Congratulations, you have purchased your new-to-you, mid-century modern, home! But there’s a problem. Over the course of the past 50 years, people have fiddled with, and “updated” some elements of the home and you, in all of your infinite design wisdom, cannot stand these abominations that were touted in the listing as being “new” and “remodeled”. Pretty much every house you looked at had been bastardized to look like a Home Depot floor model. That’s why you finally settled on this home; this home had good bones and more of the original elements you were seeking. But, while your dream home does have those luscious terrazzo floors you have dreamt about since you were first pre-approved for house hunting, you really want that leaded glass front door changed out for something that mirrors the style and age of the house. Obviously, there are a few other minor aesthetic details that you’d like to retro fit, so how do you organize and plan for what updates come first? Read on! We can help!
When I purchased my MCM ranch style home three years ago (dear gawd has it been that long), I started seeing all of the glaring design mis-steps that previous owners had taken over the years. Who decided to put French doors with stained glass sides into this 1963 ranch home? Why are there FOUR different flooring surfaces visible from the foyer alone? Blue and gold marbled formica anyone? I’m not sure who was responsible or what they were drinking/smoking, but I wasn’t having it. I started a list, and it was growing. My head was spinning and Adam was seeing dollar signs.
After taking a xanax and organizing my list by cost to cure, I was beginning to get a fairly clear picture (something I’m still working on) and I started to narrow down what would be the most cost effective AND the most impactful. Now, I really had a list going! Doors, flooring, landscaping, kitchen backsplash, bathroom cabinet and counter…I was on a roll! And although it’s still a work in progress, here are the ways you can organize your same list.
Use an app, pencil and paper, chisel and stone, whatever your ‘go to’ would be for taking notes and just start writing. Write EVERYTHING you want to do to your home. Then, organize it by cost. After that, organize it by visual appeal – what would visitors see first or what do you need to have done that won’t drive you crazy not being completed. I don’t have a ton of money to put into updates or a total renovation, so here is how I’ve decided to proceed.
- Paint! How obvious is that? I not only want to paint the exterior of my dark brick home (white please) but I also want to paint the entire interior a light, neutral color. A design element that was big in the 60’s is to highlight the simplicity of the hollow core interior doors and trim moldings with a contrasting, darker color. I’m thinking taupe, or tan. I also want to paint the dark brick fireplace. Doing so should make the entire home open up. With no dramatic color changes on the walls between rooms, the eye should flow from room to room as though it is all one open and larger space. The builder basic, hollow core interior doors will now look like a feature, painted in a high gloss oil paint, they are sleek, simple and exactly what they should be in an older MCM ranch.
- Just as neutralizing the paint would help to expand the space and make it feel more clean and open, switching out the floors to a single surface will make a huge difference. Vinyl plank flooring, albeit cheap at as low as $1.25 per sq/ft, is very durable and has both comfort under foot as well as a modern appeal. Using a wood look in a mid-tone will lighten up the flooring and harken back to the honey colored wood floors used in the original construction of many of the homes built in the 1950’s.
- I cannot wait to replace the gaudy, leaded glass front door with a simple (and cheap) single pane french door and sidelight. Because this is generally the first impression one gets as they enter the home, I have opted to do this sooner, rather than later. Not only does it make more sense and look modern, but it lets even more light in.
- My kitchen, while not very mid-century, is at least neutral. The cabinets are white and there are light colored granite counters. All of the appliances are stainless steel and it generally looks modern, until you look closely at the backsplash. Someone, in a ridiculous lack of regard for taste and neutrality, installed four inch tiles that have a handmade look to them and accented it all with tiles that have herbs on them, with their name in script below the image. Hello, 1992? Please come take your french country tiles back. I can’t afford to tear out all of the tile, so for the time being, I have covered the herb laden tiles with adhesive vinyl squares in colors that would be considered to have a mid-century appeal, i.e. turquoise, lime green, orange, etc. It’s a color pop and it hides the “lavender”, “thyme” and “rosemary” tiles that made me cringe every time I saw them.
- I’ve left the hall bathroom alone for now. It kind of needs an overhaul and rather than piece that out and risk having to undo something I’d just redone, I’ve chosen to embrace the colors and the style and play up the tacky-ness of the gold and navy counters by choosing a curtain and linens that blend in and add a little sophistication. It could be worse, our master bathroom is already super optimized, and honestly it’s the kids who use it more than anyone, so it’ll have to wait.
See? It’s not so bad when you break it down that way! But I’m curious, do you all have any before and after pics of MCM upgrades or enhancements that you’ve done to your home? I want to share them on our Facebook page and scream it to the world how awesome you are! Also, if you need more inspiration, THIS is a great site for mid-century renovations!