Sunday, February 11, 2018

For Rent: Mid-Century Modern Dollhouse

Gordon and Vivian Lesatz fell in love with this mid-century modern house at first sight. They bought it straight out of the 1945 Montgomery Ward's Christmas catalog. They were impressed that the house was constructed of the finest kiln-dried plywood from surplus pieces of materials used in government housing. They thought this smart and modern design was a preview of the home of tomorrow and that it would be the perfect home for them. 

A friend took a picture of them standing in front of their new home.  
They didn't care for the Nancy Forbes furniture that Wards was selling to furnish the house, so they went straight  to the Strombecker Furniture store and selected some lovely modern furniture. Vivian would like you to see it...

 The dining room set, in a lovely salmon color, was first available from Strombecker in 1938 as the Modern Colonial Dining Room. Even though the design was 7 years old, Vivian thought it was perfect for her new home. 
And of course she wanted the whole set including the high boy Dutch cabinet, the buffet and the server along with the dining table and chairs. Wanting to please his wife, Gordon agreed. 
For their appliances, Vivian and Gordon selected three pieces from Strombecker's 1959 line. Don't ask me how they did that, but Vivian was happy she didn't have to cook for 14 years.

 For their living room, Vivian and Gordon selected a flocked green davenport and chair sold by Strombecker in 1938,  individually boxed. As with her dining room furniture, Vivian thought the older design was perfect for her modern house. 
Then from Strombecker's 1938 Modern Living Room set, Vivian selected the fireplace mantel, the coffee table with a stacked design, the open-ended side tables and art deco radio... in "poudre blue" go with her green flocked seating. 
The three-tiered shade floor lamps were part of the same set.

 Gordon selected Strombecker's yellow bedroom set from the same 1938 line along with the repainted aqua vanity stool and chair...then added  the bright art and bed covers. 
 Vivian is still tight lipped about his selections. 
She did, however, like his choice of the lovely picture of flowers.

Now at retirement age, Vivian and Gordon have downsized and put their lovely home on the rental market....and rented it immediately to Drs. Callum and Finella Berwick who are on a year long sabbatical from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Vivian insisted on taking this photo of Finella and Callum to help them remember their stay in America. 
The Berwick's made a trip to the Ardee Plastics Rental store and quickly selected some attractive Ardee furniture from 1946 along with some Plasco brand kitchen appliances.
They were disappointed to learn that none of the doors on the buffet opened....
nor the drawers or doors on the Plasco appliances! 
They did, however, find the "sling" dining room chairs to be very comfortable for seating. 

The plastic seating they chose for the lounge was quite comfortable...
even though the lamps seemed a bit warped.
Finella was very pleased with the seating arrangement for their new lounge.

 They selected two beds for their bedroom and Ardee Plastics Rental provided them with original cardboard in pink for Finella and a blue one for Callum. 
Also a chest of drawers with non-opening drawers and a chair to throw their clothes on. 
Finella even had her own little vanity and Callum had a floor lamp for when he wanted to sit quietly and read.

When Finella and Callum returned to Scotland, this little house was once more up for rent. 

Drew and Justin jumped at the chance to rent this mid-century modern house they thought would be a great showcase for their collection of Lincoln Art Deco furniture. Vivian stopped by to take this picture of Drew and Justin for her album of renters...she now has two pictures in her album. 

Drew and Justin's art deco furniture was made in 1936-1937 by J.L. Wright, Inc., of Chicago. This firm was also the maker of the popular Lincoln Logs they played with as a child.  

The guys thought the kitchen/dining room was a great space for entertaining their friends...
..until they discovered they couldn't open the refrigerator door. 
They thought the table that would seat up to six was just perfect!

The piano is Drew's...but Justin plays his keyboard....his computer keyboard that is, and very very well. 
The Eiffel Tower on the table is from Drew's visit to Paris, where he sampled French a Mexican restaurant. 
They often lounge, sipping booze, while listening to their very fashionable art deco radio....
....that's when the two sofa's come in handy!

