How do I un flip my mid-century house?

26 min read Straight outta the DM’s “Do you have an un-flip quick start guide?” If you’re wondering what there might be to salvage about your farmhouse flipped mid-century house, the short answer is there’s plenty.

I encounter many brutal flip examples of mid-century homes through both students and clients. Kitchens that look like a Home Depot display. Vast expanses of gray LVP flooring. So many six panel doors. Like so, so many. 

What do you do when someone beat you to the mid-century home of your dreams and stripped the charm right out of it? Can you ever go back? Well, sure you can. And you may even find that the flippers did you a few favors. 

One of the things about a flipped house is that it becomes hard to see what is possible. And to hone in on what could change when it isn’t possible to roll the whole thing back. 

In Today’s Episode You’ll Hear:

  • How to de-farmhouse your fireplace. (Sadly, you probably won’t be able to unpaint the brick.) 
  • Strategies for deciding which changes to invest in undoing/redoing and which to work around.
  • Quick changes that will shift you homes’ feel from farmhouse flip to mid mod fab. 

Where do I start the un-flip

Step one is to assess what went right with the flip. A flipper may have done you a layout favor or two. Maybe they removed a wall to create the open concept kitchen and living space you were hoping for. Or perhaps they turned a closet into a small en suite for the primary bedroom. Take the win here! (Even if you aren’t in love with the finishes.) 

They may have also done you dirty is some spots. You’re not unpainting that brick fireplace. Sorry. I know. Cry it out and move on. 

Use Mid Mod Cornerstones to build back

Once you’ve resolved yourself to the un-undoable, use the Cornerstones of Mid Mod Design as your guide to make changes.

mid mod design cornerstones guide: learn about asymmetry, simple shapes, the mix of materials, and flow between spaces in a great mid mod home update

The Four Cornerstones are: asymmetry, simple playful shapes, the right mix of materials, and flow between inside and out.

With these design tools in mind, think about which elements most bother you most about the flip …. and which you need to change right away.

While every house and every flip is it’s own special snowflake, there are some pretty common (changeable) elements of a flip. 

Focus on removing these classic flip details

Nothing says early 2010’s flip like:

  • fake six panel doors
  • unnecessary crown or very detailed molding
  • shaker cabinets
  • LVP Flooring (current trend is a gray or grayish beige)

If you’ve got flooring that’s working fine that you don’t love, but you have other priorities you want to deal with first, cover up the floor. Get some rugs you love and move on. 

Next, remove or camouflage anything that seems too decorative or fussy (simple shapes!)

Can you remove the added trim and molding? Go for it! If it’s unpainted quality wood, do someone with the right house for that trim a solid and donate it to your local salvage spot. 

Not ready for all that patching? If it’s already painted, paint the wall and trim (and even a cabinet you don’t love) the same color so they draw less attention. 

Can you trade out the doors? This is also a great salvage opportunity. And slab doors are readily available at reasonable prices. Match the stain to any unpainted existing wood (or the wood tone you’ve added to your style guide). 

If a full kitchen redo is not an option, consider refacing the cabinets with slab front doors and drawers. You can also switch out pulls and knobs for something simpler. 

Now look to the details like lighting and decor to add a mix of materials to the spaces. Pull from your style guide for metals and wood tones to echo through the spaces.  

Listen Now On 

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Resources to Un Flip your MCM

And you can always…

Read the Full Episode Transcript

Here’s a question pulled right out of my Instagram DMS. Just wondering, do you have an un- flip quick start guide? I know it’s near impossible to replace mid-century materials like that wide plank siding. But there are some things to fix a farmhouse flip, maybe some folks out there that have bought or will buy these don’t know where to start. Since it can seem daunting to undo things. I feel so lucky that well, my house had renters leaving in disrepair, the original good features are all still there.

What a fantastic question. Thanks for putting it so succinctly. Megan, because I do deal with the question of unclipping all the time, I work on master planned designs for clients who have farmhouse flipped homes, students in the ready to remodel program deal with a situation pretty commonly.

