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cincinnatimodern's favorite things - part VII

what happens when the millennial children decorate the gingerbread cookies......

Just in time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday.....you get the drill. Here is our 7th annual installment of gift suggestions for the moddies in your life.  

Happy Holidays to all from the cincinnatimodern team! 

fiona playing cards 

๐ŸŽผ I......want a hippopotamous for Christmas......  Support the Cincinnati Zoo and our local cutie pie with this great stocking stuffer or hostess gift.  They are supposed to be available at Kroger stores, and you can order direct from U.S Playing Card, Co., too (a locally based 130 year old company!). 


land of nod palm springs playhouse

Everyone loves to play in a fort.  This is one you won’t mind looking at, either.  Way classier than blankets over a table.  They are never too young to enjoy good design.  

charley harper tree skirt 

This Land of Nod exclusive with our hometown hero Charley Harper’s design (with a bonus nod to Cincinnati Nature Center) is a must for Harper lovers.  Watch for percent off and free shipping sales. And while you are at it, check out the other Land of Nod Harper items.  Their quality is fantastic!  

click here for all land of nod harper items


dyson animal cord free vacuum

Industrial design at its finest, this cordless vacuum is a game changer!  Amazing power and utility, and easy on the eyes hanging on the charging station.  It’s in Target’s Black Friday sale at a great price.   


shag tiki coasters

We have really stepped up our Tiki game over the past year, and artist Josh Agle  (aka Shag) seems to embody the tiki spirt in much of his artwork.  This set of 4 coasters would be right at home in any MCM pad or tiki bar.   


orla kiely items from amara


Like the prints of Marimekko and Lilly Pulitzer, Orla Kiely prints evoke an attitude of fun and whimsy while maintaining a bold, modern design aesthetic.  London based Kiely’s household products are available for amazingly fast delivery to the states from U.K. online retailer Amara.  Seriously, everytime we have ordered, our items arrive within a few days. Quality is very good.  Use this link for a first time shopper’s discount.  


lilly pulitzer mens’ ties


lilly pulitzer harp cashmere wrap

The 60’s inspired prints and designs, originally conceived to conceal juices stains on designer Lilly Pulitzer clothes as she sold oranges and juice from her husband’s groves, have transcended time and place and speak to a sunny state of mind, no matter where you are.  And with long, gray Cincinnati winters, who couldn’t use a little color in their lives?  Back by popular demand is a line of men’s ties.  And the Harp Wrap is a great gift for any woman on your gift list because a) everyone LOVES cashmere b) gold goes with everything and c) one size fits all!! 


fishs eddy harper items

These adorable glasses and many other items with beloved Charley Harper designs are the product of  a collaboration between designer Todd Oldham and “crafty dish retailer,” Fishs Eddy.  Items can be ordered directly from them, or purchased locally at several Fabulous Frames and Art locations.


square stud earrings

Canadian jewelry designer Hilary Druxman always has a great selection of affordable modern jewelry available.  These earrings may be simple, but they are definitely not boring. 


jewelry redesign from paolo | a modern jeweler

Even the person who has everything will appreciate what local jewelry designer Paolo has to offer.  Not only do they have a great selection of original designs, but they specialize in redesigning your existing jewelry and family heirlooms into truly unique and custom pieces.  This is NOT your typical mall jewelry store with mass produced pieces.  And guess what?  It does not cost any more to shop local and work with actual artisans who give you a truly custom experience. 


brendon farrell 6-fin hook rack

This functional walnut piece doubles as a gorgeous wall sculpture.  


playable art ball


Our friend Jenny at Newfields (formerly Indianapolis Museum of Art) always finds the best gizmos for her shop.  Love that this is for ages 3 - 99.  Who needs a fidget spinner when you could have this inviting playable sculpture sitting around?  Great way to teach the kids about Roy G. Biv.   


casabella guac-lock


If you are obsessed with making the perfect guacamole like we are, then you know how poorly it keeps.  We are super excited to have found the guac-lock, guaranteed to keep guacamole fresh! It's available locally at Container Store in Kenwood.  And it gets huge bonus points for being the perfect shade of green!  


jenco brothers cincinnati mix popcorn 


Not sure they really call it that, but 2/3 Grippos Barbecue Popcorn + 1/3 carmel corn = a truly addictive mix.  Jenco is located on McMillan St. in University Hts, and at a pop up shop in Findlay Market.  Thank us later!  


That's it for this year!  check out our previous lists from 201120122013 ,2014, 2015, and 2016 for many more modern classics!

