At Home with the Atomic Redhead

On the east side of Portland’s Willamette River is PDX’s Hollywood District. The area is named after the grand movie palace The Hollywood, which started taking tickets in 1926.Just two blocks away from the Italian inspired facade of the cinema is a 1960s apartment building that looks as if Pete and Trudy Campbell will walk out any moment. This is the place Patrick and I call home.

When we chose to relocate to Portland after graduating from the University of Oregon, we spent a weekend looking for a new place to live. With the assistance of, we had found a handful of places that were just okay, but then we got a tip from Pat’s aunt, and went to check out this place. After seeing it, we fell in love. While I craved a mid-century house, and Patrick wanted city living for the time being, we found a happy medium in this apartment. Its high ceilings, large windows and open floor plan made it a quintessential mid-century living space, that combined with the fact that it was built in the late ’60s. We applied the next day, and were approved a week later, but we still had to graduate from college. The day after we snatched up our diplomas we packed up and headed north to move in.

Because Patrick is a freelance graphic designer, he needed a work area, and since the living space was so large, it was easily separated out. We created a nice office area, and in the living area we created a sectional feel with the large sofa, one armed chair and corner table. While I positively hate Ikea, it is a good solution for the practical staples regarding utility pieces. Patrick’s desk and the red shelves came from Ikea, the rest of the furniture is purely vintage. However, the entertainment center is not vintage, it was thrifted and fit in well with the light wood elements we had going on and had clean modern lines. Since I came from a family of collectors, when Patrick and I got together I decided the boy needed to collect something, and since he was a photographer, I figured vintage cameras were a good idea, and it caught on. They add a wonderful touch to each area of the space. My first Heywood-Wakefiled piece sits beside the black circle chair.Covered in three layers of paint, the $10 find was quite the learning experience.Thankfully my dad, a long time restorer of old furniture, guided me through the process.

Our drop leaf Hey-Wake table fit comfortably against the wall in the dining area for us to use, but enough room is left to bring the table all the way out for when we host dinner parties. The fixture in the dining room upon move in was a contemporary fixture that, while not ugly, did not fit with our style. We spent over a month trying to find just the right fixture, and finally we found a fun gold tone saucer looking fixture.

Between the main living area and the dining area we chose to showcase our favorite Hey-Wake piece, a vanity that now acts as a music arena. While the shelf space along the right was designed for two shelves, with the second one gone, LPs fit perfectly, and our record player (a new piece with retro flair) also sits just right on top. A first season I Dream of Jeannie bottle, painted by myself, sits atop along side a pair of bongos and a fun vintage fan. Above is an original poster for the 1957 film Portland Expose, based on the events of my senior research paper of the sinister exploits of Portland’s underworld and elected officials in 1955 and ’56. The item is flanked by vintage Saarinen Tulip style chairs, with a contemporary rug running across the front.

When you’re renting, there isn’t much you can do to a kitchen, but we added our own touches with our bar, reproduction Vertigo poster and vintage wooden masks.

The bar I made just after turning 21. If you’re interested in how I did it, check out my How To entry. Also, you can’t live without a vintage Costco stool, this thing is the 1950s answer to a step ladder, but unlike a step ladder, you feel okay leaving this thing out on display.

In the entry way, we had prints made from a series Patrick did, photographs of my vintage parasols. Below is another hotel Hey-Wake piece that we use as our “landing strip”, a place for our keys, mail, and address book to live, not to mention another Lucky Cat.  The mail holder is actually a glass lamp shade turned upside down, a 99 cent thrift store find. The entry way also provided another area to add color, making it fun and inviting as you step inside the door.

The hallway leading toward the bathroom and bedroom is home to a selection of my collection of vintage redhead pin-ups, calendar and centerfold originals from 1940s Esquire issues.

The bedroom really became about us, bright, loud and eclectic. The lime green wall accented our swimming pool colored bedspread and the two went excellent with the Hey-Wake elements of the room as well.

The hi-boy dresser was my latest Hey-Wake find, and needed not only to be refinished, but it was also missing a drawer pull, thankfully, my dad was able to skillfully make another. Atop the dresser is a lamp to read by, a framed image from our engagement photos, a Jones bottle with us on it, a vintage clock radio (a dumpster find actually) and a vintage TV antenna (or a piece of sculpture as I like to call it) that I found for 99 cents at thrift store, only to discover a few weeks later that it is the same as Joan’s in Mad Men. The image above the bed is a blown up comic book cover. The large E is from a defunct Texaco station, and lights up.

Living the vintage life does not require that you have a mid-century marvel with a sprawling lawn, but apartment buildings can bring that same flavor as well, as seen here. Additionally, I paid no more than $250 for any one furniture item in this apartment, proving that if you hunt, haunt and give a little TLC, mid-century treasures can be found for reasonable prices and make your home that much more special.

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