Creating a Minimal Mid-Century Modern Space, Part 2

At this point, perhaps your mind is teeming with ideas for fixing up your place.  Maybe you even laid down some new flooring or repainted your walls or something like that.  What I want to discuss, to really make your space feel like a minimal MCM space, is removing clutter and key elements to the mid-century modern style.

Removing Clutter

I've reposted my favorite YLiving advert: Clutter Causes Anxiety.  I saw it on the back of a Dwell magazine and it struck me as being so absolutely true.  It sounds so easy, but it's not.

What you need to do is dedicate a weekend to removing clutter from the room that you are renovating.  Yes, a whole weekend.  Your goal is to get rid of everything that you don't need, that you haven't touched in the last year, books that you don't read and don't have sentimental value or purpose, etc.

What do I have hanging around in my living room?  Let's list some of these things out because its kind of ridiculous.
  • Ugly ottoman my mom lent to me
  • Christmas decorations (I know it's almost May)
  • A 2016 calendar still on the month of June
  • Sewing projects & sewing machine - all over the place
  • A big rubbermaid tub that has no purpose
  • My old computer is sitting on the floor
  • An overcrowded bookshelf
  • Patterns not put away
  • An exercise bike I don't really use
  • An extra dog dish
  • A terrible lamp stand, I don't have a current replacement
  • A candy dish with Christmas candy
  • A few sweaters lying around
As you can see from the list, not fully complete, I have a bunch of shit around my living room.

Ready for a challenge?  I want to see your clutter.  Post a picture in the comments or on your own blog and let me know.  I want to see how you improve your space, so also post a picture of your clutter-free space.

Here is my BEFORE:





Here is my AFTER.  I took out 7 bags of garbage/junk and 1 bag of books.:





I got rid of quite a bit of stuff.  If there wasn't a place for it and I couldn't make one, it was removed.  If I hadn't used it in a while, it was removed.  I got stuff off the floor.  I cleaned.  This actually extended to my entire apartment and posting this, I am not currently finished.  Tonight I'm cleaning my bathroom (easy) and tomorrow the focus will be on my bedroom (my junkiest room).  Going through stuff, I found an empty box taking up space in my hallway closet.  An empty box!  I was like WTF?!  Why do I have this?  I also took things down that were simply taking up space like the skull masks that I painted (taken down after the photos) and the calendar from 2016.

Something awesome that happened is that I decided on a small-space theme for my writing nook (where my red table is - still a little cluttered).  I'm going with a retro, pulp magazine sci-fi and horror look.  I ordered some posters that I like and I think I might just make my own retro mobile (expect a blog post on that).  I also need to get some hangers.  I have so much crap hung up on those coat hooks that doesn't need to be there, but what am I supposed to do with it right now?  Throw all of it on the floor?  I'll let that be until I pick up hangers this weekend.

I don't know if the photos really do my space justice.  It feel SO MUCH BIGGER!  It is so nice to have my space not feel cramped and cluttered.  I'm still working on my bookshelves.  I still need to work on my writing space.  My bedroom is going to be insane because I keep some extra rubbermaid containers in there.  Have I gone through them?  Just the one with holiday stuff in it.

I would love to see YOUR space, especially if you: 1) have a renovated space, 2) do a before and after, and 3) if you need help.

Decorating Your Space 101

Turning your space into a MCM space is going to take proper decorating skills.  These are the rules that I generally follow, BUT feel free to do whatever you like or what feels right to you:
  1. Play up your themes.
  2. Don't go too crazy and cram too much into your space.
  3. Always have a centerpiece or focal point of your space.
  4. Take your time and do your research (aka look at pictures of MCM spaces).
  5. Consider adding in plants, rocks, salt lamps, wood pieces, metal pieces, clay/ceramics, glass, or other interesting pieces.
  6. Give yourself permission to save up for a new piece of furniture to fit the space.
  7. Lighting is important to all spaces.  You might have great lighting, you might need to invest in a new lamp or something.
  8. Don't get rid of essential items that you dislike until you have a replacement!
  9. If you want it, you MUST give it a specific place.
  10. If you get stuck, check out Retro Renovation for help.




