Upon walking into this recently “flipped” 1952 midcentury ranch in central Phoenix, it was very clear that the home needed to be “re-flipped.” This is something that I’m discovering is more and more common with flippers that don’t understand the mid mod style. There were many good things that the previous flippers did to this house that I was able to work with, but the biggest issue was that the house was void of style and identity. Styling (or staging) is a big part of flipping for me, which is what many other flippers skip. However, I think that it’s what makes the house feel like a home, and as a stylist, I can help communicate the aesthetic and lifestyle of the home to a buyer.
After buying this property, this living room had a few essentials done: fresh paint, new baseboards and the sea of carpet had been replaced with large, ceramic gray tile. For most people, that alone would have been considered a “remodel,” but I knew that this space needed additional attention to give it the “wow” factor it deserved. I turned my focus to the styling of the space.
When I first saw this home, the large floor-to-ceiling windows pulled on my heartstrings, but I didn’t like the awkward “normal” window that had been added next to them. It felt like an afterthought and caused the room to feel unfocused. Large floor-to-ceiling curtains were a great solution that helped accentuate the large windows I loved while also hiding the small window I didn’t. This also created an opportunity to create a focal point in the corner: The iconic ceiling-mounted fireplace has always been a MCM feature that I’ve loved, but it wasn’t an easy item to find or implement. My solution was to have one made that is reminiscent of the original 1950s style. A local metal shop was able to fabricate one for me based off of a photo, and the result is a very authentic look at a much more attainable cost. To avoid the expense of venting, and due to fireplaces not really being essential for warmth in Phoenix, the ceiling-mounted unit has a faux log set that hides cans of gel fuel. These don’t require any venting but create a real flame and burn for up to 4 hours.
Styling a room with authentic Midcentury Modern pieces would be a dream, but it’s often not a reality as a flipper or for many people’s wallets either, therefore it’s important to find a balance that works. Rummage sales and thrift stores still seem to be my go-to for finding MCM pieces that are misunderstood (and mis-priced as a result). The rug was saved from the curb for a bargain of $25 and helped to establish this space. The two black and chrome chairs against the walls were Goodwill finds for $2.50 each! However, my favorite piece in this room is the sewing table behind the sofa. I found it at Goodwill in Phoenix on 50%-off day. Thanks to a brown Sharpie marker, some touch-up stain, and after opening the top extensions on each side, it became the perfect sofa table for this room.
Major retailers like Target are also catching on to trends and now offer many furniture or décor items that have reminiscent features of original MCM designs. The brass desk lamp, gold side table, gold hoof stool and furry stool with tapered legs are all Target finds! However, my favorite is the brass mobile because I scored it for 90% off atTarget’s holiday clearance. It’s by Nate Berkus and, per the packaging, was intended to be “wall décor.” Instead, I saw an opportunity to link two together and hang it from the ceiling. The result is a much more eye catching hanging mobile and the geometric shapes create a classic mid mod vibe!
Finally, if you’re not into sourcing originals, and you don’t want something that’s just reminiscent either, but you still want the look—I suggest you consider replicas. Many may consider this taboo, but I believe that good design should be attainable and affordable. A classic Eames chair with ottoman would typically cost thousands, but it’s sold on Amazon for $400 to $700 depending on the seller. There are so many replicas today that look so similar to the real thing that, many times, it’s hard to tell the difference.
When designing your home, or styling a space, a big part of it is shopping. As you begin to start your collection and you hunt for treasured pieces, many times you need to imagine the item outside of where you found it. The Nate Berkus “wall décor” is a perfect example because it was intended for one thing, but I imagined it as another and the result is awesome! Same thing with the $2.50 chairs: They were rusted and dirty when I found them, but knowing that almost anything can be cleaned, I was able to look beyond that and see their potential.
Love this home’s space? Buy it!
If you love this newly styled home, you can buy it and make it yours. Take a look at the listing at Zillow for more information.
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.