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1 Credenza 4 Ways: Bold Mid-Century Contemporary

It’s another 1 credenza 4 ways, over here (see #1 and #2). To catch you up, I took one credenza and styled it four completely different ways without changing the background or flooring. I thought it would be fun to show how by styling things differently you can totally change the context of the piece.

This version was supposed to be more minimalist, but I am clearly someone who is unable to just put one thing on a credenza. I tried, I did, and it just looked so sad – especially with the lady above just staring at you with her, ‘Why didn’t you give me any friends?’ look. So instead we are calling this ‘Bold Mid-century Contemporary ‘.

Credenza_4 Ways_Photography_Pottery_Mid Century Modern Casual

That photograph pretty much sets the tone for the wall – it’s a Stephanie Vovas (the photographer, not the model) and it’s pretty hot. Here is why this whole credenza styling works:

Click through to see the rest of the post.

1. Since it is just one big bold piece I wanted to style it with pieces that were more sculptural and yet still clean – giving this look more of a polished simplicity.

2. The white lamp is balanced by the branches (it would look ok without branches it the vase, but not as good … but p.s. most people have branches outside their door, simply clip and drop in the vase).

3. The blue in the vase picks up on the blue in the books and her eye-liner and one should always have their pottery match their makeup.

4. The black in the bowl, candle sticks and the art all tie together, and right now while I’m looking at this I think that the last white vase could have been darker to help it feel more balanced.

The objects/vessels are all different shapes, but have the same vibe – clean simple lines that just compliment each other.

Credenza_4 Ways_Photography_Pottery_Mid Century Modern Casual 1

Credenza_4 Ways_Photography_Pottery_Mid Century Modern Casual 3

I love that photo that so much. She takes women and stylizes them all 70’s glam (or any way you want, just REALLY stylized and art directed). I think I’m going to do it. I almost did last year but it was when I was pregnant and we were buying the house and had no extra money to spend on self-portraits but I still really want to do it.

Credenza_4 Ways_Photography_Pottery_Mid Century Modern Casual 2

Seeing things pop onto a screen is my newest obsession. I feel like I’m like a cat slowly pushing something to the edge of the table and still being excited that it falls off and makes a big sound. I know what is going to happen every single time in this gif and yet I get so excited to see it all come together.


Credenza | Table Lamp | Wood and Pottery Candlesticks: vintage | Pottery: vintage | Chair | Portrait Photograph

See the other 3 Credenzas here: Mid-Century Costal | California Eclectic | Upper East Side Mid-Century.

*All photos by Tessa Neustadt


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72 thoughts on “1 Credenza 4 Ways: Bold Mid-Century Contemporary

  1. That photo is crazy cool – gotta have some real confidence to get a close-up THAT close up… For the gif, do you just snap a pic after each item is placed and then run it through? I may have to investigate that fun technique!

  2. Boom! This is my favourite so far! Epic photo, love the late scale size.

    Just wish I had some cites trees growing outside my front porch right now! More like some frost bitten shrivelled has-been plants!!! :s C’mon spring!!

  3. Hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I know you do like feedback from readers about what works and what doesn’t. And whereas I do like the “One X four ways” posts I find spreading the four options out over four separate posts just means each individual post doesn’t have enough content for me. In fact if I come to your page and see that it’s one of these posts I generally don’t bother to click. Sorry. Just thought I should mention it (oh, and this is my favourite of the credenza options so far – happily (for me) I didn’t even have to click “more” to see it)

    1. i agree! love, love love your site and look forward to your posts every day, and these posts feel a little thin.

      1. Ha. I wondered that. I originally scheduled it for 1 credenza 4 ways in just one post and then it was like the biggest post ever with so many beautiful photos, so i divided it up into individual posts. But good to know that it isn’t working. I was going to ask that in the last one so glad to get feedback before.

        1. I actually like the four post format as I have a lot of blogs in my reader and if everyone had a huge post every day it would get too much. I like a mix of longer and shorter posts. Just some more feedback for you! 🙂

        2. I’m OK with them being in separate posts but would prefer to see them back to back. After the first one I was so excited to see all the rest, and then they didn’t happen… right away. Basically, I’m just impatient. 🙂

    2. Separate posts are good, you cannot be expected to turn out mega long posts everyday. Besides who has time to read a mini novel all the time. You can’t please everyone, so do whatever works best for you. I wonder how you do it all as it is. 🙂

    3. I’m bummed to hear that some of us don’t like the format of this 4-post series – I think it’s fantastic! Emily, I’ve been learning so much from you, and this format allows me to really digest all of the pointers you are giving us. In my humble opinion, cramming all 4 into one post would be overwhelming and I might gloss over certain pointers; plus it’s also fun to look forward to the next post in the series. Though, maybe post them on back-to-back-to-back-to-back days? Continuity might help. Thanks for sharing with us!

