Hannah’s 1960s grape cluster swag light kit & a peek inside her mid century modest house

1960s-swag-light-kit-grape-clustersHannah scored big time on ebay recently with this New Old Stock swag light kit — 42 little glass balls combine to create a dazzling grape cluster light. Just imagine the thrill.  Hannah, who paid $54 for this treasure, writes:
Hi Pam,
I’m sorta excited about you showcasing my grape lamp kit!  My 15 minutes of fame finally rolled around (unless you count that time I was pulled over for being Patty Hearst in the early 70s while she was on the lamb with the SLA)   🙂
graphics and box for grape cluster swag light kit
I also ask Hannah to tell me what’s going on in her house. She says:
hannahs-1950s-houseThis house was a foreclosure.  I originally signed in October 2010.  We didn’t close until April 8, 2011.
Long wait and lived among boxes for many, many months.  All my MCM goodness packed away!  In that time however, I did find my Heywood-Wakefield set, two Lane end tables (mint), and a Lane blanket chest that just happened to match the end tables! Now, I didn’t plan for the living room to turn out ‘tiki’ style.  But it certainly did.  It’s what’s been coming my way at reasonable prices so I’ve been going with that flow.
complete NOS kit to create a vintage grape cluster lampThe kitchen cabinets will be painted out aqua (walls will be something called Pot of Cream), I’m addicted to orange so have to balance that.  We hope to put up some faux aluminum behind the fridge and stove (saw the tiles on Amazon for a great price and equally great reviews).J ust a half wall.  Found some peel and stick ones on Amazon that have great reviews, and people say you can’t tell they’re not real stainless.  Plus, they’re reasonably priced.  They come in copper too, which I’m very fond of, and I’m thinking the copper would warm up the kitchen more, and tie in with the orange living room set, just a tad.


Not much to tell at the moment regarding renovations.  I think I mentioned that my kitchen won’t get painted out until Mr. Wonderful’s busy season is over (painting) and that should be fall or after.  Frammit!  It’s all so monotone now, as the beige color tile we picked is all to close to what the countertop and cabinets currrently are.  The ‘clutter’ of vintage canisters, salt and pepper shakers, crocks, vases, and mod trivets at least give it some color for now.

wood branch for DIY grape cluster swag light kit

I want to change out the kitchen countertop also, but we’re not even ‘going there’ yet!  I’ve been googling retro formica countertops for a year now, and seems the patterns are limited to boomerang or the marble effect.  I’d really like to find one with the gold (or silver?) flecks instead.  Haven’t run across any such animal thus far.
1950s yellow tile bathroomThe bathroom is still a WIP.  The flooring in there was really, REALLY bad fake wood vinyl peel & stick tiles.  That’s been torn up and replaced with black carpet.  Since the tile surround is original to the house (yellow) I couldn’t figure out anything but a black/yellow combo as that was popular back then.  The original tiles are in great condition in the tub, but someone tried to add a half wall of a different color yellow with speckles and that looks awful and some of those tiles are broken.  Those are coming OFF.  We do eventually want to tile the floor, and I wish to GAWD that I lived near that World of Tile you posted about !  OMG!  I’d go nuts. Oh, off topic – ever since I read on your site that you won’t allow pictures with open toilets “bad feng shui” – lol – I keep mine closed.  Tried to anyway, but that statement hit home for some reason.
vintage grape light kit
My love of MCM is a very sentimental one.  My Mom, Dad and brother have all passed in the last 14 years, and I found myself being drawn to it when I’d see things at swap meets, flea markets or on random eBay searches.  Wow!  WE had that!  Surrounding myself with MCM reminds me of better days, younger days, good times, the parents cocktail parties….
I just wish there were more of it available in Maine.  There’s a dealer in Rockland, ME – who’s got a whole warehouse of furniture, but most of his prices are outrageous.
Anyway, thanks for asking!
Thank you, Hannah, you have a lovely house and surely are doing your memories proud. A few thoughts: (1) Even if wiring is intact on NOS or vintage lighting, I am told the professionals always rewire it. Do the right thing – get informed, consult with a professional. (2) No, no… No speckled gold laminate countertops available currently. And (3) Good girl, you’re keeping your toilet seat closed! This is one of the things you can do to try and keep your money energy from flowing down the drain. Now I will up the ante: Keep bathroom doors closed, especially if they are en-suite. Mal odors coming into a living area are… mal!
Good luck with your updates/backdates. It sounds like you have some work today but that you are starting from a good base and that you’re taking it all in stride. Send me a pic when you make the grape cluster light and get it in place.  Yowza, that will be rockin’!

