Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!
Pam at Retro Renovation inspired me to create a great Monster Mash of my family.  See my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law and me do the Mash!

Silvertone Model 7054

This is the first radio that I restored after the Admiral radio that my grandfather and I worked on that had belonged to my great-grandfather.  When I started getting into antique radios, I got a copy of Antique Radio Restoration Guide by David Johnson.  One of the radios pictured in this book was the Silvertone 7054, which is older than one may think.  It dates back to the 1940s.  Most websites list it as a 1947 model, but one site that I came across listed it as a 1942.  I found the simple lines of this set to be very attractive in the book, and set out the find one for myself.  I found one on the big auction site and bought it.  It needed new knobs, and the plastic shroud on the front had a crack in it, but it was working.  I was all set to start restoring it when I came across the one that I have pictured here.  It needed complete cabinet restoration as well, but it had all of its knobs and the shroud was perfect.  I bought it as well, and now I have two of them.  For this radio, I ordered new grille cloth from Antique Radio Grille Cloth, stripped the old finish off and got down to bare wood, and started rebuilding.  I repainted the black base, and applied a new finish to the wood.  To be honest, I can't remember what I used on the wood to make it the golden color.  I know that I used a spray polyurethane for the finish coat over the whole cabinet.  I restored this radio around 10 years ago.  It is still probably my favorite behind the Admiral tombstone.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Herman H. York Blueprints

A couple of weeks ago I featured a set of 1950s ranch house blue prints.  I have four sets of vintage 1950s blueprints, and today I would like to share the second set.  These plans were designed by the architect Herman H. York, and feature a 2 bedroom, one bath home.  Not a large house, not tiny, just an average 1950s American home.  I tried to do a little research on the architect.  I was able to locate an obituary from 1999, which I believe to be his.  You can view the obituary here.

Like the first set of plans that I posted, this house has also been built in town.  The first picture shows the house.  This is actually the house where the auction was at that I purchased the four sets of plans.  At the time of the auction the house was much more attractive, in my opinion.  It had a gray roof and the horizontal siding was all painted gray.  The vertical siding was white, and it still had it's original garage door.  It has sold a time or two since the auction where the original owner sold it, and by the looks of it, the new owners might not be giving it as much love as the elderly lady that lived there before.

A Record Breaking Day!

Wow!  190 unique visitors yesterday, thanks to Pam at Retro Renovation for posting an article on my Peek-O door viewer.  You can see my original post here.  Thanks again Pam!  You really made my day great!

Some Vintage Magazines

The work day was winding down, and I was on my own without the other person I carpool with.  I could take my time on the way home.  What should I do?  The bug hit me.  There were a couple of antique shops that I hadn't visited yet, and both were on my way home.  Now looking forward to the trip home, I first stopped at a small shop in the town that I teach in.  I found a great vintage RCA portable TV (probably a 19") with a black metal case and white plastic on the front.  It was in almost pristine condition.  I don't know if it worked or not.  I wasn't willing to give the $50 they wanted for it to find out.  I did find, however, some great magazines.  I was able to pick up 8 American Home magazines from 1948-1949 and a Saturday Evening Post from December 15, 1956.  They have some great advertisements that I want to scan and post on Flickr.  However, a new scanner is in order, as I discovered when I tried to start scanning my 1960 Wards catalog.  The scan function on my printer, which is 5 years old, is not compatible with Windows Vista.  Grrr...haven't tried it with Windows 7 on my laptop yet, but I doubt that it would work with Win 7 if it doesn't work with Vista.  You'll get to see more when I get a new printer/scanner.

I found a few more things at another shop, including some great glasses.  Eventually I'll add them to the blog as well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall Rain

The recent rains have almost stripped all of the beautiful leaves off the trees, leaving them bare and ready for a long, dreary winter.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than waking up to a beautiful, fresh winter snow blanketing the earth.  It makes everything look so fresh and clean.  The problem is that we generally get ice instead of snow.  I can live without ice.

The leaves were beautiful this fall, nicer than I can remember in recent years.  I think it must be due to the fact that we had a really mild summer.  Some days the high didn't get out of the 70's.  No August heat this year.

I took this picture this past Sunday.  Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, but Sunday brought more rain.  I stepped out on my driveway near the street to capture the beautiful leaves before they gave up and let the rain wash them off the trees.  I love the contrast between the oranges, yellows, and browns of the leaves with the dark blues and grays of the storm clouds coming in.  You also get a peek at some of the other houses in my neighborhood.  Most of the houses were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Too bad that overgrown monstrosity of a bush of my neighbor's is in the way.

