Mid-Century Renovation: Living Room & Dining Area

This week’s blog features the Living Room & Dining Area of our mid-century renovation. I say Dining Area because it is really a small area attached to the Living Room.

Living Room

As I previously mentioned, the Living Room is the room – or specifically the view – that sold me on the house. I love the exposed brick, the oversized windows, and the view of the massive magnolia tree in our backyard.

Louisville interior design dining room before

No Television Allowed

We made the decision not to have a television in this room so that opened up so many possibilities. Of course, this is the only room in which my baby grand piano would fit so that was a given. We placed it in the corner with the large windows as a backdrop.

Louisville interior design living room before

Plenty of Seating

We wanted this room to be a real gathering space for entertaining so we added lots of seating.I designed the entire room around this existing chair that is upholstered in a colorful bird print.

Louisville interior design living room after

Color Palette

The walls are Accessible Beige; the built-in bookcase is painted Tony Taupe, two shades darker; we refinished the existing hardwood floors in an American Walnut stain which was darker than the original stain; and we added recessed lights in the ceiling.

Now I love a neutral palette as much as the next person, and I have designed many rooms in that monochromatic airy style. But personally, I love color,  and I love mixing lots of interesting fabrics.

For the sofa, I remained neutral, but in a more updated way by going with charcoal gray fabric. We added two sleek club chairs in an understated plaid fabric that pulled the blues and reds out of the patterned bird chair.

Ottoman in Lieu of Coffee Table

Although they can be a necessity, I am not a fan of coffee tables. However,  I am a huge fan of this oversized tufted ottoman with metal base. I had this long upholstered bench that I had used as a coffee table in our previous home. (Maybe I am a fan of coffee tables – just unexpected ones.) I had it reupholstered in this bold plaid fabric and placed it under the large windows to  create a window seat effect.

For the tables, I softened the main seating area with a round table. It has a mirrored top with a patina edge on a metal base. You may notice that the table is taller than the sofa and chairs. Exactly! You notice the table because it is taller, and adjusting heights within your furniture pieces is a good thing.

Thinking outside the box, I used this beautiful garden stool as a side table for my bird chair.  I placed our existing bookcase behind the seating area for two reasons: it allowed for plenty of room to get from the back of the house through to the living spaces, and it allowed me to show off my collection of bird accessories. Collections are great – they just need to be contained to one display area so they can be appreciated as a collection.

Musical Monkey Collection

I actually have two collections in this room. In the built-in bookcase on the fireplace wall, I have displayed my collection of “musical monkeys.” In our previous home in Alpharetta, Georgia, we had a Music Room, and I began to collect sets of monkeys playing musical instruments. I was not able to display them in our last home so I was thrilled to be able to pull them out of storage. Bet you did not know there could be so many different sets of monkeys playing musical instruments, right?

A couple of things to mention…I said oversized several times in my description of the furnishings; however, the room does not feel crowded. The reason is the scale and style of the upholstered pieces. Notice the arms on sofa and chairs are low profile and the pieces have straight lines. I cannot reiterate enough that scale is so important when selecting furniture pieces for your living spaces.

Mid-Century Modern Touches

My ode to the mid-century era is actually two of my favorite things in the room. The fireplace did not have a mantle, and rightfully so because the exposed brick wall is so long. My sister and I found this awesome mirror that screams mid-century, and it was the perfect size for the wall.

We also found these mid-century modern table and floor lamps with tulip bulb bases and exaggerated shades to add task lighting in the space. We finished off the walls with two large botanical prints flanked by unique birdcage sconces and 3 decorative plates and the windows with a long cornice board to top the windows, but not take away from the view.

Dining Room

The Dining Area is by far the smallest space in our home. To make matters more challenging, it is the pass through from the Kitchen to our Den. In our previous home, we had a fabulous farm table. My husband Tom and I found it at an antique flea market in Atlanta. It was made from a 100-year old tree in Mississippi that had been uprooted in a storm. We have had many people try to purchase our table over the years including the couple that bought our last house and our contractor.

Louisville interior design dining room furnishings before


Unfortunately, it was not going to work in the space both size-wise and quite frankly, style-wise. It is, however, still sitting in our small garage, taking up valuable space because I cannot part with it – even to take it to storage!

To appease myself, I found this sleek table in a gorgeous ebonized mahogany finish. It is only 60″ long but has 2 20″ leaves. The four tufted upholstered chairs were placed across from each other versus all four sides to make the “pass through” area feel less crowded. I have to admit, it’s a good look as well. I placed my oversized French country sideboard along the back wall. It provides great storage for all of my serving pieces that I simply do not have room for in our Kitchen.

So Ugly, They are Beautiful

I flanked it with these two painted chairs that I found on clearance. I think they are so ugly, they are beautiful. They can easily be pulled up to the table to make seating for 6. I carried the Accessible Beige into this area, but did paint the back wall the darker Tony Taupe color to provide a nice backdrop for the cream colored sideboard.

I keep my accessories thoughtful and to a minimum – blown glass bowl as a centerpiece, beautiful box and glass candlesticks on the sideboard. The artwork reinforces the color palette. The  rectangular linen shades on the lamps are the perfect size for a sideboard. Of course, the signature piece in the space is the gold leaf chandelier with the cylindrical drum shades!

Louisville interior design dining room furnishings sideboard after

I know I have given you lots of information in this blog, but these are probably the two spaces that I had the most fun designing in our new home. We were concerned that we wouldn’t use the Living Room as much if there was no television, but that has not been the case. We use it when we entertain which is quite often. Also, I love to read, and it has become my “reading” room. After all, it’s got the best view in the house! Enjoy!


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