 Oh, there is Carlos the cat playing with his ball in the bedroom. 
Let's see, they have a blue bed and a red bed, a different shade of blue Miniaform bedside table and pink chest....
...and a bright pink vanity and stool...what a mishmash of  furniture!  They will be happy when the dollhouse lady finds a matching set for them. 
If you have noticed that the guys have no Lincoln table or floor lamps, IT'S BECAUSE MY FRIEND GEORGE BUYS THEM ALL BEFORE I CAN FIND THEM!

When the guys moved into Drew's art complex he had been building for several years, Vivian wondered just who would next get their picture in her album.

OMG! It's Professer Huntley Castleton and his student Fern Lundgren from Sweden. We first met them at his brother's house in A Mail Order Bride for Harry, Part 3. So, Vivian gets to add another picture to her album of renters.

Looks like Fern had her Brio furniture shipped from Sweden to the love nest she will be sharing with Huntley. 
Both Huntley and Fern were delighted that there was enough room in the kitchen for their Lisa of Denmark bar...
....and also that the drawers and doors of their Brio appliances  opened!
Their table has one side to extend in case they invite someone to dinner....when Fern learns to cook.

Huntley admires Fern's excellent choice of modern furniture...
  ...with storage, room for his books and even his old typewriter.
Fern even brought a comfy chair and ottoman just for Huntley.

Fern chose a double bed....hope Huntley doesn't hog the covers!
Wonder if that big soft zebra-striped Lundby chair is for Fern or for Huntley...or both of them together.
    I think we can assume the vanity is for help keep herself beautiful for her professor. 

Here is a copy of the page from the 1945 Wards catalog showing the house, which sold for $5.95 unfurnished, and the Nancy Forbes wooden furniture they suggested to buy along with the house....

   ....and the description that accompanied the pictures. 

I have shared this house with my friend who writes the Dollhouse Shenanigans dollhouse blog. Check her blog soon to see how she decorates this unique little dollhouse!


  1. Me gusta mucho la distribución de esta casa.

  2. It was fun to decorate, Virginia! Cheers!

  3. Wow! That was fun! I tried to decide which decor I liked the best but couldnt do it! I wish you were next door. We would be playing until the wee hours of the night! LOL

    1. We are never too old to play with dollhouses! Cheers!

  4. just breathtaking and so perfect in every way! creative and original as usual!

    Miss Priss

  5. You have made it look fantastic, so many times. I doubt I can do it even half as well. But it will be different. And there is no telling who will live there now the house has moved across the tracks. :) Only time will tell.

  6. WOW oh WOW!! This is beyond wonderful. Thank you for all the details...what fun!

  7. I just love to read about the goings on of your dollhouse village. What an inspiration you are. Thanks for all the lovely info and silliness. I'm in awe!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Made my day! Cheers!

  8. What a great way to show off your furniture collections! This is a great house. I love the patterns stenciled on the floor.

  9. So nice to see all the different tenants put their own personal stamp on the house. So lucky they all had such excellent taste! Really great post with lots of furniture goodies.

  10. And so glad you are back! You have been missed! Cheers to you! Florine

  11. Thank you Florine, so nice of you to say so! And it's also good to be back, cheers :-)

  12. Hi I just discovered this amazing post/story of this Wards house I grew up in Chicago and my next door neighbor who was a child in the 40's gave me this house. I never knew what it was, I played with it with my Petite Princess furniture in the late 60's/early 70's. I LOVE your story of the different inhabitants. So creative and cute.

  13. Marilyn, delighted that my blog post helped you to identify your childhood dollhouse! The gent I purchased this amazing dollhouse from also had it furnished with Petite Princess furniture, but ended up selling it without the the furniture.
    I am in touch with a lady who is looking for this model dollhouse. If you still have your little house and are interested in finding a home for it, please let me know and I will put you in touch with her. Cheers! Florine