Mid-Century Modern Makeover

Natural wood tones, iconic accessories and sleek furnishings take a home’s interior from dated to Space Age.

Designing for a family sometimes requires quite a bit of compromise. However, it doesn’t have to mean compromising on style. Take, for example, this Rancho Murieta, CA home, purchased by a homeowner with an eye for design and a minimalist style.

While the existing space was very organic — featuring established evergreens out large picture windows — its color and finishes were quite warm-toned and beige.


The design challenge was transforming a traditional home into a mid-century modern marvel on a budget. Here’s how it turned out.

The backdrop

The renovation started with floors and walls. Since mid-century interiors are all about organic style and ease of living, it made sense to celebrate natural wood tones through flooring while incorporating grey hues via wall color. The ceiling was refreshed with a coat of white paint and, due to budget, the white wood blinds were left in place to control light and privacy. Large picture windows frame the tree-lined view outside.

The layers

Two area rugs created interest, texture and warmth. The main living room rug pulls all the colors of the space together while anchoring a simplified seating area. The rug’s pattern reflects an Eames-like geometry in a complementary citrus-toned palette. A more neutral rug frames out the dining area while providing softness underfoot.

The lighting

Classic mid-century lighting pumps up a room’s drama. Although its forms are sculptural enough to double as art, function remains paramount. In this space, they’ve become design motifs all their own.

An iconic arc lamp provides mobility and versatility to the living area. It is on a dimmer to support a variety of living room activities.

An unexpected crystal chandelier provides a bit of sparkle in the dining room. Putting the chandelier on a dimmer helps modify the ambience as day turns to night.

The furnishings

Mid-century style is unique in that it’s largely driven by innovative mass-produced furniture and accents. Perhaps no other period produced the same volume of household-name artists and designers, including George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and dozens more. Their singular furnishings and accents drive and define the look.

Sleek versions of classic designs use specific fabrics and finishes, such as colorful block patterns and wood with glass, to complete the look.

The art and accessories

Amazing mid-century modern designer George Nelson designed many of the most iconic pieces from the era, from sofas to pendant lights, benches to clocks. Playful, museum-worthy and functional, the clocks specifically have wonderful style and personality, always adding a big dash of fun to any design. Several of them create a gallery over the dining room sideboard.

Project and photos by Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.

Published by Kerrie Kelly on Zillow Blog.


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