1950's Blonde Furniture

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the50sguy
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1950's Blonde Furniture

Postby the50sguy » Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:06 pm

I don't know how most of you feel, but when it comes to capturing that honest, true 50's look, nothing beats it more than that classic 50's blonde furniture, that was so common for the time. I noticed by reading some of the posts on here that many stay on the beaten path and furnish their homes with the typical Eames, Knoll, Noguchi, Paul McCobb and Heywood Wakefield furniture pieces, to name a few, and I feel that's mainly because the media and a lot of publications, today, show that as being "The 50's Furniture." Though they're nice, they just don't have that 50's feel to them. In fact, they kind of remind me of something you would see in a laywer's office or doctor's waiting room. When you really look back at how it was, the majority of the homes in the USA weren't furnished with pieces by these makers. Instead, the average family bought their furniture from either Sears, Montgomery Ward, McMann's Furniture, Barker Bros., etc. I think some of the coolest designs and pieces came from these stores...from the basic two-tiered end tables to some real outlandish amoebic/freeform coffee tables (see below).

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These are cool tables, even though they aren't blonde, but they did come in blonde, as well

Also, most people didn't have Philco Predictas in their homes either. In fact, many people that I have talked to who were around in that time said they only place they saw the Predicta TVs were in the store windows. These were your most common sets.

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If you ever come across and old set like these, pick it up, take out the guts and put in a new TV (with a somewhat rounded screen) and you'll have yourself a cool piece for your pad. I watch TV off of a 1955 Hoffman, with a 1998 RCA TV set inside. (I may like the 50's, but I'm from the remote control area.) :wink:

So you see, you don't have to go "ultra-modern/mid-century" to have that cool 50's look. There is a lot of cool, contemporary furniture that looked, and still looks, just as good today at a fraction of the cost

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I hope my

Postby modfan » Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:31 am

aunt and uncle still have their slatted bench and I think they have a couple of blonde wood end tables with glass tops. I told my cousin NOT to get rid of (trash) them. Fans on here (and I) would absolutely SCREAM if she did.

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Postby luke_trash » Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:54 am




This is a photo of my basement stuff.. it will rotate in and out as I find nicer things at estate sales. I got all that stuff last summer at auctions.

None of it is designer, but it was all CHEAP, and I'm a tight wad.

Two blonde end tables: $7.00
Hutch with sliding glass doors: $20.00
Blonde storage drawers from part of a missing bedroom set: $10.00
Brown 50's rocking chair: $2.00
Blue vinyl rocking chair: $5.00
Stand up ash tray: $1.00
1959 Magnavox remote controlled 25" TV (works): $1.00
White metal cart on wheels (off to the right): $2.00
There's also a formica table off to the right: $12.00

I mean I can't turn the stuff down, and I figure as I find better items, I'll replace what I have and send it to its next home.

The total price is lower than one scratched up Heywood Wakefield chair.

That HIDEOUS carpet is gone :)
old beats new

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Postby Joe » Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:06 am


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Postby luke_trash » Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:13 am

old beats new

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Postby luke_trash » Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:14 am

old beats new

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Postby luke_trash » Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:27 am

old beats new

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Postby luke_trash » Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:31 am

old beats new

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50s Furniture

Postby SkipHome » Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:17 am

I have furnished my 1959 Alexander almost entirely with Russel Wright ModernMates, sold by Macys beginning in 1949. It is still very affordable, though hard to find here on the West Coast. And it is the perfect size, scale and clean-lined style for a modern home of this era. It also mixes well with other designs - e.g., my Hans Wegner wishbone chairs fit right in.
Anyone with a good source for Russel Wright furniture on the west coast, or preferably Southern California, please post it here.

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Postby SDR » Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:24 am

I'm curious about what the Russel Wright ModernMates pieces look like -- anybody got a shot or a link?

The50sguy doesn't really need to "trash' the name-designer stuff to promote generic blonde -- does he?

As to matching colors: I'd rather see blond next to dark or black, before mis-matched blond side-by-side. The collection at the top of the page runs the gamut! The cool-toned (greenish?) "pickled oak" of the first pair and the second-to-last TV, is a far cry from the warm tones of the disparate other pieces. Let's try to keep those old sets together! Just as breaking up a pair of antique *anything* is a "sin," so breaking up sets of furniture ought to be outlawed (sez I).

