MY FAVORITE FINDS #1 – GOLDEN STARBURST MAIL BOX

1950s starburst mail box.

1950s starburst mail box.

I bought this beautiful eye-catching mid century mail box last summer from a great little shop on Etsy – Mid Century Kitschen (https://www.etsy.com/shop/midcenturykitschen). I considered it a bit of a birthday present to myself and just couldn’t pass it up. Original pieces like these especially those in such great condition and that come with their original boxes are hard to find and sell quickly. The iconic starburst design on the harvest gold metal box shines as does the metal itself. It has a subtle sparkle that reminds me of the metallic paint on the model cars my brothers used to make when I was little. It also comes with the matching newspaper holder that hooks onto the bottom once it is up. I can’t wait to put it up by the front door…I know it will look amazing!

The colour is a warm mix of gold and orange that in some light looks almost sunny yellow and in other light almost a deep orange. It was made by a company called The Griswold Maufacturing Company out of Sidney, Ohio.

Mid century starburst mail box.

Mid century starburst mail box.

The curious mid century history buff in me wanted to find out what I could about this Griswold company so I did a little online search and here’s what I found out about them. The original company started out making hinges and hardware in 1865. Later they started making cast iron cookware which is what the company was and is mostly known for. The company changed hands a few times and in 1957 the company was sold to the Wagner Manufacturing company of Sydney, Ohio who continued using the Griswold name and trademark until it changed hands again. So from the Sydney, Ohio address on the box I think this mail box would have been made between 1957 and 1969. I have not been able to find any other Griswold made mailboxes online so I’m not sure what other colours or styles of mail boxes they may have made.

Griswold logo sticker inside the mail box.

Griswold logo sticker inside the mail box.

A DOOR TO ADORE

 

Eye-catching front entrance on mid century home...from 1962 Main Line Homes Guide.

Eye-catching front entrance on mid century home…from 1962 Main Line Homes Guide.

One of the things I was most excited about when we first toured the 1960s rancher we are renovating was the front door. It caught my eye immediately from the inside with it’s three oval windows – one of the classic mid century door styles. Right now, you can’t really see the door from the outside because the screen door covers it but that will not be the case when the home is made over. This hidden gem of a door will soon be our home’s focal point. It may be old but it’s got a lot of life left in it.

The front door of the house.

The front door of the house.

You really can’t beat an original mid century door. They came in so many wonderful eye-catching designs. Check out the designs below, all from a vintage Beaver lumber catalogue (belonging to the original home owner)…and they were each only $29.95! I love them all but if I had to pick my three favorites they would have to be the raindrops, the rectangles and the stacked ovals…but I would gladly have any of them for my front door. These doors put todays boring and basic doors to shame.

I love all of these doors. My favorite would have to be the teardrop style.

I love all of these doors. My favorite would have to be the teardrop style

And it wasn’t just the doors that were amazing it was the door handles, the escutcheons (the decorative outer part the door knob fits into) and even the door bells were special. Look at these 1960s Nutone doorbells. I have more photos of stylish mid century door accessories here http://modranchreno.com/2015/01/mid-century-door-candy/

1960s Nutone pushbutton doorbells.

1960s Nutone pushbutton doorbells.

Before I can add shiny door accessories the door needs to be painted. My plan is to have it sprayed with a semi-gloss lacquer paint so it stands up to the elements. So now comes the BIG decision of what colour to paint the door. I’d like this door to set the tone for the whole house…a lot of pressure for an old wooden door.

Here are a few possible door paint colour samples shown beside a grey that will be similar to the siding colour. These are the contenders so far not in any particular order:

Sico Sponge Toffee

Sico Sponge Toffee

Sico Paint’s Sponge Toffee is a great match for the original starburst mail box (below) that will be installed beside the door.

Mid century starburst mail box.

Mid century starburst mail box.

And then there is:

Sico Apricot Jam

Sico Apricot Jam

Sico Paint’s Apricot Jam is a warm sunny orange. I’ve always loved the way orange and grey look together. They seem to compliment each other well.

And the colour I keep leaning towards for the door is:

Sico Limoncello

Sico Limoncello

Sico Paint’s Limoncello is bright and cheerful. It is almost identical to Rona Collection’s Chartreuse which has a little more green in it which I also really like, shown below against possible siding colours and the stacked stone we might be using around our entrance area.

Rona Collection Chartreuse

Rona Collection Chartreuse

I really want the door to make a statement and the colour to look great with the grey siding and the stacked stone and compliment any landscaping and gardening we might have out front. I will likely pick out a few more paint swatches before I make a final decision – I’ll post them when I do. Until then, any vote’s?

 

**If anyone is looking for a door that is close to a mid century style I found a company called Therma-Tru Doors which are available in Canada. There are a variety of styles.**

Therma-Tru door 'Pulse' line www.thermatru.ca

Therma-Tru door ‘Pulse’ line www.thermatru.ca

DRIVEWAY DISCUSSION

 

Ranch front with landscaping.

A similar ranch home frontage.

