Decorating with formica counters, mid-range appliances, linoleum floors in a MCM kitchen
When kitchen renovation bids came in at $20,000, the owners instead opted for some lower-cost choices: Formica counters, mid-range appliances, linoleum floors and working with existing elements. They kept the original yellow Western-Holly wall oven and replaced the ’80s cabinet door centers with glass to update the appearance.

As Klawitter and Edwards moved from finding (part 1) to renovating (part 2) a midcentury modern Cliff May ranch in the Ranchos neighborhood of Long Beach, they turned to decorating, drawing from multiple sources to add the finishing touches.

Modernism for the Everyman

“It was fun to go looking for this stuff when we got the house; it’s still easy to find,” Klawitter says. “You can really go overboard, though. I think this house looks better with fewer things, so we purposely left walls blank. In the lanai room, we tried out various paintings and at one point I painted this stripey graphic, but the main wall looks better blank.”

Their furnishings include thrift store and flea market finds as well as a globe and Jens Risom chair from Modernica in Los Angeles. The living room’s generic Danish Modern pieces have a “populist, ranchy feel—it’s not that expensive and it’s comfortable,” Klawitter attests. An angled floor lamp with a flared glass shade and an enamel vase are from Futures Collide in Pomona. Their bed and night tables are popular models from IKEA.

“ebay is a great way to get reasonable art,” Klawitter volunteers. “Just type in ‘abstract painting’ and you can get things for $50. Art from the ’50s and ’60s is affordable and it looks good in these houses; it has that patina of age.”

Modern Love and Itchy Feet

With the drywall dust just barely off the furniture, the pair were outbid on a 1920s house in LA, and three months after our photo shoot they were thinking of putting the house up for sale and moving back to Los Angeles. Edwards’ skill in dealing with contractors, negotiating prices and making sure the project gets done, coupled with Klawitter’s vision of what a house can become, means the two are likely looking at careers as serial renovators.

Although they love other styles, too, perhaps another May, Alexander, Eichler or Streng is in their future. “There’s a certain kind of appeal to modernist houses,” Edwards says. “They have clean lines, simplicity, subtlety. More of a personality, really, than the typical curb appeal of other homes.”