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Fair Winds and Following Seas: Nautical Mid Century Modern

Fair Winds and Following Seas
Nautical Mid Century Modern

by Rachel – MidMods West

Last spring, I was walking through a souk (Arabic public market) in the Gulf country of the Kingdom of Bahrain, when I was suddenly inspired to start a Pinterest board on midcentury nautical décor. Two utterly obscure and unrelated things, right? Who would be thinking about mid century nautical décor amongst the exotic oriental fare of a Middle Eastern bazaar? Among the genie’s lamps, hookah pipes and Persian carpets, there are loads of nautical “antiques” consisting of compasses, telescopes, gyrocompasses, sextants, and other navigational instruments. The vendors claim that they are real vintage items but like the majority of trinkets at the souk, they are most likely made at a local factory or somewhere in East Asia. Nonetheless, these nautical “antiques” are charming, of rather sturdy build of brass and honey colored oak and have the streamlined look of something you would find on a 1960s sailing vessel.

Nautical Games from BahrainWhen I returned to my flat, I started looking up the overall Midcentury Nautical Style, which resulted in a Pinterest board of about 80 pins. You can view it HERE

The nautical theme has always been a classic decorating choice and the nautical décor of the 1950s-1970s is no exception, reflecting the atomic, streamlined and abstract styles popular during the time. While putting together my Pinterest board, I learned about the most popular nautical themed objets d’art of the era.  So if you want to add some nautical touches to your midcentury motif, I would consider investing in the following:

1. Abstract Sailboat Paintings
You don’t necessarily need to go completely nautical to adorn your walls with a midcentury abstract sailboat painting. I find them in antique stores all the time, especially paintings from Vanguard Studios. Here is one that I received as a Christmas present. It was from Garnet Vintage Home Collections on Garnet Ave in Pacific Beach, San Diego. While perusing this wonderfully jam-packed store, I saw up to 10 very unique abstract paintings of ships at sea for truly affordable prices. You can also find loads of them on ebay and etsy from anywhere between $25 and $800.
Nautical Painting

2. Brass Figurines
Many vintage enthusiasts will recognize brass boat sculptures. They are great accent pieces and also come in a variety of other shapes such as seagulls, crabs, and birds.
Brass Sailboat BookendsBrass Seagull Wall Art

3. Framed String and Nail Boats. Many of you have heard of popular midcentury DIY staples such as sand art and paint by numbers, but have you heard of string and nail art? Add some 70’s funk to your nautical theme with this:Mid Century String Art

4. Vintage Globes 
Make it look like you regularly navigate the seven seas by adding a vintage globe to your collection. I found this one for just $20 in the antiques district of Ocean Beach. The vintage stamps add a unique and personal touch and also can be a conversation starter if you’re desperate to tell your friends about your latest world travels.Rachel's Globe

5. Fishing Boat Captain
If you like kitsch, you will probably appreciate this Salty Old Guy. He’s usually got an old skipper’s hat with raincoat, turtleneck sweater and galoshes on. They most often come in brass and painted carved wood. I’ve seen them in the form of lamps, paintings and figurines.Sea Captain Lamps

6. Helms!
Want a helm ashtray? A helm wall sculpture? How about a helm lamp? You can get just about anything shaped like a helm, or with a helm fastened onto it! Helm AshtrayHelm Compass

7. Navigational Tools
Set a nice brass compass or sextant next to your globe for final touches. Where to buy? I prefer Seajunk.com, having personally visited the incredible treasure trove of Maidhof Brothers Nautical Antiques in San Diego. You can also look on Ebay or Etsy.
Helm Compasses

8. Nautical Sculpture Lamps and Lanterns.
I gave lamps their own category because there are so many cool nautical themed lamps from the era. Just look at this quick search on eBay:  Here’s a lamp on Ebay that manages to combine almost everything:Mid Century Sea Lantern

9. Model Ships
Place on your desk or an empty book shelf for maximum nautical affect (and maximum class).Mid Century Model Ship

Saving the coolest for last, we have the…

10. Midcentury Nautical Themed Wet Bar. No one will deny your exquisite taste as you mix them a dirty martini to some jazz beats while donning your skipper’s hat. You can buy it HERE
Mid Century Ship Bar

Do you have an exceptional piece of Nautical MCM decor? We would love to hear about it and to see a photo in the comment section.

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