We have made it to the MCM living room makeover reveal and I am so happy with the finished product. Our living room is the first area that you see when you come into our home and I am really excited to have a finished space that reflects who we are. Over these last 8 weeks, I have bought a few new items for the room, reused materials that we already owned, and finally put some of my thrifted items on display.
If this first time stopping by, welcome, and thanks for visiting! A few years ago I decided to quit my corporate job in Denver and my family moved back to our hometown in Ohio. I became a local real estate agent have been sharing home renovation and DIY tips on this blog ever since. Two years ago we purchased a fixer-upper in Toledo, Ohio and I renovated our dining room as a guest participant for the ORC. I also updated my little boys’ bedroom and our master bedroom in the last two challenges. That brings us to my fourth One Room Challenge where I am renovating our living room!
Catch up with earlier posts in the challenge!
Modern Living Room Before & After
[For a complete source list, scroll to the bottom of the blog post. Affiliate links are included in this post, thanks for supporting Building Bluebird!]
Let’s begin with a reminder of where we started in this space two years ago:
Here is that same view now:
Another before shot looking from the foyer into the dining room:
And that same view two years later.
Before, the dining room, living room and foyer were all blue.
And that same view looking into the living room and foyer.
More One Room Challenge Reveals You Will Love
- Guest Bedroom / Office Makeover Reveal
- Exciting Moody Blue Master Bedroom Reveal
- Affordable Boys Bedroom Makeover Reveal
- Amazing Dining Room Makeover | ORC Week 6
- Grandmillennial Girls Bedroom Reveal | ORC
MCM Living Room Design Details
Let’s dig into the design details in this room!
Floors & Walls
Before moving into the house, we ripped up the blue carpeting and installed white oak wood floors. Three months after taking possession of the house, we were able to move in with a brand new kitchen and wood floors throughout.
Next, we tackled the walls since it was a pretty quick fix. I chose a neutral color for the walls, Alabaster by Sherwin Williams in a satin sheen. To make the fireplace pop, I painted the surround a dark gray. This was the same color as the dining room walls and the island in our kitchen. It is a custom color (color-matched to the gray cabinets installed in the kitchen), but it is very similar to Peppercorn by Sherwin Williams.
And that was pretty much where we left it for two years. I used furniture we already owned to set up the room and while it looked nice, I wanted to design the room with intention. The Spring One Room Challenge came at a perfect time as I wrapped up our basement makeover and used most of the furniture from the living room in the kid’s TV area of the basement. This gave me a fresh start with designing the living room.
Masculine MCM Design
I went with a masculine, mid-century modern design focus for the living room and incorporated musical elements. Here is the mood board I created for Week 1.
We definitely own MCM decor, but I tend to veer into the cottage-style pretty easily, and it was a little bit of a challenge to keep that out of the living room. Chris really dislikes clutter and so I had to reset a few times to limit the decor items I was tempted to throw into the mix.
I did not purchase a single piece of artwork for this living room makeover. The living room walls are filled with art that I already owned that I pulled from a different room or was stored in my closet for the right project. I tackled a few small DIYs to finish off the design and I love how it all came together.
A few months ago I picked up a bunch of books from the side of the road that was left for garbage pickup. One of the books I brought home was an art exhibit pamphlet from 1954 at the Toledo Museum. I tore out a few pages with large Van Gogh prints and added them to simple black frames.
I scoured my storage closet for unique artwork and decided to display them over the piano. The artwork is a mix of original work, prints, and another Van Gogh I framed. The mismatched artwork gives an eclectic look to the MCM living room design.
This wall needed a substantial piece of art to feel complete. I decided to use this Juniper Briggs piece that was hanging in our dining room and it was just what this room needed.
Living Room Furniture
The furniture piece that started it all!
I bought this MCM cabinet at an estate sale for $50 and it was the design inspiration for the entire room. Other estate sale items in this image include the bird print and brass bowl. I limited the number of family photos in this room, but I snuck in the photo of me and Evelyn as a baby since the colors matched really well.
We chose a streamlined leather couch for the living room and it makes the space feel nice and cozy! The oriental rug is primarily red, so I added blue pillows to tone down all of the warm colors.
I specifically chose a couch that was not as deep as the previous one and it looks perfect facing the fireplace!
