Open thread: How to respond to social backlash aimed at your mid mod aesthestic?

anne taintor bite meHere is a good one to end the week: Reader “A” (I cloaked her name and state) wrote recently to ask for help in responding to what she called “social backlash” — negative reactions from people in her social sphere who can’t comprehend her passion for mid century design. What shall we advise her, fellow Retro Renovators? Read on for her tale…. 

“A” writes”

Pam,

I’m new to your blog, and I absolutely love it, but if I’m asking something you have touched on a million times I apologize. I made an attempt to search, but came up with nothing.

I’m at a bit of a low point right now, and I’d love some reassurance or commiseration of any sort — or hey– even a reality check!

I’m just starting down the road into retroville– truthfully I’ve loved it all for a long time but wasn’t brave enough to really commit until I lived in California and realized there were a lot of people who loved the mid 20th century as much as I did.

I have recently moved back to my hometown area in [state] and have begun searching for a mid century modern home to buy with my husband and kids, and along the way I am thrifting and searching for “old” furniture from the same time period.

My question to you is, do you ever get bogged down by people’s negative reaction to what you are doing or did? And secondly, was it all worth it in the end?

I love my midcentury things, but I am swiftly becoming tired of having to defend my taste to everyone I come in contact with. My husband is sweet and patient with me, but I think he wishes I’d give it up. My kids are nervous about “living in the 60’s” as they put it, and everyone else falls somewhere between thinking I’m crazy to acting genuinely threatened and angry with me for trying to resurrect the past.

I’m honestly shocked, why are people threatened by different design tastes? Have you ever had these types of experiences?

I keep telling myself that when it all comes together it will be so great and it will be all worth it, but sometimes I feel like it would be easier to give it all up.

Isn’t it strange how strongly people react to retro things?

Thanks at the very least for letting me sob on your cyber shoulder, its nice to come here and be with people with like minds.

“A”

“A”, my first thought, when I read your letter, was that I’d tell these rude people, Bite Me. Hence, the always-but-really-probably-never-appropriate Anne Taintor caption. (Better, I think, to take the high road… much as it would feel good [for a moment] to dish it right back.)

Seriously, I do have a way that I would recommend responding. But I will hold back and let the tribe offer up their thoughts and advice first.

Readers, how would you respond — or how to you respond — to friends and family who question your design aesthetic?
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Comments

  1. says

    Just loving this thread! I started collecting Fisher -price pre1988 toys and gradually more and more 195″s furniture and home wares, filling my cupboards with my treasures. My husband politely smiled every time I waved around new finds but was rather perplexed by my excitement. Recently I retired after 37 years of high school teaching and as our girls had left home we were able to make use of a whole wing of our house for a bed and breakfast suite. It is a complete set of rooms decorated with items from Australia in the 1950s. I have been able to turn my collecting passion into a business which captures the imagination of young couples and families who come to stay and older guests who walk around touching all the items fondly as they remember who had one of ‘those’. It is a joy reading the comments and chatting about the decor.
    Although the house is not distinctively MCM, it does work well. So, for all those who roll their eyes at my collecting I now have a business to help with funding retirement and the ability to share my passion with guests.
    I have also started a vintage stall at a big vintage market selling 50s and 60s treasures. So for anyone thinking I was wasting time indulging my collecting I can now show them my books!

      • Susie Ross says

        And just where is this B&B Sue? As a fellow Australian with a taste for travel and mid-century decor, I would like to visit!

      • says

        Thanks Pam. I should have added how important discovering your blog has been in giving me confidence to follow through with my projects and keep learning about the period I love. In the 1950s Australia had such a small population in comparison to the US that there is nowhere near the amount of finds from that period and searching and learning is really hard. Your blog is such a great source of information, inspiration and fun and I do want to thank you for your hard work and persistance. Though I am such a long way away, it feels great to have a good read of your latest project or find.

  2. Pat Gaylor says

    It’s hard to fuel my passion when people come to my quirky little house and call it ‘different’ or ‘interesting’…in other words, they don’t get it! Stick to your aesthetic, you’re swimming upstream, and against the tide. Embrace your different, unique individuality. BTW, MCM is going so mainstream now that in 5 year’s those naysayers will GET IT…so kudos to you for being so forward thinking! The world needs more people like you.

