Here in Southern California, we get a lot of sun. There’s nothing surprising or new about that statement but what’s interesting is how architecture often accounts for this. The technique is called brise soleil and it’s a French term that translates as “sun breaker.” So quite literally, it’s an architectural feature that breaks up the sun, directs it or provides shade without completely obscuring the building. The sun isn’t just in California, of course, so you’ll see this technique everywhere but we do see it a lot here, especially in Modern or Mid-century Modern homes and apartments.
With Mid-century buildings, cement blocks are a common brise soleil but we’ve seen them made out of all kinds of materials. They can be louvers, fins, folding shutters. A brise soleil feature can be small and cover just a window or the entire side of a building. Their versatility is extraordinary. Think of them as built-in Venetian blinds for buildings.
With some houses and buildings, we’ve noticed that the brise soleil features have been removed. And what a shame! They’re there for a great (and functional) reason and usually add to the distinctive architectural look of a building!
Because we work with a lot of vintage homes, we’re often thinking of ways to try and decorate them according to their era. Some of the tips we’ve found can be used in any home and one of the better ideas is vintage phones. Seriously! Vintage phones (or vintage-inspired phones) bring warmth to a house and take us back to a time before texting and emailing. Maybe that sounds a little corny, but there was a time when phones kind of brought people together. If you’re really lucky, your vintage house has a phone nook. Plus, they were part of the home so a lot times they were made to look aesthetically appealing. They come in all different shapes, sizes and even colors. If you’re trying to bring some authenticity to your vintage home, great! Or if you’re just looking for a conversation piece or a unique decoration, this might be a perfect option.
Picking out what kind of art goes on your wall can be intimidating, to say the least. What kind of art do you want, how big should it be, where it should go and, of course, the expense. But actually, this can also be one of the most rewarding, creative and personal spaces in your house. And it doesn’t have to be expensive! In fact, it could turn out to be one of the easiest ways to big make changes to your house for little money.
One of the coolest ways to make your space more personal is to take items that you already have and love and then hang them on the wall. Drawings by little family members, such as kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews, favorite album covers (which used to be art!), hang up interesting scarves, frame pieces of cool wallpaper for a little accent or even frame some magazine covers. Some people like to hang up family heirlooms, such as quilts or frame doilies that mom or grandma made. Whatever speaks to you and represents your home best. There truly is no wrong answer!
Can you guess what this is? If you guessed a milk door, you’re correct! Milk doors (also called milk chutes) were common at one point because, as you probably already know, milkmen used to deliver glass bottles of milk right to the house. They’re usually found in houses and apartment buildings that were constructed before World War II. Milk was delivered a couple times a week as a way to make sure it was fresh. Home refrigeration started improving during the middle of the 20th century and milkmen started slowly becoming obsolete.
Nowadays, you don’t see them very often because they were removed during home remodels. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what they were when you run across them. A lot of times they’ve been painted over on the inside of a house. And because they’ve been ignored for decades, they’re usually pretty beat up looking when they’re discovered. It’s no wonder so many people want to close them off or wall them in. But we love them! It’s a great way to keep in touch with a building’s past and celebrate something that’s rare.
Finding these is especially fun these days because, really, we’re kind of going back to the way things were. More and more people are having groceries, meals, clothing, products—just about everything—delivered to the home again. It seems new in this technological age but it’s actually old school. Milk chutes are cool reminder that things have come full circle!
Can you guess how old this patio is? We were shocked to find out it’s about 55 years old—and there isn’t a single crack in it! That’s because the slender pieces of wood laid down between the concrete sections provide a buffer or a cushion. As the earth naturally shifts over the years, there is no concrete or stone butting up against each other. And in California, there is A LOT of earth shifting at times!
The wood has been replaced a couple of times but the patio itself remains intact. It’s not a bad idea if you’re looking to try something different or want to keep something that you already have. It’s definitely something that you will give you your money’s worth.