Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mid-Century Modern Architecture and Real Estate with Kimberly Lewis

The Bauhaus Modern and Mid-Century Modern period left a legacy of iconic furniture designs as well as a distinct architectural style of homes that are still in demand across the nation.  I spoke to Kimberly Lewis, real estate broker and an avid Mid-Century Modern fan, this week to learn more about this popular style of home where you are bound to find Modern Classics Furniture:

You are a real estate broker with @properties, but you also bring a passion and keen understanding of modern architecture to your consulting.  Could you tell us a little about your background and education?

I was an art history major in college. In the early years of my education, I took the prerequisite courses, covering the more familiar Prehistoric, Renaissance and Impressionist periods.  But it was American Contemporary artists and Modern architects that drew me in; I knew I wanted that to be my area of focus.

What was it that drew you to the Modern Period in particular while pursuing your art history degree?

I've always been drawn to the edgy art and visionary architecture of 20th century America.  Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler are a few of my favorites artists to this day.  The pioneering masters Mies van der Rohe, Walter Groupis and Richard Neutra engaged me with their ‘form follows function’ approach to shelter:  strict geometry, industrial materials, window walls and open plans.

This background clearly serves you well in your real estate work, especially in the Chicago market, abundant with modern architecture.  What would you say is the main draw for Mid-Century style homebuyers who do not have a background in design, just an appreciation for the style?

Much like Palm Springs, Austin TX and DC, Chicagoland MCM homes have a broad spectrum of styles, appreciated by many for their bold roof lines and exposed structural elements of wood, concrete, steel and glass.  Much of the modern stock here offers these exterior and interior hallmarks; some also include the passive solar energy of architects Keck and Keck and the post and beam construction of Joseph Eichler.

The niche market of modern style has readily available online and print resources for enthusiasts to learn more and appreciate the historical value, even without a background in design.

Would you say there is more demand for newly built homes in the modern style or for historical homes that were built during the modern age?

There is a market for both, although there is caveats to buying older homes that were built decades ago.  Renovating requires a team, a vision and the budget to do so.  There are homebuyers who are interested and able to restore these historical homes, and there are realtors such as myself who specialize in sourcing them. 

Often it is signature features of clean lines, open plan and expansive windows that draw clients to modern and contemporary styles, and these design fundamentals are becoming more readily available in new construction, at various price points.

Furniture is certainly another way to appreciate and live with the style.   The resurgence and demand for Mid-Century Modern pieces testifies to the genius of designers of the period.  The quality, Mid-Century Modern reproductions offered through the Modern Classics Furniture should be on every modern devotees source list.

A big thanks to Kimberly Lewis for sharing her insight and wealth of knowledge!  If you have any other questions, you can view her website or you can reach her at klewis@atproperties.com!

You can also visit any of the three Modern Classics Furniture Showroom locations in ChicagoBellingham or Dallas and see firsthand what has made this classic style a fixture throughout the decades!
Painting: "The Future Enters Us" by Sharon Kingston


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Arranging Your Living Room Step by Step

Arranging furniture in any room is equally exciting as it is daunting.  While there are infinite possibilities when an empty room is your blank canvas, lack of planning can lead to endless furniture shuffling and that lingering question if there is a better way to have it arranged.

Although there is no magic formula or standard way to arrange your living room furniture, there are a few guidelines to consider:

-Pick a focal point for the room
This will serve as a reference point and everything will be arranged relative to the placement of the focal point you choose.  This can be anything with a significant presence in the room from a window to a sofa or even a piece of art.  It should be the obvious place the eye is immediately drawn to upon entering the room.

-Create a floor plan
You can either map out your floor plan on a blank sheet of paper though there are several apps that have been created for this very task as well as templates you can find online for furniture arrangement planning.  This will cut your time spent moving furniture down significantly.

 -Form and Function
Using functional furniture enhances the potential for using a space in different ways.  This is especially important for smaller spaces where there is not room for much ornamentation.  Keep in mind that you should never have to sacrifice style for functional furniture... just look here for a few ideas where form and function work in harmony.