  3. DeAnna says

    As a fellow collector and a lover of Elvis & Snoopy memorabilia I completely understand what if feels like to have my passions scorned. My advise is take the criticism and turn it around like it is a compliment. When someone says I am weird, crazy or a fanatic I smile and say “Thank You, I always have been and always will be”. When they roll their eyes at the fact a 48 year old woman has a bedroom over flowing with Elvis and Snoopy items, which of course would never be mistaken for a design element, I just smile and say “It fits me. I surround myself with the things I love and it makes me happy.” Each room in my house is a different style and decor. When someone makes a negative comment I just smile, shrug, and say “I am a multifaceted woman who likes a variety of different things. My home is my castle. I love it here. So come in, make yourself comfortable. And if my home makes you uncomfortable then feel free to close the door on your way out.”

    My advice is to hang tough, shop with confidence in your dream, smile a lot, laugh at other’s inability to see your vision. When shopping with others who criticize, just say “You shop with your rose colored glasses on and I’ll shop with mine.” Then keep on doing your thing.

    • Maureen Bajeyt says

      If you’re ever in Santa Rosa,Ca – check out the Charles Schultz museum. There are also life sized Peanuts statues throughout the city!

  4. Nicole says

    Well I can commiserate. Some people (especially family) think our aesthetic is odd and can’t understand how we can like old, imperfect things. We have a 1860s farmhouse filled with 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s treasures. Nothing in our house is pristine or perfect. Some of our stuff shows its age… I prefer to think of this as “character”. We also have quite a bit of horror movie memorabilia that tends to freak people out, and a ton of rockabilly music and pin up stuff which apparently is way too racy for some.
    Being different is hard and sometimes it feels uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as pretending to be something different than exactly who you want to be. So, when I get a back handed comment about my style I just say something like “I hope every feels as happy in their home as I do in mine”. If I feel like being a bit of a smart*** I say something like “our life is too fabulous to be builder grade beige”. If I am actually offended and feel the need to stick it to them I say something like “trends come and go and all those folks who are loving beige and granite and stainless today will inevitably find it passé tomorrow. People are so fickle easily influenced.” That moment when they realize they are one of those people is priceless.

  5. Ali says

    Pam and others,

    I thought I’d write a little update as we have been in our lovely mid century home for a couple of months now. Since writing that email to you, I have had the opportunity to decorate and furnish my home with mainly vintage furniture, some hand me downs from family, and some lucky purchases. I am very happy to report that firstly; I am happier with my home than I imagined, and that second; All of the angry naysayers in my life have completely changed their tunes. I had hoped that it would come together and be worth all of the trouble, and it has! I have had multiple compliments on my ability to have vision and I’m so glad I trusted my gut and forged on. I still have some projects for the future, and I am so glad I have your blog to help me out with them! This has been a good experience for me and my family to learn compromise (together), and to not be afraid to be different.

    Thanks for everything!
    Ali

  6. Nancy Wasen says

    I started first with mid century lamps. Know a man who scours auctions, etc. He would call and tell me that he found more of those butt ugly lamps for me…lol

  7. Jenny says

    We sometimes forget our house is “odd” until we have new people over. Good. Let them be shaken out of their sleepy suburban comas. Too many people color-by-the-Pinterest numbers.

    That coupled with the fact that my house appraised much higher after our kitchen’s retro renovation helps me feel just fine.

  8. Peg says

    I live in a MCM home with an eclectic collection of mid-century furnishings. More often than not the reaction of visitors is *gasp* “I love this! It’s so (insert retro, cozy, cool, hip, awesome, etc). A well done MCM home has a comfortable inviting feel – the colors, lines of the furniture, textures and designs are unique and pleasant. My kids love to go thrifting for treasures for our home or their rooms now. Just love what you love without apology – your passion will rub off!

  9. Marty says

    I relish it when people don’t get mcm . More things for me to buy and lower prices . I don’t really care what other people think . Of course that doesn’t go for your family. Don’t know how to help you there

  10. Judy H. says

    My husband and I often get comments about our 1950 raised ranch. We have re-decorated, but stayed true to its mid-century style. We both have large extended families with a lot of opinions. Among them, “OMG! I couldn’t stand walking into that pink bathroom everyday!” The same comment is true about our bright sky blue bathroom. Most common is, “When are you guys gonna update??” We tell them we find the pink and sky blue bathrooms refreshing. When asked about when we’re going to update, we have a questioning face and say, “Update what??” So far, shuts’em down every time

    • says

      When I moved to my 1888 house I wanted it to have an old feel to it. I have a mixture of newer pieces that look older and antique and retro. If it looked like fun and it fit into my little house it stayed. I love the antique kitchen things that are in my Ikea kitchen. I have only gotten compliments and people asking: can I have that?

