‘Making Midcentury Modern’

Tulip chairs? Mad Men style? Palm Springs pad décor? They’re baaaaaack.

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Just imagine—you’re now a homeowner! Finally, after saving and planning (and a ceiling-high pile of paperwork), you’ll never forget the feeling of having your new front-door key in hand. At last you can go home, shut the door behind you, and know that it’s all yours. So how do you reflect your style in this home you love? Begin with Making Midcentury Modern by Christopher Kennedy. (Kennedy lives in Palm Springs, California, with his husband.)

When he was a young lad, Kennedy’s parents taught him the proper ways to a well-mannered life: his mother made him write thank-you notes, and she taught him how to “make a good first impression,” while his father advised him to “live each day to the fullest.” Those lessons were learned in “simpler, more gracious times.”

Making Midcentury Modern
by Christopher Kennedy
Foreword by Barcaly Butera
Gibbs Smith(
198 pages

Kennedy insists it’s not nostalgia that makes him love interior design from that period. Instead, he just likes the trend, and he doesn’t see it “slowing down any time soon.” In this book, he shows how you can include Midcentury Modern into your home, even if it was built last month.

You can start in the entrance. Those first impressions matter when it comes to a home, says Kennedy. Paint your front door in a Midcentury Modern color to welcome guests warmly.

On the topic of colors, Midcentury Modern isn’t shy. Orange is the “caffeine of the color wheel,” and it really pops. Think pink (Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite color), turquoise, white, red, or any shade of blue. Don’t just color walls, though; be bold with furniture, rugs, and accessories. Pillows in out-there colors are inexpensive ways to dip your toe into the design.

Know the “secret to a beautiful and easy-to-make bed”—and for guest rooms, consider twin beds. Go ahead and mix metals, bring childhood treasures out for display, and recall Mom’s kitchen or bathroom for ideas. Take your indoors to the outdoors, weather permitting. Pare down; Midcentury Modern isn’t cluttered (so on that note, hide your TV). And finally, have fun. “Above all,” Kennedy says, “never take your home too seriously.”

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel indecision or paralysis when it comes to décor. What if you make a mistake?

What if you have Making Midcentury Modern?

With 100 easy-to-use (and surprisingly budget-friendly) tips, author Christopher Kennedy gives readers the inspirational boost they need to make a home dazzle. You’ll see how simple color will transform a house’s entire look, and where cherished possessions can become unusual displays. Kennedy fully admits that many of his favorite pieces were discovered online or at thrift stores, an idea that’s somehow very delicious. And pillows? Pile ‘em on!

The one criticism I have with this book isn’t with the information—it’s with getting that information: the font colors can be very difficult to read. White print on a yellow background, for example, is nearly hidden.

It’s a design flaw in a book about design. Go figure.

That’s not insurmountable, though: there are enough photos to make this coffee-table book a can’t-miss full of fun. If you need your house to feel groovier, no matter when it was constructed, Making Midcentury Modern may be the key.

“You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!”

Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A. Jacobs

The transgender issue. You’ve got questions. You’ve got a zillion of them, as do your friends and family—especially if you’re thinking about transitioning. “You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!” by Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A. Jacobs can answer 20 of them. Beginning at the basics with “Identity,” the book takes the most common lore about the “T” in LGBT and gently corrects any wrong beliefs that may be lurking in readers’ minds. That’s a good start, but there are times when the authors seem too nice; more adamant language might have been appropriate. And at some point, this book transitions more toward gender-noncomforming readers and less toward cisgender folks. Even so, there’s a good sense of mind-easing in most cases here, followed by a carefully-measured MYOB tone. If you need something to help set the naysayers right, “You’re in the Wrong Bathroom!” will work. Beacon Press ( Terri Schlichenmeyer 


Terri Schlichenmeyer

Terry Schlichenmeyer is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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