45+ Irresistibly Stylish Midcentury Modern Living Room Idea

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louis fernandez elle decor
Trevor Tondro
1

Velvet Revelry

dark wood panelled living room with chandelier made of multiple arms and hands holding lights and a large green velvet tufted armless sofa and chairs and a low cocktail table at center with marble top and wooden legs
Rich Stapleton

In the living room of the Goldwyn house, an iconic residence in Los Angeles that’s now the home of the Future Perfect gallery, a jewel-toned lounge is swathed in velvet and overseen by a handwoven rattan chandelier by artist Chris Wolston. Though this scheme deftly mixes eras, the clean lines throughout and the dark stained wood feels distinctly midcentury.

2

Ethereal Details

midcentury house
Tim Lenz

Another spin on midcentury modern: this calming New York apartment that features subtle nods to the vintage look. Organic and geometric shapes punctuate the space through lighting fixtures and seating arrangements. All softened by a warm ivory color (Baby Fawn by Benjamin Moore) and parquet wood flooring. The designer, Augusta Hoffman, says that in such a small space, form over function was top of mind. “Every single surface needs to be usable, and every single chair needs to be really, really comfortable,” she told ELLE DECOR.

3

Harmonious Hues

living room with small black fireplace and marble bench in front, twin greige fabric sofas and a low white plaster cocktail table, gray rug, stained woodwork and ceiling beams, doors opening to patio
Sam Frost

If you’re looking to mix styles and eras, this early Frank Gehry home is a study in harmonious contrast. Gehry’s signature Deconstructivist style and spare palette works with the neutral tones, luxurious materials, and rounded contours. Take, for examples, the living room’s lush Mario Bellini mohair sofa (an icon of 1970s design), the handwoven Scandinavian wool rug balancing out the concrete floors, and the concrete fireplace counteracted with a warm woodgrain patterns.

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4

Warm Palette

sitting room with two vintage armless lounge chairs in a taupe velvet, triangular wood cocktail table, vintage wood armchair with cane back and cushion seat, a folding screen with a cartoonish image of a man's face
Sam Frost

This sitting area in the same home is furnished with an array of vintage finds, like a 1955 Pierre Jeanneret office chair that pays homage to the modernist look—with lively additions like Robert Loughlin’s painting, which features his iconic, square-chinned, cigarette-smoking figure he called “the brute.”

5

True to Form

lounge area with high ceiling and access outside
Elsa Young/Bureaux

Built in the 1950s, this Johannesburg gem was designed by Eyvind Finsen, a South African architect who was inspired by Richard Neutra. The homeowners (architects themselves), Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, designed this with one question in mind. “We asked ourselves, ‘What would the natural progression of a Palm Springs bungalow be today?’” Rech says. The answer? This living room flaunts a leather sofa by Flexform, a vintage black leather chair (bottom left) by Joe Colombo, and a custom angular cocktail table. Our favorite detail? A playful leaf chandelier by Xavier Clarisse. We’re taking a walk on the wild side now.

6

Mixed Materials

in a midcentury beach house living room is a bar fronted with colored tiles, a sofa with a burl wood frame and tufted terra cotta cushions, two modern chairs, cocktail table, too stools, and a cow hide rug
Stephen Kent Johnson

For Pamela Shamshiri, leaning into the midcentury aesthetic isn’t enough. In this Pacific Palisades home in Los Angeles designed by Paul László, Shamshiri looked to the famed designer’s quirky yet functional furniture for inspiration on several custom pieces, including a stripped-down, blocky burl-wood sofa in the living room that contrasts with a plush, unconventionally L-shaped sofa. Our favorite detail? The jewel-like custom tiled bar cabinet, which provides an ornamental focal point for the living room—and proof that both tile and wood don’t belong only on the floor.

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7

A Room with a View

a living room with floor to ceiling windows, some with curtains, a pewter colored fabric sectional, an upholstered chair, cocktail and end tables, a light wool rug, a cocoon pendant, and an indoor fire pit
Stephen Kent Johnson

In the same Pacific Palisades living room, two seating areas were created to flank the original midcentury freestanding fireplace. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the Pacific, while tinted mirrors reflect garden views. If this studied interplay between historic and contemporary isn’t evidence that this design style can evolve, we don’t know what is.

8

Vertical Vibes

sophia bush hollywood house
Trevor Tondro

Went a little midcentury-happy with the classic low-slung tufted couch? Repurposed objects, like this vintage Eames screen and tall floor lamps, help draw the eye upward, as they do in Sophia Bush’s stunning retro Hollywood home.

9

Green with Envy

in a den are two vintage armchairs in a deep blue fabric, a sofa in a light gray fabric, wood cocktail table, a wool rug in a light green hue, multiple artworks and a lamp on shelves and on a counter bar
Stephen Kent Johnson

Designer Pamela Shamshiri is bringing back all the quintessentially midcentury green vibes in this Pacific Palisades den, which boasts shapely vintage furniture alongside contemporary artwork and light fixtures.