    • Richard says

      I would love to have an original bathroom in our 1971 home! My reply would have been, “isn’t that funny?!? Because I would hate to have to walk into a boring all-white 2000s bathroom each day.”

  11. Jean gough says

    The older I get, the more I understand that our decisions are no ones business but our own and those directly affected by those decisions. Why does no one belittle those living in antique colonials that have been lovingly restored to original? Truly, I wouldn’t discuss it with anyone but your husband and children in arriving at what is livable for you all.

  12. Sheri says

    While I don’t have a lot of mid-century items, I love them nonetheless. People have asked me questions about our trips to Palm Springs and my photographs of mid-century houses. I have never had any unkind remarks made to me about it. But if someone were to be rude enough to vocalize something crass, don’t invite them to your home, don’t socialize with them, etc. Most people who gravitate to the mid-century themes like to surround themselves with like-minded people…….do that!!

    Others can have their own tastes and we can have ours!! You don’t need to feel bad or apologize for what you like. Enjoy it and embrace it!!

  13. Amy says

    I’ve been drooling over RR for about a year now. We are moving to my home state and just bought a lovely 1970 almost-farm-style house that has had a few updates but so much retro potential!

    I was showing my brother some of my ideas and he thinks I’m from another planet. (My husband doesn’t mind either way). I’m glad to hear Ali’s update that once it all came together, people “get it”. Maybe a few years from now (or 5, or 10) my house will be just the way I want it as well!

    Love this website and all of the positivity connected to it. :)

  14. Kristy says

    I’m usually so overly enthusiastic about our original features like our colored bathroom fixtures that people don’t dare to ask when we will update them, because I’ve already said that I love them soooooo much! So I don’t really have this problem but whenever people have a difference of opinion decor-wise I just say “Isn’t it nice we don’t all like the same things? It makes the world more interesting.”

    One persons “Way cool” is another persons “no way”, so who cares what other people think!

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      I’m with you, Kristy. I give house tours and gush about how excited I am with my knotty pine kitchen and new pink toilet and how I chose my laminate. Friends can see how excited I am, and if they don’t admire my choices, they are very quiet or else limit their comments to, “Wow! You are really into this, aren’t you?” or something like that. Anyone who made snarky comments hasn’t been invited back. :-)

      • Kristy says

        Exactly! Gush about it and they can see how happy you are, and unless they are really rude they won’t be mean :)

        I don’t go to other peoples houses and ask when they are going to rip out that granite or paint those beige walls- I just don’t say anything!

  15. Neil says

    My partner and I have been inveterate collectors of oddments for over 20 years, having been in the antique business for that long: He once had a large, wide wall, floor to ceiling, stacked with vintage hat boxes! They were beautiful in our eyes (we’ve since sold nearly all of them to make way for other special finds.) We did catch a whiff or two of befuddlement, and a snicker, from visitors now and again, but that never cramped our style, nor gave us pause.

    I, on the other hand, have collected vintage, movie-star-signed 8X10s and autographs for years, and every inch of every wall of our back hall is plastered with frames full of them. They’re my treasure (!), while some visitors are visibly at a loss for words. I even have three pairs of shoes that once housed the feet of three classic film divas ( Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland) ensconced in clear acrylic boxes, and those really do get a mixed reaction from the hoi-polloi. To quote Judy in one of her songs, “I don’t care!”

    I’ve learned over the years that coming from a confident, grounded, sovereign and caring center is the best policy in every single word and deed, and to be content to allow others the freedom to have whatever they have about it. What they think of me (and my collections) is none of My business.

    And anyhoo, when I’m being true to myself and my taste, and having a joyous time because of it, I’m modeling healthy behavior that they have a chance to try on, from their own true, caring selves, if they’d like. Meanwhile, I get to live with beauty all around me, and share it with others
    Neil

  16. Dawn says

    Seriously, life is too short to worry about what other people think. But, I’ll share some points of a conversation I had with my father the other day. To him, it’s just old furniture. He grew up with old furniture (probably from the 20s or 30s), and to him it’s called poverty. He also has an issue with people painting ceilings colors other than white. I told him that it was my opinion that people should do to their houses what they enjoy. If a colored ceiling makes you happy, paint it. He agreed. He has also told me my 1956 house reminds him of things that were in style when he was first married in 1957. So, while he wouldn’t live in it, I think he can still appreciate it, and it each his own. 

