welcome to my lustron

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.

An idyllic photo of “my” living room from a Lustron Corporation brochure. Mail-order customers chose from two models and six baked-on enamel colors.

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.

I love to decorate and have put my stamp on the Lustron, and it has shaped me in turn. Because of its Atomic Age design, I’ve become a midcentury modern superfan. Hunting for vintage furniture and accessories is now one of my favorite pastimes. The home’s petite footprint has also influenced my view on how much space I need. With some trepidation, Andrea and I bought the 950-square-foot home after renting a loft almost twice the size. We’ve been comfortable for seven years.

Hosing the Lustron
It’s hard to believe no humor was intended in this ad demonstrating the ease of cleaning the Lustron’s smooth finish!

Not that Lustron living is pure bliss. Our rust-tinged ranch presents plenty of challenges, like how to hang artwork and curtains—we had to become heavy-duty magnet experts. Our period windows and scanty insulation make wintertime chilly. We look at Dwell together and fantasize about our next house, but the thought of leaving makes us ache. For now, as the children’s book put it, this nest is best. And given the fresh burst of joy I feel every time I change a vase or pillow, I may just be able to stay forever.

Here are shots of how we live in our Lustron. I have some redecorating schemes brewing, so check back for updates!

Lustron living room
The living room is my (and Leroy’s) favorite spot, partly because of its delicious western light. The loveseat and ottoman were design by Todd Oldham for La-Z-Boy. The Room & Board mocha chairs were a wedding gift from my parents. The wool rug is from one of my favorite eco-friendly shops, {link:http://www.verdehomeinc.com/}Verde Home{/link}.
Sofa and drink
My sister Lynette gave me these vintage starburst glasses, perfect for afternoon sparkling beverages. I made the tufted silk pillows, which were inspired by similar ones on the set of Mad Men. I also sewed the curtains from 60s fabric depicting the Manhattan skyline.
Vintage Drexel credenza
This curvy lamp is one of my most prized thrift store finds. The credenza is vintage Drexel, purchased at Antiques & Beyond. Andrea took the aerial photo on a work trip in Honolulu. The bronze stars are by John Kostick.
Heywood-Wakefield dining set
When it comes to wood furniture, I prefer blondes, like this vintage Heywood-Wakefield dining set purchased from Broad Street Antique Mall in Chamblee, GA. I found the Joan Savo abstract painting recently in Palm Springs. The linked vases are from Kudzu Antiques here in Decatur.
Remodeled Lustron kitchen
The kitchen is the only room that’s not original. Previous owners installed the tiled island where a floor-to-ceiling metal hutch used to be. The cabinets are also a later addition.
The watery colors and minimal design of our bedroom help me to transition into reading and sleeping time. The striped bedding is from West Elm, and the woodgrain pillow is by Inhabit. Rewiring the vintage bedside lamps was my most recent DIY project.
Built-in steel vanity
The built-in vanity and overhead storage make every foot in our small bedroom count. I got the midcentury chair from American Period Furniture in Atlanta and had it re-covered.
Office and guest room
The second bedroom doubles as my office and guest room. The pullout sofa and shelving are from Room & Board. Andrea’s Italian grandmother made the horse needlepoint. I bought the block-printed lumbar pillow from 1 Girl 1 Boy, and the succulent pillow from Pillowhappy. The rug is by Angela Adams, and the curtains are from West Elm.
Walnut secretary desk
My small secretary desk from Room & Board forces me to be tidy. I gather pens, paper clips, etc. in vintage ceramics. The calendar is designed by my friend Jessica Swift.
Bullet planter with crocheted succulents
I hide bulkier office supplies in a walnut credenza, also from Room & Board. This room is the darkest in the house, so I commissioned indestructible {link:http://www.etsy.com/shop/LunasCrafts}crocheted succulents{/link} for my bullet planter. The amateur landscape thrifted from Broad Street Antique Mall has charming imperfections, like a crooked horizon!
Dog on a patio
Meet Moonpie (aka Pie Guy, Mr. Delicious, and many other aliases). He’s thrilled to show you the concrete and beach pebble patio we added in 2008, designed by {link:http://lightroom.tv/}Lightroom{/link}. The overhang uses salvaged wall panels from an Ohio Lustron. Our teak furniture is from Crate & Barrel, and the pendants are from the Lighting Loft.
Chaise and container garden
Andrea and I jockey for the chaise on weekends, because we only have one. These planters were my first attempt at gardening. They host upright yews, Japanese forest grass, a weeping redbud, boxwoods, and creeping Jenny.
Terraced concrete garden
We swapped our muddy hill for this concrete terraced garden in 2008, also by {link:http://lightroom.tv/}Lightroom{/link}. The sunlight and moisture vary a lot, and I’m still trying to figure out what plants work where. I’d like to add boulders and go for a more Japanese look.

3 thoughts on “welcome to my lustron”

  1. Love the journey through this Lustron home…especially since we almost bought it back in 2005. We would have never made use of it as well as you! Do you have more info on the back terrace garden project? We’d love to know more!

  2. Thanks, Miss Pat! The stair garden was inspired by a photo in an old Sunset magazine. You can’t really tell from this picture, but all the risers are different widths, and they move side to side. I spray-painted where I wanted them, and the workers poured them in place. The concrete bricks are technically endcaps, I think. Each wall has a slot drain behind it, so extra water is diverted down the driveway. Let me know if there’s something specific you want to hear about!

  3. Long live the Lustron! Thanks for allowing a glimpse into your Lustron lives. I am searching for my own, currently. Have acquired Lustron sink (bathroom) and other hardware, MCM furniture and an atomic ranch, Sputnik chandelier for my newest home (yet to come). Thanks again…please, please.

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