“Atomic Condo”, Kitschy Home Design

This is Tanya. Crafty lady extraordinaire, devoted wife, and a woman who knows how to work red lipstick so well that glamour girls across the land are envious. Tanya is a Lehigh Valley native, and though she currently resides in Baltimore, she comes back for family visits and has been considering a move back here (let’s encourage her!).

And this is Tanya’s house and all of her incredible STUFF. I have a weakness for midcentury modern furniture and bright colors, and Tanya not only loves those things, she’s been able to collect some lovely pieces and build a home with them.

Join me for an INTERVIEW and a snoop through her house!

I met you back in 2001, and you were quite a stylish lady. How long have you had such an identified sense of style?

It definitely started in high school when I started shopping for my wardrobe at thrift stores. It became a fun after school activity but little did I know, I was also building a collection of vintage pieces that I still wear today. I think rummaging through my grandmothers old clothing and looking through old pictures probably played a part in everything, too. My first formal vintage dress came from my grandmothers closet and I wore it for my high school graduation under my gown. I still have it; pale pink covered with tiny pearls and rhinestones.

Where do you get your style inspiration? Your home design inspiration?

From so many places! Old television shows and movies. I used to come home from school and watch Laverne and Shirley. I started putting ‘T’s on all my sweaters! Old images of pinup girls and film starlets. On the other hand, I love the kinderwhore look from the 90’s with the babydoll dresses and such. Janeane Garofalo in Reality Bites was a look I will never forget. And Enid from Ghost World. Her style in itself pretty much sums up what I’m all about.

Overall though, I would have to say my favorite style icon is Audrey Hepburn. She was perfect in every way and always looked so put together. Some modern day things that inspire my style are wardrobe_remix on Flickr, Mad Men, and Zooey Deschanel. I love to wear and collect vintage dresses. I have well over a hundred and the collection keeps growing! I like to make things to wear in my hair and my vintage inspired glasses are usually a part of my everyday look. I am very much into the diy indie crafter scene and I love to incorporate handmade things as well.

As for my home design aesthetic, I love all things mid century modern and anything super kitschy. I graduated from Northampton Community College with a degree in Interior Design. Learning about the history of furniture and the different design styles was very inspiring to me. When I started researching the work of Charles and Ray Eames, I was blown away. They were so innovative and creative. You know you really love a subject when you start looking into it outside of class. I think I have an obsession with chairs because of them! I also pull inspiration from Atomic Ranch Magazine. I love the color aqua so I try to incorporate that whenever I can. Most of my vintage housewares and furniture was inherited from grandparents or was found at thrift stores or flea markets. Lately I’ve had luck with Craigslist, too.

Can you please tell me about that incredibly awesome sofa?!

The incredibly awesome sofa was found on Craigslist. The sellers were a cute couple in DC who were looking to buy a new one so we were lucky enough to score it for only $30! Since it is so massive I was scared it wouldn’t fit up the 3 flights of stairs and into our condo, but we made it work. It was also raining the day we had to pick it up. Sometimes it feels like all my pieces of furniture have a funny story (or not so funny story) attached!

Where are your favorite places to score finds? What are your fav places in the LV?

The last time I lived in the LV was about 4 years ago. Back then, the Attic was still only in Kutztown. I went there a lot. Every Saturday I would go to Renningers Flea Market or the big outdoor flea market in Saylorsburg. The Salvation Army in Whitehall was a weekly stop and I remember there being a good thrift store on Sumner Ave in Allentown as well. I also loved walking up and down Main St in Bethlehem when the weather was nice. I still regularly find great things on eBay and etsy. Now that I live in Baltimore, I’ve found lots of great antique shops and thrift stores to occupy myself but I miss the LV terribly.

You have been lucky enough to already have lived out one of my dreams and get a photo of your home in Atomic Ranch magazine, you lucky duck.  How did that happen?

Atomic Ranch is one of my favorite magazines so I wrote a letter to the editor and included some pictures of my condo. I also made a joke about not really having an atomic ranch but having an ‘atomic condo’ and I think they may have liked that. Being that I work at Barnes & Noble, I was checking the magazines like crazy to see if it was in there and then one day it was! I think I almost screamed. Its actually in the current issue thats out right now so it can still be found on newsstands.