  17. Laurie says

    I’m lucky in that I do not have to say anything. My maternal side is Russian and the women in our family have what some see as a gift. When anyone dares question our taste or make rude comments, we just raise an eyebrow and stare. It gets really quiet, sometimes they gasp, and then like magic the conversation changes and all is well. The look has been described as cold, icy, shoots daggers, etc… A Jewish friend said it is the same look she gives her kids, and to use the gift wisely. LOL BTW, I really love reading these posts! I am both inspired and entertained by all you guys.

      • Elisabeth says

        Ha! On my father’s side of the family, we’re Croatian and we have what we call “the Mikelich Glare”. You lower your eyebrows (bushy) and just look at them…I’ve gotten great tables in restaurants that way by turning it on the maitre’d, and frightened badly behaved children! When I practiced law, I was known for making witnesses that I was deposing, cry. Very effective!

        • Amy says

          A-ha – my dad is Croatian (that makes me half!) – and this explains that look! (My grandmother, his mom, did it REALLY well!)

        • Laurie says

          I LOVE it! I was just a paralegal but many a client requested that I be in the room with the opposing party because of the affect I had on others. LOL! Must be in the DNA from that part of the world. I treasure it.

  18. Richard Douglass says

    Most people are sheep. Then there are the 20% or so who dare to be different. And bold. And creative. And follow their own path. I say, welcome to that path and the people who walk it with you.

    For an interesting read about how different people look at things, (including how your house is decorated) I recommend the book, “CLASS, A Guide Through the American Status System,” by Paul Fussell. I found it highly amusing and entertaining.

  19. Kit says

    One of the most DELISH things about growing a bit older is not paying so much attention about others opinions on what I am doing and just enjoying myself!

    I’d say the best response to the oddly raised brow is simply this ” Midcentury decorating and collecting is what makes me happy and what I really am enjoying! I just love the era of my parents (grandparents); so electict and whimsical!” Who in the world could argue with your happiness? If they do, they are just being contrary!

  20. Danika says

    I would take comfort in knowing that the wave of trend has started to roll and in short order everyone will “get” mid-century! Here on the coast mi-mod has been in for a long, long time and people are starting to enjoy ’70;s and ’80’s style. The granite and dark cupboards are already tired here. You also don’t get a penny back on your renos in our very expensive city.
    We are moving in land and starting to hear what many of you do in terms of negativity. Which isn’t all bad because the older homes are up to 50k less than “up-dated” homes out where we are moving to (not to mention the loc change means we get a four bed house for the price of our condo). At this point though I know it’s only a matter of time before the style trends spread.
    I find the most helpful thing for me to do is not get too project happy and simplify. When I have too many projects on the go (half done bits here and there etc.) it’s too easy for others to see “old” instead of a style vision. I have young kids so I can only tackle so much at one time. When I practice patience and keep our possessions well edited others can “see” better.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Danika, welcome out of lurking! I thing you have made an excellent point about “not get too project happy and simplify. When I have too many projects on the go (half done bits here and there etc.) it’s too easy for others to see “old” instead of a style vision.”

  21. Danika says

    …and when it comes to what to say I just grin and go along with their “crazy” statement. I just admit that I prefer colour and quality! I relate that most of what people “up-date” with from the big box stores can’t compete in the quality department. People seem to change their tune as they relate to the pragmatism.

  22. Marilyn says

    I love retro… And never try to explain it…. We are all so different… And as someone said in an earlier post… Most people gave a herd mentality…or gotta fit in… I never did relly care for either. If someone doesn’t know me they might be brave enough to say something…. I do believe most know better than to question how I decorate… They don’t live in my house… Lol

  23. Danika says

    ok sorry…. but one more comment :P
    I’ve also noticed that colour preferences change in accordance with how people use their homes. I am a full-time mom and work from home – I NEED colour!!! However, my step-Mom-in-law works full-time away from home and prefers sleepy earth tones in their house, she needs to relax at the end of the day. Could it be that change in culture over the century played into colour trends? Perhaps. Homeowner’s personal tastes will vary one from another because our lifestyles and needs are different. So do be confident in your choices when they suit your life!

    • pam kueber says

      I definitely think that some people seek colorful stimulation from within their homes — others, respite.

