Mid Century Modern Renovation - Labors of Love

Three consecutive weekends of MCM renovating unfurled for your viewing pleasure.

Promised monster renovation post has arrived. Little weekend rest has brought us here. Our Mid Century Modern home in Indianapolis is seeking its fruition. Our toil acts as its catalyst. Your comments are our fuel. Please replenish with high octane.

Have been clear from beginning. Ours is not a restoration but rather a renovation. Initial plan involved one of two scenarios.

1. Find mostly original abode and restore.

2. Find neglected MCM stripped of original accoutrements and renovate with a mix of new and old.

As you know we are enacting plan 2. This said we did indulge in pleasures of restoring our interior clerestory windows.

Windows had been covered with wood panels glued with construction adhesive.

Carefully removed wood. Got better look at what we were dealing with.

To ensure we would better treasure our victory, they added extra obstacle in form of paint on backside.

Light peeking through like the sun before the dawn.

Husband/wife weekend warrior team simultaneously tackle front and back in effort to overwhelm the opposition.

Seeing progress we pushed through.

Dust begins to settle following eight hour battle.

Called it a night at 4am.

Continuing with battle analogies I interject with, "I love the smell of Goo Gone in the morning."

Arose renewed and eager to knock wall out. As such, proceeded eagerly to knock out wall.

Broke on through to other side. Other side being the office.

View from other side revealing there is indeed no grass at all, answering an eternal question. This open space will become built-in desk/office.

Front side will be walled-off concealing pocket door for coat closet. New wall will feature double cone wall sconce.

Planning two built-in projects. Office and media center. More below.

In order to facilitate built-in notions one must have power to operate today's electronic conveniences. Spent whole day rewiring and running new wire.

Closet in living room to become built-in media center. Called on Kerf Design for estimate. Fantastic people but out of our humble budget. Instead procured vintage built-in how-to books on Ebay. Should prove to be a fun blogable project.

Pause to enjoy new word creation - blogable - the ability and nature of a given thing to be blogged about.

A recap view of office side. Center support comes out. Living room side gets new wall, creating enclave for which to insert built-in desk and shelves.

Have been in five of our neighborhood's twin Mid Century Modern homes. Each appears to share a slight structural miscalculation. Drywall where bedrooms meet center beam is prone to identical cracking. Attempted resolution.

Dug deep, creating greater separation in drywall panels.

Applied seam tape and repatched. Looks great so far. Have yet to paint. Success will be revealed in winter climate change as studs contract.

Continuing restoration efforts we wanted to restore original General Electric Air Wall registers.

Only two of these registers remain in our home. Need four more. These are a challenge to find. Twitter friend and Mid Century Modern enthusist, @nycarl07 quickly found set of six on Ebay. We quickly bought. Haven't arrived yet. While we wait restoration begins.

Becoming well aquainted with Goo Gone.

Several hours of scraping, steel wooling, and sanding. Traveled through six genrations of paint. Can actually read the branding marks now.

Hit with silver spray paint.


Long ago hinted at floating shelf project using existing nesting cube collection. Floating shelf project has come to pass. Detailed process below.

First: Located studs.

Second: Planned layout based on stud location.

Third: Cut hanging strips from spare wood.

Fourth: Screwed strips into stud.

Fifth: Checked for level. Added screws to each end of strip to balance.

Covered screw holes with joint compound. Painted hanging strips to match wall. Invisibility is good.

Shelf one hung.

Fast forward two and three.


Wife has been diligently conquering pee-yellow paint slung all over by previous owners (known affectionately as "the flippers"). Corners are being turned. Pictures are being taken. A Mid Century Modern home is being revived.

End of May provides much candy for Indy's MCM sweet teeth. Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana is hosting a Mid Century Modern home tour of W. Lafayette, IN. Full weekend of events including lectures at IMA. Don't make plans 5/27/09 - 5/30/09. Next Atomic Indy blog post exclusively covers this subject.




Lesley said...

Oh my word...someone actually COVERED up the clerestory windows? Insanity!

There is a special little place in hell for disrespectful flippers.

craigwoodworks said...

I applaud your efforts. Absolutely fabulous. Ditto Lesley on the clerestories. Construction adhesive oh my.

Knocking down walls, exposing windows, letting rooms breathe, and letting in light-- wonderful.

Unknown said...

I think about the hours you are spending restoring items like those air registers, which most people would try remove or hide, and I envy the satisfaction you'll have living in a home into which you have so thoroughly poured yourselves.

Sam said...

You guys are doing an awesome job! I can commiserate with the cracks in the drywall and battling paint (mine has been the Battle of the Beige). The GE registers are such a cool feature. I hope you can find enough.

Unknown said...

The restored GE registers look awesome...Great touch!

Jess Snell said...

The house tour up here in W. Lafayette should be exciting, I hope to see lots of people from outside the area participating!

LesleySW said...

Everything is looking great. Congrats on all your work. You should feel really good about it.

Baz Mcm said...

Assorted comments from Twitter and Facebook:

"Love the silver GE wall registers that suddenly came back to life thanks to you and your wife!"

"Labor of Love!"

"Great work de-gumming the clerestory windows"

"Why, why, why would people cover up those windows!?!?!"

"Wonderful renovation...can't wait for more updates...In a past life I was a historic restoration specialist"

"Inspired by what you're doing in Indy. My 1960 flat roof little abode needs some loving resto. She was Home Depot-ed!"

"Just read the post...still cannot believe those covered up clerestory windows!"



Baz Mcm said...

A very warm thank you for the positive feedback goes out to:

Lesley, Craig, David, Sam, mheidelberger, Miss Jess, LesleySW, and all the Twiiter/Facebook friends.

Knowing people out there care and support our work makes the sleepless nights and weekends worth it. That and the joy of living in this house of course.



Eric said...

For the other registers you might want to look into sand blasting. Sand would be too harsh but there are other abrasives that are gentler. Hell of a lot quicker than the torture you must have gone through.

Baz Mcm said...


With at least four more to do, you might be on to something. Possibly blast to bear metal and clear coat.


John and Diane said...

Everything looks fantastic! So happy to see your shots of yours and others' interior clerestory windows, we are thinking of maybe doing that (some day). The floating shelves with bullet planter are fab and those registers are amazing, never seen anything like them. A lot of work but definitely worth it. Isn't having a MCM house the BEST?! ;-)

troy. said...

Looking good, Baz! The windows -- wow! And the silver spray paint is a dirty little remodeling secret, no? Used it on all my metal sliding door rails and on various window hardware whose orig. color was Andersen brown -- great in the late-80's for sure, but not so much anymore.

Zane D. said...

those GE registers are rocking my world. silver spray paint looks awesome!

Woodland Hills said...

Wow! Great restoration project! I am looking for the same General Electric return air grilles (four years now).

Baz Mcm said...


We scored six of the similar nearly flush mounted ones. I'll have to rig something up to make them work.

Let me know if you find a source. Happy hunting.



Rambling Penelope said...

mistlite cleaning: use wire brush rotary attachment on electric drill. add paint thinner to cloth and mop it all over glass and wire brush like crazy- takes all of the paint out, ebven the crevices and takes 2 hours instead of 8....