***EDITORS NOTE: The closest I ever came to livin’ the dream of being featured in Atomic Ranch Magazine was when I sent them a love letter in 2005. It was all text, but it did get printed!

You have a lot of wall art. Do you have any themes as far as what you collect?

I have a lot of random thrift store art. I look for anything with bright colors and fun images that make me smile. I have lots of old Audrey Hepburn movie posters, Andy Warhol prints, and pinup girl art. One of my favorites is a Hairspray movie poster with Ricki Lake and Divine. I’m a huge John Waters fan! I also have a cardboard cutout of Marilyn Monroe.

I know you are a married lady now (sorry, readers!). Is your husband on board with this look? Is he into the same styles?

Hes on board. He better be! He knew what he was in for and I told him from day one that if he wanted to live with me, he would have to live with all my stuff, too. And I have a lot of stuff! I don’t think he liked the pink coffee table at first but I brought home lots of pink things since with out him complaining.

I understand this may be impossible, but do you have a favorite piece?

My favorite piece is my lovely blue sofa. I know we already talked about it but I adore it! I call it the torpedo because it is humongous. It measures over 10′ long and has built in side tables. I hope I never have to buy another one because it is perfect and everything I’ve always wanted. I also have an attachment to the pink coffee table because it was made by my grandfather. My dad tells me they used to use it as a sled? It is in great shape and you would never know!

What is the reaction of guests when they see your home for the first time?

People seem to enjoy looking at everything. There is an awful lot to take in and I joke that its like being in a museum. I get lots of complements on things from the wall colors to all the little collectibles. We don’t really get lots of visitors but I find that when people learn about my decorating style, little gifts start popping up here and there for the condo. My mother in law has found me salt and pepper shakers, fold up tables, and recently a set of vintage mugs. I think people have fun with it.

You don’t currently live in the LV, but grew up here and are considering moving back. Can you briefly describe where you grew up, and why you are excited at the prospect of moving back to the Valley?

I was born and raised in Northampton, PA.  When I started to drive and got out more by myself, I would go to Bethlehem a lot and sometimes venture into Allentown. I found lots of thrift stores and fun new shops that way that I never would have known about otherwise. Growing up, I would go to a lot of local shows in the area and got to know different people.

I moved to Baltimore about 4 years ago with my now husband and I do enjoy it very much here but I will always miss the LV. I come up to visit my family quite often and try to get out to all my favorite spots. Its seems like things are really developing there and there are more independent businesses. My husband and I are planning to move back in the future and we would love to find a home in Bethlehem. Until then, I have my friends, family, and this awesome new blog to keep me posted on things happening in the LV so I won’t miss a thing!

Tanya’s ETSY store for her craft wares can be found here: ladycosmicthings.etsy.com

And you can read her personal blog here: xatomicbettiex.blogspot.com

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6 Comments

Filed under DIY Interior Design

6 responses to ““Atomic Condo”, Kitschy Home Design

  1. This is so awesome! I can’t thank you enough!

  2. Julia

    Hey,

    Thanks for doing this for Tanya. Retro craft — if I may call it that — is her world. I enjoyed reading this, not only because it is about a friend, but because it is so well-written. (I’m a fellow writer, so you know I’m giving you huge kudos.) Your photos were fantastic, too, as they made her condo look much bigger than it is!

  3. Mike

    Ey yo! In the four years I’ve known you, you never cease to amaze me. This is awesome and I’m proud to say that I’ve seen all of it first hand. Sorry Jaime-her friends in Baltimore aren’t giving her up!

  4. Rebecca

    I think that a John Waters poster in a Baltimore home is kind of a necessary “bless this home” charm. Thank you for sharing your amazzzing place!

  5. Incredible reference for different pieces of furniture and motifs ranging from the beginning of construction to present. Used it for my History of Furniture class…pictures were very helpful examples and the accompanying captions and text were thorough.

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