Design ideas from 7 mid century living rooms

mid century modern living roomThe reason I tend to focus so much on kitchens and bathrooms is that these spaces, if they need work, are the costliest and most nerve wracking. But, I do care about the other rooms! So, when readers submitted more than 200 photos of their vintage and retro holiday decorating, I had a great chance to “mine” the photos for some examples of some of the great things going on in mid century living rooms today. For example: I’m for sure dreaming of a white Christmas in the Hibbard living room. See more on their blog: Read on for a peek inside six more mid mod living rooms…

colonial living roomWhat a lovely photo from Gavin, showing his formal colonial interior-in-progress last Christmas (his is a trim-the-tree on Christmas eve family). We saw an update of this living room earlier this year.

chartreuse living roomContinuing to show the diversity of mid mod, Mrs Erin D’s living room also is classic — mid century modest meets tiki, I’d call this, I think. I love the chartreuse color scheme, the matching Asian figural lamps with their awesome two-tier fiberglass shades, the vintage TV, the afghan and pillows, the fiberglass planter… lots of great details here!

vintage yarn wall hangingI’m really liking vintage textile wall hangings these days. And this photo from SassyMissTallulah is blowing my mind, how did you do that, SMT?

mod graphic curtains with cornicesI like Maryanna’s mod graphic curtains along with their coordinating cornice. A cornice like this can be a really good idea in cold climates: In the winter, if you pair a cornice like this over hefty pinch pleats, you can really prevent drafts. Drafts occur when warm air rises, is attracted and pulled toward cold windows, then drops along the window surface, to the floor, where you then heat it and start the cycle all over again.To prevent such drafts, you really need to block that window off, including from the top. Can you tell it’s FREEZING here in Massachusetts and that I have been thinking about this? Cornices may be in my future yet.

scalloped corniceNow THIS is blast-from-the-past shape for a mid century cornice. Scalloped cornices like this were super popular, I am guessing because Dad could make them out of knotty pine or plywood using his own shop tools. In time capsule homes, I usually see these all-wood. But I also really like the padded and upholstered look, depending on the style of the rest of the room. Nice pole lamp here, too. *no name*

wall of pinch pleat draperiesOh yeah, baby, wall-o-pinch-pleats, love the pole lamp, the wall color is great, contrasting peach colored chair is fabulous, and the cat is a nice touch, too. Another retro interior from Eartha Kitsch.

Many thanks again to everyone for their submissions — I swear these photos gave me ideas for at least five future stories. ๐Ÿ™‚


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  1. says

    Thanks for highlighting our living room! It’s the last one there with Pip, the cat taking a Winter hibernation. : ) That’s one of the things that I liked about the reader submissions – looking at each picture and if they were full room views, looking for decorating ideas!

  2. Valerie says

    I can’t believe the trees in pictures 5 and 6 have the same skirt! The ornament print is pretty and festive. My tree skirt is plain green felt with plaid trim, simple and classic but it may be time for something more colorful…

    • Jukesgrrl says

      My Mom had an apron made out of that exact same fabric with red ties. The perfect thing for the ’50s housewife entertaining at Christmas. I can see it in my mind’s eye tied on top of her good black sheath dress. Boat neck, three-quarter sleeves, body hugging lightweight wool with a couple of diagonally placed, satin-covered buttons. Perfect for Marilyn to wear to a funeral. I could bean her for some of the stuff she got rid of!

    • Shane Walp says

      …and PS. I wish my home looked as good as these. I have a German Shepherd that sheds like crazy, a Beagle who is still chewing, and kids who don’t know how to clean up after themselves along with restoration of the bathroom and kitchen!

    • pam kueber says

      Jenny, the link within the post actually goes to your holiday page! Although I liked the vegan recipes, too. Great house! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Judi says

    So many variations in these photos, yet they are all great. I would love to celebrate a Christmas in Gavin’s living room. So lovely. My favorite detail from all of the photos is the icicles in photo #6. How I loved putting icicles on the tree back when I was a kid. But, I was glad they had gone out of style by the time I was a mom in the 80s, so I didn’t have to deal with the mess. The adult perspective certainly is different from the child’s.

  4. Nina462 says

    Thanks Pam – I like how you mentioned the cornices & how the drapes, sheers protect against the cold breezes. As I mentioned way earlier this year regarding gettting new windows – if people only knew that they could prevent this by having sheers/drapes & maybe having the windows reglazed. So much simpler & less expensive than new windows. Original windows were meant to be repaired, not replaced ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love the interiors.

