The Midcentury-Modern Makeover You Won't Want to Miss

Midcentury Makeover

A love affair with a midcentury-modern home turned this outdated house into a small-town gem. See how the perfect balance of authentic vintage, vintage-inspired, and brand-new home designs and accents can create a timeless interior.

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Welcome Home

Vintage Facade

Muted teal- and eggplant-color stones pull visitors from the front stoop into the foyer of this trilevel midcentury-modern house. The home's original double entry doors remain but now sport a colorful touch, while Asian-inspired wrought-iron hardware looks fresh after a thorough cleaning.

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Before: Dim and Drab

Vintage Living Room - Before

Previous owners clad the living room in carpet and cream-color paint. Sconce lighting was period-appropriate but didn't brighten the space. The most captivating details, however, remained intact: an open, trilevel floor plan, wood floors, ceiling beams, built-ins, a stone floor, and paneling. With a catwalk traversing the foyer to connect the bedrooms, the floor plan is unique.

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After: Bright and Inviting

Living Room

The new homeowners had red oak floors installed in the living room to match the home's other rooms. Luckily, other architectural details -- hefty ceiling beams, windows that follow the roofline, and a massive three-sided rock fireplace -- had not been altered. The couple's mix of vintage and modern furnishings feels just right in the vintage-inspired living room.

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Before: Watch Your Step

Vintage Staircase - before

Damaged stairs and peeling carpet were an unsightly hazard for the new homeowners. A flooring professional removed the carpet, pad, and stain from the oak floating stair treads, then refinished the wood to match the rest of the home.

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After: A Step Up

Vintage staircase

The refinished open staircase ascends from the foyer's distinctive teal and plum stone flooring. The stones were selected and placed by hand by the artist who built the home. The open staircase and tiles paired together is like a work of art -- beautiful from every angle.

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In Progress: Chilly Kitchen

Vintage Kitchen - Before

Layers of laminate flooring were removed to make way for cork tiles. Satin-finish white paint updates the brick that encases the stacked double ovens and lower cabinets.

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After: Retro and Modern


After installing the kitchen's tile backsplash, professionals handled the cork flooring and quartz-surfacing countertops. The couple chose quartz over granite or marble for its practicality, beauty, and modern feel. The range hood, designed by the original homeowner, features a futuristic shape and scale and was custom-made for the house.

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Dining Decisions

Dining Room
John Bessler Photography

The dining room is visible from almost every public space in the house. Various midcentury-modern-style chairs are tied together by a common material -- walnut -- and make the space feel less formal. A vintage Sputnik chandelier captures the spirit of the house, while the seamless transition of warm white walls and trim throughout enhances the continuity of the floor plan.

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Dark Wood, White Accents


The den's built-in walnut bookcase and oversize track lighting are original to the house and required only a little cleaning to make them shine. The homeowners used the stage to display a number of new and vintage collectibles, including Jonathan Adler ceramics, an Eames rocker, and a vintage Saarinen Tulip side table with the original upholstered top.

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Reproduction Designs

large windows

Corner-sharing full-size windows allow sunlight to stream through this midcentury-modern den at all hours of the day. New items that copy vintage designs, such as the chaise longue and Eames rocker, offer the look of rare pieces -- like a flea market-find velvet footstool -- at a fraction of the price.

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Color and Pattern

Midcentury Makeover

Bold-pattern throw pillows accent the rich wood paneling on the den's walls. Colors are pulled from artwork to bring the carpet, ottoman, table accents, and other furnishings together.

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Perfect Combination

Midcentury Makeover

Remodeling began with updates of paint and wallcoverings. With a post-and-beam house such as this one, warm white walls allowed for funky, retro wallpaper. Painting the trim the same white created continuity between rooms, and the combination of light paint, fun wallpaper, and warm wood flooring balance a dark wood ceiling.

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Faux Vintage

small office

Pieces produced today in the spirit of midcentury design are easy to find. Look to designers such as Jonathan Adler and retailers such as Crate and Barrel. Colorful vintage prints brighten this office space and exude sophistication with mats and framing.

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Before: Primary Disaster

Bedroom Before

M bedroom assignment: Keep it calm. The homeowners worked to neutralize peeling teal paint and worn mauve carpeting. The competing, faded colors distracted from a large window and outside view.

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After: Masterful Bedroom


Texture stands in for color in this peaceful bedroom. A low-slung bed and marble-topped tables of similar stature give the primary bedroom a midcentury mood. Grasscloth wallcovering behind the headboard was hung for its textured touch and appearance. The window becomes a centerpiece in the room with floor-length curtains.

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Repurposed Dresser

Vintage Dresser

The primary bedroom's dresser was rescued from its former life as a tool chest. Its spindley midcentury-style legs pair well with the clean lines of nearby artwork and a retro-pattern curtain panel.

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Funky Family Room

Living Room

The family room's sink-into furnishings include a vintage womb chair in its original fabric. The Danish teak wall-mount storage components, known as the Cado system for Poul Cadovius, are a period feature that came with the house.

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Breakfast with a View

Dining Room Table

A breakfast table nestles into a sunny nook between the kitchen and family room. Curtains were forgone to let in lots of natural light. Matching chair and table legs become a retro maze of metal and wood.

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Retro Guest Room

Midcentury Makeover

Pieces produced during the midcentury design's heyday (like this buttery yellow table lamp) bring authenticity to the home's guest bedroom. Shop flea markets, estate sales, auctions, and eBay for pieces like the sunburst mirror. Pair with midcentury-modern wallpaper and fabrics to complete the look.

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