• Sharon Lomas

home Stories: mid-century love, at home with Jo Coe


Mid-Century modern bedroom orange wool upholstered bed Mini Moderns net & ball wallpaper welsh blanket

This weeks home story comes from a lady I met a a few years ago, we just clicked over our shared love of Mid-Century design and green sofas. Joanne Coe from Living Room has a life long passion for British Mid-Century design reflected in her furniture business which takes inspiration from this enduring design period.


I always admire people who have passion, especially when they turn that passion into a small business. With a 20 year career in Furniture retailing as a Buyer and Product Developer working for several renowned UK brand, Jo's business was born of a desire to create furniture of quality and provenance and her home is as stylish as her product range.



Joanne Coe Living Room Furniture Designer
Jo at home

Jo's home is a beautiful example of how to elegantly mix vintage pieces with future modern day classics. I greatly admire Jo as a designer and for her interior style, her home has been a huge inspiration to me - so much so I purchased her Model 1 sofas in green moss velvet - affectionately known in our home as "the green goddess".


I love the relationship between a designer, their work and their home so I asked Jo to share her design and interiors inspirations & the story of her home. Over to you Jo...



Joanne Coe Living Room furniture designer

Our home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire is a classic Victorian semi-detached cottage. In my head,

I live in a 60’s Span House but Modernist housing stock in our part of the world is a little few

and far between. We therefore have the classic combination of old meeting new, with our

home’s Victorian bones made modern by a contemporary extension.



Modern light filled rear extension kitchen living space

modern extension to Victorian cottage lantern sky light mid-century modern furniture

dining space come work space mid-century modern

mid-century modern sideboard styling interiors inspiration

I have been passionate about Mid Century Modern since I was an A Level student, after my

printed textiles teacher set her each of her class a different year on which to base a print

design. I was given 1951, Festival of Britain year. I fell in love with the work of Lucienne

and Robin Day and Ernest Race, still my design heroes now, and a passion for this post war

period in design was born. I love the optimism of this era and the creation of an aesthetic

that was entirely new.


Ochre yellow velvet sofa model 2 dark decor grey sitting room mid-century modern vintage home interior inspiration

lampshade by Jane Ellison Textiles cushions by sally weatherill


Likewise, as a furniture buyer for over 20 years, this period saw the heyday of British furniture manufacturing, something that I remain hugely passionate about.

I am also a great advocate of ‘honesty of materials’ and a lover of craft and the handmade.

It is this love of modernism mixed with craft tradition that drives my own personal interior

style. I like to see the mark of the maker in the things that I put in my home and always lean

towards natural materials, from solid wood to slate, wool and ceramics.



mid-century pottery oak coffee table green sofa house plants



Whilst loving design of the 50’s and 60’s, and having collected a lot of vintage pieces over

the years, from teak G Plan to 60’s ceramics, I steer away from anything too literal and like

to mix vintage with contemporary design. Whether buying vintage or new, I also strive to

buy British made as much as possible and to buy with purpose, veering towards craft over

fashion. I have collected vintage Portmeirion Totem serve-ware for a decade but also own

their Sophie Conran designed contemporary dinner ware (a wedding gift).



Orange wool upholstered bed mini moderns net and ball wallpaper green vintage welsh blanket mid-century modern home decor

home work space vintage mid-century bureau

My weakness for classic welsh wool blankets is mixed with Sally Weatherill’s contemporary take on traditional hand weaving in the cushion designs that we commissioned for our online shop. Our two Owen Jones made oak swill baskets, handmade in Cumbria from steam bent coppiced oak and hazel using a technique passed down through generations, are favourite pieces and durable log storage. Our mid 60’s Habitat mushroom lamp was a gift from dear friends that has travelled with us in every house that my husband and I have lived in.


mid 60's lamp mid-century modern dark decor grey living room Victorian house interior inspiration hand weaved cushions sally weatherill


Our furniture is a combination of our own designs, mixed with vintage pieces that we have

collected over 20 years since buying our first home in 2000, and driven by need rather than

the desire to have a completed ‘look’. Our vintage Guy Rogers for G Plan armchair and

footstool in the Living Room were bought as a feeding chair for our now ten year old’s

nursery.



mid-century desk childs bedroom

mid-century chest of drawers and armchair childs bedroom vintage artwork


Similarly, the Ercol console shelving in our hallway was bought to house her books

as a toddler; the Younger teak drawer chest as a changing table. As well as preferring their vintage design, they are also so much better made than many contemporary, invariably flat-packed alternatives and their use and positioning in our home has evolved over time.


Referencing this period in our contemporary upholstery designs has made me much braver

with colour than I was previously and very much drives the colour palette of our home. Our

house is pretty modest in size so I like a coherence between each space and, whilst each

room may have a dominant colour, the same palette of greens, mustard and warm oranges

mixed with off whites carries from room to room.



dark grey decor living room ochre yellow velvet sofa mid-century interiors inspiration

mid-century modern furniture living room Victorian house


Our interior choices are also driven by the house itself, with the classic Victorian front parlour room with cast iron fireplace deliberately dark, classic and cosy versus the light filled open plan extension at the back of the house which is much more pared back.


Although a collector (my main weakness being studio pottery and vintage German fat lava

ceramics), I struggle with too much stuff and busy surfaces, so like to curate favourite things

into small collections throughout the house.




living room cast iron fireplace vintage pottery bookcase dark grey decor interiors inspiration

cast iron Victorian fireplace dark decor mid-century pottery collection

Instagram has not only connected us with an audience for our own designs, but has also

introduced me to a huge community of like-minded makers and small independent

businesses. When I do buy something new or when asked for gift ideas from others, I love

supporting small and take real pleasure owning pieces from people I have built relationships

with and whose work I admire.


Instagram has also driven a love of indoor plants and the joy of bringing nature indoors, serving as the perfect excuse to indulge my vintage plant pot collection.



mid-century modern armchair coffee table house plants slate floor

mid-century modern oak coffee table house plants


Jo's design favorites


Favourite Buildings

The Royal Festival Hall, Robert Mathew & Leslie Martin

Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright

Kettles Yard, Jim & Helen Ede


Favourite IG Homes

@frieda_100

@bolajihaus

@house_of_saxon_and_finn

@missvintagegermany


Favourite Interior Read

The G-Plan Revolution by Basil Hyman & Steven Braggs

Mid Century Modern Living by Keith Stephenson & Mark Hampshire


Interior Wish List

A wall of String Modular Storage

A garden studio


Thank you so much Jo for sharing your beautiful home and design favorites.

To see Jo's whole collection of furniture just click HERE and follow on Instagram @lifeatlivingroom