And I get questions like this coming in from the world all the time. So if you’re wondering what there might be to salvage about your farmhouse flipped house, the short answer is there’s plenty. And the long answer is we’ll get into the house and the whys and the what to do first. Next, I won’t be able to give you a 123 guide because every house is flipped a little differently.

But I want you to feel confident that there are things you can salvage and enhance, perhaps make better than they ever were on a mid-century home, even if someone has come in and given it a full farmhouse treatment. Hey there, welcome back to Mid Mod Remodel. This is a 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 1711.

Before we get into that, let’s talk about mid-century history. And our history snippet today is going to focus on the topic of plywood in mid-century homes. Now plywood is actually a material way older than the mid-century era. But it’s something that people worry about today. They feel like plywood is a low quality material.

And this may absolutely come up if you are dealing with reversing a flip on your home. A lot of people I speak to about their mid-century homes have bad feelings about plywood and engineered wood in their homes. They’ll tell me that the paneling in their basement isn’t real pine, it’s some sort of paddleboard or they’ll note that they need to replace their kitchen cabinets, even though they’re original because they’re made out of plywood.

And sure, the basement panel and those kitchen cabinets may need replacing if they’re starting to fail, but they don’t need to be replaced just because they’re plywood. Similarly, some people feel that they shouldn’t love mid-century vintage furniture they find as much as they do because it isn’t real wood, they have veneered surfaces. That’s actually not a problem at all.

Mid-century furniture and furniture from earlier eras often had a surface that was a veneer. And that makes it no less high quality if it’s well done, as long as the veneer is well applied creatively installed and in good shape. So for today’s snippet, let’s talk about the history of plywood and how it shows up in mid-century homes. Particularly even in high end architect designed mid-century homes in ways you might want to emulate or that you might want to preserve.

Now a simple definition of plywood is that it’s an engineered product made of three or more plies of wood sheets of wood, they’re finely shaved slices of wood grain that are glued and pressed together in opposing directions. So if the grain goes up and down on the outermost ply, it’ll run side to side on the innermost ply. And then on the backside top to bottom again, the more layers that are glued together, the stronger and the thicker it becomes.

We can get units sheets of plywood in very large sizes four feet wide by eight or 12 or longer in length, and use them for sub floor for finished surfaces for structural bracing and for furniture or built-ins. Now plywood originally came from inventions made in the 1800s. So it’s way pre the mid-century era. But by the mid-century years, there were two reasons why plywood was starting to become a very popular home construction material.

Now, one was practicality, we were starting to tap out the resources that were easily accessible. Old hardwood could only serve some of the purposes we had used to use it for. This was also though an era when people were just excited about factory produced materials, engineered standards, things that might perform better or differently than the handcrafted things that occurred before.

Plywood became a standard of the construction industry in the same time that we started to use four by eight sheets of drywall, manufactured attic trusses, and off site built pre-assembled units for built-ins. But we tend to think of plywood as the thing you get at Home Depot to use as a sub floor and then put better finishes on top of. But plywood can also be a very efficient way to use a precious material.

For example, if you live in an Eichler house, you should be so lucky and you’re trying to restore it you may find that the wooden panels have been painted over or fully removed and replaced with drywall. You want to reinstall that idea of being surrounded by mahogany wood grain. If you do that, you will not be purchasing solid chunks of mahogany. Instead, you would get well constructed sheets of mahogany plywood.

And only a front facing ply would be made of the outermost material. The other layers would be designed to reinforce and support it so you can use the minimum amount of a beautiful material for a finished surface.

Now, plywood, though, is way more than just a way to use less of a particular type of wood. It also has the capacity to do things that other solid materials can’t do. During World War Two era, Ray and Charles Eames experimented with plywood, and designed among other things, and easily stackable plywood leg cast that soldiers could use in the war and could be easily transported and repurposed. They also though, after the war created a whole array of fun, playful, curvy form furniture shapes.

Again, they weren’t inventing something that had never been done with solid wood before that wood furniture has probably been around as long as people in furniture had been around. But bent plywood furniture offers the ability to create fascinating organic forms with predictable precision.

