Our Split Foyer Story, Now in Print

March 25, 2014 2 comments

Below is a copy of our article that was published in the Spring 2014 edition of “Atomic Ranch” magazine.  Click on each page to enlarge.  This summarizes our split foyer remodel, discussed throughout this blog.   While there are other areas of the home’s interior we would like to update or remodel, I think we’ve hit our twin goals of materially transforming the home’s look and improving its function.  Thanks all for the helpful and positive feedback and commentary.


Curb appeal 41 s_Page_1Curb appeal 41 s_Page_2Curb appeal 41 s_Page_3

Stars of David

March 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Central Synagogue Escutcheons

While attending a Bat Mitzvah ceremony earlier this month, I noticed these cool, mid-century style door knob escutcheons on a pair of doors in the synagogue.   I learned that the main building was completed in 1947, with other structures added through 1952.   While the synagogue is in no sense architecturally “mid-century modern,” the door hardware is consistent with that period.   In fact, they are reminiscent of the reproduction “Star” escutcheon sold by Rejuvenation in its mid-century modern collection, pictured below:

Rejuvenation Wide Star Escutcheon

Quick, the Cauldron! Harry Potter & Universal Nausea

February 23, 2014 2 comments

We finally did it.   After years of concocting excuses designed to mislead our children, we recently made the pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida, visiting both Universal Studios (3 days) and the Magic Kingdom (1 day).

Overall, it really was a fun family vacation.  Our hotel, the Loews Royal Pacific at Universal, was quite nice and a mere 8 minute walk to the two Universal theme parks, Universal Studios and “Islands of Adventure.”  We highly recommend this lodging, especially if your main focus is not Disney, which is about a 20-minute drive or taxi from there.  Included in the somewhat high room rates were so-called “Express” passes for all four of us, a very handy perk which allows you to bypass long lines for the attractions.  We felt pretty guilty walking past hundreds of exhausted, hot, and envious park-goers, but you get over it.  Hey, that’s the “magic” of Orlando.

One of the major attractions of Islands of Adventure is a mock-up “Hogsmeade” village based on the Harry Potter series, complete with Olivander’s wand store, and other places Harry Potter enthusiasts will easily recognize.  I found it hard to relax in the Moaning Myrtle Bathroom, but I suppose that’s the point: to chase you out quickly so that you can ingest more Butterbeer and chocolate frogs, completing the loop.

There are also several HP themed rides. One in particular, the “Forbidden Journey” in the enormous Hogwarts Castle, stands out.  I guess this major “attraction” must be protected by some sort of enchantment, as it’s the only ride for which the Express pass will not work!  This 3-4 minute adventure in motion sickness is not really a ride in the traditional sense, but rather a visual motion simulator; moving images are flashed at you while the seat you are bolted into (which is in turn attached to some type of robotic arm) rocks, dips, and spins you into thinking you are actually soaring through the air on a Wizard’s broomstick.  Most Muggles (including my son), find this ride exhilarating and awe-inspiring.  While I certainly appreciated the ride’s special effects (for all of the 20 seconds I actually had my eyes open), none of it was worth how deathly ill it made me feel for many hours thereafter. Imagine being car sick, air sick, and sea sick, all at once.

I would have done anything to escape this ride. But remembering that I couldn’t apparate on Hogwarts’ grounds, I tried passing the time distracting myself with other thoughts: could I sue J K Rowling for this?  My desperation growing, I even tried summoning He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but even he wasn’t having any of it.

After stumbling off the ride in a daze, I reached for my daughter’s $35 plastic Hermione wand, fully intending to shove it in my mouth and shout “Avada Kedavra!”   She refused.  After all, we had not yet visited Disney!

Here is a video of the “Forbidden” ride from Youtube:



Our Split Foyer Remodel to be Featured in Atomic Ranch!

November 30, 2013 2 comments


I am thrilled to announce that our split foyer remodel will be featured in the Spring 2014 edition of “Atomic Ranch” magazine!  The feature article begins on page 58.  The magazine is available at Barnes & Noble.

Photo: We're celebrating here in the office the release of our 10th Anniversary issue (#41), which shipped out yesterday to all our subscribers and retail outlets.  The cover house is a spectacular Eichler from the City of Orange (Southern California).  Other features include "Blasts from the Past" which checks in with some of our earliest home owners. More stories come from Seattle, Chicago, Long Island NY and Palm Springs.  We've had our own blast for the last decade working on the magazine and hope you've enjoyed it too. Here's to another 10!

This quarterly publication caters to enthusiasts of mid-century ranch homes (1940’s to 1960’s), mid-century furnishings, and period ideas.  The magazine highlights interesting remodels and cost-effective remodeling ideas for ranch homes.  I wrote the story that will accompany our featured remodel, drawing in part on my prior posts on this blog (see especially “Split” Voting and previous posts).

To see the ‘before” home, click here.  In addition to small bump-out to the living room (which allowed us to achieve a sleeker facade), we replaced most of the windows, re-sided the home with T&G cedar (stained black), and completely gutted the kitchen, installing American black walnut “modular” cabinetry and new appliances.  The article should hit the newsstands (including Barnes & Noble) sometime in late February.  As always, I welcome feedback!

Name that (Mid-Century Modern Metal Patio) Bench?