  1. Carol says:

    My Mom and my Grandma made grape cluster lamps and bunches of grapes wired onto driftwood “stems” as coffee table decorations. They made them out of resin and dye and wire from the arts and crafts store. They sold plastic grape forms you pour the stuff into. We would use the left-over resin and embed all kinds of things in it. You mix it and pour it into wax paper cups, then peel the paper off. I still remember the smell of the resin.

    1. hannah says:

      Hi Carol –

      Wonderful story aobut your Mom and Grandmother making the grape lamps and coffee table clusters. It must’ve been a huge fad that just passed my family right by. I can see in retrospect where it would not appeal to my mother AT ALL (the style of orniment). Mom wasnt’ huge on knick-knack shelves, statues, or vases. Our house while welcoming, was pretty much void of the ‘clutter’ in the realm of decor.

      A crafty friend at work assembled the lamp for me over the weekend (just the clusters around the dowel) – we still need to wire it and hang it. But I got it today first thing upon arriving at work. Made for a great beginning to a Monday! It’s much smaller than my minds eye imagined and I can’t decide if I’m happy or not about that!. Sorta happy I think.


  2. Jan says:

    One thing that works on copper-bottom Revere Ware is catsup! I found that out accidently one day when I set a dirty pot on top of a dirty dish that had catsup on it, and when I washed the pot, the part that had been on the catsup was clean and shiny! Has to be the acid in catsup – best way is to spread a thin layer on, let sit and then wash off.

    About the two different tiles in the yellow bathroom, keep looking. When I least expected to find anything, my local ReStore (which is really small) had a huge load of the most beautiful yellow vintage tile, and I got it all. It is probably the same as the tile you’re going to keep – that lemony yellow. So far, the walls surrounding the tub are finished, but I still have a lot of tile left to go around the bathroom (tub surround seen here: http://thehistorykeeper.blogspot.com/2011/04/almost-finished.html). Good luck – house is great, and so is the grape cluster swag!

    1. hannah says:

      Hi Jan –

      Thanks for the heads up about the re-store. We have one here that’s a fairly good size (Portland, ME) We’ve not been there in a couple of months, but it’s definitely on my mental ist of places to revisit. What’s funny, is when Mr. Wonderful and I are out thrift shopping or flea market hopping we always say “Today we’re going to find the motherlode!” I liked that you used that term, because that’s what it feels like when you find that special item. GREAT find with your tiles!

      When I was getting ready in the bathroom this morning (funny you should mention the color name of the time) I was wondering what color ours might have been called originally – I’m thinking ‘Buttercream” for some reason.

      I’d read about ketsup for copper, but have not tried that yet. I think before I head to bed for the night I’ll smear some on and see what I find in the morning (besides ants).


  3. Chutti says:

    Oh, yes….coming out pix will be great to see!

    I know you’ve got the junque bug-enjoy your current living room set, and you just know you’ll find one you can’t live without at a super price later. Having a rumpus room in the basement sounds ideal.

    Our new house was built in 1920, but there was a 50’s remodel that got me a pink bathroom and what we call the playroom-an enclosed patio. So it’s mostly 20’s-30’s around here, but we have all of our old scandi furniture in the playroom which is totally mcm. It’s really weird to have two sofas, but we are loving it.
    Heck, we even made part of the ‘parlor’ non electric. Just gas lights, victrola and books so we can have a totally different feeling and activities there.
    You may find you can do something similar when you get another living space.