Long story short, plywood has a place in the surfaces and finishes of your house. Don’t think of it as something that can only exist behind the walls underneath the floor. You don’t have to choose plywood, but you don’t need to rule out plywood things a hollow core door, a plywood structured piece of furniture, these can actually be quite beautiful and quite mid-century appropriate.

If you doubt that plywood can be beautiful, even in its revealed form even showing its edges to the world. Google two of my absolute favorite built in companies kerf and Plykea, you will not be disappointed. Oh speaking of Googling, I should put some links in the show notes. I will link it to kerf and Plykea but I will also link to a video of how plywood veneers, those thin layers that get glued together, are removed from a piece of wood. You’re going to watch this video multiple times. I’m almost certain about that.

Okay, so let’s just long story short say that plywood is very utilitarian material that can also be very beautiful. Don’t be afraid of veneer. And don’t be afraid of plywood as a finished product in your mid-century home. So as we talk about how to unclip how to bring the farmhouse back out of a mid-century home and bring the mid-century back into it, the most obvious free resource I can point you to is my cornerstones guide.

The four cornerstones of a mid mod remodel are asymmetry, simple shapes, a mix of materials that works and flow between spaces. And I put together a free PDF that explains these principles and gives you some examples, some jumping off points. Let’s see, last year, maybe the year before, it is an evergreen resource. If you haven’t got it yet, you absolutely want to get your hands on this go to mid mod dash midwest.com/cornerstones to download it and you’ll be able to follow along more effectively in this episode.

Towards the end, I’m going to talk about how these Cornerstone principles apply specifically to a house that’s been flipped and needs to un- flip. You can also find the resources you want and all of the other show notes, links, transcript and more at mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1711.

So one of the things that comes up when people are dealing with a house that’s been flipped is that it comes hard to see what is possible. And what could change, if everything isn’t possible, to change. Some original mid-century features, you can’t get back once brick has been painted, particularly a thick, sloppy coat of white to cover all the previous owners perceived imperfections, you’re not going to get that paint back off the brick.

Other painted surfaces are going to be hard to restore. Some things may have been torn off and thrown into the trash. So you can look at a house that has been flipped and farmhouse and feel like it’s impossible to know where to start. It may also feel like you don’t have the energy, the time the resources, the budget to make all the changes that could or should be made to house. So how can you compromise when everything needs to change?

You have to think about what is most important to you. And this is where I always encourage people that it’s not necessary to be a purist if some previous owner has gone in and put in functional choices like vinyl windows or vinyl plank flooring, and you don’t love it, but it’s not the thing you absolutely hate, then you don’t need my permission to focus your priorities elsewhere.

Even if you were to install the best of original style hardwood floors, I would still recommend you use area rugs to define and cozy up your space. So if you’ve got flooring that’s working fine that you don’t love, but you have other priorities you want to deal with first, cover up the floor you don’t like with rugs and move on.

You can also think about it being possible to change some parts of a flip without changing everything. This can be true on the whole house basis, but even room by room area by area. So if someone has come through and put in an inappropriate style of kitchen cabinet, you can remove and replace them again.

Or in a more moderate or budget friendly way, you can think about repurposing the cabinet boxes with new faces and new door and drawer fronts and perhaps painting a wood surface that you don’t like. You can preserve the countertop if it works. Or replace the countertop, if it doesn’t.

You can think about what are the pieces that most bother you, and what are the pieces that you need to change. You may even do this as a stopgap measure as a level one or Level Two project planning to take a bigger approach at the kitchen at a later date. But you can definitely tone down the effect of the previous flip in steps. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. So I want you to just think about the fact that you don’t have to treat each part of the house as having equal value, you can start from scratch.

So for example, if a flipped remodel has replaced all the original windows door and trim of the house, you can think about do we need to remove and replace all of it, maybe. But I would say you could start from the order of sort of most visible obvious thing, nothing says flip like the wrong fake six panel doors.