That said, I like all of this stuff -- it really speaks the language of the era. We just have to accept that there was "high style," department-store, and K-Mart varieties of modern, with (as usual) the prototypical look "trickling down" from the "top". . .
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Postby SDR » Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:40 am

Luke, I love your basement room! An idea to "expand" the space visually (regardless of the imagery you seek to incorporate) would be to establish a "waist" at about the height of your bookcases, or a little lower, and have a darker surface below (of whatever material), as nearly encircling the room as possible. Above this line keep the walls as light as possible (of any desired color) and light them indirectly with up-lights or downlights. This "wainscot" (not really a new idea, you see!) could have a thickness to it where space permits -- on the TV wall, for instance (?) -- and uplights could be concealed there. With other room light dimmed (NO overhead lights other than concealed, please) you will see the space expand outward. Anything (tops of furniture, decorative objects, plant maetrial) will be seen in silhouette against this upper light-colored surface -- as in a landscape -- and the connotation of "outdoors" and "free space" will suggest itself to the eye and the mind. In addition, the breaking of the walls into upper and lower segments will increase their apparent width.

The designers of the nightclubs and restaurants we all feel are so "special," knew and employed tricks like these. They work! Give it a try. . .

Bender
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Postby luke_trash » Thu Apr 28, 2005 11:47 am

That does sound like a great idea.

My ceiling in that room may need to come down if/when I rewire the house for grounded plugs, so in that event, I'd be putting up a new ceiling which would incorporate custom lighting, or possibly wire the walls for lighting (they're concrete block though)

One of the cheapest ways to make a room look somewhat nice is to paint it two tones and separate with a divider. In the case of my bedroom and dining room I bought really cheap wood railing and stained it (dining room) and painted it black (bedroom)

Most people compliment us on the look, but really it was easier than the typical application of WALLPAPER border or whatever.

I might check out some library books for ideas when that time comes. The basement is last on the priority chart at the moment, but by some unseen power, I have managed to keep myself from using it as storage space :) Me having usable space to store junk is like waving crack rocks around an addict's face.
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Postby the50sguy » Fri Apr 29, 2005 5:19 pm

I removed all those to reveal the shiny asbestos 8" tile
If the radon doesn't get you down in the basement, the floor tiles might!


Man, you should have kept the floor tiles there because they are hard to come by nowadays. Besides, you can't be affected by the asbestos unless you rip them up. :wink:



don't know much about rugs, and thought about maybe finding a cheap 5x8 black rug at my local box store and having someone cut and edge it in boomerang shape.

I don't know about your area, but the WalMarts out here in California are selling area rugs of different sizes with that 50's style loop weave for about $20 that I'm sure can be cut into a boomerang and have edges put on them. Good idea!



Can you mix blonde pieces with darker pieces?

Well, you can, and it was done then, too, but I'd try to stick to either dark wood for one room and blonde for another



Everything else in my house is dark (ie: new stuff I have purchased. I'm a guy, so I like DARK wood

I find dark furniture to be kind of dreary...too old fashioned, unless it's Scandinavian or such. I didn't know that dark wood was a "guy's" thing. I know a lot of guys, including myself, that have a thing for blonde furniture, but I don't feel that would make us less of a man. 8)



I'm trying to keep with the blonde stuff for the basement though. The basement will hopefully capture the feel of the late 50's.

Actually, (and I'm going by the 1950's Sears catalogs that I have) the blonde furniture was really on it's way out by 1957, but still found in homes until the early-60's. The "blonde" rage was between the years 1949 until about 1956. So if you want that "late-50's" look, you might want to try Danish Modern or Scandinavian.


Flybacks and capacitors in televisions old and new are plenty capable of throwing you halfway across a room and stopping your heart from beating.

That is so true. I had bought a 1952 TV Motorola console with a radio/phono combination and when I plugged it in, the damn thing made a buzzing sound and made my lights dim through out the whole apartment. It safer to just take out the old works and find another newer TV, and place it inside the cabinet. You will have to work with it to make sure it fits in there well. Also, try to get a TV with a curved screen, as opposed to a flat one, so that the escutcheon fits snug around it. Those old sets did and still throw out dangerous amounts of radiation.

The50sguy doesn't really need to "trash' the name-designer stuff to promote generic blonde -- does he?

I really don't think I was "trashing" the name designer stuff, but I don't feel that to have a cool, furnished 50's pad that one needs make it a "must have" because that's all they see in mid-century modern" stores. I know a few people that wouldn't furnish their places until they could afford that stuff. After seeing how my place is, they realized that they could so some really cool things with the contemporary stuff that that most everybody had anyway. In my opinion, that designer stuff just has a "cold" feel to it...not comfortable. I'd take a wide-armed, atomic looking Kroehler sofa over a Knoll sofa any day.

I'd rather see blond next to dark or black, before mis-matched blond side-by-side.

