What is your first association when thinking of the early 50’s and 60’s?
Do you think of an Elvis Presley’s hit rocking the radio, or Marilyn Monroe gracing screens and setting up a new perception of beauty and grace?
Does it remind you perhaps of peace revolutions and space exploration?
Indeed, the 50’s and the 60’s were golden years of improvement in many different areas, including design and modern interior solutions.
The world witnessed the euphoric comeback of mid-century styling in its full swing, which, combined with the avant-garde solutions of the time looked simply adorable.
Mid-Century modern interior works with geometric shapes, clean lines, natural materials, and tapered furniture legs that make traditional solutions livelier. As a result, the period was marked by aesthetically perfect and very comfortable mid-century modern furniture, alike the famous Eames Lounge Chair, Panton Chair, and Egg Chair.
Mid-century home interiors were simple, but pleasantly beautified with ergonomic furniture, as the idea was not only to make them attractive, but liveable and practical as well.
The Mid-Century Color Palette
For the purposes of authoring a truly mid-century modern design, try to picture your home’s style as neutral and sterile, and think of shades that could adorn it and complete its looks. The best mid-century modern living rooms, for instance, feature mustard yellow, avocado green, and pumpkin orange tones, but brave homeowners should not be restricted by this fact when looking for braver solutions.
More often than rare, a mid-century room will be refreshed with accent accessory hues against lighter walls, including foremost daring and intense greys.
The role of nature in mid-century interior design
The main source of inspiration for mid-century modern furniture designers is nature. The visible correlation between nature and mid-century modern design is what makes it so iconic and successful, and it is easiest to spot looking at the materials being used.
Designers will often turn to successful urban-wild combinations, expose wooden pieces and models in earth-tone palettes, and work with natural light as their key asset. Chic terrariums and plants are also great additions for these lively places.
Mid-century modern furniture reproductions are made using a variety of materials, but wood still has the dominant role. It is highly exposed in both polished and elementary pieces, and used to make homes feel cosier and more inviting.
To keep them in line with mid-century’s design rules, wooden pieces are accompanied by clear lines and sharp shapes, and that often helps them dominate the scene where they appear.
A little bit of shine always helps, and that’s where metal joins the mid-century materials family. You can use all sorts of metallic accents to sharpen the looks of your home, including mirrors and light fixtures.
Chrome and brass, for instance, inspire many of us to think of the space race, and so do Sputnik-style fixtures and Starburst clocks.
Tweed may not be your favourite material, but there is more to it than you think. Combined with wood, tweed retells a chic and powerful story that humbles unique patterns and overly-modern accessories.
Tweed, as we know it, looks scratchy and rough, but that doesn’t exclude the possibility to process it until it becomes soft and more textured.
Mid-Century Modern patterns
Abstract patterns are compulsory in any mid-century inspired interior, especially when you’ve chosen a palette bursting of secondary colours alike green and orange. De Kooning and Pollock are a good place to start when looking for mid-century modern pattern ideas.
Geometry is certainly mid-century modern’s crowning jewel, featured frequently in atomic, deco, and abstract patterns. Round shapes, for instance, help pull several hues together in compact accessory units, alike lamp shades, pillows, and picture frames, to name a few.
Star-like patterns marked the age when America jumped on the atomic bandwagon, which make them a key element of mid-century modern designs. You will very often see molecule-like structures lavishing off a central point, and making a room look more stylish and exciting.
To get even closer to the feeling this period inspired, you can think of stylized versions of bombs and rockets in bright colours.
People often make the mistake of associating modern deco to Scandinavian design solutions. The retro graphic approach was inspired by mid-century modern designs, and still remains their leading style.
Make it curved
In case we’re not familiar with its exact meaning, mid-century modern decor was named like this because it took place in the mid 20th century, starting from the early 1930s. At the time, it was simply known as modern design, and the mid-century moniker was added only recently to define the special, organic pieces of furniture that look minimal despite of the fact you can trace them way back in the past.
