I’m no gamer, yet this morning I found myself watching the trailers for Fallout 4 on a loop and snapping screen shots. Why the sudden interest in virtual combat, you ask? I noticed on TV commercials that the latest creation by Bethesda Game Studios, launching Nov. 11, prominently features Lustrons and Lustron-inspired homes in its landscape. Since players’ mission is to shape the fate of a world destroyed by nuclear war, it snaps into place that the designers were inspired by prefabricated homes like mine, manufactured just after World War II.
The boxy, steel homes and their midcentury advertisements ooze optimism, normalcy, and domestic peace. So it makes sense that Lustrons are powerful symbols in an animated wasteland. You can watch the Fallout 4 trailers here and catch up on posts about my own Lustron here.
When you live in a Lustron, you’re part of a story. The tale begins in 1948, when the Lustron Corporation debuted its prefabricated, all-steel homes manufactured in a former airplane plant in Columbus, Ohio. The company imagined an American landscape drenched in seafoam, pink, harvest gold, and the other enamel hues of its mail-order ranches, but it sold only about 2,500 over three years.
Photographer Charles “Chuck” Mintz picks up the Lustron story today, documenting people who are holding onto these quirky, increasingly rare homes. He has traveled the country over the past couple years shooting portraits of more than 100 inhabitants. After the jump, I’ll show you more samples from his series, including his shot of me and Andrea on our patio.
For nine years, our Lustron has needed curb appeal like leafy greens need ranch. Last month we worked with Plants Creative Landscapes here in Decatur to finally put some “ranch dressing” on our bland front yard.
Since the bones of our ’49 prefab are slick and boxy, we created softness with three curvy beds. Taking inspiration from all those modern landscapes I’ve been ogling on trips to Southern California, I picked a topiary pine, a blue agave, and boulders as my must-have focal points. We filled out the beds with shrubs for year-round color (wintergreen boxwood, variegated yucca, gold mop false cypress), sculptural perennials (variegated iris, autumn ferns), vivid grasses (blue fescue, dwarf acorus, silver liriope), and cascaders for the retaining wall (chartreuse creeping jenny, pink-flowered phlox). Black bark mulch makes everything pop.
One of my favorite magazines, Atomic Ranch, has published photos of my Lustron living and dining rooms, along with my story on what it’s like to decorate this 1949 tiny, steel prefab. I’ve posted photos of my home here and here before, but the article features some new decor and where-to-buy info. Pick up issue #40 and let me know what you think.
My nest says a lot about me, so sharing its story is a good way for me to introduce myself. I live in a prefabricated, all-steel home called a Lustron, assembled in 1949. It’s a humble ranch built in a Columbus, Ohio, airplane factory and delivered by truck, yet its design was celebrated at the MoMA in 2008. Only 2,500 were made over two years, and very few stand today. I feel like the home’s curator and bodyguard as well as its owner. I give impromptu tours to curious passersby, and I fend off developers who want to build something new on my lot.
After the jump, I share photos of my ever-evolving quest to personalize a home that was literally molded for the masses. All photos except the chaise pic were shot by my husband, Andrea Fremiotti.