Midcentury Modern Living Room Midcentury Modern Living Room
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Although this Pepper Pike ranch was built in the late ’80s, it boasted many features of midcentury modern architecture: a spacious open floor plan, pitched ceilings and plenty of windows that filled the space with natural light.

“The home almost asked for it,” says Linda Mauck Smith, owner of Blulens Design. 

So when the homeowner, who had developed an affinity for midcentury modern design while growing up with her architect father, asked her to liven up her living room, Smith knew just what to do. 

The Shaker Heights-based designer started with white, painting the walls and ceilings that color to enhance the appearance of the room’s size and height. 

The move provided a clean, bright backdrop for her indigo, gray and brown color scheme — one that exemplifies the quiet, restful shades used in the midcentury modern period’s earliest stages.

Smith then turned her attention to transforming the fireplace into the room’s focal point. She enlisted a local artist to handcraft 24-by-24-inch concrete panels, then mounted them on the entire wall right up to the firebox.

“If you go and look at midcentury homes, the fireplace was often built with the house to be important,” Smith says.

To build a conversation area, Smith used a travertine-topped metal coffee table her client already owned. She then chose two reproductions of the Barcelona chair, a leather-and-chrome icon of midcentury modern design by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  

“Most people will know those chairs and recognize them as a driver to the look of this space,” she says.

Long gray-wool Nathan Anthony Furniture sofas with boxy arms and tightly upholstered cushions sit a low 17 inches above the floor, while a similarly low 71-inch-long Bernhardt Furniture Co. bench features an indigo-and-gray sculpted velvet seat.

“If you look at iconic midcentury rooms, there’s almost always a bench,” Smith says. “It allows a person to sit on both sides of it so they can participate in conversation either way.” 

Illumination is provided by recessed can lights on dimmers — a modification made to better accommodate the way the resident family uses the space.

“It’s not a formal living room,” Smith explains. “It’s where they live.

And live in this room, they do. Smith was able to create an atmosphere for the homeowners that functions well, but also feels like a warm, inviting space. 

“They used the room not only for entertaining but for day-to-day life,” she says. “This area is a common gathering spot during the day and in the evenings to read, play games and hang out.”

Call Out Barcelona ChairShop The Look
An officially licensed Barcelona chair lists for $5,991 on knoll.com. But Smith got the same look for a fraction of the cost with wholesale reproductions. Similar high-quality knockoffs — Room & Board’s Seville Leather Chairs — can be had for $2,799 a piece on roomandboard.com.

Style Defined
Characterized by clean, simple lines and minimal ornamentation, midcentury modern focuses on functionality over fuss. Look for pieces with sleek lines and geometric shapes. 

For more on this style: Design Guide: Three Local Stores To Find Mid-Century Modern Pieces


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