My Favourite Room Or, How to Mix Mid-Century Modern With New Stuff

Photos: Emily Wraith

Oh, hi there. I’ve never written anything in my life about decor (did I even spell that right? Or does the ‘e’ need an accent or something?) But I really like my living room, and I worked really hard to curate the pieces—a mix of mid-century modern finds and current store-bought stuff—so, SHARING, on the off chance that somebody cares. Full disclosure: I am not an interiors expert by any means. I scored this imported pillow, and the jumbo floor pillow below, at a little shop in Prince Edward County last summer when my husband and I were there for our tenth anniversary. I had seen similar ones on Queen St. West in Toronto, but at twice the price, so they were total deals as well as keepsakes.

Mid century modern living room

One of my favourite things to do in this room is nothing, especially on Saturday afternoons when the sun streams in. I picked up this vintage rug at Royal Antique Rugs. It’s a century-old company owned by the Bakhshi family from Tehran and as I just learned on their website, they have locations in Kingston, Ontario and New York City in addition to the shop I visited in Toronto. They’ve also supplied rugs to The Textile Museum of Canada, which I found pretty impressive. I don’t remember the rug’s origins, but Mr. Bakhshi was a dream to work with. He let me bring home three different rugs to test, and he told me that at anytime in life, I could return the rug at full value to exchange with another rug of my choice. You’re not going to get that kind of a deal at Ikea, folks (though the sheepskin I’m lying on, and the plant in the background, is from there.) The acrylic Timber Table is from Gus Modern.

mid century modern living room

I’m quite lucky to have inherited a solid collection of coffee table books from my previous job at a fashion magazine. The culture department was very kind to me. This book, The Private Life of Yves Saint Laurent And Pierre Bergé, is a constant source of decor inspiration. The designer and his partner were beyond-avid collectors of art and artifacts, which they layered to maximal eclectic effect in their homes all over the world. I couldn’t believe how much items at auction went for when Mr. Bergé sold off much of the estate after Saint Laurent’s passing. If you haven’t seen some of the treasures, you can have a drool here.

mid centur modern living room

Meet the pièce de résistance: my Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen for Knoll. I spent more than my womb is probably worth on this fixture, but it’s hands-down the best investment I’ve ever made. It really is as comfortable as it is beautiful, and the re-sale value is amazing so if ever I needed to sell it, I’d likely get half of my money back (but I never will.) I decided to take a risk with this perfectly putrid green colour. I usually only spend high on neutral coloured objects, but I looked at this lounge set as a piece of art, and just as worthy of making a big statement. The Artemide Tolomeo Mega Floor Lamp, which I’m also convinced I will love forever, I scored on sale at Quasi Modo. The T.710 side table is by Jens Risom for DWR.

mid century modern living room

I love/slash/hate to tell you about my sofa. I felt like I robbed somebody when I scored this army green Nienkamper leather sofa for a G-note—about a tenth of what it’s worth brand new. It came from an office building, so the vintage furniture place I bought it from had three of them when I spotted this one in the window. I estimate it’s about ten years old; when I lifted the cushions it was pristine underneath. I had to park myself on the couch for about an hour until my husband could get out of a meeting to give me the green light to buy it. We had actually just purchased an old leather sofa online that when I got home smelled terrible, so it was a pain to swap out, but totally worth it. And now I reveal my all-time favourite secret mid-century furniture store for amazing deals on designer pieces, where I discovered the sofa: GUFF. They post all of their new arrivals online so you could seriously shop from anywhere. I also frequent Queen West Antique Centre online. They get new, amazing pieces in constantly.

mid century modern living room


To hold all of my precious books and objet d’art, I love, love, love the wall mounted bookcases from CB2. I have recommended these to so many people. Because our row house is very narrow, it was important that the bookcase didn’t have sides that would obstruct the view and make the room even narrower. And because it’s white on white, they really give a lovely floating effect. I like to mix beautiful design-y pieces like this Fornasetti candle with random hand-me-downs like this black onyx jaguar my father-in-law decided he didn’t want anymore.

mid century modern living room

I don’t generally like to buy any reproduction pieces, but before I had earned enough money to invest in authentic designs, I didn’t have much of a choice. I hope to replace this repro Bertoia Diamond Chair with the real thing someday, since the pleather is really wearing off. The print above is something the hubs and I found at the Aberfoyle Antique Market. We’re lucky it’s on the way to my parents house so we always stop in at least once a summer.

mid century modern living room

Hmm, what have I not covered yet? Oh yeah, the actual window coverings. The ikat fabric is from Designer Fabrics on Queen St. West in Parkdale. I’m pretty sure it’s an institution. While you’re deciding which cloth to go with, you can have a shrimp roti at Bacchus Roti nearby—delicious. The task light in back is courtesy of Zig Zag Midcentury and the soft wool blanket is part of The Hudson Bay’s iconic home blankets collection—sans stripes. That’s it! That’s the living room tour. I hope you enjoyed.