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Mid-Century Modern Patio Bench

A couple of months ago I picked up this pretty cool Mid-Century Modern metal (iron?) patio bench, sort of in the style of  the wire outdoor furniture by Bertoia.  The bench, which is heavier than it looks, can be disassembled.  In my case, the back section was not even connected to the seat section — obviously I am missing the fasteners, and am not sure what those might look like to even begin to replicate them.  But for $20 bucks, I took a chance!

I found this image of what I believe to be the same bench at the two following websites/blogs, but neither source provides any information on the piece:

(1) http://thefrencheye.blogspot.com/2009/11/wire-work.html

(2) http://www.atomicindy.com/2009_04_01_archive.html

If anyone has any information on the piece, including what type of fasteners hold this together, I would greatly appreciate it!

Shutter Madness

July 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Before moving to the “burbs” of Long Island about 16 years ago, we were life-long residents of Queens, NY.   While we still have a soft spot for that Borough and NYC in general, it became increasingly distressing to witness the rampant overcrowding of neighborhoods and the destruction of fine housing stock.   Simple yet charming one-family colonials, Tudors, and bungalows transformed into multifamily apartments, businesses, and even houses of worship.   This sad state of affairs was facilitated by poor, non-existent and/or unenforced zoning laws in many of city’s communities.  Overcrowding aside, the lack of planning and architectural oversight led to unsightly home additions and remodels.  Don’t get me wrong.  Suburbia is well stocked with it own examples of poorly conceived housing and design missteps.  What makes it worse is that suburbanites tend to think their own home “upgrades” and their own “design sense” is somehow superior to their city neighbors.  I’m not so sure.  Whether you drive through town or down a country lane, you stand an excellent chance of encountering a shockingly misguided remodel, or at least an odd exterior design element or two that leaves you wondering:  what were they thinking?

So what exterior design elements bug me?  I’ll start the discussion off with what might appear as a minor infraction, a petty design misdemeanor if you will.  But petty it is not.  I like to call this phenomenon “Shutter Madness.”  But what is this remodeling crime, and why does it bother me so much?

In a nutshell, Shutter Madness is when a homeowner or his or her contractor installs (or at least tolerates) window shutters that are: (1) painfully disproportionate to the scale or size of the window(s) they flank; (2) are a completely different shape or scale than the windows (e.g., rectangular shutters next to an octagonal window — really — see photo below); and/or (3) completely inappropriate to the window type or style (e.g., shutters flanking a modern slider, awning or casement window).   But is it really fair to call this “madness”?  All I can say is that it drives me insane, and here’s why.  Grossly mis-sizing or mis-matching a shutter just isn’t comparable to  being color-challenged, which even good designers can sometimes be.  Nor is it on par with poor furniture arrangement or bad lighting choices.  Shutter Madness is not a matter of design talent or experience.   It is something that is so contrary to common sense it can make one scream.   Let’s be honest.  Selecting the appropriate shutter size, shape or style should be as easy as putting square peg into a square hole.  It’s just not that hard.

Ask yourself a few simple questions.  What is the historic and practical purpose of a shutter?   Obviously, its original purpose was to fully cover a window during stormy weather, or from prying eyes.  When I see a rectangular shutter flanking an octagonal or palladian style window, or small (or any) shutters flanking a large bay window, I wonder aloud:  Did the homeowner really believe that shutter could cover that window?  Or worse, did he/she think others would?

Of course, most shutters installed these days are just decorative and neither will nor could ever be “closed.”  But the point of a decorative shutter is to at least create the appearance of a real shutter.  One that looks like it “fits” and appears to be, at least from a distance, operable and functional.  Shutter Madness.

For a good, rant-free discussion of the “dos and don’ts” when using shutters as architectural elements, take a look at this article.

Here are some “crime scene” displays of Shutter Madness:

"Rectangles versus the Octagon" Scariest Movie of the Year

“Rectangles versus the Octagon” Scariest Movie of the Year

Two Shutters, Three Windows?

Two Shutters, Three Windows?


Two parts window, one part shutter

You're kidding, right?

Now you’re really shutter bugging me.

Business is not immune from the Madness
Business is not immune from the Madness

Bay of Funny

Bay of Funny

A tad thin, no?

Is that black trim?  No, they’re shutters!

Prudent Danish

June 2, 2013 Leave a comment
Sigvard Bernadotte Chair Model 132

Sigvard Bernadotte Chair
Model 132

I finally got around to doing some research on this $20 “yard sale” find, which I came across a couple of years ago in vintage condition. The cool “boomerang” vinyl upholstery on the chair is undoubtably not original (unless someone can show me otherwise), but I still like it. This tilt-back walnut (or teak?) chair is likely a “Model 132” by Sigvard Bernadotte, produced in Denmark by France and Daverkosen, and well-known maker of pieces during the 1950’s and 1960’s. It now sits in our living room, and sort of defines it. Any additional information on the chair is appreciated.

Boomerang Pattern

Boomerang Pattern


Rear View, Swivel Back Brass Furniture Tacks?

Rear View Showing Tilt-Back.
Brass Furniture Tacks?

Nicely Turned Armrests

Nicely Turned Armrests

France & Daverkosen Label

France & Daverkosen Label


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