Tucked safely in a cardboard box and wrapped in newspaper pages from the 1950s, a piece of Franciscan Ware donning the now iconic “Starburst” or “Sputnik” pattern kicked off a deep-seeded love of all things Mid Century Modern. Rob Baker opened that box from his grandparents’ house and made his fateful discovery in elementary school.
Now the owner of a mid century home and the creator behind Modern Mailbox, his passion for the design movement has yet to wane.
Searching for Modern
Fast-forward to 2013, and the mid century style Rob and his wife, Carrie Quinney, love so much just wasn’t shining through in their traditional 1950’s brick home in Boise, Idaho—despite their best efforts.
With a baby on the way, the couple also wanted more space for their growing family. “We really tried to make that [the previous house] into something it wasn’t,” Rob explains. Wanting a truly modern home, the couple searched and searched only to end up in multiple unsuccessful bidding wars.
While searching online, Rob and Carrie stumbled upon a 1953 home with plenty of promise. In what proved to be a whirlwind process, the couple somehow managed to tour the house within an hour, fell in love with the property and made an offer after only a few minutes—an offer which was accepted later that day.
“When we had our inspection done prior to purchasing, the AC unit was on its last leg,” says Rob. While they thought it might last at least a few months longer, the AC unit died only three days later. Having already set their sights on refinishing the original oak floors with a dark walnut stain to match the ceilings, Rob and Carrie completed both tasks within the first week. “A pretty big expense before even moving in,” Rob admits.
While the architect of the house is unknown, Rob and Carrie have come to find that the rec room addition from the 1950s was completed by Bob Vincent, a local general contractor whose wife lives down the street. The addition wasn’t his only work on the house, as he also converted the home’s original carport into a garage. “[It’s a] single car garage and ties in so beautifully,” says Rob.
About six months after moving in, the two French doors on the rec room were changed to a three-window wall. “We ripped the wall apart and reframed it to look period-correct,” Rob explains. The frequently used front room now has double-paned windows, but the original single-pane windows remain throughout the rest of the house.
Another phase of renovation meant it was time for what Rob and Carrie called their “Tuscan nightmare” bathroom to be ripped out and re-imagined to complement the house’s retro roots. Leftover vinyl composite tile from the couple’s previous house brought a piece of their past, and a funky pop of green, into their new space. Rob replaced the clear sliding doors of a vintage medicine cabinet with solid laminate for a vintage touch.
Birth of Modern Mailbox
About two and a half years after moving, the Rob and Carrie felt that something was missing. “We totally decked this house out and every inch was Mid Century Modern except for the eyesore that I walked by every day,” says Rob. That eye sore was the mailbox.
After searching for just the right design with no luck, Rob set out to create his own, starting with a cardboard prototype. It took multiple visits to different metal fabrication specialists before finally finding one that understood his vision—and so began his company, Modern Mailbox.
The first run of ten units sold on Etsy within a few weeks and Rob knew there was more to this idea than originally predicted. Thousands of units later, his sleek mailboxes can be seen everywhere from hardcore mid century enthusiast homes to bungalows and Victorian houses. Most recently, Rob began producing subtlety boomerang shaped wooden light switch and outlet plates for an extra touch of kitsch.
Now with a perfectly mod mailbox and retro light switch plates accenting their carefully curated furniture collection, every detail of the Rob and Carrie’s home reflects their deeply held passion for mid century design.