So if there’s one place, you’re going to spend on replacing something, I would say paint the inappropriate or if it’s been painted already the original trim to match the wall color to make it feel less prominent and spend your money on new slab replacement doors and stain them to match any original woodwork in the house or the wood that you’ve chosen for your mid-century style guide.

You’re not required to treat the whole house equally. Feel free to break the project apart into phases. Prioritize all of your lifetime resources for the house into the spaces that matter most to you. Or do the first project in the space where you spend most time and sort of work your way through it.

Answering questions about priorities and possibilities are deeply personal. For some people, the social part of the house, the place where everyone can gather and we’re hosting can take place is the keystone of home, anything else is less important. But for other people who spend their waking hours out of the house, having exactly the right space to wake up into and to go to sleep every day like matter much more.

So as always start with Dream. Think about what the most important places to you are. And then think about what the most expensive and dramatic changes you might make. And align those with the spaces you care about most whenever your time and budget or energy, or even hopefulness are limited focus on mitigating the damage and replacing or repairing a few key elements important to you in each important space.

Another way that flip s and flipping comes up is how to compromise when you are house hunting. This is a tough market; I was just recently chatting with my friend Adrian Kinney of mid mod Colorado. And I’m going to be sharing some of his thoughts with you on how to vendor yourself around a snug housing market soon.

But I’ll give you my opinion. In short, first, I’ve got a client who is looking to buy a house. She’s looking to buy her dream house and she’s not finding it in this tight market. So she’s wondering how to expand her search in what direction should she compromise? Should she pick a time capsule house that she loves, but that it’s too small, and then think about adding on to it to expand its parameters? Or should she find a house that has the sort of logistical parameters her family needs, but also comes with horrifying white subway tile and gray painted walls and the listing photos?

To her I recommended that she might have better luck finding a house that’s the right size and shape and trying to restore mid-century charm. Rather than building new entire containers, new floors, new foundation, new walls and roof for added space on a time capsule.

In every case, though, you want to think about what are the indicators of a well preserved house to you. What are the features? It’s not what’s right or wrong, it’s what’s going to catch your eye the most. And this may change as you educate yourself. But if you just can’t stand six panel doors, this is for me. I bring this up because for me, this is the thing that I cannot stand the most. That’s a replaceable thing.

Is it cheap to replace every door in the house? No, of course it’s not. But it’s sometimes easier to do that than to either live with it or to make bigger modifications to structure or add on entirely new space. So when you will have a flip in front of you either when you’re considering purchasing or your very own home that you have moved into. You want to start by being analytical. Not every flip is created equal.

So let’s assess it. How deep did these flippers go. Sometimes a flipper does their worst damage with paint, and other cases they’re prying off and dumps during all of the original features of the house. The kitchen the built ins, handles hardware doors, trim and more. To start from scratch with Home Depot, the aggressiveness of the flip is going to define how you approach your task. So in cases where the let’s say the laziness or the blindness to mid-century features of the original flippers might be our best hope.

If they just didn’t even see the mid-century features they may have left them alone, or they may have covered them. They may have popped up vinyl siding right on top of original wood. And if it didn’t happen that long ago, sometimes you can simply remove what they did and repair the original mid-century surfaces underneath. In this case, I’m thinking of an example of a past client of mine.

They were looking to make some overall curb appeal changes to their house. And they knew that one of the biggest attractions of it was the vinyl siding. But they did a little exploration. And they figured out that there was original hardwood siding underneath the vinyl. We couldn’t figure out why they even bothered to vinyl sign it because the woods seem to be in good shape everywhere we looked and then realized that there had been a small addition, expanding the dining room out into a little sunroom at the back of the house.

Now, obviously, that addition had needed new siding. And they probably got some quotes from their contractor, maybe a price break. Or maybe it just seemed logical to blend in the old edition, the old house with the new addition by resigning the entire thing.

This is not a decision I would have endorsed, but it was the choice that had been made more than a decade ago. This is what they discovered the original siding was there under the vinyl and it was in decent condition. So they took the vinyl siding back off again, they got to choose a new color and have the original wood painted and keep that charming mid-century pattern of a combination of horizontal and vertical pieces of wood siding that faced their street.

