What a great idea! We just love seeing items being used for things beyond their original purpose. Take this fantastic David Douglas designed 1960’s coffee pot – looks perfect holding fruit and herb infused water at a summer party. Delish!
For more great mid century coffee pots, visit our store!
Once in a while I come across a makeover project that makes me think “oh, easy!” and this little sewing cabinet was no exception. I mean, lots of flat surfaces and straight lines, an easy strip, stain and seal and “Bob’s your uncle!” Well, no. Not this time. I loved this little table from the get-go, I hated it for moments, but in the end, I’m still enamored. That top drawer that flips around to hold bobbins and reels, so unusual and unique. Hard to pass up.
It wasn’t the 50 years of peeling paint underneath that was work, it was the freshest coat that had been slapped on top recently to cover it that made this project a sticky, messy nightmare. And all those straight lines? Hmm, yes, well, except for the grooves on the trim. The MANY grooves on the trim. Not fun. And then there’s the drawer fronts. Yep, they’re flat alright, flat…but textured. With this odd layer of some kind of raffia or thatched laminate stuff. Stripping wasn’t even an option for those parts.
So to say the prep was difficult, is an understatement. This wee gem took days of paint stripping, and for moments, a little piece of my soul. Then, those grooves…well, I tried everything from scrapers to wire brushes to steel wool to skewers. I finally got there, but in hindsight, sandblasting would have been the more effective option. Note to self.
Next up, sanding. This part was the easiest of all. My snazzy Black & Decker orbital sander whizzed through and made the surface silky smooth in a jiffy. Things were looking up, because the last step in front of me, staining, is the easiest thing ever, right? I tried Minwax stain in Special Walnut, it’s a favorite of mine. And do you think this wood would take the stain? Oh puhlease, no way. Admittedly, there were two types of wood in this cabinet, and in my enthusiasm I didn’t consider the impact this may have on the staining process….which was evidently huge. So the stain on top looked great, on the sides looked OK, and on the front, looked awful. It was a patchy, streaky mess, no matter what I tried.
It was at this point I went back to the trusty internet and this is where Gel Stain SAVED THE DAY. Gel stain, unlike traditional stain, is more like a paint. So it doesn’t soak into the wood, it sits on the surface. It’s a similar process, wipe on, wipe off, but the result was perfection. I used Minwax Gel stain in Hickory, and it was a rich, gorgeous tone that still let the wood grain shine through. Most importantly, it was even, smooth and consistent. Not a streak in sight. This stuff is GLORIOUS.
The last step was the drawer fronts which, as mentioned earlier, were this weird textured stuff which I actually kinda liked the look of, but wasn’t able to strip or stain (or remove completely without having to replace the entire face of the drawers. More effort than I was willing to put in at this point). So I painted. I had some amazing aqua blue “Island Oasis” paint left over from a table makeover, so I used that. A couple of chrome drawer knobs later, and a coat of Minwax polyurethane to seal the whole thing, and the cabinet looks stunning.
Worth the labor intensive process (I can say that now it’s over and I’m not knee deep in paint stripper and desperation)
My love of all things Mid Century left me with little choice but to get sucked into the vortex that was Mad Men (binge watching TV series on Netflix is a favorite past time round these parts) And as sad as I am to see it finish, its impact on modern design trends is undeniable. Even Target has come out with a range of Vintage Modern homewares and furnishings. Which is lovely, but to me, nothing beats an original piece. A sumptuous lava drip glazed lamp from the 50’s, a walnut end table from the 60’s…these things sing to me in a way that a replica can’t.
Of course much of the time spent watching each episode of Mad Men was spent coveting the gorgeous furnishings and backdrops. From divine credenzas to burnt orange sofas to atomic ashtrays and bronze crane statuettes, it was Mid Century perfection. Oh to be a set designer on Mad Men!
I seem to do this a lot. Another perfect example recently was Hitchcock’s 1958 movie “Vertigo”. Yes, the movie is visually stunning and the story captivates, but it was the little details that grabbed my attention. The coffee percolator in James Stewart’s apartment, the cocktail glasses in the restaurant, a pin on Kim Novak’s coat. All eye candy for the accessory obsessed. It’s not lost on me that a good portion of the movie was spent trying to determine the manufacturer of the white chair in Midge’s apartment – was it Woodard or was it Knoll – rather than following the storyline. It’s a bad case of mid-mod design ADD.
But…surely I can’t be the only one? What movies have hit you in the design bone? What movie or TV set would you love to ransack? Or replicate? We’d love to know!
We love hearing from people that have purchased our treasures, and this time is no exception. This amazing Lustro-ware kitchen canister set found a new home for itself and looks just fab (especially right next to that sweet retro coffee maker!) We love the gold lettering on the creamy white background.
Lustro-ware was hugely popular in the 1950’s & 60’s, and found in kitchens across America. Their canister sets covered all the bases for dry goods – bread, flour, tea, coffee, sugar, cookies & more. But Lustro-ware didn’t stop at canisters, they had household items galore, from wastebaskets to juice squeezers to ice buckets and everything in between.
If you’ve purchased something from us that you’d like to share, we’d love to see it in its new home! Email us a photo here
For more Lustro-ware items, as well as a selection of kitchen canisters by Mirro, WestBend & others, check out our store.
