About Time-Capsule Homes (And Pink and Blue Bathrooms)

Recently… an iconic, once well preserved “time capsule” home that had been featured on this blog came to market as a “fixer-upper”. It generated a huge discussion on “Huntridge Neighborhood”, the most well-read downtown facebook page. The house was immediately sold (in like 3 hours) to an unknown buyer. I was told by the listing agent that it went at what the seller wanted. It hasn’t closed yet, so the final price hasn’t been disclosed.

It’s unknown what the buyers plan for it. We’ll know soon enough. Having seen the interior just a few months ago, I attest that it had not been loved over the last 5 years. However, the agent’s description of it being “a rehab home” might not have been accurate. It certainly needs love and repairs – therefore a fixer – but I’m really hoping the new owner won’t be destructive of what can be restored or salvaged.  I wish there was a standard definition for the difference between “needs some tlc” vs “dated” vs “fixer upper” vs “needs rehab”. That 4 different levels of need – but the terms get used intermittently, which can be confusing even to the professionals.

I want to address the fact that there is a multitude of mindsets about vintage homes. Some of us love “original” bathrooms and kitchens. Pink, blue or turquoise sinks and tubs really do it for us! Hardwood cabinets that have never been painted give us goosebumps. Other people are not quite that purist. You may love the look – but,  I can’t think of anyone, however, who wants to shower in a 2-foot square, or who wants to bake in a tiny oven,  or cook on coiled burners, or settle for a small fridge because that’s all the space there is for it. Everyone wants more counter space, no matter how much they already have. Even in my own “time capsule” kitchen – there’s not a convenient place for the microwave. There are sacrifices to be made to live like it’s 1950 or 60 – and not everyone is up for that.

True-time capsule homes are almost impossible to find. I know because buyers routinely ask me to find one for them. When they do come up – they tend to get fought over and sell for top dollar. They are few and far between, and you’re more likely to see them on the home tour than on Realtor.com The truth is – most 60 and 70-year-old kitchens and baths and windows are long past their useful lives. They have not been loved or cared for. They are more often than not pretty beat up and extremely inefficient. They show their age, and really do need to be replaced or updated. When they CAN be restored, or fixed, or salvaged – I say go for it if you can do it right and make them look new or good again. But doing it right takes lots of time, energy, research, money, and devotion. It’s not for everyone, so I understand when they get replaced.

What almost everyone I know objects to…. Is replacing them with design choices that are “inappropriate” to the era and original inspiration of the home. That’s why “beige on beige” and crown moldings and pop-outs around large framed white vinyl windows, and raised panel doors, and scalloped cabinets and all kinds of other Tuscany flourishes are so hated in Mid-Century homes. Fortunately – most of what people are seeing on HGTV nowadays fits beautifully with the original concepts and aesthetic of Mid-Century design and architecture. The new breed of buyers for Mid Century Modern homes understands the basic concept of Mid Century Modern design. For the most part – even the flippers are getting it right. At least beige on beige is a thing of the past and hopefully will never raise its ugly head again.