My Home in Progress: The Eclectic Mixed Modern Apartment

Photo: Apartment Therapy

By Jacqueline Howell
Until recently, a house or apartment full of thrift, inherited junk, cast off pieces, reclaimed wood, a few teak pieces and an out of place penchant for french country accents was something to feel deeply uncomfortable, or at least, inadequate about. I speak from years of personal experience from the land of the original "shoe string" budget. Add to these challenges a number of house moves and upheavals and the cost and freedom, not to mention the will, to dream of a design sensibility are hard one. But a few sources of inspiration have helped me to value my own designer eye: all these years, hopelessly watching HGTV, longing for a single item, and living without the possibility of renovations have turned into something wonderful. Something "mixed" and "modern".

The above photo shows a fantastic example of a small but light and airy modern apartment outfitted in danish modern pieces. The dining room at left shows a beautiful sideboard or cabinet, and the main room has a perfect, practical, small but effective wall unit shelf. The green upholstered chair at left is a wonderful alternative to the recent trends of big, overstuffed arm chairs. This is the perfect type of chair to place right in the entrance of a room without losing your walkway. This apartment mixes practical function and a real love of design very well.

These photos of a teak ice bucket circa late 60's and popular into the early 70's (I am sure Toronto was lagging a few years behind at that time), represent a piece in my collection that has recently become appreciated and highlighted in a new way as a decorative piece. Originally obtained as a wedding gift, my parents gave it to me with the understanding that it was "teak!". We didn't think about design then but we knew when something was "good wood". Nostalgia made me keep it and now it forms a uniquely special element of my personal design style as I have grown to understand and appreciate this period of design. Like most good design, a piece like this is special beyond trends or sentimentality, though these aspects do make it interesting as part of developing personal home style.

It turns out that the time is right for those of us who have never had much of a budget and whose stuff was someone else's castoffs. These challenges and the creativity that develops from never having it easy or at once, the urban temptation to furnish off the nicer house's curb, and the mend and make do attitudes of our grandparents having been reborn as environmental savvy: factors that, today, dovetail into an aesthetic that is finally inclusive and personal.

Here are a few elements of my personal home decorating look that have brought me close at last to "home". I will post some full room looks in the upcoming weeks as I complete the design. Most of them were obtained on the cheap, free, or second hand. The first one, similar to this photo, was the find of a lifetime  (READ MORE)

Mid century styles in teak were undesirable just a few years ago. If you live outside the major urban antique/design store markets, or have family members who keep everything, you may be able to get yourself outfitted with a small, perfect dining room look like these:

These styles are hot and collectible now, but even better, the danish modern look is wonderful for smaller spaces and for creating a "dining room" where there is none. I can see myself become a lifetime collector of this look as long as there are still affordable and reproduction pieces around. The popularity of Mad Men has made this era and look wildly popular on a mass scale so it may become harder to find. Ikea actually has some decent versions of this style, although their colors unfortunately tend to the light or dark stain instead of the traditional look.

Apartment Therapy

In upcoming weeks, home tours and diy projects will be featured including photographs of my home and furnishings. If you have a story about your home in progress or your own progress of home making, contact me if you would like to submit your story for the blog.

(Ice Bucket Photographs: H is for Home Blog)

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