So, the latest topic up for discussion at our place is our future driveway design. I really like the idea of a circular or teardrop style driveway and my husband has suggested a straight, double wide driveway. He sometimes needs to park a truck or other equipment at our house so that is something we need to consider. I have come up with what I see as the pros and cons for each option and some very basic sketches (please don’t judge my drawings – they were done quickly and are not to scale…and I coloured them with crayons.)

Straight Driveway –  This is obviously the simplest option that would just go straight from the road to the garage. We would make it a double wide driveway that would likely continue beside the garage which would make it easier for my husband to park a large truck when necessary. Also, this would be the easiest option for snow removal and lawn mowing (although there would be more lawn frontage to mow.) For me the cons would be backing up out of the driveway especially if there is a large truck parked and also guest parking might also be an issue if several cars are parked along the driveway. That is where the circular driveway design shines with it’s ease of use. We would have to fill in more of the ditch to create this double wide entrance and the municipality would have to move a drain that is where the driveway’s entrance would be. I’m not sure if there would be a cost involved with that but quite likely.

Straight driveway sketch.

Straight driveway sketch.

Circular or Horseshoe Driveway – The horseshoe or half circle driveway looks like a horseshoe and begins at the street and then loops around with a separate entrance and exit and has a section that leads to the garage. This is also a fairly easy design. I’m not sure exactly where the section leading to the garage would have to start off of the loop but you can get the idea from my drawing. This is a great design for parking, especially if you are having several guests. Also, lawn frontage would be a little less for lawn mowing. This design would also mean more of the front ditch would have to be filled which may involve extra cost.

Sketch of horseshoe driveway.

Sketch of horseshoe driveway.

Teardrop Driveway – The teardrop style driveway also begins at the street, loops around and continues around back to the street and has a section that leads to the garage. I like the look of a circular driveway and the ease of use, especially for easy guest parking. It can also be a great and safe place for kids to ride their bikes and I think it makes for a more interesting landscape design (we could do something interesting within the circle) and less lawn to mow.  The cons would be that this takes up more space and it is a bit more complicated to create as it has to be designed and measured properly for proper turning angles. And this type of driveway would not be ideal for parking large trucks which as I mentioned, my husband would have to do on occasion.

Rough sketch of teardrop driveway.

Rough sketch of teardrop driveway.

So, we will have to give this a little more thought and get some more measurements to get a better idea of exactly where each driveway would be located. Personally, I’m thinking that the horseshoe driveway would work out best as it would still allow for straight parking and also have the ease of a circular driveway and additional parking.

 

 

FORMICA AND ARBORITE…WHAT A LOVELY SIGHT

 

Republic Steel kitchen ad from 1954 Better Homes & Gardens.

Republic Steel kitchen ad from 1954 Better Homes & Gardens.

 

Planning our new kitchen has been on my mind a lot lately and since we’ve decided on glossy white cabinets and chrome hardware I have started to think about what type of counter tops I’d like. I’m hoping to find something that would give some retro flair to simple white cabinets similar to the ones in the image above. I’m not thinking of red, but wow – those red Formica counter tops and table really pop!

To begin my search I wanted to check out Formica. Home Depot had many Formica samples including the well loved boomerang pattern in a few colours. My eye went straight to the aqua boomerang sample (below left) which I think would look great with white cabinets, grey walls and my chrome and aqua accents. Unfortunately, I was informed that the aqua had been discontinued but the grey version (below right) is still available. I might keep the grey boomerang on the maybe list but it is definitely not my first choice. 

Formica boomerang pattern in aqua (no longer available) and grey.

Formica boomerang pattern in aqua (no longer available) and grey.

After visiting the Formica blog and reading countless comments regarding this subject, I know I am only one of the many retro loving renovators unhappy that the aqua boomerang (also known as the Skylark pattern) is no longer available. And from the company’s responses it doesn’t appear that they will be bringing it back any time soon. They did introduce an anniversary line in 2013 that has a few styles that may appeal to some…although nothing in the line really catches my eye.

Formica's Anniversary Collection

Formica’s Anniversary Collection – www.formica.com

I liked the idea of going with Formica because of its history and quality. I knew the company was big in the 1950s and 60s for kitchen cabinets, table tops, counters and vanities but I didn’t realize it has been in business since 1913.  

Formica ad from 1959 Canadian Homes & Gardens magazine.

Formica ad from 1959 Canadian Homes & Gardens magazine.

A Canadian company that had a similar laminate product was Arborite who started making decorative melamine laminate in 1945 and were also very popular through the fifties and sixties. Like Formica, Arborite is still in business today www.arborite.com.  

1950s Arborite ad

1950s Arborite ad

Check out all these fabulous patterns. I wish I could choose one of these for my countertops. It would be hard to choose if I could. I love gladly have Whisper in aqua, Golden Glitter in aqua, Fiesta Classic, Spring Melody or Fantasy in white. If only…

1965 Arborite ad.

1965 Arborite ad.

Another laminate product available in the fifties was Panelyte which I had never heard of until I came across this ad in one of my vintage magazines . Apparently the company originally started out offering laminate boards to furniture makers and other businesses before becoming available to the general public for counter tops.

