“Simply Chic” in the Times Union

TU real estate reporter Leigh Hornbeck has started a monthly column, “Architexture” that describes the hallmarks of different styles in residential architecture.  November’s focus was Mid-Century and here’s what she had to say:

Mid-century modern architecture is characterized by flat planes and open space. At the time, post World War II to the 1960s, these homes were referred to as “contemporary,” a term now reserved for houses under construction and built in the last 20 years. The ranch design was introduced during the time, but the houses made popular by Frank Lloyd Wright, called Prairie houses, are rare in the Northeast because of their flat roofs. Mid-century modern contrasted sharply with its predecessors because of its simplicity. Victorian styles celebrated ornamentation, but the architects that designed the new post-war style wanted simplicity, homes that could be built quickly and blended with their surroundings.

Prominent architects include Wright, Edward Durell Stone, who designed the uptown campus of the University at Albany, and Philip Johnson, whose colleague John Johansen designed 222 Juniper Drive in Rotterdam (below).

Wright’s Frederick C. Robie House on the campus of the University of Chicago is a famous example of mid-century modern architecture. Albany has a few examples of Lustron houses — prefabricated steel houses that illustrated the drive in the United States to build simple houses, quickly.

Kilbourn house

Places & Spaces, Leigh’s blog on local real estate is at:  http://blog.timesunion.com/realestate/

Aunt Katie’s Attic


Thanks to Metroland for alerting me to yet another colorful kitchy vintage shop in the region, Aunt Katie’s Attic in Scotia.  Owner Kate Halasz has been collecting and selling for 19 years and specializes in kitchen items, though clothing and furniture are also part of the mix in the 2-story shop.

Her customers range from young girls looking for retro fashion to married couples outfitting their suburban house as a country cottage, to “older ladies who just want an old cookbook.” Katie’s attic also does a brisk business with burlesque performers and fans. “The pin-up girls want to wear authentic clothing,” she says. “A lot of them furnish their homes in that era, and they’re looking for an old vanity,” or aprons or oven mitts, because according to Katie, “Fifties Housewife is the hottest thing going now, and these girls live it head to toe.” From Bettie Page to Betty Draper to Betty Crocker, Aunt Katie has been ahead of the curves. – Ann Marrow, Metroland, March 20, 2014

Fiesta Waretable and chairs

On Saturday, June 7th, Katie’s hosting an out-door vintage flea with multiple vendors!


Story from a homeowner…

“When we first walked in, our agent actually apologized.”

No surprise.

The house in question had a flagstone entryway, globe lights, natural wood paneling, and vintage tile baths, among other period details.  Typical agents will only see to-do projects and call it “dated.”  They might even pass it by and not let their clients see it. But this buyer saw great style, made an offer and now calls the place home.

If a home with such details still in tact is what you’re shopping for or that you need to sell, decide from the start to work with the only agent in the Capital Region who specializes in mid-century modern.

Joseph Dalton • (518) 573-1093


An Armory Show at Opalka Gallery

It would be easy to start recommending lots of local gallery shows on this blog but arts coverage is a different livelihood for me.  Yet this exhibition at Sage College’s Opalka Gallery is a particularly clever and ingenious. Organized by Michael Oatman and Ken Ragsdale, it includes many of our region’s finest working artists (several represented in my own collection).  Plus, two of the spaces feature some nice mod furniture.  The cool lights, by the way, are by Lightexture of Troy.

Armory show 2Armory show 1

Russel Wright exhibit at NYS Museum

Before there was Ralph Lauren or Martha Stewart, there was Russel Wright (1904-1976) who designed product lines that added style and grace to the American home.  On view through the end of the year at the New York State Museum in Albany, “Russel Wright: The Nature of Design” traces his entire career, and includes plans for his own home, Manitoga, which is now a museum in the lower Hudson Valley.  Don’t miss the gift shop on the way out, where Wright books are available as well as some of his china, recently reissued by Bauer Pottery.

A fellow agent asks…

“I’ve got this client…”  (Lots of conversations between real estate agents begin that way.)

The agent continued on: “She keeps asking for ‘mid-century’ and I’m showing her things and they’re not right.”

I nodded and suggested my colleague search homes that are listed in the MLS as “contemporary” or ranches and splits between 40 and 60 years old.

But if I was talking to a buyer, my suggestion would be to go with the one agent in the Capital Region who specializes in mid-century homes.  Then no explanations, no trial and error would be needed.  We’ll be speaking the same language.

Joseph Dalton • (518) 573-1093