  24. WillG63 says

    I find the best way to deal with negativity about any personal choices in life is to just use the opportunity to express your extreme enthusiasm. Basically you let the comment roll off you like water off a duck’s back and then wax on with something like: ” OHMY GOD! Are you kidding ! I just LOVE MCM ……” And then elaborate why. no need to mention your feelings toward other choices. In return for their negativity put forth such an avalanche of enthusiasm that it will short circuit their thought process on the subject. Never mention that it is your house, your life and your choice….NOT doing so tells them that you already think it is so obvious that it is not necessary. This is actually not something I even need to strategize about because I have no doubts or second thoughts

  25. Elizabeth says

    I guess sincer enthusiasm has disarmed most of our friends. Like stated earlier, I gush over my pink and grey bathroom with Hollywood regency style cabinets and over the amazing quality of post war homes.

    I reluctantly moved into my midcentury modest and because of my found tribe have grown increasingly proud and educated.

    Because of this site I had resources when repairing my 1953 en suite. Our friend was like, aren’t you going to gut it? I replied, “oh no, I want our bathroom as period as possible.” And then waited 2weeks for custom moonbeam yellow 4×4 tiles to be made and shipped.

    Be proud of you tastes and welcome to the tribe;)

  26. says

    Every house we’ve owned speaks to me. Its architecture, its location, its occupants. As our family grows and changes, that is reflected in our home. We currently live in a 60’s brick split level-ranch in a small town near a mountain lake with a beach. We are updating baths and kitchen to be safe & efficient, while reflecting the 60’s era. We are not purists but we are delighted when we find light fixtures, furniture, & accents that speak to that era and the mountain lake beach vibe. We don’t try to recreate the past, just respect its clean simplicity with some lucky finds. Create what you love to live in with no apologies.

    • Jane says

      I was going to post my own thoughts on this subject but VermeerHouse sums it up so nicely!

      We are the 3rd family to live in our sweet, compact 1959 ranch. It is not a time capsule and some changes have been made – nothing that has really compromised the integrity of the house. (It is beautifully built).

      It IS our home and we want it to be comfortable and we believe that’s it’s OK to make changes to suit the our tastes and needs. It is a home that has obviously been loved – and we continue in that tradition!

  27. Jay-Are Garcia says

    I feel this post. Its great advice . I am getting the same from people when looking for renovations here in the midwest. My old place in california this is not such an issue. Im getting flooring companies asking why I would want to pull out click n lock flooring in my kitchen and the carpet in my dining room ripped up and replaced with VCT flooring. It to my eyes and esthetics looks better esp. with my Saarinen table and late 50s credenza. Also an issue trying to get my fireplace redone with people who would use roman brick or cinderblock style as seen in some Eichlers. I guess the world wants everyone to have the newest and greatest that outdates every century instead of the timeless classic looks from the 50’s and 60’s that never goes out of style. And don’t get me started on but it will hurt the resale value. Heck I don’t plan on moving right away and I want to enjoy my house for me now and not live in what someone else might want to if I were to move.(extremely long run on sentence) Let your freak flag fly. No one stands out when they blend with the flock.

  28. says

    Unfortunately, we live in a follow the leader society. Most people have no sense of personal style or they are afraid to express themselves. They want to be told what they should like….Rooms to Go anyone???

  29. carolyn says

    Did anyone catch the Yahoo article about actor Joseph Gordon- Leavitt and his pristine 1940’s house purchase? Most comments were positive (I think the rest were either trolls or ___ – fill in the blank with something appropriately derogatory relating to mental capacities.)
    My husband is OK with what I want to do especially since he’s got collections of Indian, Marilyn, Betty, and The Duke which would all fit right in. His definition of a house is a place to store your $_it in so I gladly took over the decorating.
    He takes appliances in for repairs for a home improvement chain and the shops all tell him to find appliances from the 1990’s or earlier because the new stuff either doesn’t work right in the first place or breaks down way too often.
    Many people think MCM is tacky, old junk, or creepy. I think it’s comfortable, useful, and cool.
    I’m right.