Vintage Panelyte ad

Vintage Panelyte ad

Over the last decade I’ve picked up two  tables and a matching buffet in the grey cracked ice pattern. It seems to be the easiest colour and pattern to find although it is not as fun as brightly coloured versions like red or yellow. 

Formica 'cracked ice' pattern in grey.

Formica ‘cracked ice’ pattern in grey.

We have used the tables for dining and also as a work desk, painting surface and craft table and also a kids table when it needs to be. These tables that have already been around for many decades, like most products from days gone by, are sturdy and built to last. The matching buffet currently houses some of my vintage glass ware.

My vintage arborite buffet.

My vintage arborite buffet.

 I’ve been keeping my eye out for a table in yellow cracked ice but haven’t found one yet. I am a nostalgic kind of girl and I believe my fondness for Formica and Arborite might have stemmed from memories of my family’s own yellow Formica cracked ice dining table my parents bought second hand in the seventies. I’m not sure where it ended up and I was regretfully too young to have had my parents save this table for me…along with the amazing 1960s wool sectional my parents had which is also long gone (I’ll try to find photos of it for my future sofa post.). It would have looked so good in our new living room (sigh).

But back to the topic at hand. Both Formica and Arborite offer quality, long-lasting counter tops and have for decades. They carry lots of patterns but unfortunately not much in the line of fun vintage designs that would look great in a mid-century renovated or retro inspired kitchen. I am still hopeful that Formica or Arborite might announce one day soon that it is bringing back colourful classic designs like aqua boomerang or fantasy starburst but until then I will continue to search for other options. I’ll update this post with any that I find that might end up in our kitchen.

 

 

RETRO RANCH EXTERIOR

 

 

Aluminum siding ad from a 1960 Canadian Homes magazine.

Aluminum siding ad from a 1960 Canadian Homes magazine.

 

When we first planned on moving and renovating the house we didn’t realize that the bricks would need to be removed prior to the house being relocated. Bricks obviously add a lot of weight to the house and can crack during the moving process so although it’s been done, it’s easiest and safest to remove them. After a few weeks of hard work, my husband along with some great help have successfully debricked the house. As you can see below, the brick was a neutral mix of red, oranges and black which I quite liked but I am looking forward to giving the home’s exterior a makeover.

The bricks partially off.

The bricks partially off.

I like the idea of keeping it neutral with a medium to dark shade of grey (a neutral grey with no blue or green undertones) board and batten siding with a mix of stacked brick around the doorway and window section of the front, a look that was popular for mid-century ranchers. The house is quite long so having just board and batten siding would be pretty boring. The stone will give it some depth and separation and make it much more visually appealing. Below is a sketch of what I’ve got in mind.

Sketch of possible house exterior.

Sketch of possible house exterior.

Grey siding may not be the most daring colour of siding, unlike the turquoise and pink pastel siding popular in the 50s and 60s, but I think it will be the perfect shade for our house to really make the door pop…which I would love to paint in a lemon lime colour. Some landscaping in the front will also add some colour and interest. Here are our possible colour choices so far.

Our house exterior colour choices so far.

Our house exterior colour choices so far.

Finding a neutral grey has been quite a challenge. I have yet to find the perfect grey that doesn’t have a blue, green or mauve tint – any suggestions? I have to get some samples of grey siding but I’d like to have a paint sample to bring along. I like the one on the above left (Dulux Paint ‘Grimmy’s Grey’ but I’m not sure if it is too dark.)The lighter grey (Dulux Paint ‘Granite Grey’) is probably too light but it might work for an interior colour. The door colour looks extremely bold here and is a little more subdued in real life – it is Rona Collection paint ‘Chartreuse’. The stone above is ‘Slate Grey’ from a company called Canyon Stone Canada. They offer lots of stone options. We are thinking of using their Quick Fit series which is manufactured 4″ high panels in varied lengths of 8, 12 and 18 inches. I like the colour above because it has various shades of grey as well as a mix of tan which will warm up the grey a bit and blend in with the door colour if I end up going with the lemon lime or an orange colour. The two other possible stone colours I like are below. On the left is ‘Dark Ember’ which has more grey and less tan, ‘Slate Grey’ is in the middle and ‘Platinum’ on the right side which is quite a bit lighter…maybe too light. We have to go see the samples in person before making a decision.

Dark Ember, Slate Grey, Platinum - stacked stone from Canyon Stone Canada.

Dark Ember, Slate Grey, Platinum – stacked stone from Canyon Stone Canada.

 

And for fun, check out these ads from the early 1960s for all the pretty pastel siding that was all the rage back then. I love the turquoise although I’m not sure I would ever be brave enough to do a whole house in it.

 

Retro siding ad.

1960s siding ad – coral must have been a popular shade.

 

retro siding

Lovely pastel shades in a retro siding ad.

 

Aluminum siding ad from 1960 Canadian Homes magazine.

Aluminum siding ad from 1960 Canadian Homes magazine.