And then all they had to do was come up with a little bit of new siding that pleasantly complemented their existing siding for the addition which of course had never had anything as an outer surface but vinyl. Yay, happy ending. So this is just a hopeful possibility to put on your mid-century detective hat.

Get analytical about the way your house was flipped the philosophy of the flip, where they were tearing things off and replacing them or why they were just covering them up? Did they smack white paint onto too many surfaces, or did they completely remove and replace, there will be areas that you can’t fix.

You can’t get the white back off of brick as the saddest example. But there are other areas where you can just remove fake shutters, strip the trim around your doors and windows back to its original finish and stain it or at a minimum paint it to be the same color as the adjacent wall to minimize that cottage outline detail. And then, in my recommendation spring for renewed slab doors to replace the replacement fake six panel doors that literally every flipper seems to opt into, I just don’t understand it.

All right. So when you’re looking for a system, a philosophy, a quick start guide on flipping your home, I’m going to point you to the cornerstones. We’ve been talking about the why the how the what of flipping to read your flip for determination in depth and to a certain extent how to manage the depth of your own attempt to roll back the clock.

But when you figured out the extent to which you have the energy and the budget to reinfused mid-century style into your home, there are a couple of design moves you’re going to want to lean into.

When we’re dealing with a flip, you might be trying to roll the house back to its existing original condition, something like a bad cover up and you’re removing the covers. But it might be that to a certain extent, you’re introducing new mid-century inspired features where they were not in order to make up for a deficit that’s harder to address something lost in the flip or something that house never had to begin with.

In that case, I will point you to the same principles I would someone who was working on a time capsule house or trying to create new space added onto an existing mid-century house as they modify the layout or create more space in and around their home. That is the four cornerstones of mid mod updates. So remember, you can grab the free resource if you haven’t already downloaded it, you might want to get it right now. Go to mid mod dash midwest.com/cornerstones put your email in and we will send it to you.

In brief though, those cornerstones are asymmetry, simple shapes, the right mix of materials and flow between inside and out. So let’s take those in order. There is some asymmetry baked into pretty much every mid-century house, a front door on a mid-century house is not situated in the mirrored center, but on one side of the living area probably close to the garage. Or it’s situated to one side of the living room to accommodate the flow of bedroom private spaces on one side and social spaces wrapping around each other on the other.

If your mid-century house was designed with any distinction or architectural pedigree, it has a lot of asymmetry in its arrangement. Details of shelving units, the built ins around a fireplace the way a screen wall both separates and enhances the entry door and draws your eye to one side of the room. But in a flip, you can bet your bottom dollar that anytime the flipper had the opportunity to center and mirror something they did.

So step one is to take back all of those symmetrical centered decorative details right back off the wall. If someone for example, put up a mantelpiece over the fireplace, they probably chose something folky and colonial. And they may have drilled into the brick to do it. We’ll talk about why the shape of that faux mantle is the wrong one in a minute because it is but it’s probably also in the wrong position, the wrong arrangement of the room.

It’s centered over the firebox opening. I can see it right now. So you take it off, but you find that there are holes drilled into the brick to mount it, and you can’t fix those. So you could put back a new mantel but just make sure that when you do a it’s a minimalist rectangle. Check for simple shapes. It’s done in a woodgrain and stain that’s part of the material palette you’re trying to reintroduce to the house. Check for mix of materials. And be sure that it reaches further from the center of the fireplace in one direction than the other. Asymmetry.

How much in one direction depends on the room, the other elements that you’ve got, but you can play around with this, get some painters tape and experiment with what it feels like if it’s thicker.  If it’s higher or lower. if you can move the mountings. If it reaches out towards a window or towards some other shelving elements.

Maybe you add a couple of other shelves for books or art. Maybe you just place it on the wall in a way that leads your eye towards another built in element another surface or points you towards a window or wraps you towards the part of the room where conversations happen.