Vintage Halloween Finds

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mid Century Home Style

Photo from Mid Century Home Style

Today I'm featuring a website that I have literally spent an unknown number of hours on.  Mid Century Home Style features house plans from the early 1940s through the early 1960s.  Lots of fun to start with the earliest catalogs and work your way through the plans from the early 1960s and see how the designs evolved.  Be warned though, once you go to this website, you won't be able to leave your computer until you have looked at all of the different houses.  You might want to go pack a meal to eat in front of your computer before you get started!  You can see all of these great mid-century plans at Mid Century Home Style.

Looking for something older than the great mid-century plans?  You can view plans from 1908-1940 at their other site, Antique Home Style.  I don't recommend going to both sites in one day - you won't be able to get anything else accomplished!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Influence of Television

Television must have influenced the households of the 1950s much like computers and the internet influence households today.  I have found it somewhat common to find television themed items at estate auctions.  I have two such television themed items to share today.  The first is this Tele-Vision Numechron clock.  These are quite plentiful, and if you check out the big auction website, you will find several of them listed for sale.  This is a predecessor to the digital clock.  The numbers are on wheels that spin around to change the time.  The little knob at the bottom of the front turn on a light inside.  It's neat to just watch it running, the way that the numbers change.


The second item that I have to share is just like one that Pam shared at Retro Renovation a couple of weeks ago.  This salt and pepper shaker set is great.  The shakers hide down inside the set when not in use.  When you need to use them, you turn the big "tuner" knob at the bottom of the set and the shakers rise up out of the set for you to use.  The shakers are very small and don't seem to be practical to me, but it makes for a very interesting set.  The first picture shows the set with the shakers inside, the second shows the set with the shakers up.  The big auction website has several of these listed as well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Barefoot in the Park

I picked this movie up on the $4 rack at the local discount store on Friday.  Another great addition to the vintage movie collection.  I remember watching this movie on TV several years ago.  However, since I no longer have cable and I don't have satellite I haven't seen it on TV for quite a while.  I'll leave all thoughts on Jane Fonda out of this one.

My New Toy

I know, I know, this isn't mid-century.  It wasn't even thought about during the mid-century time period.  I love my desktop computer, it has a great Intel Core 2 Quad processor, 6GB of RAM and a 640GB hard drive.  I bought it in May from Lenovo, and it is every bit as good as the HP that I replaced.  I loved that old HP, and it was an amazing system when it was new in 2004.

Anyway, I have never felt the need to have a laptop.  I can get so much more computer out of a desktop for the same money.  I have been looking for a netbook to take with me when I travel, and to the conferences that I attend each year.  I went to Best Buy's website to look at them and came across two laptops for only $50 more.  I know that they are both bargain-basement laptops but for just a little bit more money than the netbook, I was able to get a full-size keyboard, a larger hard-drive, a DVD drive, and it came with the new Windows 7.  So far I love Windows 7 - I run Vista on my desktop, which took a bit to get used to, but 7 seems like a natural transition.

Anywho, my choice came down to an Acer with and AMD Athlon processor and a 160GB hard drive or the Toshiba.  I made a trade off with this choice.  I have never had an AMD processor, and wasn't sure that I wanted to start with one in my laptop.  Maybe in my next desktop.  The AMD came with Win 7 64 bit, which I prefer, while the Toshiba came with Win 7 32 bit.  In the end I chose the Toshiba.  I like it so far.  You can check it out on the Best Buy website here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Retro Laundry Hamper

I found this great retro laundry hamper at an estate auction today.  The gold in the design isn't exactly right for my bathroom, but the other colors will work well with my plans.  The hamper is metal with some type of plastic material on the outside with the design printed on it.  This actually had someone else that was interested in it.  I usually don't have much competition when it comes to retro purchases.  I was able to get it in the end for $11.  Now I just need to get it cleaned up.

They sold the house at the auction today, which makes me fear what might have happened to my house's value since this economic slump began, they practically gave it away.  Anyway, the house had the same Peek-o peep hole that I have in my house!  I was very excited to find another house in town with one.  I'm going to have to learn to start taking my digital camera with me when a house is being auctioned off so that I can do some recon for the blog.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2 More Sets of Vintage Dishes

I thought that I would finish up this week of mostly dishes with two more sets that I have purchased over the years.  This first set is still in it's original box, new, never used.  I purchased this at the estate auction of a lady in her late nineties, whose family had lived in the same house for around 100 years.  Apparently at some point the lady had gotten some new dishes, but they were never used.  They look like they were put away in storage awaiting the day that she would use them.  The box is marked Ranson Dogwood Blossom 32 piece dinner set.  I unpacked a few of the pieces to photograph them to share with you.  I really like to dogwood pattern.  The whole set put me back $5.  I can't believe that I was the only person to bid on these.  They really are in perfect, like new condition.