  30. says

    This may sound unrelated but give it a minute. About a decade ago I decided to change my first name. I had been talking about changing it since I was 7 so… that made it about 30 years in the planning.
    Now I can understand my parents being upset. They gave me the name and have used it to address me for longer than I can remember. But you would be shocked at the number of people, with no real investment in my name, who were *angry* about it. I was really mystified for a while until I realized their problem. They were thinking, “Hey! I’ve always hated my name too. How come she gets to change hers and I don’t?”
    And the answer to that is… because they were chicken livers who could not stand up and say, “This is the change I want and I’m going to make it – even though it is really non-standard!”
    So, I’m going to guess that you have the girlnads to be **YOU** – the fabulous and non-standard YOU that you want to be and they … don’t. You doing of your thing points-up to them that they are either ordinary or too “skeeeerd” to wave the above mentioned freak flag.
    Do your thing, A! Your example may free some other person in [state] to do her thing too, and you may start a trend! [State] may soon be the coolest place to live in the whole [country]. Or not. Maybe you’ll have single super groovy home in [state], but you’ll will be A! Nobody else can be A for you! That’s *your* job!! Kick it!

  31. Beverly says

    It does take some “getting used to” sniffs of depreciation. My husband is of the “out with the old; in with the new” persuasion. It takes a LOT of compromise to restore an older house and find things in keeping with its astethics.

    People will always have their “dream house” visions. Their “visions” aren’t my vision of a dream house.

    When talking with family and friends who are unable to imagine “living with old things”, I just smile. It’s easier for me to let someone express ones views & opinions… A form of “talk therapy”. Someone might talk oneself into enjoying this quaint house and enjoy visiting after all.

  32. Mary-C says

    As someone who is MCM in age!!!…….I recall how most folks in my home area, Western Pennsylvania, were really into “colonial” style furniture, the Cape Cod curtains, spinning wheels, old crocks, oil lamps…the whole shebang, in the 50s especially!!! Then Danish Modern seeped in, at least in some homes for awhile. In the 80s Country Living took over and there were specialty “country” decorating shops all over the place…..kind of a flashback to the 50s. Sooooooo………for a lot of us to go back and embrace the clean lines, and promise of all things modern, of our youth seems like a natural reaction.
    Fifteen years ago we built a contemporary Southwest home in New Mexico. It has a white lacquered Ikea kitchen….with Formica counters…..that looks a lot like the 50s steel cabinets. Everyone who sees it LOVES it…..we have “contemporary” (Italian & Scandinavian modern style) furnishings for the most part, with a few “western” accents! It works well together.
    What interests me is that my 30-something daughter-in-law is IN LOVE with MCM, and she & my son found and bought their MCM dream house in St. Louis, MO a couple years ago…..complete with the original Youngstown kitchen!!! I am so happy for them, and have fun finding MCM things to add to their home, including items I still have that belonged to my mom and aunts!

  33. Julie C says

    I purchased my first house in August, having been wanting my own nest for as long as I could remember. I don’t have a partner, and I finally decided I don’t give a darn, I’m going to do it. I bought a 1950/60 walk-out basement two story that was built in two phases, speaking to the thrift and quality of the era. My joists are unbreakable – the walls are double layer plaster over sheetrock. No new house would compare tot he quality of this house. The former owners had really let it get into disarray, the basement level unused for years (despite an amazing full-wall functioning fireplace), and I have had a lot of work to do yet… currently focusing on the bathrooms, as both were a mess. The architecture of the house is nothing but Mid Century Modest at it’s peak, and it would be a waste to not celebrate that in my decor, too. I’ve inherited some lovely antiques that were older than MCM era, but they have special value to me, so I decided to celebrate the thrift of the original house and merge, but have some awesome thrift finds to incorporate and the remodels will celebrate the era. There’s a lot to love in our past – why waste?

  34. J D Log says

    I have been collecting 50-60’s since I Was 18 (32 years ago) so my friends are use to my ways their attitudes vary from that is the way he is, to admiration.
    Last October I took 2 months overdue leave from my work to restore the outside of my place for my 50th party. I live in a conservative neighbourhood. I removed anything rotted and replaced it. I painted the Fascia boards black (a famous Queensland architect of the 50’s) the eves pink the main house a 1960 green and a red front door. I restored a few 50’s garden statues (birds seahorses etc) Painted the ceiling of the carport a black and white chequer pattern (saw this on a 50’s house which has since been painted dark blue), the garage door an abstract pattern of yellow black and pink ( saw this on a 50’s garage door now painted over in a dark brown). Although this might sound ghastly it really does work and was typical of the more colourful houses of the 1950-60’s in Australia.
    Getting to the point of the story this was the 1st time I went visually public with my taste (apart from my old cars) I was surprised by the reaction of the locals ranging from school kids to old people and cars stopping outside my place and looking at the place for a good 5 minutes. The responses ranged from people shaking their heads or sneering to people taking photos and knocking on my door wanting to see more. So I guess the moral here that we are all have different tastes and you will always get different reactions. I got to admit I got a evil little delight seeing peoples responses on something outside the square.