Let’s see where else might you find symmetry artificially forced onto a house? In the kitchen. So if someone has gone in all the way on replacing kitchen cabinets, they put in Home Depot boxes with you know that overly ornate fluted type of door or possibly shaker style doors with a little wooden outline. In either case, that’s not the right style for a mid-century house, you might think about fully re-removing the cabinets and replacing them again.

But if your budget is limited, you can be limiting yourself to just new door and drawer faces. But there might be a few places where you tweak the cabinet layout itself. Since un-flipping, a home is a lot about editing, you’ll end up just removing some of the upper cabinets that aren’t necessary.

And you might replace them with some handy Grab and Go shelving for cereal bowls or your commonly used ingredients and spices. When you do that, think about both the ergonomics of your kitchen, how you would prefer to reach for things and where they might logically be organized. But also the way you want to create more openness, or more sightlines, creating space to work on the counter below what had been over cabinets or a view line that gets you a better line of sight to a window.

Now, the cornerstone philosophies are always going to be constantly intertwined as you go through this process. Again, if what you’re needing to do is replace the door and drawer fronts, you’re bringing back simple shapes. And if you paint over the existing cabinet boxes, because they’re the wrong type of wood, or they’re a fake wood that just doesn’t read as real, you might be putting more paint into a house where you swore you would never go hungry again, oh, no, I mean, you swore you would never tolerate another unnecessarily white painted surface.

But the shelves that you put up in place of the cabinet, those could be stained wood in the grain and species of your renewed style guide. So this is a chance to modify materials, as well as the balance of the room and the combination of shapes that are showing up in it.

Alright, so I’ve already been talking about shapes. When I say simple shapes are right for a mid-century house. What do I mean by that? Do I mean the kidney shaped pool or a negotiate coffee table? Well, sure I do. Those are fun, atomic mid-century shapes at the high end of design, those are always going to contribute to a mid-century flavor in your home.

But if you’re devoting all your time and energy and budget to flipping a house, you probably don’t have a lot of resources to put into a new pool, or spring for high end original design or mid-century furniture. You’re trying to put out fires here. I know I get it. But you’re still on the watch for removing any overly complicated shapes that the flipper has introduced. And the simple type of profiles that is section cut forms that you can put in instead.

So for example, this is going to be most obvious in the doors and the trim. A notorious bad actor in any replacement remodel is that someone has come in and put in trim that has an overly ornate fluted shape, or perhaps in a in a farmhouse style flip just a big blocky square, and then they’ve painted the trim white to stand out in contrast from a wall color.

Now you can get overly complicated shapes that don’t obviously fit into a mid-century home introduced in any other era. If the kitchen was redone in the 80s, the 90s, the early 2000s Or just a few years ago, the odds are that the replacement kitchen cabinets don’t have those beautiful plywood slab fronts that the original kitchen did.

Similarly, if the doors are the trimmer on the doors, the windows and floor had been replaced. They were not replaced with branch base and clamshell molding. They have some sort of fluid design, which looks in profile like a series of bubbles, Jags and zigzags that needs to go away. As I’ve said earlier, in the episode as a stopgap measure, you might just paint over inappropriate trim to blend it into the wall making it less visually prominent.

But here’s the caveat to that. If someone went to the trouble to spring for a lot of fluted colonial oak base and door and window trim all over your house, you could do the world’s landfills a favor and pry it off as carefully as possible to be dropped off at your local restore before you reach for the paint. Because that’s not our type of original wood and it doesn’t fit our type of house but it is actually the right trim for someone else. And it’s going to suit their house better before it’s painted as well.

So if you’re never going to have the energy to replace all of that trim, keep it and paint it wall white to make it less visually prominent. But if you think you may someday get around to replacing it, do that sooner rather than later and drop it off at a donation center and as close to its original condition as possible, you might make some stranger’s day. And even if you never know who, that’s good karma.

So now you know that we’re on the hunt for inappropriately ornamented details, you’re going to see them in more places than the woodwork in flippers house. A flipper will always choose overly complicated shapes for their light fixtures for their handrails for their door and drawer hardware and more. And again, you’ll just need to assess what is the level you’re willing to go to in terms of removing and replacing, but when in doubt, if the flipper chose it, you can probably choose something else at the same type that has a more simple shape.

