In my search for other Mid-Century minded folks I was lucky enough to find this spectacular person, Susan Halla. She is the founder and creator of “Make It Mid-Century. Make It Mid-Century brings back classic Mid Century design in new products + kits handcrafted and made to make your home more fabulous.
Susan was nice enough to chat with us about the concepts behind Make It Mid-Century.
Tell our Mid-Century enthusiasts all about how “Make It Mid-Century” came about.
I have an undergraduate degree in architecture and a master’s degree in historic preservation. The historic preservation field was NOT happening when I graduated, so I fell back on traditional architecture. I worked my way through various firms until I became principal of a firm where I designed forensic facilities – crime labs and medical examiner offices. I always say that I’ve seen (and smelled) more drugs and dead bodies than anyone ever should! Even so, it was exceedingly cool, and I loved my clients, and I thought it was my forever job. Fast forward a bit, after a huge let-down from my firm and the other principals, I decided it was time to do something different. Living in a mid-century home and seeing how hard it was to find appropriate building materials for my home renovation projects led me to found Make it Mid-Century. It also allows me to utilize my degree in historic preservation. (Yay!)
How did you develop your love of mid-century?
I’ve always appreciated architecture, and in particular, atomic design of the mid-century. In grad school, my area of concentration was the recent past. I wrote research papers on all sorts of topics that the other students (and professors) though was a little crazy like a paper on the rise and fall of Lustron and “The Historical Implications of Mobile Homes and Their Impact on the American Cultural Landscape.” Doesn’t that just scream fun? After grad school I moved back to St. Louis where I was born and raised (couldn’t beat the cost of living) and bought my first home, a mid-century from 1958. I loved it. I’ve moved since, needing bigger digs as I had kids, and am now in a 1954 mid-century in the same neighborhood. I love, love, love it!
“Make It Mid-Century” has fabulous products, including Doors, Shutters, Laminates, and Tile. Have you used these in your home? Have you designed homes for others around your products?
I’ve never done any residential architectural work outside of my own house. I’ve always been a commercial architect. However, I am an avid do-it-yourselfer, and I encourage others to do it, too. All of the materials we have in our shop are made with the DIYer in mind, and we have instructions on how to install our products. The Do-it-Yourself movement was huge in the 1950s, so it’s a mid-century phenomenon as well!
As far as my own home, I did make a new front door for my house (I have a Laurie in red), and we have an interior single lite door to our lower level. I have some early self-designed tiles that I installed in our laundry room, and I have three different laminate countertops that my husband and I designed and built, but it was before I started the business, so it’s not SparkleLam™. (Bummer, right?) Now that I’ve started the business, I don’t have a lot of time to do my own home renovation projects. I do have a Beauty Queen Lavanette unit that I saved from an untimely demise and am restoring bit by slow bit.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love hearing from customers and seeing what they’ve done with our products. It’s so gratifying! I also love bringing back things from the past that people want and have been searching for. I love having the ability to design new products and come up with designs that mimic what would have been found in the 1950s and 60s.
What’s next in the product line of Make It Mid-Century?
We have a few things in the pipeline. Just today someone asked for matching fabric to go with our tile designs. We’ll work with Spoonflower to offer products that will match. We’re also looking to expand our line of laminate to include printed products. We’re also releasing new tile designs as we have the time. Last, we’re working on a top-secret item that is door-related…and that’s all we’re saying right now. We would love to be able to offer flooring – that is the question that we get ALL THE TIME from people. We haven’t been able to find a manufacturer who would like to work with us on such a small scale. If anyone knows anyone, let me know!
Do you have any Mid-Century Christmas ideas to share with us?
I feel like I’m a bit of an outlier on the mid-century Christmas thing meaning….I don’t have a tinsel tree. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE tinsel trees, but I grew up where we would go out to the woods at my grandmother’s house and tromp around and cut down a real tree. We still do real trees every year (even though we haven’t been tromping through the woods anymore these past few years – just too busy!) I do have a number of beautiful mid-century ornaments that I inherited from both of my grandmothers. I haven’t hung them up since we had an incident involving a cat and a tree, but I will keep them and cherish them and, yes, eventually use them when my cats are too old and tired to be jerks.
I do still send out Christmas cards every year! Two years ago our local Herman Miller dealer offered free Christmas photos of people at their store with a Womb chair next to a Christmas tree. My whole family dressed up in vintage, and that was the image we used for the card. I still love that photo.
What Makes Christmas Mid-Century at your house?
Even though I don’t have tinsel trees in the house, I have some inexpensive tinsel trees that I put out in our front yard every year. I also have some lifesize choir boys that my grandmother made in the 1950s that she displayed in front of her house that now adorn my front porch. They still have the original names my grandmother gave them – Horace and Henry. Last, I have pink flamingos that wear Christmas hats and wreaths and wish everyone Mele Kalikimaka. (I really want to get some light up palm trees, but I haven’t bit the bullet yet).
I also love my collection of vintage Christmas albums still on vinyl. We curl up in front of the fire and play those while enjoying the tree and playing some Scrabble. I wish we still had snow like we used to!
Speaking of “Making it Mid-Century”, how do we get started?…