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 Handmade Modern : Mid-Century Inspired Projects for Your Home

Love the look of mid-century, modern, retro design, but don't feel like dropping two weeks' pay on an Eames chair? In Handmade Modern, Todd Oldham shares his passion for mid-century modern homes with over 52 do-it-yourself projects for anyone who loves crafts and longs to add character to every corner of his or her home.

Todd Oldham has received accolades during an impressive career bringing couture fashion and elegant design to a more inclusive and broader audience, first in MTV's "House of Style", and today though his line of housewares and school supplies for Target, and his line of home furnishings for La-Z-Boy. In Handmade Modern he offers cutting-edge makeover plans for the office, kitchen, living room, bedroom, and closet, all designed to be both fresh and enormously practical. In this beautifully designed full-color book, Todd tackles each room in the house, starting with a beauty shot of each room, and then breaking the room down into its components, each one a do-it-yourself project. In the living room, for example, he takes you through projects with a difficulty range of 1 through 5:

  • a space-saving freestanding bookshelf (5)
  • matching end tables (4)
  • reupholstered pillows (2)
  • Lucite picture frames (2)

Each project is charted through step-by-step photos and instructions until the fabulously mod end.

Handmade Modern promises to revolutionize the way the reader looks at his or her own home and capacity to beautify a space. Chic, accessible, and fun, this is the achievable new look of modern home design.

  Date Published 4/12/2005

Average Rating: Rating Average
Rated By: Micah Standley "micahstandley"
From: San Francisco, CA
Rating: Rating Average
I've been a fan of Todd Oldham's for years, ever since I saw him on House of Style on MTV back in the mid 90's. His talent is so multifaceted, but what truly sets him apart is that one minute he's designing couture dresses and the next he's showing you how to make a curtain for 5 bucks.

The projects in this book are so creative and fun! In addition, Todd has interspersed between the projects a few brief introductions to wonderful designers like Eva Zeisel, George Nakashima, and Alexander Girard among others.

If you're a fan of ReadyMade Magazine, Dwell, or modern style in general then this book is for you! A must-have for any crafter, designer, or mod aficionado.

Thanks for the wonderful book Todd! PLEASE keep up the fantastic work!
Rated By: C. Busta Peck
From: Cleveland, Ohio
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: So much promise, so little delivered
When I first read reviews of this book, I thought that it had considerable promise - as a grad student, I was looking forward to being able to build some nice things for my apartment. The book simply does not deliver.

The author does not seem to share the color sensibility present in many mid-century modern designs - in fact, I don't see much color sensibility at all.

The projects, for the most part, are not the most exciting bits of mid-century design, and for the labor that they entail, they do not seem terribly worthwhile. For the most part, one would be better off buying one of these pieces of furniture at the local junk store and spending a few dollars fixing it up.

I haven't yet seen a better book, but I really cannot recommend this one.
Rated By: "editor,"
From: New Orleans, LA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Not for the faint of hammer...
When I first saw this book, I was enamored. So many good ideas. Who would have thought there were so many uses for wood veneer? I certainly wouldn't have. The book is packed with projects, and is an excellent idea book.

The downside,though, is many of the projects are not for novices. You need to be very comfortbale with power tools, have to be willing to shell out some extra cash for good materials, and have the time to go slow and do it right.

But if you are handy, and really take pride in fixing up and decorating your home, this book is a useful addition to your DIY bookshelf.
Rated By: J. Threadgill "jthreadgill"
From: Phx, AZ
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: good for those of us with design-lust on a budget
I'm not experienced with building furniture at all, but I don't find this book scary. It outlines the materials you'll need, dimensions, tools, and specifies meterials. I'm hyped to get ahold of and play with my first power tools in order to start on some of these projects. There are also sections on noteworthy designers and their styles, so if you aren't familiar with post-modern design you get a little bit of a history lesson as well.

The thing I'm most excited about is the guide to building floating-box bookshelves, as I certainly can't (and would refuse to) spend $1,600 on the designer bookshelf it mimics (*coughcoughBluDotcough*..."design you can afford," my ass!)

