'American Dream Builders': Midcentury, Before & After

midcentury modern makeover american dream builders
NBC, ZillowFurniture in the midcentury modern style is usually a dark wood, designed to be streamlined and sleek.
By Erika Riggs

Midcentury architecture is enjoying a resurgence, but it's a home style that can look dated and dark if not updated. Such was the problem with the two homes that designers from NBC's reality home renovation show "American Dream Builders" were tasked with. The owners loved their "dream" homes, but were unsure how to make their homes modern and more functional. Designers and builders from Team Red and Team Blue tackled the homes' small, dark living spaces and unused yard space and came up with designs that can be useful in any home.

What is midcentury modern?


Even if you don't own a home built in the midcentury modern era -- late 1950s through the 1960s -- you can incorporate hallmarks of the look: clean lines, absence of visible hardware, perfect proportions and overall functionality. Furniture is usually a dark wood, designed to be streamlined and sleek. Accessories are minimal, but if they're present, they're geometric in metallics or natural materials. Midcentury homes are often one-story with exposed wood beams and slanted rooflines.

Look No. 1

Designer Lukas Michnik led Team Red this week, turning a small, cramped living area into an expansive and chic room that extended into the yard. The kitchen was updated and one spare bedroom was transformed into a chic, "Mad Men"-inspired den.

Den: Before

The room was functional, but not the most exciting use of space.

Den: After

The designers created a completely new function for the space.

The designers created a completely new function for the space.

Textured wallpaper, dark woods and accents create a comfortable space that even Don Draper would be comfortable in.

Designer Vanessa DeLeon explained that with this room, she wanted to create a "really sophisticated man cave."

Rather than go the traditional route of big-screen TV or bar stools, Vanessa added subtle, masculine details.

"To give the room a real sense of masculinity, we painted the base molding black," she explained. "That's a nice detail that's unexpected, but anybody can do it. It outlined the room and really tied it all together."

To create some interest to the room, Vanessa added a statement wall behind the sofa. To make the statement wall a more neutral accent, she had the paint store match the base color of the wallpaper.

"It's a very custom look for not a lot of money," she said.

How you can get the look:

1. Baseboards don't always have to be white -- try painting them a rich black or brown.

baseboard

Dark baseboards frame in a room.

2. Create a neutral statement wall - either with wallpaper or art.

This faux-food wall adds a rustic feel to this office.

This faux-wood wall adds a rustic feel to this office.

3. Choose wood finishes and furniture.

The stools add a definite mid-century vibe.

The stools add a mid-century vibe.

Look No. 2

The first project for Team Blue, led by Andrew Flesher, was to open up the house and Darren Moore was assigned to update the outdoors into an extension of the living room.

Elaine Griffin led the charge on the living room, creating a layered look with lots of textures and of course, nods to midcentury classic shapes.

Living room: After

Rich wall color pairs beautifully with sleek furnishings.

Rich wall color pairs beautifully with sleek furnishings.

How you can get the look:

1. Create a luxe look with rich wall colors or texture wallpaper.

Grasscloth walls add depth to a room.

Grasscloth walls add depth to a room.

2. Add mid-century modern furniture: streamlined, minimal pieces.

furniture

Simple furniture can draw lots of visual interest in a room.

3. Accessorize with a few typical mid-century modern pieces: statement light fixtures, geometrical shapes and a shag rug.

A shag throw is functional and stylish.

A shag throw is functional and stylish.


Get more design inspiration from "American Dream Builders" contestants on Zillow Digs!

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