Mid-Century Update Living Room After

Residential Projects - Kitchen - Bath - Living Spaces

Designer's Notes


Altadena Mid-century home update
This 1951 Mid-Century ranch home was recently purchased by a young couple who asked me to help them make it more functional and update it to reflect their personal tastes. They loved the house, but the existing knotty pine paneling on the living room walls and ceiling made it feel cavernous. The existing hall bath walls were also covered with the same wood paneling. The kitchen had been updated by a previous owner, but they had enclosed a washer and dryer with a cabinet and high countertop. The countertop was atop a pony wall between the dining room and kitchen with an opening above.  The challenge here was to replace the cabinets and counter so that it was a normal stool height on the dining room side, and add new cabinets with storage on the kitchen side. We discussed the materials they would like to have, and the desire to keep appropriate mid-century design throughout the home.

The hall bathroom was the first room we focused on, the goal was to lighten the room and add more storage.  We removed all the wood paneling and dark tile, taking it down to the studs. We replaced the existing pedestal sink and linen closet on the east wall with a tall linen cabinet adjacent to a new vanity cabinet with 2 sinks and all drawer storage. The white Shaker cabinet vanity is topped with “Icelake” quartz. We selected round mirrors centered above each sink. LED wall sconces and recessed cans create a bright space year round. The dark wood wall between the toilet and tub was removed. A new soaker tub replaced the old tub. A short wall, surfaced with the same quartz on the tub side, was made to separate the tub and toilet, and provide a niche. In keeping with the Mid-Century era, the shape and shades of color for the tile on the west wall of the tub/shower was selected. The north wall features glass tile in a stack pattern. The clear glass enclosure, with a pair of swinging doors, completes the tub/shower area. The space is now light and bright and a joy to use. A sliding door replaced the swinging door to make the space more open.

We then looked at the options for the kitchen and dining room. The old pony wall/cabinet was replaced with a new pony wall between the kitchen and dining room and a new base cabinet was installed and Calcutta quartz was selected for the new countertop. The quartz continues the counter top on the dining room side at a low stool height. The existing kitchen base cabinets were painted to match the new green cabinet. The dark granite was replaced with the Calcutta quartz here too. The existing wall cabinets were painted white and received under cabinet LED task lights. The range and refrigerator were replaced. The linoleum was resurfaced with a light taupe cork flooring. A new pantry was created with new shelves and a sliding door surfaced mounted in the hall adjacent to the kitchen.

A dramatic transformation occurred in the living and dining room which has a vaulted wood ceiling. By removing the dark wood paneling on the long, south wall and on the fireplace wall, a fresh and bright room was created. The wood floors were refinished to complete this goal.  New furniture was selected for both spaces. A rust upholstered sofa picks up the colors in the brick of the fireplace. The dining area has a new live-edge table and seating for 8. The new sideboard provides additional storage. The counter area provides a serving station or additional seating when entertaining.

All the new finishes make this home feel inviting while providing the functions we need today. The homeowners are very happy with everything and are enjoying the spaces with friends and family.