There’s lots going on here at Atomic Magpie! We have a number of fantastic mid-century furniture makeover projects underway, and we are really excited to share them – just as soon as the paint is stripped, the stain is set and the brass polished.
Also on the horizon are some amazing new finds fresh from Australia. They landed Stateside last week, and will be hitting our store in the coming weeks. Our magnificent vintage treasures include a stunning enameled cookware pair by Siltal of Italy, a retro-fabulous red ice bucket by Decor Australia, an AGEE Pyrex bowl and some other absolute gems. We’ll be sure to post more info once we have them listed in our store!
In the mean time, we’re going to share with you this sweet trio (or “a pair & a spare” as we like to say) of coffee mugs by Arcoroc of France. The are tres’ chic, and feature one of our most favorite colors – turquoise. In the popular Jardiniere design, featuring ribbed rings around the mugs, these tempered beauties are fab!
Every now and again we come across a piece that makes us swoon. This lamp did just that. With its textured base, featuring gorgeous orange and gold diamond shaped detailing, and stunning walnut neck, this mid-century beauty is absolutely fantastic.
We have several fabulous lamps hitting our store in the coming weeks, be sure to stay tuned.
Sarah from Atomic Magpie scored this sweet but battle scarred end table and transformed it into a thing of beauty. Here’s how she did it.
A few weeks back I found this beat up little end table on a local swap and sell site. Wedged in a corner, covered in office junk, paint scratched and dirty, and looking generally pretty sad. To many, not worth a second glance…but those legs! One look at the tapered legs, and this table screamed out “buy me! Save me! I am fabulous waiting to happen!” and I knew it had to be my next project.
I determined pretty quickly that the table was solid wood, covered with layers of lousy paint jobs over the original varnish. So I set about stripping the layers of dirt, paint and stain off, and uncovered a few little surprises along the way. The first happy surprise I unearthed was the brass ferrules on the feet of the table. Covered in decades of paint, these beauties were the cause of great excitement. A staple of mid-century design, I adore brass tipped table legs, and these ones were fantastic.
Next up, after stripping the top using an Eco-friendly, low fume paint stripper that I was able to use indoors (EZ Strip, Paint & Varnish Stripper) I found that I had in front of me a gorgeous mahogany table top, with a few water stains here and there, but nothing some sanding couldn’t remedy. The legs were a bit more work, requiring a lot of elbow grease, paint stripper and a wire brush. But it got there, and soon I had before me a stripped clean wooden end table with endless possibilities.
I sanded the whole table using a handheld block sander with 100 grit sandpaper. I finished with a fine sandpaper (220 grit) The good condition of the wood, and the stunning grain, made it an easy choice for staining rather than painting. I chose Minwax Special Walnut as the stain, and used a lint free rag to wipe it on, and then off. I did about 6 coats to get the colour I wanted, and had a couple of minor hiccups along the way, mostly with the legs and some small spots of old varnish I had missed. A quick go over with sandpaper on those spots, a touch more stain and the problem was solved.
Early on, it was decided a pop of color would really make this table shine. Wanting to stick with the mid-century feel of the table, I chose a vibrant Aqua blue paint for the bottom shelf (Island Oasis by Home Depot, in matte/flat finish)
A quick coat of Minwax polyurethane over the whole table, and the old ketchup trick to polish the brass ferrules, and the end result was quite stunning.
Chocolate & Cheese…the way to many peoples hearts (especially ours!) And what better way than a melty, gooey, scrum-didly-umptious fondue session? Heaven in a pot.
The Swiss, French & Italians blazed the way in the 1930’s with the ever delectable, traditional cheese fondue. It wasn’t long before North America jumped on board in the 1950’s & 60’s, making fondue a household favorite. And why wouldn’t they? Fondue is fantastic. In addition to the classic cheese fondue, chocolate with fruit for dipping became a popular treat, as did “fondue bourguignonne“, in which pieces of meat were cooked in hot oil.
This vintage Danish Modern style fondue set, with fabulous dark wood accents, is perfect for any fondue favorite. Cheese…chocolate….makes us hungry just writing about it! Click on the photo to see this stunning piece in our store.
Every now and then we get an update from one of our customers about the piece they’ve purchased. Such is the case with this atomic-fabulous Mirro Medallion candy bowl. Mirro is well known for its vintage aluminum homewares, but the Medallion line was very short lived (1958-1960). Touted as high-end serving ware, it was largely cost prohibitive for most customers, with pieces ranging $8-$22 (think 1950’s dollars!) Due to this short production span, these amazing pieces are highly sought after, and very collectible.
Absolutely appropriate that this sweet bowl ended up in a classic Mid Century Eichler designed home – and how incredible are those wood paneled walls?! Modernist architecture at its absolute finest. Swoon!
For more amazing mid century pieces, please visit our store!
This super cool vintage “Swank” gents dresser valet looks like it was ripped right from the set of Mad Men. A fantastic piece of 1960’s mid century decor, it is the perfect caddy for catching cufflinks, watches and other man-cessories on a nightstand or vanity. So fabulous in fact, that it barely hit our store before it was snapped up, no doubt by some dapper young man-about-town. Featuring gorgeous dark walnut with brass fixtures, this valet is an elegant, swanky boudoir accoutrement.
Visit our store for many other amazing Mid Century pieces, and look out for more Swank valets, coming soon.