      1. Yup. Or i was thinking maybe of just doing 2 or 3, then in one post it won’t seem so overwhelming. The dresser worked as one post because it was such a small shot, but this just felt like so much information for 1 post … thanks for the feedback, guys.

  4. “I love that photo that I love so much. She takes women and stylizes them all 70’s glam (or any way you want, just REALLY stylized and art directed). glam (or any way you want, just REALLY stylized and art directed).” ?

  5. Well I guess I do have branches outside my door. But not *those* branches. If I were to clip some and drop them in a vase the vibe would be more “scary winter halloween” as opposed to “bold sunny paradise”.

    1. Ok, thats fair. But probably 9 months out of the year. I guess i’m from Oregon where even in the winter there are so many beautiful evergreens 🙂

  6. Ooooohhh I’ve been excitedly waiting another one of these. Every day I click and think “will there be a credenza post!!” and it’s kinda fun. And this is my favorite style so far.

  7. This really is lovely, and I like it very much. Definitely my favorite so far.
    I do feel like it looks a little to matchy-matchy to the period; as if you were just recreating a vignette you would have found in the era. True, the photo does pull it out of a total 60’s mid-century thing, but not far enough as to make it totally original. This is a great example of a mid century styling, but cant we kick it up a notch and do a fresh take, as in mid century inspired? Less set design, more original and inspired?

    1. Thanks Kate, Did you see the other two that were very not mid-century? And the last one isn’t, either. I think that pottery could be from any era its so simple and pretty (two of the three are simple new pots from LA artists). Thanks for the feedback.

      1. *does happy dance* Maybe this time I will get to it sooner. You had two blue office chairs for sale that we EXACTLY what my home office needed and were absolute perfection however I didn’t get to them quick enough and they sold. I spent a few days in sadness and have been on the hunt for months trying to find two that live up to those. Literally as I say that I am typing from a terrible folding chair since I refuse to buy a place holder *sighs* those were just what I needed!

  8. Thanks for the styling tips, this is definitely one of my favorites (the lamp and blue bowl are my faves). Also, I see that you are probably getting more new people following your blog etc, because I notice the tone of your comments getting a little more negative and demanding. Just be careful out there!

      1. But a place for discussion, yes? What would the point of comments be if viewers were only allowed to praise? I dont really see anything too negative, but I agree, negative for the sake of negative is not productive. But suggestions/viewpoints for the sake of furthering discussion is good, yes?

        1. Yep!! All feedback is good feedback and an open dialogue really does create the best content. I go through ups and downs with comments and one of the biggest criticisms is the forced styling and that got a bunch of people in a tizzy recently. But its noted, for sure. THANK YOU, for sticking up for me 🙂

  9. LOVE it. I think this is what the ‘grown up, sophisticated’ version of me looks like, but what I’d actually end up with if I were to style a credenza is something more like #2.

  10. Now I loved the one with the swan lamp, but after seeing this, I’ve fallen in love all over again, decisions! This one is a winner, can’t wait to see no. 4.

  11. OBSESSED!!! Love this. The photo is so awesome! I can never pull the trigger on items I love like this because I am worried it will be too crazy in my space or I’ll hate it in a few months. I so wish I could go shopping with you and you could push me to buy awesome pieces like this. A girl can dream….

  12. This one is my favorite! I LOVE that photo- I clicked on the link to Stephanie and while I dig many of the prints, a lot of them wouldn’t be appropriate in a house with 5 boys, lol!

  13. I’ve loved that photo since I discovered Christine Dovey, but I love your more laid-back styling with it! I didn’t know its source, so thanks for the link, but by the way—boobs all over the place. Don’t get any topless shots when you get your self portrait, yeah?

  14. Love this Emily!! Thank you! It’s so thrilling to see my work put in such beautiful environments and styled by you. And whenever you are ready to get all 70s glam with me, you just let me know! haha xoxo!!

  15. I’ve enjoyed this series! I think that this is my favorite so far. Of course, I felt that way after the first post. And the second post…

  16. Thanks yet again for starting my day with:
    1) something beautiful to look at,
    2) how-to instructions,guidelines and tips,
    2) great resources,
    …and all for FREE. Keep up the good work Emily!