And while we’re choosing new shapes, we’re also choosing the new materials. One of the hallmarks of the mid-century is that in an original time capsule house, it has a lot of exposed wood grain in it probably also has some bricks and stone or some tile that has a really warm matte texture that you can see as well as feel.

For example, the four by four blocks of a color block bathroom. Those tile pieces have a flat, almost subtly pebbled texture that reads differently from the plastic a surface of a modern white subway tile you’ll find in a flipped kitchen, backsplash or bathroom. So if you’re looking for how to introduce mid-century pallets back into your material house, into your house materials, think about color, bringing back any color at all that’s not gray or white.

And think about texture, you’re looking for finishes that are not shiny. Step one to un-flipping a house is to paint those gray walls a color you actually like. If you can’t think of anything else, warm, creamy white is always a good idea. By the way, pay attention to the specific white you choose for the house.

And actually that phrase I just dropped “the white that you choose for the house.” Ideally, I don’t want you choosing an array of different white paints for every room. You want to make one consistent choice again (your style guide that) will be easy to buy and rebuy and easy to touch up over time. Limit the number of touch up paint cans, you’re gonna need to keep in your utility room by carefully testing for your favorite warm white, and then using it again and again. And again.

As with any paint color, bonus points for having a name you like my sister, for example painted all the white spaces in her house, a color called Touch of sun, it makes her smile every time she has to do some touch up and it makes me smile too.

So you’re going to do with paint for any surface that has been outlined in white and painted trim. Remove that contrast. A flipper loves to treat a ranch like a cottage and outline every window every door every detail in white boxes with colored backgrounds. They intentionally choose white for trim and contrast color on the wall, often a cool gray.

And that’s just not a detail that a mid-century house ever benefits from. So like I say, even if the trim profile is wrong, you’re going to make it look less prominent by painting it all the same color. The wall trim should match the wall as long as the trim isn’t still in a natural wood stain.

What about wood? So mid-century houses would have wood everywhere. Wood doors, wood trim wood panel walls, wood floor possibly exposed wood buildings in the seam and wood built ins and it would not be too much. When you are rewriting a flip, you may not have the energy or the budget to reintroduce that much wood grain to your space.

But any amount you bring in will help at a minimum you can do it with furniture source vintage store finds that have a gorgeous mid-century wood grain. Even if it’s a veneer that’s how they did it back then, so look replaces you can bring back wood into the house.

If you have the ability to replace your doors again. You can bring big slabs of pretty wood grain and warm stain into every living space of your house by going not to Home Depot, but to your local lumberyard and ordering their conveniently very cheapest variety of semi-custom replacement doors, hollow core flat panel slabs, you can get them finished in the stain color you choose or get an unfinished door and play with stain yourself which is probably the least expensive and gives you the most control over trying to match the stain of anything that’s original in your house, or the new stain and grand you’ve picked out your style guide.

This is where I don’t encourage you to actually copy what the original folks would have done which is to choose Pine as your material. For all of this. It is available perhaps for trim and for your slab doors. But the kind of pine the quality of pine we deal with today isn’t what was available in the mid-century era. Today, you’re probably going to have better woodgrain luck with a birch or a maple and then putting a nice warm stain on top of it, it will feel like a reasonable approximation of what your house might once originally have had.

Again, you’re going to have to cut your losses in a few places. You’ll decide how comprehensive each remodeling your room has to be a room in your house has to be. And anywhere that you start to change the layout you’re going to have the opportunity to restart from scratch anyway. So mid-century materials, shapes and textures.

Anywhere there’s no reason to change the house other than your aesthetic dislike of the flipper’s choice, you’ll be looking to pull the fewest levers you can reasonably throw to bring back your own sense of style. The right combination of choices depends on you what the house was originally and how much the flippers did.