I came across this Crooksville dinner set at the same auction that I picked up my RCA console stereo.  Unlike the first set that I have on this post, these have been used.  A few of the pieces have some small chips, but most are in excellent condition.  I am not sure what the pattern name is, as a search for "Crooksville Thematic" brings up other patterns as well.  There is a mostly complete set with 8 place settings, a creamer, sugar bowl, platter, and a serving bowl.  As with the Dogwood Blossom set, nobody wanted them and I was able to get them for $5.

My Most Recent ReStore Rescues

I never know what I'm going to come across when I go to my nearest ReStore.  I go looking for a vintage gas stove to use in my planned kitchen re-do.  I haven't found what I am looking for yet, but I always come across something from the mid-century time period that is just begging me to save it.  Sometimes it is as little as a vintage metal light switch plate, which sells for a whopping ten cents, sometimes I find light fixtures, like the vintage pull-down brass fixture that I got for $5 (which is now in storage).  My most recent visit yielded the above treasures.  Two ceiling light globes.  I really like the top one with the great detail in the finish.  I can also really appreciate the simple linear design of the one pictured on the bottom.  I got away pretty cheap with these.  $3.50 for both, another piece saved from the dump.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vintage Glasses

Some of my favorite finds are free.  These glasses with the black lines and the gold starburst patterns are one of the freebies.  There are seven of them, I would assume that there were originally eight.  One of my coworkers retired a couple of years ago and moved out of state.  She and her husband cleaned out, had a big garage sale, and packed up to go.  These glasses were left over from her sale, so she hauled them up to work  with some other items to see if anyone wanted them.  I latched onto these as soon as I saw them.  How could anyone give up a set of glasses with such a great design?

These two glasses belonged to the above-mentioned coworker's mother.  She is in the nursing home and when the daughter was moving, the family moved mother to a new nursing home.  Moving brought up the extra chore of cleaning out the mother's house and selling it.  I bought these at the garage sale they had for her mother.

I remember this pair of glasses from my childhood.  My great-aunt (the one that I have inherited so many great things from, see my Pyrex mixing bowls in an earlier post) had these.  I remember using them as a child when we would go to visit.  I love the space theme on the glass on the left, and I am fairly certain that the one on the right is an old jelly jar glass.

I will tell you right now that my specialty is not identifying glassware, especially when it is unmarked.  Can anyone identify anything about the glasses above?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Favorite 1950's Movie!

I loved watching I Love Lucy reruns growing up.  My favorite movie from this era is 'The Long, Long Trailer' with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.  If you haven't seen this movie, find a copy!  You'll like it!

My Favorite Everyday Dishes

I love these vintage Royal Windsor plates from Salem.  I have three of them, and I use them daily.  I was able to pick them up for 10 cents each at a garage sale a couple of years ago, and was attracted to the great mid-century design.  I only wish that there had been more pieces available!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sunbeam Mixmaster

This is one of those things that I pieced together by pure accident.  A couple of years ago my next door neighbor passed away.  The family had several garage sales to clear out her possessions.  At one of those sales, I found the mixing bowl pictured on the mixer stand, and bought it.  It is my favorite everyday mixing bowl, especially since I rarely use my Pyrex set that I posted a while back.  Then at the same auction where I bought my Heywood-Wakefield bedroom set, I picked up the above mixer, complete with beaters and the original cookbook.  The only problem was that the original bowl was missing and it had a cheap plastic bowl in its place.  I got home and was looking through the book, and realized that I had the correct bowl for it in my cabinet.  I pulled it out, and sure enough, it was marked "Sunbeam" on the bottom.  This old mixer is missing a little paint, but it works great!


