My spin on Mid-Century Mod: Pick one crisp, light color throughout and punctuate it with your favorite bright and colorful things.

Half old/half new, half vintage/half current, half refinished/half refreshed describes this throwback classic! A 50/’50s blend that bridges the decades with a touch of organic and man-made: What was popular then is popular now.

When TANNA BY DESIGN was recently commissioned to redesign a floor plan and select finishes in a choppy and outdated 1950s Northwest contemporary, I was thrilled! The existing floor plan presented fundamental challenges and was in much need of an up-to-date final design. The finished product caters to today’s lifestyle with a much more modern feel. In the end, my client was most impressed with our ability to work within the budget and the willingness to “take on this challenge with a smile.”

The project was a speculative remodel, in which a contractor buys a deteriorated property and remodels it to make a profit. Such projects offer substantial benefits to an interior design firm. So, when I was approached with this opportunity to partner, I didn’t hesitate. TANNA BY DESIGN was given full scope to demonstrate its capability and offer adaptive redesign. And, in this situation I was dealing with the “right guy.” This spec remodeler knows the market, found the right property and gauged the necessary work appropriately. The result conserved resources through “recycling” a structure then presenting a well-designed layout with pleasing visual appeal ready for the market.

Space Planning & Design
I began by redesigning the floor plan, giving the space a functional face-lift and a purposeful flow. The two cramped and aloof bedrooms upstairs became a beautiful master suite with walk-through his-and-her closets and a master bath complete with soaking tub, separate vanities, rain shower and private water closet. This called for a revamp of the main full bath, which is now a lovely powder room accessible to the entire living space. A wall separating the kitchen and backdoor was removed to allow for a galley workspace with an open concept. Suddenly, the dining area came alive with an invitation to gather, when before it was a tight hole to avoid. The newly appointed island and bar extended the available seating. The last improvement on the first floor eliminated the walls around the stairwell and replaced them with a chic metal and cable railing. This enhancement was the entrée to an open floor plan, allowing visual integrity from all four corners.

Prior, the stairs led down to a distant, unfinished, concrete basement. Now, the worn wooden stairs are covered in plush, performance carpeting. The downstairs makeover added two bedrooms, a half bath, separate laundry (all with sliding barn door entries) and a swanky family room that could double as a fanciful retreat for your guests. Carrying the theme, we painted the enormous, exhausted-looking fireplace “Decorators White” from Benjamin Moore and turned this dark, dingy corner into a peaceful getaway.

In keeping with the architecture of the home, I favored a mid-century modern style. Just as the name implies, this period spanned roughly two and a half decades in the middle of the 20th century, from the mid-1940s to 1970. This look is uncomplicated and fresh with an emphasis on pared-down forms, natural materials and a seamless flow between indoors and out. My plan was to create a medley of functional comfort and chic style.

Interior Design Plan
Modern doesn’t mean cold. This darling home overlooking Lake Washington whispers contemporary charm with an urban bent. Light and airy, classic gray walls and dark-stained floors are staged with modern art and mid-century accessories. The finished product has a clean style with a creative feel and relaxed attitude.

Interior Design Realization
For a crisp backdrop, TANNA BY DESIGN selected a neutral shade of “Classic Gray” by Benjamin Moore for all rooms and chose to stain the original hardwoods a contrasting dark brown. I continued the restrained palette, and selected brown porcelain tiles throughout the kitchen with “mod” white, textured cabinetry, and the same frameless, European-style cabinetry in a complementary brown for the island. The organic and sleek look of the concrete-colored quartz counter tops complete the room.

Adding a warm note to the cool palette of gray, I placed a rich chocolaty carpet in the master bedroom and continued the subtle interior with grey and white tile in the master bath. For this project, I preferred sticking to a restrained, neutral palette for the textiles, too. I chose curtains, rugs and upholstery in cool grays and sandy taupes. Sisal and linen add to the quite in the home. Despite the mostly understated palette, not every color in the house is a neutral.

The living room fireplace, for example, in Sherwin Williams “Meditative” blue adds a punch of color, while staying within the color family. Every hue inside can be found in the landscape. My favorite way to add clever color to a serene interior is to pull the color in from the outdoors. Throughout the house, a juxtaposition of warm and cool colors create an elegant, livable tapestry.

Find ‘Mod’ Objects
Where do we find these coveted antique furniture, lighting, artwork and home accessories from the 1950s, or the middle of the last century? Pieces like designer ashtrays, dinnerware, china, and even hubcaps have become collector’s items. Salt-and-pepper shakers, vases and humidors are also treasures to find. Dishes and home accessories, like lamps, are fairly accessible and can be found at antique stores (downtown Snohomish is my favorite place), websites, auctions and estate sales. Check Craigslist often for upcoming events.

Happy hunting!

To see more of Tanna’s work, visit

"Throughout the house, a juxtaposition of warm and cool colors create an elegant, livable tapestry."