-Flow of Traffic
Just as important as where the furniture is placed is where the furniture is not placed to create a path that is easy navigate.  Direct traffic around the furniture, not through the middle of it and allow 36-48 inches for the obvious paths and about 24 inches for the smaller ones.

Let us know if you have any personal tips when it comes to arranging your home!  Either post it below or stop by one of our showrooms in SeattleChicago or Dallas and also get a chance to see and experience all the pieces we have to offer!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Recipe for Mixing in Modern Styles

Think of all the different styles of interiors decor and furniture designs there are: art deco, asian, coastal, shabby chic, traditional, industrial, rococo.  I'm not sure when the idea came about that only one style is allowed but not only is that not true... mixing modern styles with other styles should be encouraged!

By mixing your modern furniture with other styles, you can create a truly unique setting that will transform your house into a home.  The only tricky part about mixing different styles is it can easily go awry if too much mixing and matching is going on, so here are a few easy guidelines:

1.  Contrast is key:
Don't even try to match aesthetics from two different styles.  Instead try going with contrasts such as pairing subtle with bold, round with square, geometric with curved, modern with industrial.

2.  The right balance of both styles:
Much like cooking, remember you can always add more but you can't always take away which is something to keep in mind for the process of adding in new styles and pieces.

3.  Color combinations:
Having one pop of color among neutral tones is great.  Having two pops of color can work as well.  Three different colors and we may be heading for a rainbow mess.  Bringing in color swatches and experimenting can be fun but just remember 'less is more' in order to avoid color chaos.

These are just a few guidelines for mixing modern styles with other styles but you may have your own methods too for creating a decor for your home that is your personal style!  Let us know either by writing in or stop by one of our three showroom locations and tell us all about it!

Painting: "The Future Enters Us" by Sharon Kingston

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Modern Way of Spring Cleaning

With all the confusing science and studies that come out declaring what is best or worst for us, I simply revert to the method of steering clear of anything I can’t pronounce.  This applies not just to nutrition but also everything you will find in my stash of my homemade cleaning supplies.  With spring-cleaning about to take place for most of us (my spring cleaning is a year-round kind of thing, but that's just me), here are a few ways to keep your Modern Classics Furniture clean, pristine and chemical-free:

All-Natural Leather Cleaner:
Harsh chemicals in certain cleaning solvents are the kryptonite to the protective finish we use that ensures an unparalleled durability on our leathers.  I have always been a fan of Lexol Leather Cleaner and Conditioner, though when my supply is running low I go all-natural:

Step 1:
Fill an empty spray bottle with equal parts olive oil and vinegar.  Make sure the spray bottle has been cleaned or you will run the risk of ugly residue from past usage.  I find it helpful to have separate spray bottles for leather, glass, wood and stainless steel to avoid this issue entirely.

Step 2:
Spray and wipe away with a cotton cloth

All-Natural Stainless Steel and Glass Cleaner:
Vinegar and rubbing alcohol have the capabilities to dissolve dirt and oil and also work as disinfectants.  This multipurpose cleaner I can make at home leaves my glass and stainless steel shining and streak-free:

Step 1:
In your cleaned and empty spray bottle, add 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol and top off the rest of the bottle with warm water

Step 2:
Shake the closed bottle to combine all the ingredients before use

Step 3:
Spray, wipe and polish until your glass and stainless steel shines

All-Natural Wood Polish
As great as this formula is for polishing wood without any unnecessary chemicals, it should be made fresh every time since it contains perishable ingredients:

Step 1:
Combine juice from 1/2 a lemon, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and water in your spray bottle

Step 2:
Vigorously shake in the closed container until you see that all ingredients are emulsified

Step 3:
Spray on to cotton or microfiber cloth and begin wiping down your wood furniture

These are just a few all-natural cleaning solutions that I use, though let us know if you have any of your own!  You can either write in or stop by one of our showroom locations in Chicago, Bellingham or Dallas!

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Modern Classics
Painting: 'The Future Enters Us' by Sharon Kingston