My big complaint is this book could have used more attentive editing. For example, on page 93, the last step of the storage bench instructions ends with: "Be sure that the" And that's it. How frustrating! Be sure that the what?? Crap! Now I'll NEVER be sure of...whatever it was! It makes me worry that there are other errors, perhaps in dimensions or other instructions, that I wouldn't notice until I'm in the middle of trying to build something.
Rated By: Design Fan!
From: USA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Not for amateurs
The projects in this book are not for amateurs, so I was disappointed. The idea of modern projects instead of the glut of cutesy cottage and traditional projects that fill most books and magazines today is great. But these projects require that you have a lot of tools and know something about using them. By the time I get all the tools and ruin a lot of materials in learning what to do with them, I may as well just buy ready-made furniture. I was hoping for more simple projects.
Rated By: alice huston
From: wash dc
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: beautiful and inspiring
I was surprised at how different the projects were from other diy books. There are loads of color pictures explaining the details and there is a good range of easy ones like photo lamp i tried. I liked learning about other designers like alexander gerard and eva zeisel in the stories about them and others spaced thru out the book. Some of the stuff is kind of wild for me but i liked seeing how it's done. i also liked how the ideas were inspired by the designers and not copies of projects.
Rated By: kenny jacobs
From: wisconsin
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: cool projects
i picked up this colorful book a few weeks ago and have already tried to make a few projects . i made the project called "daybed library" and it looks really is like a long bookcase with a cushion on top .what was really helpful were the color pictures explaining the steps, i followed it easily. my wife has been making the quilt blanket and it is coming out great. i am also going to make the knock out room divider that looks kind of hard but i'm going to give it a try
Rated By: A Reader of Variety
From: USA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Judge For Yourself.....I Should Have
I read others' reviews and passed on this. Saw it in the bookstore and bought it right away. Great book, lots of fun ideas - if you can work a sewing machine and make accurate measurements, then you're in business. Super ideas that will be showing up in my family room soon.
Rated By: micheal bettencourt
From: pasadena ca
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: really fun book
i have had a great time making projects from this book. each step is photographed clearly so its easy to follow sister and i made the ribbon pillows for our room and it came out really nice.also there is a nice write up on charles and ray eames that i enjoyed. this book is fun good luck!
Rated By: Michele
From: West Coast
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: I love this book!
This is a really great book with tons of fun ideas. The directions for each project are super clear and easy to follow!
Also, the price of the book itself is amazing...
Rated By: M. E. Lohmeyer
From: Richmond, VA
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: It's a good book, but...
The book features lots of projects that are easy to accomplish if you can sew and if you know some basic carpentry, but not many projects for the non-sewer and non-carpenter. I was hoping for more projects that were a bit easier to assemble from scratch from stuff I already have or for remaking thrift shop and chain store finds, etc.
The look is what I would expect from Todd Oldham, given what I have seen of his Target lines of home accessories and furnishings.
It is a good book, just not what I was looking for for cheap and easy home decorating ideas.
Rated By: Red Wood "film producer"
From: Omaha, NE
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Modern and retro-inspired projects
I just received this book. I'm into retro style and believe in the mismatched standard(where everything isn't perfectly matched). I don't mean with colors or patterns, where everything is just too loud, etc. I just mean that it's fun to use different textures and not have to be boring(as many of today's furniture styles). I also love the midcentury modern furniture because of this. Oldham's book is partially items that are similar to his 21st century mod line of furniture stocked in Target stores and partially retro-inspired pieces. The retro include the room dividers(although some of his materials are just too bulky for me, so I'd swap them), his daybed with built-in book storage underneath, the hanging lanterns(which one could tweak and actually make shapes of their own-which I love!), a corduroy pillow(could choose a more retro fabric, if one wishes), a really cool credenza(again, could be tweaked into a different look, if so desired), and, of course, his use of different shades of wood(very midcentury modern). I love his look into that midcentury modern simplicity of the paintings, too. All in all, there are only so many of these inspired items in the book, but I still think it'll be usefull for the direction I am taking. The really neat item is the smokestack lamp(check out any book on old Vegas and compare this lamp with the original Flamingo casino's tower, which was also lit at night-cool!) It's true that it takes a decent tool box, but how do you build furniture without that? Check out another cool book on mod and retro, Matt Maranian's "Pad", if it's simpler projects so desired(although, even here, some tools are necessary). I mean, if this is the biggest complaint in these reviews-oh, brother! He breaks everything down for the reader! What more is necessary? I'm not Mr.Handyman, either. So what? Oldham's items in Target-and other company's modern furniture lines-are expensive! This isn't. Not to mention, if you're into the retro stuff, check out eBay's prices for the real deal. Crazy! Although, with books like this, a cheaper retro fix-it-up piece is plausible(from a thrift store, collectibles shop-often referred to as "antique shops", garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets).
Rated By: budgetista "budgetista"
From: virginia usa
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: mid century you can make
this is the perfect craft book for anyone who i a fan of crafting and mid century design. this will help you craft items to keep along side your vintage finds.
Rated By: anon
From: Unavailable
Rating: Rating Average
Comments: Great eye candy
The projects look great, but intimidating. The materials would be pretty expensive (not counting the tools) & I would hate to mess up & I'm an accomplished diy-er! All the great projects are hard 4/5 skill level. Everything under a skill level 4 is kind of lame for lack of a better word.
Nice pictures to look at for inspiration though.