wall-cabinets-with-glassjake the border terrier

DOGGIE BLOGGERS JAKE AND BARCLAY — that’s Jake at left, he’s an Eames/Saarinen fan — have a fun blog called The (dog) House. [update: now seems to be offline] Their reader-owners recently added acrylic inserts to their “great wall of yellow” vintage kitchen cabinets, even more so if you have jigsaw and know how to use it. This is a low-cost, high-impact update for any kitchen.  They also added a dose of pistachio color, and check out the checkerboard Armstrong VCT floor…. Nicely done “grandma’s redux,” as they call it. But read on, this house is very interesting for at least two more reasons.

First of all, I think a lot of readers will identify with Jake and Barclay’s owners’ sense of style. It’s not “dogmatic” tee hee:

…We decided that mid-century, in our house, would mean anything from the 1930’s through the late 1960’s. We don’t want to be dogmatic about style, even mid-century style. So, while the major design theme for the house is generally mid-century, we add plenty of eclectic and oddball contemporary touches too. Ironic? Sure! Earnest, geeky, obsessive….even middle class? Sure; bring it on! (Read more on the blog’s About page, and cruise through the different rooms via their Categories.)

So, cruise around the site and you’ll see a lot of inspirational ideas not necessarily pigeon-holed into a single narrow collecting decade. Hey – “real” houses are like this, aren’t they? A mix of stuff you find yourself… and which came with the significant other…or from mom or grandma or Uncle Bill or… from the dumpster, even. It’s all a big, expressive, artistic life’s collage.

Second, I think that this house is really interesting because it was built during wartime, in 1943, as defense housing. From what I’ve researched so far, pretty much the only homes being built during the war were for defense workers. This was due to widespread materials shortages. Jake & Barclay’s house is in Richmond, California — the home base of the Kaiser shipyards. So, what a history! Relatedly, it was WWII itself that really catapulted the west coast in desirability as a place to live. I guess I’d stop short of saying it was a “backwater” til then, but maybe…just for farmer’s and movie people? Think “Grapes of Wrath.” But during WWII, there was massive industrial buildup with the defense industry, which needed to stage aircraft, ships, submarines and troops to fight in the Pacific theater. After the war, people stayed because there were jobs as industry converted from wartime to consumer production. The west coast has boomed ever since. And we got everlasting legacies like ranch houses and casual style living.

Jake and Barclay’s house is  2 bedrooms, 1 bath. Defense housing was, of course, quite basic. In terms of design, their  owners call the home a transitional “ranch bungalow.” Sounds right to me — forging a path between the old and the new.  Thank you,  Jake, Barclay, Rick and Sanh!

Categoriesbungalows ranch
  1. VacationBarbie says:

    This kitchen has inspired me! I now know exactly what I am going to ‘do’ with mine. I had my heart set on some Bradbury post-war wallpaper, but now I’m going to go in a completely different direction. I just found an Armstrong vinyl lino yesterday that will work perfectly with my ‘new’ idea. My problem was the pale yellow and aqua tile on my countertops. I love it, but finding something that ‘goes’ with it vs. ‘matching’ was the problem, but seeing this kitchen solved the problem for me.

  2. Barclay says:

    Hey Pam!

    Thanks so much for featuring our kitchen re-do and our humble war-time house. Getting on the Retro Renovation blog is truly the 21st century equivalent of getting one’s home featured in Sunset Magazine.

    It’s so true that war-time housing was basic; in our Richmond neighborhood it’s unusual for most of the mid-forties houses to have any hall closets (coat or linen closets) and it’s even more unusual to have any basement storage (we lucked out in that we have both). The result is that these small houses have very little storage room. They are thoroughly modern, however, in that they have integrated “armoured” wiring and garages (1-car of course)!

    The next project that we’ll blog about soon is way more ambitious than the kitchen re-do, so visit us again soon. And thanks for you and all your readers’ blogs on all things mid-century. When we first moved in to this house, there were virtually no online resources on mid-century or any home design styles, but since the renaissance of retro renovation and other blogs, we’re constantly inspired (and thus re-doing rooms we thought were finished!)

  3. Charles says:

    I had a 1941 home for ten years in Richmond from 1993 through 2003. It was built during the period July 1941 through January 1942 for $3,500, as I recall, as a 864 sq. ft. 2 bedroom 1 bath home on a 50′ by 100’ lot. The City of Oakland, California coined the term “Wartime Tract” home and published a book on California architecture in which these homes were discussed. My people, as did I, believe that Richmond was largely “built out” to meet the population explosion brought about by the wartime economy in the immediate period prior to and after America becoming involved in WWII. However, many homes in my former Richmond neighborhood were actually built after the war in the 1946 though 1949 time frame with the lots originally surveyed for Victorians in 1911. These lots were to be sold then in 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 lot sizes. That is to say you could buy 1 lot @ 25’ x 100’, 1.5 lots @ 37.5’x 100’ or 2.0 lots @ 50’ x 100’. To my knowledge most of these lots remained vacant from 1911 until during and after World War Two. It is possible to find many street blocks in Richmond where there maybe one or two, but no more than a handful of homes built in the 1920s and / or very early 1930s and the remaining ten to twenty homes where built during or after World War II.

  4. MrsErinD says:

    Oh what an adorable doggie! :O)

    Cute kitchen! I love the pistachio color with the black and white so much!

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