  35. Richard says

    IMO no other era gets more negative attention than the 1970s…just happens to be my fav. If others don’t approve…oh well. I’m not looking for their approval anyhow.

  36. Danielle from CO says

    We just purchased a 1957 ranch that has the low roofline and front window style that we love. The house has been updated, but we were so happy that the flippers left in the original gray tub and toilet in the upstairs bath. Of course, they installed boring flooring and porcelain bath tiles, but we plan on retro remodeling that back. That’s the reason my mother never told me about the house – she HATED the bathroom!! Well, that’s the reason my husband and I love it! The flippers did the same in the kitchen, boring floor tiles and the granite countertops. Again, something we have plans to remodel. But still, we plan on being in this house for the next 20 years, or until our kids are grown. Some friends of ours tell us we are such a cool couple and that this house just totally fits us. I’m so happy to hear that, but if it was negative I would just brush it off. Unfortunately, it hurts most when it’s family. I do have to say, I scored a Heywood Wakefield buffet, wishbone dining table with leaf, six dining chairs and two step-end tables for $1150, and they fit perfectly in here!

  37. sandy houston says

    I consider it extremely rude of friends to make negative comments on one’s taste in decor. If they don’t care for it, a noncommittal “Mmmm – interesting” or “I see what you are doing here” would suffice. But there is a positive too – these dislikers will not be competing with you at the next estate sale or thrift shop – so they are to be treasured too:)

    We currently live in New Zealand where there is not much “stuff” from the mid century era due to strict import controls at that time. Most lovely Danish and other Scandinavian modern arrived here with immigrants from Europe.

    Keep up the good work – Sandy

  38. Amy says

    My husband & I bought a 1960’s house last year and jumped right in to the era – which we both experienced as kids and feel warmly about. We’ve stayed true to the lines of this home and the style – so fun! It brought us closer – and our parents & siblings enjoy our decor – nostalgic. I’ve had a few friends, my boss & a neighbor react as if I committed treason – betrayed the hgtv “standard” of granite countertops, espresso finishes and spa bathrooms. These are people who let the media & furniture stores dictate to them what they should like. The older you get, the more you distinguish a trend from a classic. I HAD the 1918 home with the Craftsman touches – the lamps & furniture, the “country” look before that – all very safe & comfortable styles. But this home would look downright silly with those fashions. Meanwhile, I see on TV – sitcoms, talk shows etc – that MCM lines ARE catching on. Look at the hysteria over “Mad Men!” Hold on, everyone – we’re just at the head of the pack, and soon everyone will scramble to get what we have. We’re leaders, they are followers.

  39. Scott says

    Personally, I’ve been “into” MCM and have been collecting for over 30 years. Some people just don’t get it. MCM has come into vogue the past year or so and now everyone thinks I’m so “retro”. It’s not retro, it’s vintage. My MCM friends and I don’t need to communicate our taste to each other. We just see it as our normal. A person’s love of everything Mid-Century is just what you’re born with – like having blue eyes or brown hair..

    • Lynn says

      People calling my vintage stuff retro annoys me too! I want the real thing–not a reproduction, if I can get it. You are right. I’ve loved everything from this time period for as long as I can remember and it doesn’t seem to have been influenced by anyone else. It’s just a part of me.

  40. Ronda says

    I have been collecting retro stuff for most of my adult life. My parents were collectors of stuff and I learned it from them. Luckily, my sister lives in a 1904 home and has filled it with antiques. So my family gets it. The others really don’t matter. My husband and I bought our 1946 home 10 yrs ago. I fell in love with the mint green kitchen with original cupboards. We did redo the wall paper because the stripes accentuated the uneven walls and made us feel like we were in “jail.” But we wall papered with my beloved Strawberrys. I love my original GE range which works perfectly, thank you. I so thought of myself as an oddity as it seemed no one else appreciated MCM around here. I live in a very small town. But even here the retro is taking hold.
    I decorate in a mix. I did buy a new sofa but it is a dark blue green to match the rope rug and oil painting my sis did for me 25 yrs ago. I remember the sales lady, ” Are you sure you want That color? How about a nice brown?” But no the color is just right! My home makes me so extremely happy. It is so nice to find this website and be able to be apart of what is old is now new again.

