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Principia College President Seeks Mid-Century Modern Flair - JSB Designs
The personal spaces of Principia College President Dr. Jolanda Westerhof blend elements of mid-century modern, bo-ho chic and multicultural style.
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Principia College President Seeks Mid-Century Modern Flair

Principia College President Seeks Mid-Century Modern Flair

If you like clean lines, gradual curves and bursts of color and texture in your home decor, then the mid-century modern style is for you.

It’s not everyone’s preference, though — most of my clients prefer a more traditional or transitional style. So when I get an opportunity to flex my creative muscles in pursuit of this look, I really enjoy the experience.

The way I see it, variety in design is a good thing!

If you remember from one of my recent blog posts, I had the pleasure of being selected over the summer as lead designer for the President’s House renovation at Principia College.

This project, in Elsah, Ill., was a true dream to work on. I could draw inspiration from the beautiful campus setting and cater to the interests of all the unique and knowledgeable people who visit the college and its president, Dr. Jolanda Westerhof.

AND, I had the opportunity to dive into the mid-century modern style!

If you read my previous post on this project, you may be scratching your head right now. In that post, I took you through the redesign of the main rooms of the house, where visitors tend to congregate and mingle. Most of the work I did there was transitional in style, not mid-century modern.

But with this post, I wanted to also give you a peek at the design work I completed for Dr. Westerhof’s personal space — her office and bedroom, a private living room, and her daughter’s bedroom.

Dr. Westerhof LOVES the mid-century design style, so this is where I got to indulge my thirst for going outside the bounds of the traditional and expected!

You’ll notice all of the hallmarks of this design style, both in the furniture I selected and the minimalist feel.

It was important, though, to make sure that these rooms blended with the rest of the house. This was a problem that ultimately took care of itself.

As a world traveler, Dr. Westerhof has a really refreshing collection of tastes and interests.

So I was able to work in a lot of the global influences that we used in the main rooms of the house.

This created a seamless transition, while still making the rooms feel personal to Dr. Westerhof and reflecting her individual tastes and interests.

With all that said, let’s take a look…I think you’ll like what I did!

A separate space with unique tastes

The mid-century modern look, which has its roots in the decor preferences of the 1930s through 1950s, is becoming increasingly popular now (they say all fashion is cyclical – well, so it also goes with home design!).

As a result, I didn’t have any trouble finding furnishings and decor to fit this style.

In fact, my go-to stop for mid-century everything is West Elm, a store that most people are familiar with. Once I knew we were heading in this design direction, I pulled up their website and began scouring it for inspiration and fun pieces that I could incorporate into the project.

In Dr. Westerhof’s office, you will find a really cool and minimalist end table from West Elm that screams mid-century modern. I also incorporated two armchairs I found on Wayfair, and a desk chair from Bernhardt Furniture Company.

The rug is in Dr. Westerhof’s favorite color, orange, which introduces a creative and global flair.

We also included the existing mirror, because it fit the design theme perfectly and really tied together all of the new pieces that I had brought in!

The private living room extends from the office, so I tried to keep the same colors and minimalist look, for consistency. The armchairs, from Bernhardt, have a really interesting tribal pattern, which added to the cultural feel. When paired with the overhead fixture, from Metro Lighting, you get just a hint of being on an African safari!

The table and chairs are from Wayfair and we brought the painting in from the college’s archives (You can read more about my adventures exploring this collection of art and artifacts in my prior blog post).

In Dr. Westerhof’s master bedroom, and the sitting room that extends from it, you’ll see I again incorporated her favorite color, orange, along with some of those rich textures and patterns in the throw pillows and rugs.

But otherwise, we kept things simple, adhering to the streamlined mid-century modern philosophy. The wall sconce, which was from Dr. Westerhof’s mother, is one of my favorite elements in this room. It demonstrates how just one accent piece — big or small — can elevate a design, if used appropriately.

The lamps on both sides of the bed also give a nice nod to the mid-century modern design theme.

Bringing in Boho-Chic

Last but not least, let’s talk about the daughter’s bedroom. Here, again, we took a slight departure from the overall design theme.

First, let me say that I absolutely love working on rooms for teenagers and young adults.

This age group tends to have an appetite for whimsy and comfort, and usually there are all sorts of fun interests that I can incorporate into the design.

That definitely was the case with Dr. Westerhof’s daughter, who had a very clear vision of her design preferences and shares her mom’s love of travel and exploring the world!

In this case, she was craving a boho chic look. I was elated to hear this, because it is the natural evolution of the mid-century modern design that we pursued elsewhere in the house.

Popular in the 1970s, this look is all about texture, texture and more texture.

I was happy to deliver.

From the dimpled lamp on the nightstand, to the feathery throw pillows and macrame light fixture, the room contains plenty of variety and that all-important texture.

Global patterns and materials also figure large in this look. The rugs, from Surya, and floating rattan headboard, from Anthropologie, were ideal in this regard.

Color-wise, we went with a mix of soothing rose and purple, as well as creamy whites.

The final product is a room that is sophisticated, worldly and fun!

Coming Soon

My work on the President’s House continues. Next, Dr. Westerhof wants me to work on the kitchen and back bedroom, which at one time served as the servant’s quarters.

I’m excited for this next stage in the project and promise to share everything with you once I’m done! In the meantime, keep reading my blog to hear about all my other ideas and projects. I love sharing my passion for design with you!