8 Mid-Century Modern Living Rooms Without an Eames Chair in Sight
Vintage vibes that always look fresh.
Published Sep 29, 2023 1:14 AM
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Whether you’re curled up on a low-slung leather sofa or sipping craft cocktails with friends around your teak coffee table, a mid-century modern living room always delivers impeccable vibes. It’s those calming clean lines, warm woods, and muted colors that perfectly blend style and practicality—where retro charm meets modern comfort. And while the era is known for some of the world’s most iconic designs, you don’t even need an Eames chair to nail the look. These eight homes effortlessly capture that cool, timeless essence of the era all in their own way.
The Mid-Century Modern Living Room With a New England Lean
Built in 1968 by Vermont architect Carl L. Bausch Jr. and his family, this distinctive mid-century gem, now known as BauschausVT, showcases some of the decade’s signature design elements, including cantilevered skylights, wall-size custom bookshelves, and a freestanding fireplace, which is the home’s primary heating source.
The Manifested Mid-Century Modern Living Room
When marketing executive Erin Starkweather moved to Los Angeles, she was determined to manifest an apartment with original mid-century design. Scrolling through Instagram and sending out inquiries ultimately landed her in a building by modernist architect Craig Ellwood, where she was able to fill the living room with all the vintage pieces she’d been collecting, including a pair of Wassily chairs, a Noguchi table, and a custom Donald Judd–inspired daybed.
The Original Mid-Century Living Room
Patrick O’Neill, creative director and owner of the Richard Neutra–designed Hailey Residence, embarked on a mission to restore the mid-century home to its original glory. His team rejuvenated the space by refreshing mahogany and redwood elements, incorporating glass panels, and then layering in O’Neill’s “Pop-infused” inspirations. In the den, a 1968 TV built into the wall creates a cool vintage screening room: “When friends come over for cocktails, I’ll play a Warhol film or a Technicolor masterpiece like Singing in the Rain,” he says.
The Hawaiian Mid-Century Modern Living Room
Built on an Oahu mountain slope in 1960 by floral designer Ren MacDonald-Balasia’s grandparents, James and Tomi Kaizawa Knaefler, this stilted house pays homage to Tomi’s admiration for Frank Lloyd Wright. She brought in architect Stephen Oyakawa, a student of Wright, to craft a space from redwood, mahogany, teak, and knotty pine, celebrating both the natural materials and the family’s Japanese heritage.
The Chromatically Remixed Mid-Century Modern Living Room
The design (and brother-sister) duo behind Shamshiri Studio, Pamela and Ramin, fulfilled one client’s quest for a post-divorce refresh with a renewed take on a mid-century modern residence dating back to 1961. First, they stained the posts and beams an almost-black to highlight the architecture. Next, they opted for an off-white stone floor to bounce light up into the dark rooms. Finally, they chose Benjamin Moore’s Turtle Green for the walls to bring the outside in while fostering a sense of nurturing calm.
The Art-Filled Mid-Century Modern Living Room
The living area of designer Robin Heller and her husband’s Baltimore home serves as a gallery for the couple’s cherished art and furniture. The fireplace pieces are collected from auctions, while vintage mid-century chairs and a custom coffee table by Sherwood Kypreos fill in the middle of the space. The centerpiece, a 46-inch Noguchi lantern on the ceiling, is the room’s crown jewel, casting a beautiful moonlike glow in the evening.
The Fashion-Forward Mid-Century Modern Living Room
This 1963 Robert Lee–designed three-bedroom had great potential but needed a personality boost. Owner and vintage fashion retailer Brynn Jones enlisted Frances Merrill of L.A.’s Reath Design to refresh its dated features. Together, they decided that the dark wood paneling and brickwork were absolute keepers, but a dose of color and pattern influenced by fashion icons like Gloria Vanderbilt, Diana Vreeland, and Diane von Furstenberg infused the space with ‘60s-inspired charm.
The Decade-Melding Mid-Century Modern Living Room
In her family home just outside Paris, Julia Rouzaud merges two eras that don’t typically collide. The three-story Napoleonic hunting lodge is a real-estate unicorn that had been reinforced by previous owners in the 1950s with a striking steel-framed bay room overlooking the garden. Rouzaud clad the living room’s original period fireplace with a walnut flue and concrete hearth typical of the ’40s in an effort to extend the mid-century lines of the nearby sunroom—mission accomplished.