  41. Bobee-Kay Clark says

    In the words of Dr. Suess, “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” It takes time to develop your own MCM style, and you are going to make mistakes. Be brave and allow yourself your humanity. Enjoy your home by being brave enough to create joy.

  42. Lynn says

    For now, I live in a neighborhood built in the 80s and 90s and I suppose some of these houses would be considered McMansions. I moved here quite a while ago when I was younger and valued different things. The mindset here is to cover everything with granite and stainless steel. At a neighborhood party of snarky granite people (to which I wish I never had gone, but was trying to be social) I mentioned one time how much I loved older things and shopping at thrift stores. They told me that I should go over and sort through another neighbor’s pile of garbage because I might find something I liked! I was insulted! I was so shocked and could only think to reply that I wasn’t interested in garbage. I told a co-worker once that I loved to shop at thrift stores. She looked at me with obvious disdain, like she suddenly smelled a huge pail of garbage, and said, “I would NEVER shop at thrift stores!” Several years later, another co-worker who knew how much I loved thrift stores was gossiping to other people that I shouldn’t have to shop at thrift stores because I wasn’t poor! UGH! Unfortunately, I’ve found that I just have to be careful about with whom I share my loves. The funny thing is I have learned that several of these people find themselves struggling financially. Wonder why?

    I am planning to move from our neighborhood soon, so the only MCM I have incorporated is via paint and removable furnishings (and my vintage dress collection!). I know that if I went any further here, people looking at our house when it’s on the market would say it was “outdated” and they would “rip it out and update it”. So I am waiting to do more. But for the next house, I’m looking for something from the period that hasn’t been updated. I expected the realtor I’ve been talking to to react strangely to my request, but she didn’t at all. She told me about someone else who did the same thing I’m considering. MCM is becoming more en vogue so I think it’s more widely accepted than it was. Maybe things are getting easier due to this, but loving MCM always made me unique, which I liked. We’ll see. I just know that those who so openly criticize our obvious coolness have a lot to learn in the manners department!

  43. says

    I must say I have not had this experience. Everyone who comes into my home always loves the old furniture (not surprisingly, most of it is Heywood-Wakefield). But I think many readers of this blog are much more catholic (that’s a small “c” there) in their taste, right down to grappling with 1950s and ’60s appliances, which I don’t do. So maybe there is a difference. Also, I live in Miami, where virtually everybody gets mid-mod.

    But if I had to listen to some sort of rant about mid-mod style, I agree with the person above who opined that lashing out and dissing the insulter is a bad idea, which might feel good for a moment but in the end make the insultee look equally boorish. I can’t imagine what an insult based on my taste in design might sound like, but I think I would try to diffuse the situation with gradually escalating levels of snideness. If there are others watching it might be fun to try to subtly insult the rude person in such a way that only the others get it. Or maybe a simple “different strokes” remark would get you through.

    In any case, who cares? Do your thing and enjoy, and definitely – DON’T QUIT.

    Leonard Riforgiato

  44. Hollywood Harriet says

    The key word here is “style” If you are looking for a mid century home in California than you have no doubt seen dozens of so called renovated or updated houses. We term them “flipped”. Sure they have been updated but with big box store stock that often does not even match the other elements of new design (if there was one) or the house itself. Almost every period detail, thus the house’s original character, have been removed and replaced with the run of the mill that is everywhere. Decorate in a way that makes you happy and comfortable in your own home. Let other family members have their spaces but as the lady of the house I am sure you have the maintenance duties – go with the style you love.

    “Different quirks for different jerks”

  45. says

    I’ve been lucky on a few counts:

    1. I’ve spent my entire life in Southern California, which is so diverse that it’s almost impossible to be TOO unusual. (Also, a disproportionate number of the Case Study houses are in LA, and fantasy architecture is probably more common here than anywhere else in North America. You name it, someone out here likes it enough to live in it.)

    2. I was raised by a devoted antiques collector (although her style skews about two centuries older than mine). Enough said.

    3. I firmly believe that life is too short for worrying about what other people think. I didn’t care what the common hooligans at my middle school thought about my vintage bell bottoms (this was a few years before the rise of the bootcut jean), and I sure don’t care what anyone else thinks about my vintage/eclectic taste. I’m the one who chooses to live with this stuff, and since I’m pressed for space (I live in roughly 500 square feet!), I can only choose things I love.

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