Reader SOS – Mid-Century Modern Spanish Bungalow

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

Reader SOS from the DIY Playbook

My friend, Erica, is the contributor to our Reader SOS series and she comes up with the dreamiest plans for these design dilemmas. You can check out her blog here (and she even offers virtual design services if you want to hire her for your own space!).

I receive so many submissions for this series, but living room spaces are (by far!) the most popular submissions. The living room really is the heart of the home and I can understand why people want it to look good! Today’s post actually combines many of the dilemmas I receive, like decorating a room from scratch, combining styles with a significant other, and choosing the right furniture pieces that will evolve with your home, over time. Let’s dive into today’s submission from Sean and Brian in LA.

Take It Away, Erica!

When Sean and Brian had to make their move from NYC to LA it was in the midst of the pandemic. Flying from coast to coast to look at houses was not a possibility for them, so virtual touring it was. They fell in love with a gorgeous Spanish Style townhome and made the call that it was the one without ever having set foot inside the home!Spanish bungalowSpanish bungalow

Before making the cross-country trek, Sean and Brian sold all of their furniture and prepared to head to LA with only the essentials. They were looking for a fresh start and they made the decision to first invest in their new main living space.

Designing a Living Room from Scratch

The design dilemmas:

  • First, they needed to start ordering furniture and designing a space, without seeing it with their own eyes. They had to rely on pictures and rough dimensions.
  • Next, the furniture had to be ordered during a time when all stores were closed and all manufacturing was delayed.
  • Finally, they needed to mix together their two design styles, which weren’t exactly aligned.

Before investing in any pieces of furniture I always recommend putting together a floor plan with accurate dimensions in place. You can even just use a piece of paper to map it all out. Measuring your space is key before starting any journey to invest in a large scale piece, especially when it’s a space you’ve never stepped foot in. Measure twice, purchase once!Floor plan

Sean wanted their place to feel like a masculine Palm Springs Resort, whereas Brian’s style is a bit more eclectic and traditional. One thing they could both agree on, however, was mid-century modern, but they didn’t want to lean too heavily into that “trend”. Instead, they wanted to ensure that bits of each of their styles came through in the room.

Mid-Century Modern Spanish Bungalow

First things first when designing a blank space – start with a foundational piece to set the stage. A couch is a great starting point and it becomes the starter piece that you can build around. I always recommend Interior Define as a great source for couches, (Casey’s sectional from her old condo is from there!) especially if you and your significant other have different style preferences. (In fact, Casey has an entire blog post dedicated to design compromise).

Interior Define allows you to customize your piece by choosing not only the color and fabric, but also the legs of your couch. This makes it a lot easier to mix and match styles in order to find a good compromise.Winslow sectional from Interior Define

I recommended the Winslow sectional in the color “Pebble”, with a heathered weave fabric and tapered round wood, oiled walnut legs.

Now that we had a foundational piece to work with, I started finding various accessories to complement this piece.

Choosing the Right Accessoriesmid-century modern spanish bungalow accessories

For the initial accessory selection, I wanted to stay somewhat neutral and traditional. I also wanted the items to have clean lines and modernity to incorporate both of the couples’ style preferences.

Accessories for living room

Next, I started selecting some coordinating accent furniture pieces. Sean had his heart set on a leather couch at first, but Brian wanted something more dog-friendly. So, instead of the leather couch, I brought in hints of leather detail throughout the room. These gorgeous faux leather bar stools can be tucked under the kitchen counter just to the right of the couch and this leather ottoman can double as a coffee table. And how about this gorgeous shelving unit?

Let’s take a look at how all of the elements start to come together to get a sense of how it would feel in the space.A living room in a mid-century spanish bungalow

What I like about the selection above is that when the pieces are mixed together, the room incorporates both Sean and Brian’s styles to create the ultimate mid-century modern Spanish bungalow. It doesn’t feel “trendy”. It feels modern, with its clean lines and color blocking. Yet at the same time, it feels traditional,  with the neutral tones, classic textiles and materials.

Next, I played around with swapping out some of the details like the rug, throw pillows, ottoman, and artwork, This gives them a few different stylistic options to consider.  I used the same couch, but I styled it differently with accessories and accent furniture (including this stunning leather coffee table).

Creating a mid-century modern spanish bungalow
Leather ottoman in a living room in a mid-century spanish bungalow

It’s always amazing to see what an impact a few key elements can have on transforming the look of a space. It’s proof that you don’t always need a full overhaul to freshen things up. If you’re craving change, start with pillows and throws and then move on to the artwork. The impact that an area rug and throw pillows will have is truly incredible.

Swapping Out the Couch

Finally, I explored a leather couch option for Sean just because…

Leather couch in a mid-century modern spanish bungalow
Choosing a leather couch for a living room in a mid-century modenr spanish bungalow

Ultimately Sean and Brian ended up with a combo of the above selections and ordered a leather sectional that was in-stock locally. They also found this rug on sale along with this coffee table. They are still working on sourcing all of the elements they need, but take a look at how this gorgeous space is starting to come together.mid-century spanish bungalowmidcentury spanish bungalow

Bonus points for the freshly painted black accent color that they chose for the interior of their front door. The black, along with the brass hardware, ties everything together so nicely.

If you’re interested in a digital design plan like the above for your space, check out my E-Design offerings at

Mid-Century Modern Spanish Bungalow – Shop the Look

Creating a mid-century modern spanish bungalow living room space

1. Swing Arm Sconce| 2. Throw Pillow | 3. Faux Paradise Palm | 4. Area Rug | 5. Art Work | 6. Side Table | 7. Sectional | 8. Ottoman

Tips to create a mid-century modern look for a Spanish bungalow
  1. Swing Arm Sconce |2.  Throw Pillow | 3. Faux Paradise Palm | 4. Area Rug | 5. Art Work | 6. Tufted Couch | 7. Coffee Table | 8. Faux Cow Skin Rug

Visually seeing a room come together with a mood board is incredibly helpful when designing a space. I’m a graphic designer at my “day job”, so I used Photoshop to create these boards. However, Casey swears by the free program Canva that is incredibly easy to use! If you want to “try on” different looks for a room design, she highly recommends using the free program to create your own mood boards.

I’m excited to see Sean and Brian bring this space together in real life. I’ll be sure to share when we receive the final photos of their finished space.


More Reader SOS Posts

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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