Modern Updates to a 1950s Living Room
How we took our blah, blah, bland family room and transformed it over a few days into a bright, modern and functional place to hang out with friends, watch TV or play games as a family!
It’s funny that in less than a year of living here, the function and the way we used this room changed. Not by leaps and bounds, mind you, but enough that we now desperately need toy storage in here instead of the playroom. So I’m glad we waited to live here a bit before making any changes to one of the most-used rooms in our home.
Not only is this the first room you see when you enter our house, it’s also where we hang out, play games and watch TV. While it’s set up as a more formal living room, it’s very much a den or family room in our house!
That means we have kids’ toys, board games, plenty of seating and a TV to work into the layout of this space. Oh and I can’t forget the flow from the front door to the hallway on one side and the dining room on the other.
Fortunately there is a lot of space to work with! And that large window! One of the features we loved about this house when we first walked through it.
Create Function and Character
Even though the window calls a lot of attention to itself on its own, it was begging for some bookcases on either side to really make that wall a focal feature! And that would give momma some good hidden storage to keep the not-so-magazine-worthy toys, random doll parts and stacks of puzzles and coloring books out of sight.
Dad and I custom-made the bookcases so they would be ‘built-in’ and fit all of the available space, from wall to window trim and from floor to ceiling! It really takes things up a notch and makes them look original to the house, especially once we wrapped the crown molding around the top and baseboard at the bottom!
My little nod to current trends…caning cabinet doors! I love the texture they add to the bookcases and the natural look of the caning. Just like adding wood tones can add warmth, so can caning and rattan!
Speaking of trends, I have wanted to have a room with colored (light blue/gray/green) trim and white walls for close to 3 years when I went on a girls’ trip to Charleston and Savannah, GA! There was a sweet little bistro cafe that had so much charm!
And now it just so happens to be ‘in’.🤷♀️ Regardless I love it. And when I don’t love it anymore. I can paint it!
Add a Ceiling Pop
I’ve been a fan of pops of color and fun ceiling treatments for a while now. When I renovated my kitchen at the old house, back in 2012(😱), I had picked out a pretty purple-blue paint for the walls. But once the backsplash was installed, there wasn’t much wall left. So I decided to paint the ceiling with it!
Then when I was creating my first nursery, I painted the ceiling gold! (Please forgive my lack of photo skills back then…😬they don’t do the ceiling justice.)
And let’s not forget the wood plank ceiling I installed in the adjacent dining room in this house!
So it’s safe to say, this living room was getting a ceiling pop too! Dad and I decided to keep it a little simpler so as not to compete with the fabulous dining room ceiling. We opted for a grid made from 1x4s painted the same as the room’s trim.
You can check out a how-to video over on todayshomeowner.com by clicking here!
Since I was going with the white walls look but still wanted color in this room, it was important to bring that color up so the room wasn’t just a white box! I think it adds just the right amount of oomph without being too flashy.
Eliminate What Doesn’t Work
I mentioned we use this room to watch TV. And we only have one TV, so I want it to work and look good! And it wasn’t working over the existing fireplace for me.
Having it above the fireplace was not optimal viewing height and I didn’t love the mantel. But the real kicker and decision-maker for me was that the fireplace wasn’t even real. There is no chimney. There are no gas logs. It was only there for aesthetics and the aesthetics were not serving me and my family!
So we eliminated the fireplace and patched the wall. This allowed us to hang the TV at a lower height AND we’re able to add a piece of furniture to give us more storage!
Removing a fireplace can be controversial! Whew! But it’s so freeing to do what you know is right for your home and the way your family lives there every single day. I haven’t regretted it for a second these past few months.
Bring In Family Treasures
In the rush of moving in and knowing we would later update this room, a lot of hand-me-downs and mismatched furnishings got dumped in here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m appreciative to even have that as an option! But I’ve noticed as I’m aging more and more into my 30s, (I’m 33☺️) I’m wanting to spend money on things that will last and that actually suit our lifestyle. Not just things that are ‘free’. So as part of this makeover, we ordered new (matching) sofas and a rug.
But one hand-me-down we gladly pulled out of storage was my family’s old wooden kitchen table. The one we ate breakfast and almost every family meal around for the better part of my childhood. It was classic 90s wood and not quite my tastes these days.
Give me a problem I can’t fix! I got to work stripping and sanding the stain off. And while I was at it, I took the circular saw to the base and made it the perfect height for propping up your feet or playing a game of Uno.
I LOVE the look of raw, unstained wood. And after a few quick coats of clear sealer, it’s the perfect wood tone to keep the warmth in our cozy family room! Plus you can’t beat furniture with history!😍
The new living room has functioned SO well for us so far! It’s so bright and fresh without being over the top modern.
I can’t wait to really finish off this room by refinishing the hardwood floors in here and throughout the house to get rid of that orange! Hopefully that will come later this year. But until then, we’ll be able to play, watch, love and grow in the family room!❤️
Thanks for Checking In! ~Chelsea
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