    I love how you can connect your sweet old things to family, even those that are new to you. There is a story about almost everything in our house. If it’s not from family, it’s LIKE something we had. That’s what makes it fun.
    I love seeing my Mom be puzzled at something old we get (like a stove). Not sure why we’d want to do it ‘the hard way”; then she gets to reminiscing and remembers how great they were. It’s always a hoot.

    VCT is the vinyl tile; likely what you have in your kitchen. And I vote for the copper, too. It doesn’t seem to be favored much by the young trendy mcm collectors, and can usually be had cheep cheep! I love the look of copper in the kitchen. I’ve seen the copper range hoods, copper bullet lamps, you name it. Your pull down lamp is perfect, though.

    Great to see this stuff come to fruition!

  4. Lisa H. says:

    Love the yellow tile bathroom! There a house for sale in my area with a yellow tile bathroom, tub/sink/toilet are baby blue and they used baby blue trim tile around the yellow – awesome. Would insert a photo if I knew how! The house is in zip 76118 on Cagle street. Try looking it up on any real estate site.

    Lisa H.

  5. Katey says:

    Copper in kitchens totally had its moments in the 1960s. You should definitely explore that for the kitchen… it will be unusual but historically accurate.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yup, you are right, Katey — there was plenty of copper, or coppertone, in vintage kitchens. It’s one of my favorite touches.

      1. hannah says:

        I’ve got a whole collection of revere ware. LOVE the copper bottoms, and am experimenting with different non-chemical ways to clean them. Each method gets me a little more than half way to ultra shiny. One HUGE stock pot was my grandmothers, and I know one of the saucepans is as well. Only Mr. Wonderful has gone nuts over the years picking up any he can find at thrift stores and flea markets, so her saucepan is lost in the midst. Frammit!

        I think I’ll go with the copper tiles from Amazon – when we get to it. SO much to do!

  6. Jen Hrazanek says:


    The reasons you have given for loving MCM brought a tear to my eye. My beloved Grandma, who passed away in 1997, had many midcentury treasures that today bring back the feelings of love and happiness I always felt with her. Her red formica and chrome kitchen table with matching chairs started it all for me, and my uncle still uses that table. When I see it, I melt.

    She had a turqouise bathroom, a red kitchen, and these white and gold Arabian genie statuettes that flanked the TV. I would give my left eyeball for those genies now!

    Rock that color palette! Orange and turqouise go great together! Can’t wait to see more photos.

    You have a great home. Thanks for sharing.

    1. hannah says:

      H Jen,

      I thought turquoise/aqua would bounce well off all the orange here. That’s for the support!

      I lost my Mom in 1997, the first one to go. Dad took all the MCM furniture with him when they split in the late 70s, and now his ex has it all. I have no idea if she knows what it is and what it’s value is these days.

      Your Grandmother’s kitchen and bathroom sound like all sorts of retro awesomeness! Those statues, WOW, I can almost visualize them. I have a pair of green/black oriental figures flanking a purple grape cluster on top of my bookcase. But your grandmothers sound so much cooler!

  7. hannah says:

    I want to thank Pam for making me feel like “A Queen For A Day”. 😀

    You did a wonderful job! I will discuss your numbered points with TPTB (the powers that be = Mr. Wonderful) especially regarding the electric wire on the lamp kit. I think I assumed since it was new, and never used it would be fine.

    We have several vintage lamps here (whether from family or eBay or flea markets) and all have original cords. Aside from painting for a living, Mr. Wonderful (aka: Gerry) is also a fairly proficient handyman, fixing wiring in the home etc. But, I’ll be sure to talk to him about this fine point and see what the outcome is. I thought old wiring was only dangerous if it was frayed, cracked, etc.

    I will DEFINITELY share pics of the lamp once it’s assembled. And yes, it WILL be assembled. I know about MIB, and now, NOS. But in the latter years of ones life, one does what makes one happy. And it will make me happy to see this lamp assembled. If I left it in the box in the basement, I’m not sure what any of my ‘heirs’ would make of it. It’s value would not be recognized I fear! I’m sure the value won’t be recognized when they have to take it down from the ceiling either *lmao*. “WHAT is THIS ugly thing??” lol


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