Key Elements of Mid-Century Modern Style
You can't just jump into MCM decorating if you don't fully understand the style. MCM style is very post-war with adjectives like clean, sleek, futuristic/space age, function, sophisticated, modern, colorful, organic curves, and open space commonly used to describe it.  You will often find a merging of outdoors and indoors, especially if there is a pool, garden, or indoor conservatory incorporated into the house.
  • Textures - You can use textured paneling or textures in general to help create a MCM space.  You might find that wainscoting panels (painted or stained) can help give your space that extra oomf.
  • Color - Don't be afraid of color.  So many spaces are neutral in today's world.  Do something bold.  Paint that wall yellow or pink.  Color affects mood, so if that blue or peach is something you just adore, DO IT.  With most space schemes, I always try to have 2 or 3 colors that I play around with.  My kitchen is green, but accented in various tropical colors.  My living room is aqua and coral - kind of falls in with the whole tropical colors motif.
  • Geometrics - Shapes are cool.  Play around with shapes in your space.  You might find some globe lights, hourglass lampshades, a boomerange coffee table, starburst or sunburst wall decor, or something else that's geometric.
  • Organic Shapes - Organic shapes are odd shapes that you might find in nature such as: boomerang, amoeba, starburst, cowhide rug, squiggles, and organic curves (instead of hard angles).
  • Functional, But Decorative - If you are looking at setting up a room barrier or if your space is outside, you should consider decorative concrete block, decorative metal panels, and glass blocks.
  • Futuristic/Space Age - MCM style became popular just as we started going into space.  It shouldn't surprise you that space, ideas of space travel, and general sci-fi influenced a lot of MCM spaces.  You'll find sputnik shapes, rockets, starbursts, sunbursts, various atomic shapes, very sleek and clean spaces (masonite wall panels and high gloss paint), furniture with hairpin legs, and even home automation!  If it helps, think "Jetsons".
  • Open Space - Before MCM, a lot of homes had a room for each area of the house.  When MCM came along it was basically started knocking down walls for common areas.  Your kitchen, dining, and living room started to become one large space.  If you want to knock down a wall, talk to someone who knows that they're doing.
  • Inside-Outside - If you read articles about design elements of MCM, you'll run into people saying that there is an inside-outside element.  It might be a brick wall that runs along an interior wall and extends as a wall of your patio.  It could be extra windows to help bring in natural light.  Plants indoors.  If you're outside, it could be, essentially, an outdoor room with seating and a table and other items catered to your climate.
Kitschy is Ginchy!
MCM is home to some super kitschy elements.  Ginchy, by the way, just means 'cool'.  It's okay to have a bit of kitsch to your space.  It's fun and it helps make your space feel personalized.  The list is long, so I'll give you...let's say 15 of the ginchiest kitsch ideas.
  1. Ceramic panthers
  2. Dogs - Poodles, beagles, and Scottie dogs were the go-to dogs of the day.
  3. Clowns
  4. Cartoon Modern as home art - definitely google 'cartoon modern'.
  5. Tiki
  6. Exotica - This is a type of jazz of often associated with primitivism
  7. Primitivism - Decorating with primitive art, often African, native, tiki, polynesian designs, and even caveman as inspiration (like 'Flintstones').
  8. Sci-Fi - Retro sci-fi!
  9. Western - Wild west themes
  10. Fish/Fishing - Modern stylization of fish and fishing
  11. Horror - Retro horror, usually done up with some pretty bold colors
  12. Birds - I can see the three-piece chalkware bird set along your wall and pink flamingos in your yard.
  13. Bowling - You can definitely turn bowling into a kitschy theme.  If you do this, I would highly recommend being on a bowling team.
  14. Classic Cars - Many have been inspired by the sleek lines, fins, the chrome, and the sheer awesomeness of classic cars.
  15. Wild Thing - Leopard print, a little primitivism, a little tiki, a little horror and sci-fi, maybe even a little punk mixed in there.  The wild thing can be hard to pull off if you don't have a firm plan.

In Part 3, I want to show you some of my favorite items that I have and I want to share some really cool MCM items (links) that you could own!

Links

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