my white 1970 citroën coming out of my garage for an oil change
working on my citroën

For the Love of Beautiful Things

dirk dieter
4 min readJan 3, 2021


My father inspired, in me, a love for all things well made and unique.

I talked about emotions with my mom constantly.
My Dad and I talked about things.

My father and I could talk about things for hours, not about emotions or predicaments but things. Sitting at his soft teak table in danish modern chairs we would discuss a beautiful Dansk pepper grinder or a Telefunken phonograph. That phonograph would play cool jazz like Brubeck and Desmond or old 45’s of Nat King Cole or Artie Shaw.

He was very generous with his things. He didn’t just share the love for them, he gave me things that he loved like a swiss army knife or that very phonograph because he was moving across the country.

Even though we didn’t see our Dad all the time, I think my Brother and Sister were influenced by him as well. Visiting our Father was like a lesson in how to live a simple and beautiful life. They ate the best food on a beautiful table with beautiful teak handled silverware that felt soft in your hand. Before eating we would walk to Gilman Produce and pick out the most beautiful fruit and vegetables. The vegetables were cooked in a bamboo steamer. The dining room was small but I remember a beautiful tree outside the window that birds would visit. My dad cut off parts of a fruit crate to make a simple bird feeder outside the window. He had books to identify all of them.

My brother was always working on cars and I learned from him that anything is possible. He bought Mustangs. He must have loved them because he had about 5 or 6 of them. He would take them all apart in the garage and then put them all back together with rebuilt engines and refurbished interiors. I think he turned some of them into some sort of Hot Rod. I remember a short trip I took with him. When we were on the freeway ,whenever he touched the gas pedal, the car would leap forward, almost off the ground. He learned a lot about cars. He became an engineer.

I looked up to my Sister for so many things and she taught me how to love life. I remember sitting in her room upstairs at the back of the house with the sun pouring in through the windows. She played guitar and sang The Beatles. She taught me a few chords and those are still the only chords that I know today. She played Stevie Wonder and that opened my eyes to the beauty of music that was going on right now. I started buying records.

My Sister grew tomatoes so I tried that too. She left for college. She made beautiful ceramics. She had beautiful friends. She taught me about the beauty in the world. She taught me that there is a whole world out there to find. She moved to Tahoe.

Because of her, I took many trips to Tahoe. Trips made in my first car, a Triumph Spitfire. My Dad helped me in my search for my first car. I had a lot of crazy ideas and I’m pretty sure he approved. He drove me to Petaluma to see an MGTC that I could barely afford and was in pieces. When I told him I finally found a car that I could afford and that actually ran, he drove me to witness the transaction and make sure that I wasn’t being too foolish. Anyway I bought my first car and it always made it to Tahoe. I repaired it and painted it and loved it for 7 years before I sold it.

We all bought houses at about the same time. It was a total coincidence that it happened around the same time but it wasn’t a fluke that we all wanted to own a house. A house that we could change and design and manipulate and love. Actually my Brother bought 40 acres of farmland. He had to build his house from nothing and he did it all himself. HIs back still hurts.

My Sister has always had big ideas for her houses. She has vastly improved every one of them which, of course, includes a beautiful garden. She moved out of snow country, in part, just to have a vegetable garden. I think one of her favorite things in life is walking barefoot through her garden picking freshly ripened offerings.

Me? I became an industrial designer. At first I wanted to be an architect. Cal Poly had a waiting list and so I decided “Who wants to be an architect anyway? Someone will just paint the house pink.” Now that I work in design I know that you never really own your design and sometimes pink is a perfect choice. Even though I do design for a living I still get my biggest kicks out of designing and working on my own house. My house is a place to enjoy life. I love working on my house. I love thinking about what to change and what to add and what to remove.

I have a 1970 Citroen siting in my garage. I need to do some work on it before it’s ready for a trip to Tahoe but I keep it running and I do love it. I think my Dad would like it too.



dirk dieter

I'm living in a small house and adding a second story. I profess minimalism, practical and simple design. Your home should be a place of joy and relaxation.