But I do want to talk about flow Though interchanging spaces because I brought up the four cornerstones, and the flow between interior spaces, and between inside and out, is one of the most important qualities of a great mid-century home. Now, this may or may not have been affected at all by a flipper.

Or it’s even possible that a flip might have made one or two choices that actually improve the layout. from a modern perspective, while simultaneously diminishing the mid-century style aesthetic. In that case, take the win.

If not, anytime you go more than surface deep on replacing finishes, you do have the opportunity to think about changing the layout. So if you’re replacing kitchen cabinets, if you’re replacing doors or windows, think about expanding view lines, connections within the house punching in some new openings between interior spaces, and generally improving on your mid-century flow as you go through the process.

The short version is that there is always something to be salvaged in a mid-century house. And there is always an approach to take that will fit your level of energy and budget, even if it doesn’t mean bringing it back as comprehensively as it might have once been, there is always some worth taking a crack at it.

And that’s actually what I want to roll over into with my pep talk for this week, which is to remind you that there is always a silver lining. I spend all of my days working on mid mod remodels. And so while I adore a house that’s perfect for someone to find, I love to read about those houses and tour them. To me needing to make some changes to a house. Those changes that might be necessary for maintenance required of lifestyle of a 70 year plus lifespan, needing to make some changes to the structure the layout the flow of a mid-century house because our lives have changed from the ideal life of June Cleaver and the 1950s. Or you need to make some changes to the house because someone else came in and brutally flipped it. There’s always a silver lining. 

There’s always an upside to my mind, because that’s the opportunity for you to make not just correct choices, but more personal choices across the board. Whether you’re repairing and replacing, changing or adding to the layout, or rolling back someone else’s, obviously incorrect decisions for a mid-century house, you have the opportunity to infuse it with more mid-century style than it ever had before. To shift the color theme of the material palette to your taste, to introduce new details of asymmetry or interesting shapes.

Whether your budget is large or small, whether the amount of effort you have to provide is comprehensive, you’re going to make it your whole personality are very limited. You’re trying to make appropriate changes in and around you’re already very busy life, there is something you can do to improve your home. And making those improvements awfully always gives you a chance to help it better suit your life.

That’s the silver lining. That’s what I believe in what I want you to believe. By the way, if you ever feel the need to have some help to see beyond inappropriate paint colors, a horrible choice of subway tile for the kitchen backsplash or cheap vinyl siding, mid mod Midwest would love to help you search for the silver lining. So you might want to do something small. Think about taking, for example, our recently re issued a style guide workshop more than a mood board which was designed to solve exactly this type of problem.

We just gave this but you can watch the RE recording, take it in your own place and use it to build the material palette that’s going to guide your house slowly away from the farmhouse style back towards the mid-century, one small project at a time. And it’s gonna give you the competence and the vision to see how it all comes together before you’ve done all or even some of the work.

Or if you need to go a little further. If you just want someone to one advice, schedule a call to chat with me for half an hour about your house get my hot take on your best and most effective opportunities to improve on it.

Or get ongoing support as you DIY the choices for your remodel within our ready to remodel program to come up with a master plan yourself for all the changes you can make to your house next year or over the next couple of decades to bring it back to its original DNA.

In any case, whether you want a little help or a lot or for us to do a master plan for you, I encourage you to feel optimistic about your house. The choices have been made in the past in the past. Even if you made some of those choices yourself, there is always an opportunity to bring back and at the same time to bring up mid-century style.

So as always, you’ll find the transcript of this episode links to visions of making plywood some of my favorite plywood cabinets, the cornerstone resource and more at bid mod dash midwest.com/ 1711. Remember, you can always reach out to me and to mid Midwest for more help in finding the right path forward for your mid-century home.

I’ll see you next week for a fun reprise of the most important thing to do if you’re planning to remodel your house quickly. And just to generally stay in control of your model from start to finish. This is a pep talk I recently shared with a master plan and a month crew and I’m very excited to make it available to you.

But until then, I hope you’re enjoying your summer feelings and maybe taking on some summer projects. Send me a DM and let me know what un-flipping or mid-century home improvement project you’ve got going on right now till next week.