Living Room Chair
Full transparency, this chair is a stand-in! I ordered a chair from West Elm and it does not arrive until August! However, I may play around with a small sherpa chair on the other side of the fireplace because I love how it looks in this room.
Chris and I have wanted to buy a piano for a few years now and I was so excited to find this beauty at an estate sale for $100. Unfortunately, it is essentially broken and cannot be tuned properly. I love the design of this piano so much that we will keep it here until we find a new standup piano to take its place.
I ended up keeping the sherpa chair on the other side of the fireplace and adding the beautiful West Elm Penn chair in front of the piano. It is super comfortable and looks perfect in this space.
Vintage Record Player Cabinet
This vintage record player has been on my husband’s wish list for a while now. We found this one on Facebook Marketplace and were so pumped to pick it up! If I had learned anything from the piano fiasco, I would have asked more questions like…if it worked. It definitely turns on but the record player does not work properly.
I naively thought that I could easily hire someone to fix it, but there are not many people who fix this record player. The first reason is that it is a large piece and they would have to make a house call. The second is that whatever piece is broken, they usually have. to have another vintage record player to take the unbroken piece as a replacement. We are still researching and hopeful we will find a solution.
For the last two years, I had a large square, black coffee table in this room. When I was working on the layout for the living room, I really wanted to have a couch facing the fireplace. This meant that we needed a couch that was a little bit slimmer than our previous one and a smaller coffee table.
As filled the room with furniture, there was a lot of furniture with hard edges. My goal was to find an oval-shaped coffee table to soften the feel of the room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one in time and had to come up with a plan B. First, I tried the upholstered squares that we had in our master bedroom as temporary coffee tables. Then I remembered that we had a smaller coffee table in the basement that I had bought at a thrift store for our first home.
It was not exactly what I was looking for, but it was a better fit than the squares. The table was white and did not go with the color scheme so I painted it a warm green.
This is the same paint color that I used on the garage sale cabinet and it helps to tie everything together.
I ended up moving this cabinet into the dining room and it looks really nice.
I love that I was able to come up with an affordable solution that looks great in the room too. Now, I can take my time with finding the perfect coffee table and not feel pressured to buy something that I don’t love.
I have had my eye on these ladder shelves and it was the perfect addition to the MCM living room design.
I decided to create a second seating area in the bay window and love how it looks. Previously, I had a circular table in the window for puzzling, but it was a little too tall. The neutral chairs and the green plant fill the space nicely.
I mentioned earlier that I really struggled to limit the items I displayed in this room, but I made sure to include this artwork made by our 8-year-old. This little bunny makes me smile and I love how it looks in the gold, thrifted frame.
I added sentimental items like this gold tea set from my great-grandmother and the small pink, pitcher was owned by Chris’s grandmother.
I sprinkled books about design, gardening, and history around the room for me to pick up and thumb through when I’m hanging out in the space.
Another One Room Challenge in the books and another finished room in our house! Thank you for following along as I shared the design process of this MCM living room, I appreciate all of your support!
Living Room Source List
- Wall Color – Alabaster by Sherwin Williams
- Fireplace Color – Custom (similar to Peppercorn by SW)
- Leather Couch (discontinued) – (similar)
- Upholstered Squares
- Sherpa Chair
- West Elm Penn Chair
- Lumbar Pillow
- Blue Pillow / Patterned Blue Pillow
- Coffee Table – Thrifted and painted Green
- The Path Made Clear Book
- In the Company of Women
- Wood Tray
- Mountain Artwork – Thrifted
- Blue Girl Artwork – (similar)
- Two Chairs
- Ladder Bookshelf
- Ceramic Vase
- Standing Lamp
- Red Rug
- Green Rug
- Styled Coffee Table Book
- Made For Living
- In the Company of Women
There are so many incredible reveals for this challenge, don’t forget to check them out on the One Room Challenge blog!
Featured Designers for Spring 2021:
Ariene C. Bethea | At Home With Ashley | Banyan Bridges | Bari J. Ackerman | Brit Arnesen | Brownstone Boys | Cass Makes Home | Dominique Gebru | Gray Space Interiors | Haneen’s Haven | Home Ec. | Nile Johnson Design | Pennies for a Fortune | Prepford Wife | Rachel Moriarty Interiors | Sachi Lord | Susan Hill Interior Design | This Is Simplicite | Tiffany DeLangie | Victoria Lee Jones