Monday, August 18, 2014

A Graphic Designer Team's Refined, Budget Home: Modern Thrifter's Mid Century Casa

Trish & Patrick are a graphic designer team with an adorable family and an amazing eye. They blog about organizing and refining their mid century modern home with low-cost and creative projects over at Modern Thrifter. Having peeked at glimpses of their gorgeous home for years,  I had to see if they were game for a home feature. Luckily, they let us in and shared some helpful tips along the way:

Occupants: Trish & Patrick, our two kids ages 9 and 7, and our dog Tooey.
Professions: Graphic Designers
Location: Seattle
Square Feet: 1800 sf
Space Type: House
Years Occupied: 5

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 
I'm a part-time designer and thrifter and a full-time mom living in Seattle with my husband (also a designer), my two quirky and amazing kids, and our new rescue dog. We bought our 1970s house five years ago, and are in the slow process of restoring and updating it after about 20 years of neglect. 

Love this still life. Can I have those monsters? Please? + Dear god, aren't they a pretty couple?

What type of creative work do you do? 
My profession is graphic design and illustration ( but I also enjoy interior design, party planning, making costumes, and all sorts of other crafty things. I only wish there was more time in the day! (Van's Note: Black and white illustration earlier in the post is done by their studio! I may need to hire this team someday, incredible style!)

Define your Style: Simple and modern. I love mid-century modern, but I also love new design. My default is white space, but I'm working on finding a balance between empty and cozy. I think it will be an ongoing process.

I'm trying to find the same balance, it's tricky. But I love the challenge. How about a favorite thrifted find? 
Not exactly thrifted, but I'd say our George Mulhauser chair that we picked up on craigslist. I've always been a fan of the Eames lounge chair, but I'd never really heard of Mulhauser. While his designs are heavily influenced by the Eames', he added a lot of unique details that I've fallen in love with. I especially like his tufted Mr. Chair, and the bentwood bases that most of his chairs have. 

If you can get past the adorable animal...see the awesome fireplace described below?

Favorite House Feature: The fireplace. The roof was in bad shape when we bought the house and our realtor told us that when we replaced it, it would be a good time to tear out the fireplace. We looked at him like he was crazy! We love it and would never dream of getting rid of it.

Biggest Challenge: Lighting. We have so many windows, but they almost all face north so we don't get any direct sunlight. With wood tongue and groove ceilings and our gloomy Seattle winters, it is pretty dark in here. After our first winter in the house, I made the brave decision to paint the almost black wood floors white, and I have no regrets!

Love the organization tips an ideas for a family with kids. 

Visitor's Reactions: People are amazed at how many trees we have surrounding us. Even though our house is on a busy street, it's set down on a hillside and is almost completely encompassed by huge douglas fir trees. When you come in through the front door you see out all of the windows on the other side of the living room and it is green in every direction.

Biggest Embarrassment: The carpet downstairs. It is super low-end beige carpet that was here when we bought the house, and it is in pretty bad shape. We have a room that we intended to be our office that now functions more as a mudroom/project room/storage area and the carpet is particularly bad in there due to some art mishaps. Also, we just got a dog, so yeah, I think I need to rip it all out and set fire to it.

Proudest DIY: Probably my white floors. Painting them was such a pain, but it was really worth it. They've been white for four years now, and they are just now starting to show wear (mostly scuffs and scratches in the high traffic spots) so I know they could use another coat to freshen them up. We are also working on building a fence outside, so when that's finished, it might take the top spot on my proudest DIY list.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Blu Dot Stilt Lamp. I love all of Blu Dot's furniture, but most is out of my budget. Patrick and I both fell in love with the stilt floor lamp so it was our Christmas gift to each other a few years ago.

Best Money-Saving Move: Eat at home. It's amazing how quickly money flies out of my wallet when I start to feel too busy to cook a good dinner. I try to plan a week's worth of meals at a time and limit my grocery shopping to once or twice each week (ideally, once, but I always forget a few things).

Best Advice: Be patient. People are often amazed at how much of our household comes from the thrift store, but it has taken us years of thrifting and craigslist scouring. 

Top Three Thrifting Tips:

1.) Don't be afraid to walk out empty-handed. This is a hard one for me because I love the thrill of a good find. Sometimes, there's just nothing there for me, and if I try to fill that emotional high I come home with something I don't need.

2.) Go often - I go to my favorite thrift store once a week and I usually block off an hour or two to comb through the goods. I also donate items there and every few times I get a 30% coupon. I save those for bigger items.

3.) Examine things thoroughly* - I’ve learned this the hard way. After bringing home tables with wobbly legs that refuse to tighten, kitchen items with broken handles, and an enameled tea kettle with a burnt bottom, I’ve had my share of disappointments. Make sure you plug in appliances and lamps at the store, check clothing items for holes, and examine the sturdiness of furniture pieces. Know what your skill level is for fixing items, as well as how much time you’ll have to commit to projects. Sometimes things get purchased with the best intentions only to sit in a corner collecting dust, awaiting that coat of paint or those new knobs.

*Van's Note: YES! Good advice I keep learning the hard way. I leave so  much more behind now that I did several years back. Even if it's free, no point getting something you can't use or feasibly fix it.

Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful home and awesome tips with us, Trish! I'm envious of those mod scores you nabbed and your stunning home.

What's your favorite element of the Modern Thrifter Casa? I can't pick...seriously.. too much to like here
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. I wish there was a picture full screen of it, but from the small part peeking out in the bedroom, there is a floral crewel(?) wall hanging. For whatever reason that stuck out to me. Me like!

    1. That was a perfect way to use that piece for sure :) I have trouble selling them but they can look stunning in the right setting.

    2. Fyi - that crewel kit is called "Garden Flowers" by Paragon (in case you want to watch for it on eBay or Etsy, or Google to see an image of the whole thing). It's my favorite crewel kit design!

  2. Replies
    1. I agree, she customized it herself. I featured it on my first "random favs" post. :D Her kids toys are awesome too, want everything they have, please. Can I be adopted?

    2. I was really happy with how that turned out, too. I like that it doesn't have to always be a dollhouse so it can grow with her. She likes to pretend she's a teacher quite often, so she takes all the drawers out and uses it as backpack cubbies for her stuffed animal students.

    3. Aw! Agreed, kids will always use their imagination to fill in the rest.

  3. What a lovely home. I immediately spotted the monsters too lol. Odd but I have always thought if I ever had to start over, for instance after a fire or flood, I would only buy used. The 100% thrifted/used decorating scheme. Hubby does not share this feeling necessarily but continues to be amazed at the items I find free on side of road or cheaply at the thrift store.

    1. I know I would do that same for sure and have had the thought before, actually o_O in my case maybe a little more like, "If I ever had to leave it all behind to take an amazing gig somewhere in the world, everything I'd furnish the place would be 100% used." You really can find everything you need and then some.

  4. What a gorgeous, gorgeous home. Definitely one to dream and lust over!

  5. So many things to like! I like their style....very modern and simple, but very chic. I'm jealous:D
    I love the thrifting tips too.

    1. It's inspiring me to work on my home's composition for sure.

  6. I'm drooling over the FURNITURE. All of their Craigslist stalking has paid off because everything looks amazing.

    1. Indeed! I'm inspired to resume the same tactics. My apartment's beem purged and needs statement pieces.

  7. This blog looks great especially the objects use to decorate the house. Moreover combination of colors flawlessly bends with the interior. Decorative bedside lamp is finest lighting products for home to add an elegant look.

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