And don't forget to shop local:

  •  City Flea Holiday Market  - Saturday, December 16 from 5:00 – 10:00 at Washington Park
  • MiCA 12/v – corner of 12th and Vine in OTR 
  • Leftcoast Modern – 1202-1204 Main Street in OTR
  • Mainly Art – 3711 Madison Road, Oakley
  • Modern Art Jewelry – 8316 Plainfield Road, Deer Park
  • Fabulous Frames and Art – the definitive source for all things Charley and Edie Harper.  Several locations around town including Montgomery, Kenwood and Downtown.  And don't miss the annual Harper Art Show - Saturday, December 2 11-5 at the Montgomery Gallery.
  • Cincinnati Zoo - memberships and gift items that support conservation and our local treasure



in the beginning, part 1

I’m waxing a bit nostalgic on the eve of the 14th anniversary of cincinnatimodern.  Although I was licensed as a Realtor in 2003 and Arlen was still working in the mortgage industry, cincinnatimodern has always been a group effort. In 2003 we had 3 kids at home, and everything we did was a choreographed dance of picking the kids up and getting them to various activities, violin practice, family dinner, homework.  No Realtor ever does it alone because our industry runs on the assumption that we are always available, 24/7.   Tenley, who was 6 at the time, knew to be on best behavior when mommy was on the phone.  The original cincinnatimodern team was the 5 of us, with real estate signs in the minivan, and open houses scheduled between swim meets.  


But before that, Arlen and I had a long history of dabbling in design and home renovation.  I like to say I was born modern.  It’s no secret that I have always been attracted to good design.  Arlen and I met our freshman year at UC, in 1980, while living in twin midcentury dorms (Calhoun – the ‘boys’ dorm, and Siddall – the girls’ dorm) sharing one midcentury dining Hall.   I have to admit that the design of the dorms and dining hall was bit lost on us at the time.  But Arlen’s 1910 fraternity house was another story.  The Alpha Epsilon Pi house was a beer soaked, grease laden party pad.  A full 12 years before the debut of HGTV, there were college students Susan and Arlen, shortening the drapes in the fraternity house (yes, I brought my sewing machine to college with me) and painting the (formerly gross) powder room.  Granted, I may have been driving the bus on these projects, but even our teenage selves knew that the built environment was something to preserve, enhance and make us feel better.  

 the old AEPi house. that's Arlen, front row in the speedo (!). you can see the bay window to the right.

So the early stages of cincinnatimodern were somewhat modest.  But any boyfriend who will humor his girlfriend by painting a fraternity house bathroom (white with green stripes) is a really good guy.  And any girl who will haul her ironing board, iron, and sewing machine over to her boyfriend’s fraternity house and shorten 8 drapery panels so they don’t pool on the bay window seat is………crazy?  Or destined to live a life of seeing what things should be, and not being afraid to make it happen.  I credit our success to not being afraid to try new things, and becoming really good at some of them.  Oh, and teamwork.  We have always had great teamwork.  

 our UC graduation, june 1984. nippert stadium. march 2016, in front of the siddall cafeteria where we met 37 years ago. how cool is that metal exoskeleton?!



for the love of formica


architect louis sauer - the man with a plan

rendering from original sales brochure of regency square in 1971

One of the great pleasures (really privileges) of what I do is uncovering the stories of the houses and buildings we live in.  Cincinnatimodern’s focus is on architect designed properties, and these stories often lead me to the people behind the designs.  Our pool of living architects and designers who did their master work at midcentury is dwindling fast.  The greatest generation is almost a memory.  How lucky when we get a chance to check in with someone who made a difference in our lives, and let him (or her) know their designs are appreciated, and hopefully will be for generations to come.  

Like the current owner of this Hyde Park condo townhouse that we just put on the market, we have all driven by Regency Square, (nestled along Dana Ave below The Regency high rise building, just east of the I-71 exchange and bordering the Withrow HS campus) hundreds of times without giving it a second thought.  But when the owner is an architecture professor, and the building and complex show unique characteristics of light and space, some further exploration is necessary.  And this inquisitiveness led her right to the man himself, Louis Sauer.  At age 89, Sauer was enjoying a slower paced life in Tasmania when she reached out to him via email.  Here is a little summary of what she found out: 

"Still active from his current home in Tasmania, the architect Louis Sauer was an important figure in the development of clustered housing typologies. After early studies in Industrial Design at IIT’s Institute of Design in Chicago, where he picked up Bauhaus influence, he spent time in Europe where he encountered architects who were putting an alternative approach to the dominant International Style, including Carlo Scarpa, Ludovico Quaroni, Jacob Bakema, and Giancarlo de Carlo. Upon his return to the US, he studied at the University of Pennsylvania under the influential Louis I. Kahn. After graduating with his Masters degree, Sauer’s early career where he worked for private developers in housing competitions sponsored by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority gave him a footing in the urban setting of Philadelphia and a conceptual challenge to design high-density, low-rise housing. When he subsequently began to get private commissions in the historic neighborhoods of Philadelphia’s Society Hill area, he applied the lessons he had learned in his travels and studies to private dwellings. The typology that he developed, which bears some resemblance to the concept of Mat Building popularized by Alison Smithson, one of the leaders of the 1956 CIAM meeting, served him in several projects in the Philadelphia area and beyond. While the Regency Square is the only example of this aspect of Sauer’s work in Cincinnati, he was also responsible for two other projects in Cincinnati, the tower at One Lytle, the context of which has since changed dramatically, and a water feature along the river that has since been altered beyond recognition.”

