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Mid-Century Modern Living Room: The beginning

June 24, 2009

Now that I’m settling into a groove living single, I’ve been spending a lot of time making low-cost improvements to the design of my condo. Over the next few days and weeks I’ll be posting updates on each room, so stay tuned!

Thanks to one very heavy glass coffee table, I’m now obsessed with Mid-Century Modern (MCM) furniture design and architecture. I can utilize one of those two in my current home. (I’ll give you a hint: it’s not architecture!!) On my shoestring budget I’ve been designing my living room (and the rest of my condo) around that Brady Bunch era, one piece at a time. Although the real meat of the project is on hold, pending the arrival of a large piece of art (more about that later), I’ve made some great scores lately that really have the space looking more put-together.
I finally found the discontinued Ikea sofa for which my heart had been yearning (I got rid of an identical one years ago) on Craigslist for only $75. It had a dingy white cover on it which was quickly remedied with a $6 packet of RIT fuschia dye. I’d like to thank the bathtub for graciously hosting this quick-n-easy slipcover spruce-up.

MCM furniture-wise, I snagged a great deal on a buffet/credenza with hutch in the clearance section of the hit-or-miss, and often overpriced, Upscale Resale furniture consignment store in Annandale. The glass-doored hutch was too gorgeous to not show off on its own, and the credenza that it sat on was tiring out under the weight and ill-placement of the supposed hutch.

Bonus: Allowing the pieces to stand on their own seemed to pull the oddly laid-out living room together more.

Here’s a shot of the glass-doored “hutch.”

And here’s a shot of the credenza, with three door-covered sections that hide shelves for dish storage, and a set of 4 drawers on the end.
I unearthed this awesome MCM record cabinet on Craigslist just a few weeks ago! I love its cute Jetsons-like design. Better yet are the dividers inside that keep all my cookbooks and wine journals corraled in an orderly fashion.

Of course, we can’t pull the room together without adhering to the rule: always accessorize! Did you see that great pair of spring green lamps on the glass-doored credenza? $15 bucks at the Family Thrift Center in Richmond. It doesn’t get much better than that.

These fun little recycled glass vases were only $3 a piece at Crate and Barrel. They had a gorgeous green pitcher, also crafted from recycled glass, but I didn’t want to overdo it.

I didn’t plan it, but – I found a set of three vintage green Pyrex casserole dishes at a thrift store. Vintage cookware is so much fun; not only does it function well, it adds a bit of flair behind the glass doors of this cabinet!
Last but not least, the windows are still ugly and bare. Thanks to my trusty little sewing machine I’ll be able to whip up some roman shades in just the right color to match. Eventually. Read on:
You may have noticed that the wall above the wooden-doored credenza is very lonely. That’s because it’s being saved for an utterly fantastic, large (5 ft x 7 ft) painting that currently resides in my ex-roommate’s storage unit in Boston. This painting has a history – I inherited it from a former employer, then M inherited it from me when I moved to DC, and now I’m inheriting it back (at least for the time being) as she doesn’t have a wall large enough for it.
This painting is the piece upon which the rest of the room’s color palette and furniture selection depends. The colors are nothing like my current lime green and pink – which is why I spent less than $100 bringing them into the home. I just wanted to throw a bit of coordinated color into the room to keep it decorated and cheerful during the wait.
The earthy tones of the MCM pieces does not pair well with the bright pinks and greens. So pnce the painting arrives, I’ll select an accent wall color (probably a very 1950’s goldrod tone) and then a corresponding neutral for the other walls. I will then be able to select some retro-print fabrics and upholster the ottoman that I rescued from the dumpster, and will select a new, neutral-color sofa cover to match. Or I’ll dye the existing one again. In the mean time, I’m loving my cheerful pink sofa.
I’d like to give a quick shout-out to my former boss, Dee, who gave me the Barcelona coffee table that started it all.

Stay tuned! I’ll be posting more photos as the journey continues.


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