Built-in furniture is a common architectural element in mid-century modern houses. Well-crafted and beautiful built-in cabinets are often planned throughout the house, as well as desks, beds and even seating. The one remaining built-in at our house is a combination of shelving, cabinetry, a sofa and end tables. There was originally a built-in headboard in the master bedroom that was removed long ago, and we removed another large cabinet when we tore down the kitchen walls. But this one was still sticking ‘up’ like a sore thumb for quite some time. Now it has been beautifully restored and updated.
These images of the unit were captured on the day we took possession of the house: layers of sloppy paint; hunter green accents (some kind of textured wall-covering that had been painted over); chintzy, anti-modern exterior light fixtures; faded, stained and stinky mauve cushions; and a weird 70's-retail-glass-display-case on the end.
The unit serves as a dividing barrier between the living room and dining room. As pictured in our last post, the dining room has floor to ceiling windows that provide a good portion of the natural light in this area of the house. After stripping the unit of its accessories, our next goal was to cut openings through the unit, so windows of natural light would shine into the living room from the dining room. It also makes the fireplace visible from the dining room! This gave Matt an excuse to use his SAWZALL. Of course this left some jagged edges, but with the expert craftsmanship of Dad/painter Marc Stone, the unit was sanded and prepped and ready for paint.
As you can see, we had initially primed the whole thing gray, but quickly realized that a pure bright white would really freshen up the room. Also, the glass, retail-looking display case had to go. Matt removed all the glass, rebuilt the shelves with wood, and supported them with wire cables. This simple change greatly contributed to modernizing the style of the unit.
We replaced the accent lights with simple square sconces from Whitmer’s Lighting. That’s more like it.
Next, the cabinet doors needed to stand out from the rest of the unit. You can see on the second picture above that everything facing the dining room was painted the same dirty off-white color. We had planned on stripping and refinishing the existing doors, but Matt decided it would be easier to build new ones. To preserve the original architectural intent, he built them with the same style of wooden handles as the original doors. We had plenty of stain left from our kitchen cabinets, so we stained these doors the same color--which is also the stain we are using to refinish the ceiling beams.
We previously posted about our adventure with foam 'n fabric and getting the new cushions made. Karen Stone, expert seamstress/Mom, sewed our new cushion covers using the Maharam fabric "Crush," in the color "Henna." Matt also made new wood tops for the end tables which provide another nice accent. The black and white Maharam pillows added the finishing touch to our re-built built-in.
At long last, the entire unit is painted, stained and filled with our stuff! The final product is ready for viewing, storing and sitting. Thank you, Mom, Dad, Matt and Maharam!