Mood Board: Retro-Mod Living Room
This room was designed for an ER doctor who wanted a great space in his condo to relax in when he has free time and an easy place to entertain when it can fit into his schedule. Spending his working days under bright lights had inspired him to seek out saturated color but he was afraid of making this room too dark. He also really liked mid-century modern design but didn’t know how to put it into a practical living room…
Deciding on a color palette was our first order of business for this room. Blue was chosen as the dominant because it is the client’s favorite color and offers a lots of flexibility when working with mid-century modern style. This light blue wall color immediately gave the client that “ahhhhh-I’m-home” feeling when he stepped into the room.
Lighting was very important for this room, especially knowing that the client worked under bright fluorescent lights in a hospital almost every day. This living room needed to be lit well, but with a soft feel. The old ceiling fixture in the middle of the room was replaced with a modern drum shade with sleek stripes and placed on a dimmer. A floor lamp next to the sofa offers some interesting up-lighting and it’s finish ties into the ceiling fixture without matching too closely. The drum shaded table lamps were chosen because they offer a classic ’50’s pattern in our palette on a modern lamp.
This condo was on the 23rd floor of the building, overlooking the harbor. This meant any window treatment chosen did not have to worry about privacy needs, but also should not block the view. Ceiling-to-floor sheers in a smokey blue were chosen to soften the window openings, keep the view open and give the client an option for glare-free tv viewing during the brightest hours of the day.
The tailored sofa offers a great place to stretch out and watch a movie or seating for multiple guests when entertaining a large group. The grey fabric of the sofa contrasts nicely with the many shades of blue in the room. Throw pillows in colors pulled from other places in the room add some pops of color to the seating and keep the sharp upholstery lines from feeling too formal. The two eggs chairs offer some recliner luxury, incorporate the blue and the grey found in the room and give some rounded contrast to the strong, rectilinear lines of the sofa. The seating area is defined by large star-burst patterned area rug. The rug’s pattern reminded the client and I of those ubiquitous cosmic wall clocks of the 1960’s.
Having a low, mid-century sofa means you have extra wall space to fill above it. Big prints of classic mid-century art, chosen by the client, in matching black frames give the large wall a nice gallery feel. The clean black frames of the prints also make the large tv already owned by the client feel almost like an extension of his art collection.
Light, warm wood tones were needed in this room to balance all of the cool, sleek finishes. The client, like all of us, also needed some practical storage options. One wall of the living room was lined with three of these beautiful bookcases to house his large book collection. Each bookcase also offers a cantilevered center shelf, which can be used as an extra desk or a place to serve snacks during a party. The credenza is the home of the large tv, across from the sofa, while also hiding all of the accompanying electronics and media storage neatly.
The light wood was repeated in the small coffee table chosen for the seating area. The free-form shape of the table’s surface has a nice organic silhouette and the slim, angled legs of the table echoes the legs of the credenza. The client was not too keen on having “too many little tables to trip over”, but knew he would need something more when entertaining. We found a good table compromise in these brushed steel nesting tables. For everyday living, the client can stack the tables as simple end tables for his lamps. When entertaining, the smaller tables can be pulled out to float wherever the guests may need them.
Halfway through the project, the client sheepishly confessed to owning a lava lamp. He had always loved it as a symbol of modern design, but had never known what to do with it. I absolutely believe you should surround yourself with things you love, so a place was found for the lava lamp immediately. Finding out that the lava lamp fit so perfectly into the design was a real touchstone that the client’s retro tastes had really been honored.
Finally, a few decor touches were added, to keep the room from looking too showroom-perfect. The black candlestick trio can add an instant touch of elegance when entertaining. The wire magazine basket keeps magazines and papers corralled whenever the coffee table is needed for other uses.
Practical furniture choices allow this room to be used every day and still feel easy to entertain in regularly. By mixing rich colors, bold patterns and classic mid-century modern profiles, the room feels both personal and welcoming to the client.
Unique, affordable, comfortable living.