoop. Continue reading “Micro Update: High/Low Mailbox and Entry Lights”

Favorite front doors to emulate

2 min read The front entry is like your home’s face.  It can have a friendly aspect or be forbidding.  You want to make a good impression with it and yet its easy to miss the mark.  Don’t loose a chance to make your entry shine.

Here are a few of my favorite front door samples from the area going from simple to strong.  A few are even architect designed, but some just have the same paint on their door, mailbox and house numbers.  You don’t need a big budget for a fun front door. Continue reading “Favorite front doors to emulate”

The Ranch House in Madison, Wisconsin

2 min read The post war housing boom changed the character of American residential life in ways that still influence our daily lives now. In Madison, you can see the different “types” of post war houses, spread across neighborhoods on the east (mostly cape cod) and west (mostly ranch) sides of town.

The first post war housing boom spread out toward the manufacturing districts on Madison’s east side, filling in housing between Milwaukee and Atwood Avenues and on the west, filling in beyond Midvale Boulevard as several farms were converted into housing developments.


The “Ranch” house form lagged slightly behind the classic Levittown style “Cape Cod” in Madison’s development.  The first houses to be added in these areas – in the first boom area from 1945 on – were the steep roofed Cape Cod styles sitting compactly centered on their lots. Continue reading “The Ranch House in Madison, Wisconsin”