Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monthly Mid-Century Makeover

Welcome to the second installment of my monthly Mid-Century makeover series. This month will be all about living rooms and the importance of creating a family friendly space in your home. When we think of retro living rooms today, we usually picture boomerang shaped tables and starburst accents, but this was not the norm in the '50s. A sleek, minimalistic look was much more popular in the '50s, which makes recreating the look today much simpler!

Let's start by examining the differences between Mid-Century and modern day living rooms. I'm willing to bet that right now your living room is set up with a television as a focal point, all your furniture is pointed towards it, and spending time with your friends or family in this room usually means staring at the TV in silence. People in the '50s did things a little differently. The television (if there was one at all) was tucked away in the corner, and the furniture was arranged in a way that promoted conversation and socializing. Time spent together in the living room was used to catch up with one another at the end of the day, without television, video games, computers, or smart phones. If quiet, meaningful time spent with your loved ones is what you're looking for, it can be achieved with a reorganization.

Furniture Arrangement 

Focus should be given to flow and openness when creating a Mid-Century living room. The host and hostess should have an easy, clear path between kitchen/dining areas and the living area. An open space concept was very popular in the '50s, so eliminating the clutter is important. 

Furniture should face the the center of the room to allow for easy conversation. If you choose to have a television in this room, place it in a corner area with a comfy chair for occasional viewing. Remember, the purpose of the room is for easy socialization and togetherness, the television should not be the focal point .

A fireplace can make a fantastic focal point in  Mid-Century living room. Sitting in front of a roaring fire with good company is a great way to spend a winter evening. If your fireplace is your focal point, be sure to tie in the stone color and style with the color and style in the rest of the room. 


Choosing furniture for you retro living room is easier than you may think. As I mentioned earlier, wacky shaped tables and starburst accents were not the norm in the '50s. Redecorating was usually done on a budget, which meant antiques and hand-me-down furniture was used quite often. New furniture was sleek and modern, usually with tapered legs, and came in all types of fabric and colors. One rule that was followed, however, was keeping the furniture theme the same in all rooms of the house. By doing this, furniture could be brought in from other rooms to accommodate large parties and the hostess wouldn't need to worry about it clashing with their living room decor. 

So whether you choose to re-purpose your old furniture, inherit some antiques from your grandparents, or buy a whole new living room set, it will work with a your new retro style. 


Color is the most important aspect to this retro renovation. No matter what style you choose, how you organize your furniture, or what type of furniture you choose to use, your color theme is what's going to pull it all together. So what are the Mid-Century rules of color? Well, any color is fine, from the palest neutrals to the most vibrant of colors, choose whichever suits you best. There should be one principal color that is repeated through out the entire house to give your home a sense of unity. 

Each room can have it's own accent color, but the colors should be matched with the colors beside them on the color wheel. It's more common today to match colors with their opposites, but that won't get you an authentic retro look! Repeat the principal color in your furniture, window treatments, and carpeting. 

Bringing it All Together

Now that you have the all the information it's time to begin your renovation! Remember, there's no one "right" way to do this, so let your imagination go wild! Utilize the space in a way that best suits your needs. If you have the space in your home, consider having a TV room or den so you can keep your living room TV free. If you have a large, open space living room, you may want to separate it into multiple functional areas, such as a reading/game area, television area, and socializing area. 

Happy renovating!


  1. Thanks for clearing the colors for other rooms to go with the main living room, that makes sense to me, easy on the budget, also not so much daily cleaning. I always thought why do some rooms have that wow factor,while others just miss that 'something '.

    1. I'm so glad I was able to help you out! Interior decorating used to be a mystery to me too, turns out there's a formula for everything :)