The Suitcase Lady


April 22, 2008, 9:35 pm

Unbeknownst to me at the time, our family lived for thirty years in an atomic ranch. That is the 21st century name for mid-century modern houses. Now there is even a magazine of that name, Atomic Ranch, which is completely devoted to 50’s and 60’s design.

At first sight, I fell in love with our 1950’s atomic ranch. With 1,100 square feet, it featured a low-pitched gravel roof, cathedral ceilings, huge floor to ceiling windows, redwood paneling and a carport. There was no attic, basement or garage. Is it any surprise I’m a minimalist? I had no storage for 30 years!

Our wonderful house also was sans stairs. This was a delightful feature until our young children started walking. Navigating stairs is a learned skill. We had to go to grandma’s house for stair practice.

Appropriately, we furnished our mid-century house with mid-century furniture. Bertoia, Saarinen, Panton, Eames and Knoll are my design heroes, and I expect their chairs and tables will last us a lifetime.

The house, however, had a sad ending. When our kids were grown and married, we decided to pack up and move to the lake.

My husband and I made superhuman efforts to find buyers who would appreciate the architectural value of our home. But we couldn’t even find a realtor who understood design. She tartly informed us our house was in “mint condition, but badly in need of modernizing”.

After we moved, my son advised me never, never to drive past our old home as it had been “brutally remodeled”.

I have taken his advice. Our dear mid-century modern home lives happily in my memory – exactly as it was.


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