Did anyone say living room makeover? The first ever room reveal on the blog and the expectations are high. Have I delivered?
There’s only one way to find out. Join me as I show you around every corner of my contemporary living room with a mid-century modern twist.
Hallelujah, Juan! You did it
Here it is at last. My living room makeover blog post. There have been several first-time experiences lately: the first time filling Mariana Trench-sized cracks, painting a room during a heatwave and completing a design from concept to styling. I hope you enjoy my living room makeover as much as I’ve enjoyed the design process.
A few months ago I shared the plans for this room on the blog (How to design a living room to maximise light and space). Including the challenges of designing in a dark compact Victorian house and a mood board with all the key pieces. Here’s a little extract from that post where I explain the concept behind my living room makeover:
“I wanted to translate the sense of freshness to the decorating style. Using crisp lines, simple finishes and colours. Balance was paramount to create a calm and collected look. For example, straight grid-like lines contrast against round furniture and accessories. Natural wood stain finishes are combined with plain white elements. And warm yellows work flawlessly with cool blues from ornaments and art.”
The life-changing magic of slow decorating
Somehow I’ve become an ambassador for the slow decorating movement. If you remember the Find your happy at home blog post, doing one thing at a time and taking it easy have a positive impact on your wellbeing. It’s time to stop glorifying “busy” and approach design in a relaxed yet methodical manner.
I took two years to complete this room, focussing on one element at a time with no pressure. To be honest, 75% of the decorating was done in the last three months. The rest of the time I’ve been studying the space, the light and how the room is used throughout the year. The result? A living room that not only looks great, but is tailored to my needs.
Before & After: My summer living room makeover
The room before
Behold this tragic and neglected batchelor TV room. There are many things I could point out that simply don’t work. But I know the previous owner was moving out when this photo was taken, so it’s not fair to comment. In fact, when I viewed the house it was already empty. Unfortunately, they left the curtains behind — just no.
The room after
Welcome to my relaxing summer living room! Full of natural light, a touch of happy colour and plenty of greenery. All the pieces and accessories are part of the overall puzzle of this room scheme. The decor leans towards minimalist more than maximalist for two reasons: I don’t own many things and the visual clutter would kill the chilled vibe of the room.
Room tour: A contemporary living room makeover with a mid-century modern twist
This is the part you’ve been looking for. All the tasty details, close-ups and room shots. I’ve organised the room tour in sections that describe the different layers of the space. And with double the amount of photos for your visual pleasure. Hope you’re comfortably seated, glasses on (if needed) and let’s scroll!
The perfect paint colour for small rooms
Making the most of the available light was no easy task. On the ceiling, I used Dulux Light+Space in Frosted Dawn, a matt milky white. This paint has reflective particles to bounce the light around the room.
The walls are painted in Slaked Lime by Little Greene (Intelligent Eggshell finish). This colour is pure magic for small rooms. A pale grey that looks white to the eye, but behaves like a warm colour.
Seating with mid-century modern flavour
One of the first pieces I bought was the Jefferson sofa by Swoon Editions. The streamlined look with tapered oak legs was the look I wanted from the beginning. And the soft grey colour of the wool blend is very forgiving with stains…
Opposite, you’ll find a handsome pair of mid-century modern armchairs. The 366 chairs are made-to-order based on the original 1960s Polish design. They’re compact yet stylish. If you want to learn more, read The perfect mid-century armchair for small rooms.
Revelation. My coffee tables (vintage Ercol and IKEA Gladom) are not suitable for storage. Second revelation. The stunning Aero shelving unit by Swoon Editions is not for storage either. They’re features in their own right and look messy with too much stuff on them.
Solution? Modular storage!
The Eket range from IKEA fits the alcove so well it looks custom-made. The units are no deeper than the alcove itself and the white fronts blend in with the walls. To stop it from looking like a kitchenette, I picked two modules in blue, aligned with the Aero shelving for symmetry.
Lighting: the harmony of high end and low end
Two of the lamps in this room are old IKEA products — to the point they’ll be classed as vintage soon. But they work and fit the scheme. My favourite is the central pendant, the Artist by Nordlux. I’m so in love with it, I wrote a whole blog post about it: Why you should choose a low pendant light instead of a TV.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the black Panthella Mini by Louis Poulsen. A small-scale premium-tag version of the mid-century modern classic. With one key difference, it’s made of metal instead of plastic, as originally intended by Poulsen.
Textiles and textures
The first thing I did when I moved in was to burn those curtains and scatter the ashes under the moonlight. Still, the window needs a layer of texture and something to make it look wider.
Enter linen curtains from IKEA.
STYLE TIP: Ready-made curtains are an affordable alternative if you don’t want to splurge on made-to-measure ones. But make sure you alter them to your desired length, whether they’re touching, breaking, sweeping or puddling.
The white square rug, also from IKEA, helps frame the room and contrasts against the dark laminate flooring. Next, some extra touches are provided by carefully selected cushions. Including the yellow Rosette by Sian Elin, purchased at Home by Kirsty. Behind it, you can see the Aitta cushion designed by Saana ja Olli for Finish label Finarte.
Adding interest to the walls
Undoubtedly, the star of the room is the vintage framed poster that takes centre stage. A limited edition David Hockney print from 1970, designed for the Munich Olympics. I was lucky to get mine from Travel on Paper. I met the owner, Karen, at the Midcentury Modern show in London and chose her shop as one of my top picks.
After spending months studying the light in the room like a mad alchemist, I knew exactly where the mirrors would be placed. It’s not decor, it’s science. The Only Me mirror designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell brightens the alcove and echoes the colours from the Hockney print.
Behind the sofa, there’s the oversized bevelled round mirror from West Elm. And no, it’s not centred. Here’s why. You get the best view of the garden from that spot on the sofa. If you place a mirror behind it… Surprise! You can enjoy the same view from other corners of the room.
Final styling touches
You may recognise some ornaments used in previous blog posts. Basically, every single item that used to be on my Royal System shelving in the bedroom is now in the living room. Don’t ask about the state of the bedroom — when hygge goes wrong.
We all love a good home decor book. But rather than scatter them throughout the house, I’ve put them all together for easy access when I need an inspiration fix. On the other alcove, I used a trio of ceramic vases (Hoa) from MADE. And I’m sure you’ve noticed the stunning 70s-inspired green glass vase on the mantelpiece.
I took months to find the right wooden shelves for this corner, and Menu had the answer with the Gridy Fungi collection. It’s inspired by the fungus that grows on tree trunks. I paired it with a string of hearts plant from Home by Kirsty and Muji’s minimalist CD player.
What do you think?
Have you enjoyed my living room makeover? There will be more! I’ve worked hard on this room design and also on every blog post I’ve published over the last year. Thank you so much for your support whether you’re a silent reader or an active commenter!Want more? Don't miss the subscriber-only articles in the newsletter Join the mailing list