  5. Dot says

    What beautiful trees! I used to be able to use my antique/glass ornaments before I adopted Buddy and Gracie (my two rescue cats)! How does Eartha keep her cat out of the tree?? Thanks to everyone for sharing. Merry Christmas!

    • CindyD says

      Don’t know how Eartha does it, but we hang tiny bells and jingles throughout the tree so we at least know if they’re near it. I don’t think they care for the noise since the three of them stay away after the initial interest.

    • says

      Dot: CindyD has the right idea. For some reason, Pip could care less about the Christmas trees (I am stunned) but we put bells all around the bottom so we can at least hear if she changes her tune and something is going down. : )

      • Dot says

        Thanks for the ideas Eartha and CindyD, I have a 4 1/2 ft table top tree on my antique drysink. The bells probably make a prettier sound than the counter top motion sensor alarm I put next to the tree! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Happy Daze says

    Cornices on drapes were huge in the ’40s and ’50s. Some designs were quite elaborate with tufting or anodized metal trim.

  7. says

    Beautiful homes! I didn’t realize what “cornices” were or their purpose! I thought that they were decorative only & referred to them as wooden valances! Now I know better!

  8. Maryanna says

    Hi Pam! Thank you so much for featuring our room! Truth be told, I had no idea that there was anything more than a decorative purpose to those cornices. I just knew that they made the window look “complete” and that I wanted them! I’m glad to know they will help with the drafts though. Ours are actually some that had been custom-made for another house 40+ years ago…I bought them for next to nothing and reupholstered them.

    I also got a kick out of the other submitter’s tree skirt too…we probably were rival bidders on an eBay auction or two! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. says

    Gavin yours should be on a magazine cover! and Erin D. how homey and wonderfully welcoming is your living room! Such a treat. Like a Christmas present I actually “wanted”! Well that, and fudge with nuts. We had a pole lamp and pinch pleats growing up complete with sunburst lamp, etc. Barkcloth, cornices, round pillows, turquoise stockings, love, love, love. Merry Christmas from North Fork Ranch!

  10. MrsErinD says

    Oh wow, I came here to see what was new (late of course) and saw my living room!! Thanks Pam for showing our living room!

    Thanks for everyones comments, and Pam, I am happy you noticed the details, that is one thing I’ve been working on, that all the details are correct, and that pretty much everything in the room(s) is vintage, except for the one corner with the big ugly plasma tv, lol.
    We have rotary phones (we use) and I even have a pack of lucky strikes in the pink/black standing ashtray by the couch! Vintage magazines in the magazine rack, and now on the coffee table, and I forgot to put back my asian chartreuse tv lamp!

    Our colors are pink, aqua, chartreuse and black/gray. Yes, the style is mid century modest meets tiki/asian/atomic, I have many mod kitschey accesories, even a PINK starburst clock, but kept with the homey modest traditional-ness of the house with the wood furniture and things, too mod would look funny in our house, it’s a small 2 bedroom colonial.

    I am going to take more pics of the living and dining room (with dinette) next week (we’re still working on the kitchen bedroom) to send you Pam (and put on flickr) I think you will get a kick out of it all.

    Thanks again Pam :O)

  11. Jeff says

    A happy holiday to all- have really enjoyed RR this past year, looking forward to many more!

    And a special thanks to you Pam, for making it so special.

  12. Nina462 says

    MrsErinD – how do you use a rotary dial phone in this day & age? I thought that you could’nt based on modern technology with the touch tone dial & all.
    I, also, collect old magazines & have them around the living room (along with old catalogues). I love to read them – such a difference from todays reading material.

  13. MrsErinD says

    Hi Nina, yes you still can use rotary even with the new lines etc, we have Verizon Fios phone thing, but our rotary still works. Now if I have to call somewhere that has press one for whatever (which sadly many places do, sigh) then I have to use our regular touch tone phone/answer machine which is hidden under the one end table, lol ;O)

  14. says

    I’m late, too, but this is a delightful post! Those cornices are marvellous…I’d like to put some over my office windows and perhaps in our master (currently in the throes of a to-the-studs remodel), too.

    You are right on about drapes and heating/cooling. My husband has fought me since we bought the house about getting pinch pleats for our three front windows (one on each side plus the large one in the center). We were in a hotel recently, and he pulled the drapes open for a moment to check on the car. He turned around and said to me, “Now I know why you want drapes. I cannot believe the cold air coming in through this window!”

    I just smiled and said something about starting colour shopping. LOL No need to rub it in!

    Belated Christmas & New Year’s wishes to everybody…

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