I have actually seen pieces done in black enamel (with white in the grain) and blonde drawers from that time. Pretty cool combination if you ask me.

In the case of my bedroom and dining room I bought really cheap wood railing and stained it (dining room) and painted it black (bedroom)

Mmmmmm...don't start getting too cheap on the wood because it will also start looking that way...personal experience.

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the end tables in the first picture

Postby punagirl » Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:24 am

Are those end tables valuable? I guess I really do not want to know because in '92 I threw out a pristine pair. My grandma have pulled them out of her barn and I had minimal furniture and thought I could make them work. I was deep into the "shabby chic" phase then - ok, stop laughing. The awesome stuff that I have passed up on from her house - sigh!!
Growing up we had these old day bed things that had an end table they could slide in and out of. My parents went too fond of these anymore and they were stuck in the kid's TV room. Last year they finally tossed them. They were kind of danish modern I guess. I just saw a set of the beds minus the table on ebay for $700. We had these cool matching backrest things for ours too.

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Re: the end tables in the first picture

Postby the50sguy » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:27 am


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Postby SDR » Sat Apr 30, 2005 11:18 am

Kudos to you for re-marrying -- and laboriously restoring -- that set! I should think you were owed more for the result -- a sad commentary on their "perceived worth," as you say. I can't imagine the matching "pickled oak" Formica is available today, is it?

The cool "white-on-black" oak finish you mentioned has a name: ceruse, a word with French origins, referring to white lead, and a cosmetic containing it. The finish (which depends on an open-grain hardwood like oak or ash) was apparently invented in the thirties by a French finisher, Paul Frank (?) whose reputation was "made" by it. There is a book about the man and his work. He rented a storefront in Paris and displayed a dining set, I think in a red color with white graining; it was a huge hit. Any number of color combinations are possible.

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Television Rant

Postby cadman » Sat Apr 30, 2005 1:57 pm

Please, Please don't pull the guts out of those old TV sets. :? There are lots of younger collectors out there who are doing what they can to save those "old, worthless consoles" and more often than not, share our appreciation for all things MCM.

More often than not, putting a modern set into an old cabinet turns out looking clumsy. Color rectangular CRTs don't fit the curves of the old picture tube bezel, so the only solution is to go larger in size, meaning you lose lots of picture area. Not knowing what you're doing and trying to handle glass envelopes under high vacuum is not smart.

BUT, there are lots of solutions!
Have money burning a hole in your pocket and want the conveniences of a modern set? http://www.predicta.com/index.shtml

Have a b&w set you picked up some place and want working? Not a problem, these sets are fixable if the picture tube is good. The other tubes are out there, modern capacitors replace the old wax ones. You just need to find an old radioman or hobbyist/collector. Nothing beats firing up a '40s TV for an evening of viewing.

Have a penchant for color? Round screen 60's color TV's are out there and used as daily watchers... http://audiokarma.org/forums/forumdispl ... forumid=36

--------
The old myth of radiation in B&W sets is a non-issue. It's color sets that operate at high enough voltages to throw off x-ray energy, which is why they have metal compartments for the HV rectifier tube. Again, not a problem unless you intend to operate the set with the service compartment open and your head glued to the chassis for hours at a time.

Cory

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Postby the50sguy » Sat Apr 30, 2005 2:18 pm

Last edited by the50sguy on Sat Apr 30, 2005 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Television Rant

Postby the50sguy » Sat Apr 30, 2005 2:42 pm

Last edited by the50sguy on Sat Apr 30, 2005 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby SDR » Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:23 pm

"I laugh in the face of danger! Then I hide until it goes away." Bender

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Postby cadman » Sun May 01, 2005 5:44 pm

50's Guy, thanks for the offer on the chassis, I'd take you up on it if it were closer.

SDR, those boxy consoles were made one year only by RCA. All the electronics are contained in the "box" with the CRT and the whole thing is spring loaded. You flip it back and it locks in place, then a wood panel hinges over it turning the set into a coffee table! I restored the one, the other has a well-used CRT. Also in that original pic, are a Super and a Deluxe that are designed to fit into a corner. The blondie is sweet :)

Speaking of CRTs, there are still a couple places in the country that will rebuild your picture tube to original specs. It's quite possible to bring a 1955 TV set back to store-bought condition.

Cory
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Postby the50sguy » Mon May 02, 2005 9:20 am


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Postby SDR » Mon May 02, 2005 10:24 am

"I laugh in the face of danger! Then I hide until it goes away." Bender

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Postby SDR » Mon May 02, 2005 10:35 am

"I laugh in the face of danger! Then I hide until it goes away." Bender


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