Tour a mid-century house in Philadelphia with a modern take on Mad Men style

This mid-century house in Philadelphia is a modern take on mid-century design and the perfect backdrop for this enviable collection of art and objects

mid-century house in Philadelphia

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

THE PROPERTY

A three-storey mid-century ‘post and beam’ house, situated just outside Philadelphia. The modern home (opens in new tab) has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a powder room, three living areas, a kitchen, dining room (opens in new tab), home office (opens in new tab), sauna and gym, all set on a quarter-acre of land with extensive gardens.

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STAIRCASE

This mid-century gem (think Mad Men with maybe a touch of the Brady Bunch house and the house in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm) is super sophisticated. And while it contains many witty references to the past, it’s absolutely not designed to be a time capsule. It is, however, the perfect backdrop for an impressive collection of vintage furniture, art and ceramics.

The flagstone floor at the bottom of the stairs (pictured top) features a mosaic of blue stones that contrast against the orange artwork. These stairs used to be covered in shag-pile carpet, but the new owners removed it to expose the original oak.

LIVING AREA

The house, though initially dark and foreboding, still had many original features, from the built-in Sixties bookshelves to wood-clad walls and even an original cedar-wood sauna. The interiors hadn't been in touched in a while – the new owners had torestore the original red oak floors, lighten dark walls, bin the Seventies curtains and, of course, rip up the avocado shag-pile carpets.

The living room (opens in new tab) is a mix of mid-century pieces – just about every piece in the room, other than the couch. The coffee table is a Paul McCobb. It’s the exact length of the fireplace and that anchors the room.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

While respecting the past, the new owner's vision was to use the mix of materials, furniture and art to create an interior that was elegant, fresh and modern. Something lighter and brighter than the Sixties and Seventies design mantra, which can sometimes look a bit kitschy.

Mixing old and new gives these interiors more depth, with high- and low-cost pieces. Good design comes at all different price points. It’s the way you put it together.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

See Also: Living room ideas (opens in new tab) - 24 decorating tricks to inspire

UPSTAIRS HALL

This hall – or catwalk – leads to the master bedroom (opens in new tab).

mid-century house in Philadelphia

DEN

Mid-century houses are more common on the West Coast and this one was especially unusual as it sits on land with a creek snaking around it. So you feel like you’re away from it all – but you’re really not. The house has been opened up to make the most of the nature views– the plot is full of trees, with lots of birds and wildlife.

But, unlike many modernist homes, it’s not a fishbowl; there's a balance of walls and glass.

The colours in the den were inspired by the artwork on the wall above the sofa by the artist Karel Appel. The dashes of magenta and orange are again a nod to the period of the house. Similarly, furniture is a mixture of old and new.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

KITCHEN

The hood over the oven is original. The electric kitchen clock (above the oven) is also an original fixture.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

The flooring is cork, which always has a temperature of around 20°C, so when you walk on it, it feels cosy and warm.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

Cook books are arranged along a long wall-mounted wood cabinet.

Splashes of ochre in the upholstery reflect the period of the house.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

DINING AREA

The chairs and the table top are walnut, but the chairs were mixed up to make them feel more casual.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

GUEST BEDROOM

This room is more patterned than most in the house. But in a space such as a guest bedroom, it’s fun.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

DESK AREA

This area is in one of the bedrooms and has a day bed nearby.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

MASTER BEDROOM

The view from the master bedroom overlooks the creek.

mid-century house in Philadelphia

Photography/Paul Raeside

See Also: Master Bedroom Ideas (opens in new tab) - 31 stunning bedroom schemes

Shining a spotlight on the now and the next in home design and decor, Livingetc is the UK's best selling high end and contemporary home design magazine. As a brand, Livingetc showcases the world's very best homes, breaks and makes the trends, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. It was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip Rich.