Inspirational Blend of Décor

New CA-Modern magazine story tells how to mix vintage, contemporary furnishings
Fridays on the Homefront
For 'Timeless Blend,' CA-Modern home improvement editor Tanja Kern consulted an array of experts on the art of blending vintage and contemporary furnishings for modern home décor. Above, the living and dining areas of Andy Lacey and Karen Ronneback's Sacramento Eichler bring together a contemporary sofa, from Design Within Reach's Bantam collection, with a vintage Lane surfboard coffee table and more. Photo: FogModern
Fridays on the Homefront
This living room, from interior designer Jay Jeffers, features four vintage pieces blended with several unusual contemporary creations (end table, lamp, sculptures, hoop accessory) from the Coup D'Etat gallery in San Francisco. Photo: courtesy Jay Jeffers
Fridays on the Homefront
New Spring '17 CA-Modern.
Fridays on the Homefront
Sizing up old and new: Coconut and Diamond chairs (top row - vintage), Impossible and Paper Planes armchairs from Moroso (bottom row - contemporary).

It's a proven fact: people who live in mid-century modern homes are not themselves museum objects. Rumor has it that they actually have lives.

And this is a good thing, because when these folks are furnishing their homes, it turns out to be a good idea to brew a blend.

'Timeless blend' is a story that provides just such a recipe in the new Spring '17 issue of CA-Modern magazine. Home improvement editor Tanja Kern consulted an array of experts who concur on the benefit of blending modern styles of both vintage and contemporary construction in modernist home décor.

"New and old go together really well," Berkeley-based vintage furniture dealer Julian Goldklang of Mid Century Mobler told Kern. "When everything in a space is vintage, it can start to look dated—unless you are going for that 1950s catalog look, which is 100-percent period. When you mix [contemporary] with vintage, you are bringing warmth into a space."

"Having a few MCM vintage or reproduction pieces is a good idea, as their simple lines fit well in a mid-century home," says South Bay interior designer Lucile Glessner in the story. "But some contemporary clean and sophisticated lines from Europe or Asia can also be perfect, and add some originality and color."

"Finding the right mix depends on a balance between functionality and style," Tanja Kern herself observes in her CA-Modern story. "These days contemporary style needn't be a dramatic departure from vintage mid-century modern design."

Glessner has been applying the "blend" philosophy lately in one of the most unusual MCM homes of all, the steel X-100 Eichler in the San Mateo Highlands. Glessner has been working with X-100 owner Marty Arbunich, publisher of CA-Modern and director of the Eichler Network, and a team of a dozen service companies to restore and furnish the home during the last year.

"The X-100 is very unique. You don't see very many homes like this," she admitted of the special Eichler built in 1956 from a design by Jones and Emmons and a landscape plan by Douglas Baylis. "It triggers some different requirements by its sheer uniqueness."

Some of the issues at hand are those experienced by most homeowners, however.

"First of all, when people buy a home, they might have some furniture already," Glessner says of a typical decorating challenge. "They might have some contemporary furniture that they like."

In the case of the X-100, there was already a vintage Knoll sofa on hand that she and Arbunich wanted to keep in the house—but very little else.

"The X-100, in a way, was easier because it was like a blank canvas," says Glessner.

Well, not quite blank. The house has several color accents that were part of it originally that Arbunich wanted to keep, like steel beams painted a bright cinnamon, and combination of yellow, white, and gray for the Formica kitchen cabinetry.