Can someone identify the maker and pattern name of this saucer?  I have a set of 6 or 8 of these saucers that I picked up somewhere a few years ago.  I have never been able to identify the maker or pattern.  Like many saucers, they are unmarked.  I use them for spoon rests when I am cooking, and when it's time to do the dishes, off into the dishwasher they go!  (I'm not really a fan of traditional spoon rests.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Bathroom Inspiration

I have been digging through things trying to find my copy of this ad that I purchased off of eBay. Although the ad is 9 years older than my bathroom, the color of the sink is the same as my tub and toilet (and up until recently, my sink). I had already refinished my cabinets in red mahogany, and I was looking for a way to pull it all together when I found this ad. I am still in the process of finishing my bathroom. My plans are to paint the wood wainscoting gray, as the tile is in this ad (original plans called for new tile, but with the economy the way that it is, I am improvising and working with what I already have, which is pine bead board, which is not original). The top half of the walls will be light blue. I had to replace the original sink because it was rusting, so I found a nice new white sink from Kohler - not a vintage style, but I'm going for a little bit of an eclectic look. This sink sits in a new black granite tile countertop with aluminum trim from Schluter Systems. The bathroom has been an on-again, off-again project for nearly 2 years now. It all started with a leaky roof and the need to replace the ceiling drywall...isn't it amazing how one task like this can lead to a complete bathroom redo?

Here are some photos of the sink redo, almost finished.  I have almost all of the materials, now I just have to find time to make it all come together.  Oh the joys of do-it-yourself!

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Mid-Century Styled Sofa Set

I was browsing one of my favorite haunts,, and came across this sofa and chair set.  I think it's incredible!  Wouldn't it look great in a mid-century living room?  Looks like the reviews from others are pretty good on it as well.  A little pricey for me, but if you are looking for a new living room set, check this out!  You can view this on their site here.

I couldn't bring myself to get rid of my 1950's French Provincial sofa anyway... it's a family piece.

Sorry it's such a light post today...I enjoyed a lazy weekend.  Have a great Monday!

You Light Up My Life

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Look at my Visitors!

I have been blogging on Cul-De-Sac Shack for right at one month now.  Last week I registered for to try to get a better picture of what people are looking for when they visit.  One of my favorite parts of the service is the fact that I can see a map of where my readers are from.  Looks like you all are pretty well spread out over the U.S., with a few visits from outside the States as well.  Thanks for taking the time to visit!

Mahogany Console / Dining Table

I am nearing the end of refinished furniture pieces to share from my busy summer of rescuing unwanted vintage pieces.

Today I want to share this Mahogany Console table.  The top of the table looked very much like the top of the unrestored Montgomery Ward console radio that I shared a few days ago.  This little table would be great for someone with limited space in their home.  Unfold the top and reset the legs, and it becomes a beautiful Mahogany dining table.  The top picture shows the table after I had stripped and sanded it down.  I forgot to take before pictures of most of the pieces I worked on this summer.  I was able to use the left over stain and lacquer from restoring the 1946 Majestic Console Radio to finish this table.  Now that it is finished, I am using it to replace the particle board ready-to-assemble computer desk that I used for several years.  It is a little smaller than the desk, but everything fits neatly on top, with the tower sitting on the floor.

Yes, I still use a desktop computer.  I bought a new one this past May.  I just can't justify spending the same amount of money on a laptop that is less powerful than my desktop, especially when I really don't need the portability of a laptop.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Replacement Seats and Backs for Chrome Dinette Sets


Have your vinyl dinette chairs seen better days?  I remembered my parents replacing the seats and backs on their dinette set back in the 80's to an ugly brown high-back design that was more stylish for the time.  Curious to see if replacements were still available, I started searching.  What I found is the Seats and Stools website: from which the above photos come.  You can order the seat and back set in a single color, or in the great two tone style shown above.  You can also order the set in a highback style is you so desire, although they only come in a single color.  After playing around with their site for a little bit, I think you can customize your two tone set, so if your kitchen is not some standard color scheme, you can create a chair to go with it.  Looking for blue with yellow inserts?  I think you can do it here.  How about hunter green with dusty rose inserts?  I think you can do it.  Are your chairs rusted so that you need new frames as well?  They have them.  I really enjoyed browsing their site.  You can even order a complete new chair set if you are needing dinette chairs for a table that you have found (like the gray cracked-ice Formica chrome table I got for $3 at a garage sale a while back).

Looks like standard single color seat and back sets are $44.99 and the two-tone sets are $48.99.  Not a bad price to breathe some new life into those vintage sets that we all love so much!  Complete new chair sets are in the $120 - $180 range depending on the style you choose - the dinette chairs range from $120- $125.

The site has many other types of seating available as well, including bar stools.

I haven't had a lot of time to search for other resources for seat and back replacement cushions.  If I find more, I'll post them.  If you know of others, please let me know!

Please note that I have no affiliation with the above website.  I am posting only because I found their products interesting and something that I thought the retro restoration community might be interested in.

