A lot of midcentury modern homes have been changed over the years, or have had necessary repairs that require remodeling, and when that happens, it’s important to find a balance between old and new. With a background in design, I flip houses into homes, while capturing the style and detail that they deserve. During a remodel, a lot of original features can be lost, but I believe it’s important to preserve what you can, and combine those with reminiscent items available today…all while doing it on a budget!
One of my favorite projects was completed last year. Upon walking into this 1956 Palm Springs house, it was clear there was an identity crisis. However, it was easy to see that the home still had a lot to offer beyond the dark colors, poor space planning and heavy furniture. I fell in love with the diagonal lines of the ceiling and I could instantly see the potential the space had.
The main goal of this flip was to bring back the midcentury charm while improving it for today’s style. First, we removed the faux-wood laminate flooring to expose the concrete floors below. Looking at the concrete, it was clear the home had been reconfigured sometime throughout its history. We decided to polish the concrete throughout the home, telling the story of the original floor plan. The multitude of wall textures and wallpapers were removed and the walls were painted a bright white.
The biggest change came from opening up the wall to expose the galley kitchen, which allowed us to extend the kitchen to create counter seating. This maximizes useable space and makes the kitchen feel part of the home, which was important because, inevitably, it’s where people gather. The original closet, turned TV nook, near the patio doors was repurposed yet again as a wet bar for entertaining. To make the space feel much larger, we removed the framing around the nook to highlight the diagonal ceiling lines. When your house has these beautiful architectural lines, you might as well flaunt them!
With the big changes complete, it was time to focus on the details. A custom brass chandelier from DuttonBrown via Etsy was installed to establish the dining area, complete with a collection of reminiscent midcentury modern styles (sculptural walnut and glass table, paired with Eames-style chairs). Our favorite piece is also one of the most eye-catching: an authentic orange and brown floral chair saved by my sister from her neighbor’s trash in Wisconsin…the things some people will throw away!
Midcentury modern décor is always preferable, but when it’s not affordable or you’re not a pro dumpster diver, it’s great to be able to source alternatives that can give you the same look. The bright blue couch is from Living Spaces and captures many mid-century modern aspects including a low back and tapered legs—but without the price! Low nesting tables and a brass Eileen table came from Amazon to provide the necessary surface space without stealing the attention away from the other pieces. A black leather Eames-style chair and ottoman anchor the corner of the living room and help complete the space. This chair has been replicated by many manufactures, so you can get the iconic look for a fraction of the price.
When remodeling a midcentury modern home today, whether for a flip or just yourself, it’s important to consider the past and embrace what the home was meant to be. If a house is in its original form, honor it! If it’s not, try to meet in the middle to combine the best of both. The glossy grey cabinets, modern appliances and some of the décor of this home would never have been found in the 1950s, but you can only live in the past so much and it’s important to find the right balance with today’s style.
Ready to Flip Out?
If you’re interested in one of the items you see in the final room, the direct links to purchase can be found in the resource list below. Going to Palm Springs and want to rent this house? Check out Altamira Rentals for all the details!
James Judge is a designer, flipper, blogger, future TV host and all-around house-a-holic. He strives to take ugly houses and make them into beautiful homes. He loves a collection of all styles but especially enjoys midcentury modern. James appreciates good design and thoughtful solutions to help get the look for less. To see more photos from this project and other transformations, check out James’s blog, Flipping Diaries, or follow him on Instagram or Twitter @flippingdiaries.
- Eames Style Lounge Chair and Ottoman in Italian Leather, Single, Walnut/Black
- Set of 4 Eames Style Eiffel Dining Chair, White with Natural Walnut Wood Legs
- Dining Table with Greenwich Base
- 6-Shelf Modern Bookcase, White
- Multi-Color Sunburst Wall clock
- Reproduction of Eileen Adjustable Glass & Metal Side Table
- White Nesting Side Tables