How to Style a Mid Century Modern Living Room


It feels strange to be sharing our living room in full for the first time today.  Not because it feels strange to be sharing in general, but more because we can't believe this is the first time we've posted specifically about this room!  This room is where we spend 98% of our waking hours at home. This room also has a really special significance for us.

Before we got married, both of us invested pretty minimally in our living spaces.  My decor had all been accumulated in a rather hodge podge way, and was comprised of a random mix of hand-me down furniture items and other pieces that I bought mostly to maintain consistency with those items. We both had moved nearly every year for the past 8-10 years, so we didn't see much of a point to investing in quality or stylish furniture.

But as we neared our wedding, our excitement about sharing our living space and being roomies for life manifested itself by us spending hours on end looking for design inspiration and planning this very room.

We saw decorating and furnishing our apartment as the first opportunity we would have to create a style that was ours together. We feel like this room really expresses our style and we love spending time in this space of ours.


We wanted to share a little bit about our process and a couple of tips for styling your own living space.

Instagram and Pinterest played a huge role in helping us determine what style suited us best. We saw everything from shabby chic, boho, and exotic to classic french, traditional, all the way to contemporary.  We saw that pieces from just about every popular decor movement can actually be quite stylish right now (similar to clothing where currently the 70s, 80s, and 90s are all simultaneously bringing something to the table).  Ultimately, were quickly able to rule out several styles as just not us - traditional, classic, or elegant styles we couldn't pull much (if any) inspiration from.  But there were many styles that did draw our eye.  Aspects of boho and eclectic decor caught our eye (mostly certain patterns and and the heavy use of plants).  Industrial decor appealed to us as it had sort of a grittiness that mirrors the city we live in. Contemporary and modern decor appealed to us in their sheer stylishness.  With all of the ideas and inspiration, it was at moments overwhelming to think about where to begin!

Ultimately, Mid-Century modern decor stole our hearts. We loved the earthy tones, the modern lines, the retro nod to the mid 1900s and the way it reminded us of our grandparent's kitchens :) It didn't hurt that we had existing hand-me-down furniture that were actual mid-century pieces. 

But where to go from here? We had a rectangular box for a room.  It had no distinct features, other than that narrowness which is typical of city-lot, 3-flat units, and therefore no natural "starting point" to build around.

We realized we needed to first identify what was most important to us in our living room and pick 1-2 investment pieces to build the rest of the room off of.

The starting point for our living room was that we knew we were ready to invest in a quality, statement couch. We returned to instagram and pinterest. We googled. We popped into random furniture stores.

Again and again we kept coming back to the same mid-century, brown, leather, West Elm sectional.

West Elm: Couch -  Similar Here  // Target: Bar Cart -  Similar Here  // West Elm:  Hexagon Mirror  // West Elm:  Clover Coffee Table  // Costco:  Sheepskin Rug  // Home Goods: Pillows -  Similar Here  // CB2:  Dakota Pillow  // CB2:  Floor Lamp

West Elm: Couch - Similar Here // Target: Bar Cart - Similar Here // West Elm: Hexagon Mirror // West Elm: Clover Coffee Table // Costco: Sheepskin Rug // Home Goods: Pillows - Similar Here // CB2: Dakota Pillow // CB2: Floor Lamp

Once we took the plunge on our couch, we were able to plan the rest of the living room around it.  From the old, mid-century credenza that had been in my parents basement for my entire life, to the mid-century sideboard/record player that had sat in Daniel's Grandpa's barn for about half a century, we started bringing in furniture pieces that would complement our couch. We then added other decorative touches that would fit with this existing framework but also had their own unique personality.

We pulled in inspiration from the other styles that caught our eye, but that would still connect to our mid-century look.


We did end-up adding touches of boho/eclectic (some bright tribal pattern pillows and a handful of plants) and we added some industrial elements too, but the mid-century styling is prominent in our living room. We upped the cozy factor from what we had been seeing in a lot of mid-century modern or contemporary decor with the liberal addition of faux fur throws, pillows, and rugs :)


Although it took us a bit of time to pull the full look together, this room has been our absolute favorite from day 1!! More than just an opportunity to decorate, it was our first real creative project together.  The first thing we got to style as a team, and the first thing that we created that really reflects who we are. And we can confidently say that the smartest choice we made in our living room was being 100% sure about the right couch as an investment piece that we could build the rest of the room around.


We also want our living room to serve as an encouragement to our fellow apartment dwellers out there. If you size your pieces correctly and plan your space appropriately, you can really maximize the space that you have.and even make it seem larger than it is. 

We'd love to know if you've got any design tips from styling your living space - what resources have helped you create your happy place? If you think this post might be useful to others who are soon to be in the process of designing or redesigning a space, be sure to share this post!

If you are looking for more design inspiration, head over to our previous post on our dining room!

With love from Chicago,

Daniel + Jennifer 

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