Vintage Montgomery Ward Finds

I love Montgomery Ward. Maybe my fascination has something to do with the fact that my father worked for them in their Kansas City location for a short period in the early 1960s. Country boy at heart, he couldn't stand the city and after several months returned to the farm and small town life.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vintage Men's Hats

Whatever happened to the days where not only women wore hats, but men wore them as well?  I feel like I have missed something important by not living through this period.  Is it possible to long for "the good old days" if you didn't even live through those good old days?

I found these hats several years ago at an estate auction (where most of my finds come from).  The auctioneer couldn't get a bid on them.  The top photo shows a Churchill hat with it's original box.  I really like the feather band around this hat.  The middle picture is a Champ Hats box, which holds the hat in the bottom photo, which is from Saxson.  I didn't take a picture of them together since they really aren't a set.  I really don't know anything else about them.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Try Dr. Pepper Hot

One of my earliest mid-century finds is this "Try Dr. Pepper Hot" carafe.  I stumbled across this at a local flea market.  I had never heard of having Dr. Pepper hot, let alone a carafe like this.  My intrigue with this find won out and it came home with me.  I think I paid somewhere in the $10 - $15 range for it, but I'm not sure.  It has been in my collection for 10 plus years now, and although I don't search for these too often, I haven't stumbled across another carafe.  I have found mugs and advertising for hot Dr. Pepper on the internet though.  I haven't been curious enough to try this yet, as I usually don't enjoy hot drinks, occasionally some hot tea and once in a while hot chocolate or warm milk.  So, if you have tried hot Dr. Pepper, let me know how it is!

Vintage Wallpaper

While doing some searching for mid-century wallpaper a while back I stumbled across and their collection of "Retro Vintage" wallpaper.  I really liked the above design...I can just picture it in a kitchen with some soft yellow metal cabinets and appliances.  Their prices seem a bit high, in my opinion, but a small bit of wallpaper can really add some style to a space.  Could be a great deal for a small kitchen or other small space, depending on your favorite design.  Anyway, if you are interested, check out the other fun designs on their website (

I also really liked this design, which I think would look great with a set of vintage pink appliances.

Please note that I have no affiliation with the above website.  I am posting only because I found their products interesting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Montgomery Ward Airline Console Radio - Unrestored

Normally I would not post a project that has not been completed.  However, I am making and exception to my rule today after learning of the great dumpster diving victory of fellow blogger Maria from over at Shallow Thoughts from Iowa (  Maria and her husband happened across a Capehart Panamuse console radio from 1941 or 1942 in a dumpster and they saved it.  The cabinet is a little rough in places, but it has great potential.  You can see all of her pictures of this great find at her Flickr set (

I am sharing my radio, pictured above in it's as-found condition, to try to encourage those of you who come across these old pieces to save them.  I stumbled across this radio at the end of my shopping in the fall city-wide garage sale and was able to pick it up for only $5.  Most people looked at it and turned their noses up at it.  The top is covered in scratches, gouges, black marks, and even a place where there is a small piece of the veneer missing.  I love a great challenge!  This is very close to the condition that my 1946 Majestic Console was in when I purchased it early this summer.  I posted the final, restored product in this post.  If you haven't read my post on the Majestic radio, follow the link and read about it.  You have to look past the scratches and flaws to the bones of the cabinet.  These old radios had very attractive cabinets, and if you like the style, it is worth the work and expense of restoring.  When it's finished and sitting in your home, you will definitely have something to be proud of.

If you come across one, or have one that you don't want, don't throw it away!  Advertise it for sale, or donate it to someplace that will resell it.  There are many people who collect these treasures, and they cringe when hearing of these great pieces being thrown away.  Even a radio that is not in a condition to where it can be restored may be of use to someone who might need a part off of it. 

Also, please remember that just because you have an old tube radio does not make it worth a lot of money.  Do some research, there are a lot of factors that go into the value of one of these old pieces.  

One note, if you decide to restore one yourself, just tackle the cabinet.  Unless you have a background in working with electronics, I do not want to encourage you to work on the electrical side.  This is best left to someone familiar with the workings of these classics.

When working with furniture stripper, stain, lacquer, varnish, polyurethane, or whatever you use to restore the cabinet, make sure you work in a well ventilated area and follow the manufacturer's directions exactly.  Take your time and don't rush the project.  You will be pleased with the results if you take it slow and follow all directions.  Plus, if you restore the cabinet yourself, you get the pleasure of showing it to your friends and saying "I did that!"