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TRANSFORMATIONS: Mid-century modern, updating the classics

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By Saturday, Jun 4 Home & Garden More In Real Estate
Kevin McDevitt
Newly upholstered “Mid-century Modern” furniture brings a fresh, bright look to the Mediterranean-inspired architecture of this Connecticut home.

As a designer I love taking on the challenge of updating classics. The Mediterranean-inspired architecture of this house in Connecticut needed a bright and comfortable room for the family. I decided to bring a midcentury modern feel to the décor of the living room.

Between the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, architects, artists and interior designers were experimenting with new interpretations of line, shape, and proportion.

Today, the “mid-century modern” aesthetic still seems current and gracious. Luckily, mid-century modern can still be found almost anywhere, whether as an old family heirloom, an interesting piece from an antique store, or a modern interpretation of the major artistic movement.

This was a large room and the owners wanted lots of seating for entertaining and relaxing. I found most of the seating at antique furniture stores. The Berkshires are known for a great selection of unique antiques and second-hand wonders. I found all these comfortable chairs and the matching chaise lounges locally. I was immediately drawn to the strong lines of the wingback armchairs, the interesting curves of the matching settees, and the modern look of the club chairs.

When you’re working on your midcentury inspired room, start in antique stores. When I’m choosing furniture, I always keep the scale of the room in mind. I love the symmetry of the wing back chairs against the wide window with the game table (also an antique store find) in the middle. This particular room had high ceilings and large windows so the wing back chairs didn’t overpower the space. But for smaller rooms, a low couch with straight lines will make your ceilings feel taller and your guests comfortable.

My color palette was inspired by the striking colors I saw at a local spice store. Photo: Zsuzsa N.K.

My color palette was inspired by the striking colors I saw at a local spice store. Photo: Zsuzsa N.K.

To modernize and completely renew this look, I went fabric shopping. My favorite way to breathe new life into old furniture is by reupholstery. These pieces were fun to work with. I started creating a color palette after a visit to a local spice store. I fell in love with the striking oranges, yellows and reds of the herbs and spices that surrounded me there. Creating a color story is always important – and personal. Pick colors that you love, that you want to live with for a while – colors that speak to you and your guests, colors that make you feel.

Colors have a large extended family. The pumpkin widow treatments surrounded by a gold border are great colors to build from.

Colors have a large extended family. The pumpkin widow treatments surrounded by a gold border are great colors to build from. Photo: Kevin McDevitt

 

At Designs by Jennifer Owen, we specialize in handcrafted and uniquely designed window treatment. The double windows are the focal point of the room and they needed to tie the color story of the space together. The burnt orange panels with gold contrast banding and detailed pleats (it’s all about the details!) completed the look. I designed roman shades with the same color theme for the two smaller windows. Both sets of window treatments are lined and handmade.

Accessories can be functional, like lighting and storage; comfy, like soft rugs and throw pillows; sentimental, like family photographs and artwork; or even entertaining, like coffee table books or game tables. But there’s one thing they should always be: stylish.

This artwork frames the large windows and adds some personality to the room. Photo:

This artwork frames the large windows and adds some personality to the room. Photo: Kevin McDevitt

 

The burnt orange armchair looks great with a custom checked pillow in neutral colors.

The burnt orange armchair looks great with a custom checked pillow in neutral colors. Photo: Kevin McDevitt

 

I used red, gold, peach and neutral tones, as shown here and in the next two photos, to complete the look.

I used red, gold, peach and neutral tones, as shown here and in the next two photos, to complete the look.  Photos: Kevin McDevitt

 

accessories2

 

Accessories 3

While this room had a midcentury modern feel to it, it also has its own special personality. Always find ways to make styles and trends specific to your taste and your home. Have fun, be creative. And remember: there’s no place like your home.

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This article was written with the help of Zenobia Rose Love. The Edge also wants to acknowledge assistance in preparing this article for publication from Elisabeth Holmes, our intern from the John Dewey Academy.


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