Alison & Joe’s Suburban Mid-Century Thrift

published Aug 30, 2010
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Name: Alison and Joe
Location: Plainfield, Illinois
Size: 1,800 square feet
Years lived in: 3 months

Alison and Joe have only lived in their house for about three months but you wouldn’t know by looking at it. The way their suburban home is so completely and tastefully decorated it looks like they’ve lived in their house for three years.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This is Alison and Joe’s first house. After years of apartment dwelling, the opportunity to rent this single family home came up and they just couldn’t pass it up. Alison admits that the house is not really their style – they definitely prefer vintage and urban. However, they’ve taken the interior of this new construction house and given it their own vintage style.

Much of the beautiful mid-century furniture in the house was refinished by Alison. Those refurbished vintage pieces are complemented by new items that are similar in shape and style. By keeping the silhouettes similar, Alison has successfully mixed the old and new pieces while still retaining a cohesive style.

The upstairs of the house is where most of the collections live. From books to Lego sets, Alison and Joe have a fun collection that, now that they’re in a house, can finally be on display. And within this three bathroom abode, there’s even a spot for Joe’s novelty toilet seat.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: I love Clean modern lines, organic shapes and textures, natural colors, and bold graphic prints. Our home is a combination of mid-century thrift store meets Ikea.

Inspiration: Mid-century architecture and design, browsing homes on flickr, vintage blogs.

Favorite Element: I love our Ikea kitchen. It’s the first real kitchen we’ve had – our previous apartments had about 4 square feet of counter space and no storage. I love the organized self-closing drawers.

Biggest Challenge: I inherited my mother’s habit wanting to fill every square inch of wall space with art and every flat surface with knickknacks. There’s a very fine line between collecting and hoarding (and we both have huge collections… of stuff). I have to fight urges to hang another picture or just fit in one more piece of pottery. It’s a constant battle.

What Friends Say: I’ve had friends threaten to show up in the middle of the night with a truck and steal my furniture.

Biggest Embarrassment: It’s a toss up between the exposed wiring that’s waiting for surround sound, my husband’s novelty toilet seat (clear with embedded fish & seashells), the too short curtains in the kitchen & family room, and the peel and stick tile in the kitchen. I work in the tile industry so when you spend all day surrounded by beautiful Italian porcelains and stones, it’s sad to come home to ugly tile. I hope that if I ignore it enough, it will just disappear.

Proudest DIY: The credenza that currently works as our TV stand in the family room was a complete mess when I found it at Goodwill. It was covered in dust and cobwebs and clearly needed to be refinished. I cried and begged my husband and brother-in-law to pick up this disgusting piece of furniture and drag it up to our old 2nd floor apartment. I stripped it down and completely refinished it. It looks beautiful now. I have refinished quite a few pieces of furniture now and I have still a pile that’s waiting.

Biggest Indulgence: Since quite a bit of our furniture came from Craigslist, I had a hard time spending a ton of money on a sofa for our family room. We purchased the Corona sofa from Macy’s after searching for an affordable sofa that met all of our requirements. With three cats, we didn’t want a 50 year old sofa to meet its demise in a week from their claws. A month after the purchase, we found out we were moving and would need a second sofa for the living room. By some stroke of luck, I found the same one in another color at An Orange Moon for half-price.

Best advice: Craigslist is always an adventure. If you wait long enough, you’ll find it on there. I’ve had to bribe quite a few people with food for use of their trucks and man power to move heavy furniture. We’ve met a lot of really great people and even got to pet a couple of rescued coyotes at one seller’s home. Also, don’t be a snob with where you shop. Look for items at unexpected places- not everything has to be vintage or from only certain brands/stores. Some stores will surprise you with their merchandise that you wouldn’t think as their “typical.”

Dream source: A shopping spree at a warehouse full of Broyhill Brasilia furniture.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Living room:
End tables, lamps, credenza: Craigslist
Coffee table: Flashbacks, Mountain Home, Arkansas
Sofa: Macy’s Corona sofa, second hand from An Orange Moon in Chicago
Arm chair: Value City Furniture
Room Divider: The Atomic Home, southern Illinois
Framed photographs: Christa Thatcher Photography
Curtains: JC Penneys
Pillow fabric: Etsy seller daisyjanie

Dining Room:
Table & chairs, buffet, and shadow box: Craigslist
Tripod lamp: Flashbacks, Mountain Home, Arkansas
Estate sale painting
Chair fabric: Premier Prints Blend Annie Yellow/Kelp from
Pottery: Mostly Haeger Pottery

Cabinets: Ikea
Pendant Lamp: CB2
Table & chairs: gifted from friends
Apothecary cabinet: Ikea

Family Room:
Sofa: Macy’s
End tables, credenza, side chair: Goodwill
Lamps: Pier 1 Imports
Bookcase & sofa table: Ikea
Coffee Table: The Atomic Home, southern Illinois
Sewing table & marble side table: Craigslist
Vintage clocks: rummage sales, antique stores, eBay
Pillow fabric: Amy Butler Nigella Ritzy Stripe in Forest
Pottery: Mostly Haeger with some unmarked vintage & Target thrown in

Bedroom set: Craigslist
Wall Art: Pier 1 Imports
Lamps: Homegoods
Bedding: Tamara bedding by Marimekko from Crate & Barrel

Ikea furniture
Bird prints: OrangeWillow on Etsy

Dresser: Craigslist
Bedding & Pillows: Crate & Barrel
Side table, lamp, and curtains: Ikea

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

(Thanks, Alison and Joe!)

Images: Jason Loper

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