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How to renovate in Mid-Century Modern style

Updated: May 10, 2023

This blog is about practical advise to help you create the Mid-Century look in your home. Here you will discover my thought process and the three basic actions or steps (listed below) I took, to meet the client's brief, and create a beautiful interior for the owners of this Mid-Century Modern, design and renovation project in Alfred Cove WA.

  1. Space planning - for Mid-Century Modern

  2. Color - for Mid-Century Modern

  3. Furniture - for Mid-Century Modern

But first let's understand Mid-Century Modern, better.



Understanding Mid-Century Modern -Style


According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, Mid-century modern is "a style of design (as in architecture and furniture) of roughly the 1930s through the mid-1960s characterized especially by clean lines, organic and streamlined forms, and lack of embellishment"
- Since its revival around a decade or so ago, much has been written about the 'Mid Century Modern' , a style which has become very popular and it is go current with the Industrial and Retro, styles. A great resource in understanding Mid-Century Modern better, is the book 'Mid-Century Style' by Bradley Quinn. ( Link provided below). Now let's go together through the Mid-Century Modern renovation journey I took with my client in Alfred Cove WA.

Client Brief - Mid-Century Modern

"In terms of style, I like Mid-Century Modern" - that was the first point on the client's brief.

"As far as the space is concerned, it is not working for us at the moment. Please help in making the existing living area more efficient. I want good flow, more sitting, a meals area, and less clutter. As far as the feel goes, I like vibrant, lots of light and some pizzaz".


-So let's now get a closer look at the three main actions I took in response to this brief I received.


Action 1 Mid-Century Modern - Space Planning

I allowed the style direction guide my spatial planning process. As mentioned at the offset, Mid-Century Modern is "characterized by clean lines, organic and streamlined forms, and lack of embellishments". - Using this principle and taking into consideration the interior architecture and volume of the space, I came up with a plan, which utilizes the perimeters of the room, rather than the actual floor space. This approach fulfilled the client's brief and exceeded her expectations, as her living area now looks huge and has very good flow to the outdoor area and adjacent theatre room, pictures of which, you can see later on in this blog.


" We hired Debbie to re purpose some rooms in our home, redesign the flow and select furniture for our young family that was functional, hard wearing, modern and injected our personal aesthetic without being over the top. From the minute we met, my husband and I found her to be professional, creative, patient, resourceful, and very personable. She listened to our ideas about turning our then formal dining room into a theatre room and, about turning our then TV/lounge into a dining/informal lounge area that worked for large family gatherings but also for a family of 4. We never knew what we wanted until Debbie showed us what was possible but she never imposed her personal aesthetic on us. She was very careful to understand exactly what we liked and what we were open to exploring, The trade relationships she has are well established and excellent service providers. We are thrilled with the finished product and wouldn't hesitate to highly recommend Despina Design. "




Action 2 Mid-Century Modern - Color

Mid-century modern is about simplicity, optimism, new beginnings, and boldness. Color is crucial in conveying these attributes.

For a vibrant and energetic effect, to match the client's brief, in this project we used a yellow base white for the walls, light and dark greys in upholstery, organic wood tones in furniture, with vibrant chartreuse, red, blue, and yellow accents in the way of accessories and artwork.

Interior architectural features in modern homes are not as dramatic as we find in homes of the Mid-Century Moder era, with vaulted wood ceilings and expansive glass windows. Thus, we took care not to overwhelm this space with intense paint color, as it has standard height ceilings. Also the adjacent new kitchen had to work in with the room. In this case I went with Dulux Chalk USA for the walls. (Had the brief demanded grounded sophistication and warmth, and a total kitchen renovation, I would have worked with timber finishes in kitchen cabinetry, and timber cladding in the living area, with orange and beige for furnishings etc.)

ACTION 3 Mid-Century Modern - Furniture

I designed the two tone wrap around modular sofa to suit the family's lifestyle. Its clean lines are typical of the Mid Century Modern in furniture design. This bespoke and minimal approach to sitting is so versatile, due to the seat height being suitable for lounging around, as well as dining. Rather than allocating a whole section of the room to the dining table and chairs, we used one section of the expansive modular to serve as a meals nook. The organic finish of the dining table and the funky design of the Thompson dining chair by Gus Modern, are great choices alluding to the designs of Hans J Wegner.

The Elk armchair, by Gus Modern, which I describe as a cross between the Eames chair and a wingchair, is comfortable and has the potential of becoming a modern classic. With its tube frame and curved board body, this is more than a chair. - It is a decorative element of the room.

Notice also, other occasional pieces I used, such as the C couch table - another iconic piece of the Mid-Century Modern movement. As well as the bespoke modular ottoman under the pendant light grouping.



Elements, which reinforce the Mid-Century Modern look here are, the funky pendant light grouping made of timber, and the bespoke modular ottoman below. The movable glossy panels beyond, signal the transition to a more glamorous application of the Mid-Century Modern style. I decided to fuse glamour with organic elements, because this was a characteristic of the sixties, a decade which marked the culmination of the Mid-Century Modern movement in interior design. Fusing opposing elements and finishes, continues to be a timeless favorite! So let's go have a closer look at what lies beyond those glossy door panels.

The client was looking for exiting ideas for the theatre room, which was going to double as a formal lounge. I proposed the sixties exclusive club look, which would feature a bold geometric pattern as a wall treatment, to create an imposing ambience.

Our client did asked for pizzaz and this room certainly received it, with the application of the designer wallpaper Turbine, by a Karim Rashid, the pattern of which seems to be sharing a similar movement to the grey Moroccan style, floor rug. Leather reclining lounges, velvet curtains, and a funky Armet floor lamp, together with walnut sofa tables, complete this room.

The original jarrah flooring is one common denominator for the two areas, and it lends itself beautifully to both looks which can both be described as Mid-Century Modern.

The second major element which unifies the two distinctive looks, is the timber finish of the media console and the sofa tables. As you will notice, I have blended elements such as the geometric patterns found in both areas and the black and grey hues. This blending is the secret of harmonizing two areas when you fuse two looks.



I hope this blog has provided the inspiration and advise you need to get started on your ownModern home renovation journey.





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this Mid-Century Modern look in your home.













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