Arlen and I used to go down to the Serpentine Wall in the’80’s and hang out at the Sauer designed  Concourse Fountain Plaza at Yeatman's Cove (opened in 1976).  Perhaps a bit ahead of its time (and therefore lacking certain safety features that would definitely be in place today), it was a landscape water park with pools, fountains blasting large jets of water.  It was fun and functional.   

vintage photo of fountain plaza at yeatman's cove designed by architect louis sauer

The Regency Square condos are a great example of Sauer’s High Density/Low Rise Housing.  Unlike the classic townhouse format with the main source of light from a narrow end, he shook it up at the Regency and put windows along one long wall + the end wall.   This not only adds visual interest, it also makes for interesting shaped buildings, unique outdoor spaces, privacy, great light, and wonderful interiors for flow and furniture placement.   Since they were built in 1971, many of the interiors have not retained the original modern styling.  But our new listing has been renovated by its architect/owner with a great palate of modern materials and is move in ready!   It’s also a great location, within walking distance to Hyde Park Square and a 5 minute commute via I-71 and the new MLK exchange to Hospitals, and Universities,  10 min. to Downtown.  The beautifully maintained grounds and very inclusive HOA makes Regency Square the easy living urban environment that Sauer imagined.   

vintage photo of regency square courtesy of architect louis sauer

vintage photo of regency square courtesy of architect louis sauer

Below the photos or our new listing, see an excerpt of the email exchange between our seller and Louis Sauer, the man with a plan!  


I am really taken aback. Yours is the only response I have received for the Regency Square design after some forty years. Its wonderful for me to me to hear your appreciation. What makes it even more distinctive (and rare) is to see you are an architect teaching at the prestigious School of Architecture in the University of Cincinnati.
I closed my Philadelphia architecture practice in 1979 to become a full time academic and head of CMU's architecture school but left academe in 1989 to practice urban design in Montreal. I left North America in 2000 to reside in Australia and I now live in Tasmania retired from practice and teaching.
It would warm my old heart to learn what it is you like about the design.
My many regards and very best wishes,





For the love of quality, I have to share my obsession with the classic Cincinnati midcentury bathroom.  I am in my 14th year of selling real estate, and I can say I have seen literally thousands of Cincinnati bathrooms.  I am also a faithful reader of RetroRenovation, a very popular blog and FB page celebrating/sharing/sourcing vintage homes and details.  I’m going to go out on a limb here, but the craftsmanship, design and details of midcentury baths here in Cincinnati are the best of the best.  For the most part, midcentury baths have held up way better than midcentury kitchens, both functionally and condition wise.  But when a buyer or agent walks through one of our listings with a *prisitine*  midcentury bath and says that the bathrooms ‘need updating,’ I just want to scream.  And kick them out.  Seriously!   

So what exactly  about these bathrooms is ‘dated’ and needs updating?  Let’s look at the mechanicals.  These baths are usually outfitted with thick ceramic tiled walls (set in concrete no less), American Standard or Crane fixtures, and Formica counters.  The plumbing is copper.  The vanities are custom made for the space and often have canted fronts.  Everything works and looks like the day it was built.  And to top that off, each and every one is similar but different, a unique work of art.   

So step away from HGTV and the sledgehammer, and think about it.  Demo it all and put in a Home Depot special (*insert expletive here*)?  Or go for something more sleek and modern a la Dwell Magazine and make your midcentury bath look like “today.”  But why?!  With the most perfectly preserved time capsule of all time right there and ready for your business!   

Time to address the elephant in the room.  The crazy midcentury color palate is what people are referring to when the say dated.  Is it really that hard to embrace the pink, yellow, blue, green, gray and beige (in a staggering number of combos)?  And some wild Formica patterns?  Think of these colors like cool vintage cars.  For the most part, our car color palate now has been distilled to black, silver, white and the occasional blue or red.  But who doesn’t love a cool classic car in an Easter egg hue?  

So before you write that vintage bath off as dated,  embrace the quality, uniqueness and craftsmanship of yesteryear and give it a chance.  I bet you grow to love it.   

Please enjoy this slideshow of vintage Cincinnati baths from homes we have shown or sold over the past 14 years.  I even threw in a few Rookwood baths from the 1930’s that managed to survive.   Did your house make the slideshow?  

and p.s. - QUALITY baths are the ones worth keeping.  Crappy is always worth replacing ๐Ÿ˜œ