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10

No-Holds-Barred

linda rodin house tour
Chris Mottalini

Whoever said midcentury consisted solely of earth tones? This colorful Long Island dig is sprinkled with graphic pops of bright green and bold yellow hues, which create an interplay between organic and splashy. “The house reminded me of a place that Joni Mitchell would have lived in in Laurel Canyon in the ’70s,” homeowner Linda Rodin told ELLE DECOR. “And that was my fantasy.”

11

Modular Fittings

boca raton tropical living room
Kris Tamburello

Drumroll, please, for the crowning jewel of the midcentury look: the crescent-shaped couch. As charming as it is functional (nobody’s left hanging at the edge of the couch in this circular arrangement), this Lejeune sofa, upholstered in a Dedar velvet with Scalamandre’s Maquis Tapestry Agave on the back, is the true blue-eyed wonder in this stunning tropical retreat.

12

A Soothing Space

martha mulholland standard architecture malibu
Shade Degges

Indoor-outdoor living is all the rage right now, but of course it’s nothing new. In the formal family gathering spot of this soothing Malibu, California, home, sliding doors open to the backyard. Wooden oak accents and lush foliage further soften the space and create a seamless integration.

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13

Indoor or Outdoor?

midcentury house
Trevor Tondro

To say that this midcentury gem of a house has good bones is a massive understatement. Cynics, say your worst, we’d be hard pressed to find a naysayer of this three-bedroom located in Beverly Hills. With an arched lighting fixture that adds variation to the living room’s sleek architectural lines, the most difficult daily decision would be whether or not to take your breakfast in the light-filled living room or just beyond for some vitamin D.

14

Quartzite Quality

louis fernandez elle decor
Trevor Tondro

If the final aesthetic feels utterly now, it is because midcentury architecture was ahead of its time, says the owner of this Beverly Hills home. “The proportions—low, hovering—are all about inserting into nature and being minimal,” he notes. “That’s so important as we think about sustainability. How do we insert ourselves into the landscape without taking over?” Mission accomplished in this living room, which features a marble cocktail table by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia and a quartzite wall above the home’s original brass fireplace.

15

Modest Furnishings

great room and terrace
Roger Davies

For Kovac Design Studio, a discerning eye sometimes necessitates a streamlined approach. In the great room of Todd Feldman’s retreat in La Quinta, California, neutral furnishings are paired with Warren Platner chairs that echo the house’s wooden accents. The muted color scheme allows that attention be drawn, first, to the home’s fabulous roof line.

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16

Hollywood Haven

media room
Roger Davies

Nothing brings back midcentury nostalgia like a classic black-and-white flick. In this cinematic desert home, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 film, Breathless, is projected on a custom motorized screen in the great room, which features a floating theater with a glass railing over a curtained bar area—a seamless merging of old and new that harks back to the good old days without stepping too far out of the here and now.

17

Silver-Screen Style

bunk room
Roger Davies

This seven-bedroom, 9,200-square-foot vacation house at the private Madison Club in La Quinta, California, is Palm Springs pad as boutique hotel, with Mad Men flourishes, a bar ready for Out of Sight–level seduction, and a concession stand stocked for Fight Night. Designer Kovac Design Studio leaned into midcentury features like low-slung furniture and floor-to-ceiling wood paneling. Cue all the drama, on both sides of the screen!

18

Screen-Worthy

property, building, room, ceiling, interior design, home, house, real estate, living room, furniture,
John Ellis

Powerhouse set-design duo David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco saved and restored a 1956 bungalow in Santa Barbara, California, and their interior composition is a contender for most stage sets. In this living room, a pair of lounge chairs by Milo Baughman surround an Eames cocktail table covered in gold leaf. The walls and hearth are painted in a subtle Green Ground by Farrow & Ball, and the ceiling is lined with Douglas fir.

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19

Midcentury, Redefined

open kitchen dining living area great roomwith long black counter and stools and a gray brick wall with modern fireplace with fire in it and three large red pieces of artwork above it and a wood paneled ceiling and floor to ceiling glass walls on the left
Lance Gerber

This midcentury Palm Springs house is going way beyond the design playbook, and we’re not complaining. Give that retro look a contemporary spin with chic all-black seating and juxtaposing loud-and-proud wall bling—red triptych by artist Ko Kirk Yamahira—that anchors the fireplace wall. Desert modern never looked so luxe.

20

Subtle Style

mid century modern lighting
Trevor Tondro

In this living room, vintage Barcelona chairs, back-to-back sofas by William Haines, an Arco lamp by Achille Castiglioni, and a floor lamp by Dragonette; the wall is sheathed in Venetian plaster, the ceiling is cedar, and the floors are poured-in-place terrazzo.

Headshot of Rachel Silva

Rachel Silva, the Assistant Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, covers design, architecture, trends, and anything to do with haute couture. She has previously written for Time, The Wall Street Journal, and Citywire.

Headshot of Lucia Tonelli

Lucia Tonelli is an Assistant Editor at Town & Country, where she writes about the royal family, culture, real estate, design, and more. 

 

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