Roofline revealed on this mid century modern house
Now we can see the roofline on our Carter Sparks / Streng Bros home with the maple tree and hedge gone.

Welcome to the second article in an ongoing series about the makeover of our Sacramento Carter Sparks designed, Streng Brothers built home.

In our last post, we discussed tips on how to remodel when Covid has made finding workers tough and budgets tight.

We gave four tips to use when starting your own remodel during Covid times:

1. What will make the house immediately livable

2. Focus on the smalls

3. Look at the big picture

4. Pick one big project

This month we update you on our progress.

What will make the house immediately livable:

A remodel of our tiny master bathroom is low on our project priority list. Although the bathroom in our SF loft was small, it still had two sinks and allowed both of us to get ready for work at the same time without tempers flaring. We started the hunt for a makeup vanity that we could temporarily place in the master bedroom to give us more elbow room.

Although it is a temporary solution, we still wanted to find something that fit our mid century style as well as our budget. A search for a makeup vanity that fit that criteria didn’t yield many choices, so we decided to think about the problem a bit differently. Perhaps we could look for a piece of furniture that could be used as a vanity now, but used in another room once we found something we liked better.

We ultimately decided on a small desk we could eventually use in the guest room. Desks have become a hot commodity with many sites sold out or with long delivery times. We finally found a small desk from West Elm. The small desk came in several finishes. We chose white to match our vintage Herman Miller nightstands, and we swapped out the pulls on the desk to match the pulls on the nightstands.

Desk as Mid Century Modern Vanity
A small desk from West Elm works as a makeup vanity in the master bedroom, freeing up space in the small master bath.

As fans of Mid Century Modern furnishings well know, West Elm has a good selection of mid century finds, usually at reasonable prices. The only caveat with West Elm is that due to Covid, we found that many of the items we ordered were delayed after the order was placed. So if you really fall in love with one of their pieces, it is probably worth your time to call West Elm customer service to get a reality check on delivery times. (We are still waiting on our West Elm sofa that was ordered in August—more on that continuing saga next month!)

Focus on the smalls

Last month we mentioned that we ordered replacement house numbers and outside lights.

Here is the before and after. What difference!

Mid Century Lamps and Street Numbers
Mid Century Modern Exterior Lights and numbers more accurately reflect the Mid Century Modern period.

This month we focused on the guest room. The platform bed from Floyd Detroit looks amazing in the guest room with side lamps ordered from Practical Props and bedding from Bloomingdales during one of their seemingly ongoing sales.

Our budget doesn’t allow us to hire a professional painter, so we practiced our painting skills on the guest room before we attempted the more public spaces of the family room and living room.  We painted the room a sage green, Guilford Green from Benjamin Moore. We opted for a matte finish. 

Like most homes of this era, the walls have what is called a popcorn texture as opposed to a smooth, flat texture. The matte finish de-emphasizes the popcorn texture better than a glossy finish would.  Some owners of Streng Bros. built homes choose to remove this popcorn texture when they remodel, an expensive and time-consuming process.  We think it is specific to the mid century era and left it as-is.

A blanket in a similar color from Target and pillow cases from Amazon Basics pull the room together. But my favorite accent piece is the starburst pillow from designer Erin Flett. Her bright punches of color and bold graphics are the perfect piece to punch up neutral bedding. This pillow has a hidden zipper on the back for a clean look—she will add the hidden zipper upon request at no additional cost.

Mid Century Guest Room Makeover
Guests can rest easy on this Platform Bed from Floyd Detroit.

Repeating design patterns or colors throughout your home can make the design feel cohesive and gives a nice feeling of surprise. It is fun to discover what elements connect the rooms.

To that end, we have added a golden yellow to our design palette and used the color on pillows from Hay Design in the living room, on pillows from West Elm on the outside furniture and on the towels in the guest bathroom, also from West Elm.

Mid Century Modern Accent Pillows
Repeating colors in different areas of a Mid Century Modern home adds a fun element to your home decor.

Look at the big picture

We can’t tackle every big project right now, but we want to get an idea of cost and who the best workers will be once we are ready.

This month we met with the owner of Prep Concrete to discuss pulling up the laminate floors and restoring the original concrete floors. An earlier estimate from another contractor was extremely high, so we were happy to find Prep Concrete, a brand and design studio based in Sacramento mentioned in the SacMod.org resource list and also recommended by Jessica and Tyler Wichmann of Timeless Thrills.

Prep Concrete’s estimate was in a more reasonable range, so now we have a goal to work towards in the coming years. Although we are sorely tempted to start pulling up the laminate right now.

We also met with a local arborist to discuss the jungle that is our yard.  The pruning we will leave to the experts, but the estimate to demo the overgrown plants and trees that we won’t be keeping had us heading to the hardware store for chain saws and gardening tools. Although this will be a very long project, at least now you can see the trademark Carter Sparks roofline that we fell in love with.

Before and After Roofline of Mid Century Modern Home
We can now see the roofline on our Carter Sparks designed, Streng Bros built Mid Century Modern home.

Pick one big project

This month we focused on rehabbing the concrete in the backyard. Like many mid century homes, the concrete sidewalk had wooden spacers. Ours were rotted and broken.  The aggregate concrete itself was in great shape. We combed through mid century landscaping books for ideas, including the latest special landscaping issue from Atomic Ranch. We decided to replace the wood with small, black Mexican pebbles. We purchased an inexpensive sawzall and carefully removed the wood. Neighbors referred us to Cascade Rock in Sacramento to purchase the rocks. There we were cheerfully helped by a worker nicknamed Johnny Fever—after the character in the 1970s TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati. Johnny Fever and his co-worker, Roadkill (we didn’t want to ask) made the experience of hunting for rocks a memorable one.

Patio Spacers with Rocks instead of rotted wood
On our Mid Century Modern patio, we replaced rotted wood spacers with rocks. An inexpensive upgrade makes a big impact.

Stay tuned for more on our progress on our Sacramento Modern Makeover and pick up tips to apply to your own home projects. If you missed the first one, catch up here.

Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Mid Century Modern inspiration!