Contemporary Mountain House meets Mid Century Style Dining Room

In 2018 we sold our first house, the 50s Colonial, and moved from central NJ to upstate NY to buy our current home, the 80s Contemporary. If you are just joining us, I took a big break from blogging for a few years, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t working hard to make our first house a home. So now that we have recently moved and I’m into this whole blogging thing again, I thought it would be fun to document similar rooms in tandem from our old home and our current home, including the stuff we never got around to completing and the ideas we have for our new spaces! You can read more about the whys and hows here or check out all of the rooms by house I’ve posted so far here.

How’s that for a title? I found my love for all things mid-century years ago (mostly thanks to stumbling on Emily Henderson’s first blog, The Brass Petal). It suited our first home well, a 1950s colonial, in terms of architecture and size of home.  So imagine my concern when we moved into our current 80s contemporary. I still loved our furniture, but I had no idea if any of it would work. I searched and searched for inspiration and could only come up with this home by Lauren Liess that was dubbed “70s Contemporary”. 

The exterior was on the nose, but that was where the similarities ended. It was a gorgeous home, but it didn’t really match up to ours, and I wasn’t sure the decor was the direction we would go in. We weren’t about to sell off all of our furniture – I still loved/love 99% of our items. So I kept searching.  I wanted to stay true to the architecture of the home, but update it for our family. Every time I thought about the 80s all I could imagine was color blocking: basically the apartment in 3 Men and a Baby meets Pee Wee’s Play house. Not the lewk, guys, not the lewk.

Oh yes, we have window blocks. Source

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I was reaaaaallly feeling the whole Parisian apartment vibe floating around the internet in early 2018 and decided the first thing we would do when we moved in was to paint all the trim black. I basically had the Rolling Stones song stuck in my head on repeat from May – July 2018.  Paint is such an easy way to make a major transformation. The walls were already white, which I love, and this was going to transform it all.

Then we moved in. And I started to realize how. much. trim. existed. It was a combination of laziness and realizing the wood tone of the trim wasn’t super 90s reddish-orange. In short, the wood tone grew on me, the parisian apartment idea faded, and we decided to embrace it. It feels a bit like a mountain vacation house, and I like it! (We are not in the mountains folks. We have a hill – does that count?)  So I’m working on the name I’m giving our decor, but it’s a definitely mid-century meets mountain house, meets the simplicity of scandi, with a little quirk and texture of boho. Taking all suggestions on phrasing and hashtags if you can sum that up better than me!

A few pics from the MLS listing. I think another big factor in realizing I didn’t need to paint the trim was taking the previous owner’s furniture out and putting ours in. They  had some great pieces, but it felt dated to me. Of course I prefer ours, we did buy it all after all. The bones of the house didn’t feel like it needed as much sprucing up once our pieces were in.

The crown jewels of the house are the floor to ceiling dining room windows and awesomely tacky gold railing semi-circle loft area opposite the windows. When we first saw the house, the realtor mentioned that the owners built the semi-circle for their giant Christmas trees and they would have a band play in the loft area when they had parties. They saw me coming from a mile away. I was sold. I needed this house.

An outtake from our professional photos taken by the fantastic JP Elario for our holiday card this year.

So it’s fitting that I finally photograph this room with our holiday decorations up. The tree was a craigslist find back in August, like 2 weeks into living here. It was a hit at all of the gatherings we’ve hosted over the past few weeks. Our dining room table lives with it’s leaf, and we could definitely use a bigger one, but this works for now. The 5 upholstered chairs at a table ready for 10 are slightly embarrassing. We need more, I just don’t know what I want yet. These are sentimental, as I’ve mentioned many times before. If we find the right set, I think we could mix and match, but a farmhouse hodge podge won’t work in here. It’s gotta be right.

I think the hutch works nicely on this wall. This room has great acoustics with our antique speakers on this side, paired with a play1 upstairs. Many a dance party has occurred here with the kids. The leather chair (no longer sold by West Elm, similar) usually lives in the living room but we shifted it here for the holidays.  Taking out these Santa photos every years makes my heart hurt with happiness.

Guys. The mobile chandelier from West Elm. LOVE. The previous owners took their chandelier (from a trip to Italy as they told the story) and I was totally ok with that. I think ours is better in the space and I loved the excuse to finally buy this for ourselves. And for such a large piece, you can’t beat the price. We’ve got it on a dimmer and it’s really cozy in here for dinner parties.

We need to figure out this side. Maybe a real buffet goes in, maybe 2 club chairs and an end table, maybe a chaise. I think we will know it when we find it. I’ve got some plans for some large scale wicker/macrame wall hangings, that will realistically go up within the next 10 years whenever I get around to it. The art easel was a yard sale steal at $30 (similar). The art was a hand-me-down family piece and I like that the pastels tie into the colors in the living room, since this room is mostly white, black, brass and walnut. The faux magnolia branches (similar) with hints of gold on the table and  on the easel were impulse buys at our local At Home store, along with the giant wreath hanging in front of the windows.

These shots are from the upstairs loft looking down. You can kinda see the plastic wrap that went up on the gold railing with zip ties on Day 1 for safety purposes. I envision some glorious house plants hanging off of this – but my kids are a little attracted to dirt still and I just don’t trust them yet to have plants at their fingertips. If I’m really dreaming…I would actually like to fill in the semi-circle someday and put in some modern black railing straight across. The semi-circle really takes a chunk out of the floor plan upstairs and it is a very awkward room right now. We will see.

I like that I had to bribe the kids and my husband to stay out of this room so I could clean it and photograph it only to realize now that I never fixed those pillows on that leather chair.  Also, those cardboard cat scratchers in front of the windows are clearly #stylingtipsfromthepros.

The vertical blinds are the bain of my existence. I grew up waitressing at a resort whose dining room had the same thing and I remember having to take them down and wash them every spring. And open and close them several times a day in the summer. And having to stand on chairs to reattach them when they fell down, which felt like a daily occurrence. I REALLY want some roller shades because my god we need something to block out the sun in the summer but it’s definitely something we will need to save up for. Sing it with me now “Soooommmeeeedaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy”.

I’ve always been team no-rug but if the right one crossed our path we might eventually put something down in here. It would probably coincide with buying a new, bigger table. There are definitely sun spots on the wood flooring from the previous owner’s rug, but it doesn’t bother me.  So we’ve definitely got some ‘nice to have’ upgrades for in here but overall we are pretty happy with how our old furniture fits in here for now.

Have you moved recently? How did your furniture fit from one house to the next in terms of scale? In terms of aesthetics? Rug or no rug under the dining room table? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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