  17. The credenza link doesn’t go anywhere! Not that I’m expecting that thing of beauty to be mass produced in the current market; it looks like a gorgeous antique. Either way though, I’d love to know the story behind it!

  18. I have been busy for the last couple of months moving countries so am just catching up on these posts. I really adore that photograph and wished I had somewhere to put it! On another note, I wouldn’t react too quickly to someone’s opinion on here (although I appreciate that you respond and care enough to do that). Everyone has something to say when they are sitting behind their computer screen don’t they? Why people expect you to change your style to suit them personally (hello! you aren’t the only one here you know!) is beyond me. They should start their own blog and churn out perfect content. Just my two cents! I love how open and honest you are about your process (frequently admitting missteps) and your genuine heart is what keeps us coming back.

  19. The photo is stunning. The rest is so mid century modern which I love but just too one dimensional mid centruy modern. That is probably a look that some people would love. You nailed it but in my personal opinión it needs some sass. Some hot pink mixed in like you did with the blue and pink pillow combo. In any event I realice it is a variation and you were going for all types of styles to see what people really like. My favorite so far is the crazy photo Wall gallery thingee. but all are lovely and say your fortè is styling. I don’t think you necessarily need to put all 4 credenzas in one post but at least spread them out over no more than 4 days. Fun fun fun and you are STILL my favorite blogger.

    1. totally agree about the four days. I’m loving the credenza posts and having separate ones is fine (builds drama, yes?) but if they’re not consecutive, it loses its punch. and speaking of drama – this might have been a good opportunity to do minimalist drama? big, demanding photo, with moody minimalist accessories. maybe modern black lamps or something. to me the photography doesn’t mesh with the lovely organic things on the credenza. but it looks like plenty of people like it, so it’s a go! Can’t wait to see the last one!

  20. This is my favorite look so far. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I love Stephanie Vovas’ work.

  21. Love the greenery in the tall vase! Is that something live that was clipped or is that a faux botanical? If it is, I want to purchase that, stat! Would love to know where to get it, if so. 🙂

  22. I love the way you write Emily. It just makes me smile my face off. Thanks for all the great learning and boy do I LOVE the gifs. Are they difficult to create? Thanks for yet another sassy, thoughtful decorating lesson.

  23. Gah! I love that photograph more every time I see it. LOVE IT.
    I’m going to chime in on the shorter post issue – I like seeing a mix of long and short posts on the blog. Keeps things interesting 🙂
    Also, I’ve enjoyed your blog for a number of years now, but the content over the last few months has been really top notch. Good stuff, lady!

      1. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Its seriously music to my ears. We are working so hard on it (thanks to Brady for helping me make it look so much better and create original posts so much faster). So thank you. xx

  24. I love your work!! Your blog is just plain makes me happy! I would like to point out the chair in this post is a knock-off of the original designed by Ray and Charles Eames. Just want to give credit where it is due. Thank you! xx

    1. Yup. I should have pointed that out. Such a ridiculously cheap knock off that definitely deserves its own conversation and I have totally mixed feelings about.

  25. Damn. I would have bet good money that was Claudia Cardinale from “Once Upon a Time in the West.” Maybe the shot is “inspired by”?

  26. EH–do you have any idea what size that photo is? I always have a hard time telling the scale of art…

    I like this one a lot, but #1 still gets my vote for favorite (so un-me, but so so good!)

  27. Now I feel like I’m commenting a lot but after reading the comments I had to come and reiterate how much I like the 1 piece 4 ways posts. I love the detail and even if I didn’t enjoy the others as much as this one (this one SO MUCH and I don’t usually like contemporary as much) I still read the other posts and looked at how you styled them. Because it’s interesting! Because you provide good tips. Anyway, I absolutely love this one. Mostly because of the photo. It’s so striking! But I love the stacked books and branches.

  28. Hi Emily & team,

    I’m from Melbourne Australia and just wanted to say I religiously tune in EVERY day to read your blog! Even when you haven’t written anything I just hang about soaking up all the goodness from past posts. I get lost in all your creations and it’s even inspired me to look into a career change. I may or may not have a red cross flag hanging above my DIY gold bar cart in lounge room as a hats off to you! Hehe And your recent makeover of your guest bedroom nearly made me jump on a plane and move in! Lol stunning!! I must be drawn to your style because even when I find random images online and I see who has created the beautiful space your name pops up! Keep up the good work! Megan

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