The first people to adopt the trend were middle-class American families, as architects at the time focused foremost on urban life practicalities and minimalist solutions. The ornate details were slowly abandoning the scene, and helped furniture designers produce the marvellous pieces that are now considered as modern classics. The only difference is that today, interior design has reached whole new levels of minimalism.
Mid-century modern interior design has many stunning features, but the best known one is the streamlined, straight-edged approach that makes it clean and pleasant for the eye.
Mid-century modern living rooms are furnished quite restrictedly, leaving only the pieces with organic materials, clean lines, and non-ostentatious appearance. This, however, doesn’t stop you from introducing curved and rounded objects to make the room more personal.
Distinct lack of colour
The squared-off lines and sharp corners seen in mid-century furniture are commonly accompanied by a notable lack of colour in their surroundings. To make a room truly modern, you have to work with neutral palettes and classic black-and-white groupings with occasional greys, beiges, and browns.
As a result, you will get a charmingly soothing palette that meets all needs of your design choice, and give yourself the freedom to inject any colour you like to the otherwise sterile scenario. The most common reason why people opt for mid-century modern solutions is not being able to ‘warm it up’, which is exactly what these combinations can do.
Using colour to inject warmth
When you’re choosing a colour for your home, you’re actually committing to it, especially if you don’t have the budget or the time to replace the furniture you’ve bought. It is imperial to plan your space’s style in advance, and work with colours that resemble closely who you are and what you like.
Commitment, of course, means something different to different people, but what is common to all of them is being intimidated by it. In the mid-century modern scenario, they’re even right to do so, because the furniture choice is restricted, and much of what they’re trying to convey is showcased by colour.
This is where it takes a bit of research and professional advice to understand how different hues interact with each other. With a brighter sofa, for instance, you can get modern accessories in neutral colours to obtain a boho atmosphere.
The showstopper will still be the sofa, but it will be beautifully surrounded by warm beiges and greys, and materials such as solid walnut and marble. In case you prefer to stay on the safe side and stick to the comfy, creamy sofa, let clean and mid-century modern inspired lines to make the impact.
Let a beautiful accent piece make the moment
There will of course be those who’re not ready to commit to a mid-century modern scenario, or to add a ton of elements that could create a similar atmosphere. That’s, in fact, a smart idea with little to no experience, as your room may at a certain point become much more mid—century than it is modern.
Therefore, don’t bundle a tone of purchases from the mid-century modern furniture stores, but get a single show-stopper instead. Our best suggestion is the iconic Eames Lounge chair, appearing repeatedly in all modern interior scenarios, and being the main eye-catcher in every room where it appears.
Excessive use of wood is always a good idea
Pressed and engineered wood was and remains the main resource for furniture production. It was particularly embraced in 50’s furnishing, which is why you should also give it a central role in your mid-century inspired design.
Tracking back the masterpieces of this period, you will see multiple oak, teak, rosewood, and walnut elements with clean shapes and lines that would look perfectly even today.
Plus, it doesn’t take much to get inspired and search for nice pieces. In case you can’t really afford a Noguchi or George Nelson piece, worry not!
Local stores are full of high-quality mid-century modern furniture reproductions, and many novice designers are coming up with lower-end pieces that look just the way you’ve imagined them.
Get down to remodelling
Let’s be honest with ourselves – when we love the place we live in, experimenting with hot trends and mid-century marvels may not always lead to a desired result. This is why large and complex remodelling projects require professional assistance from a designer or an architect.
For the brave, a good idea would be to torn walls down and get an open-concept, airy floor plan, a solution that has simply won the hearts of thousands of home owners lately.
An experienced team of builders and designers will get the job done within hours, and even introduce chic elements (a stone
As it is an open floor plan, the fireplace should be positioned in the middle of the room, and will probably be the only mid-century modern piece you need.
An even simpler alternative is adding a large mirror on a single
Give a mid-century modern home a look. We bet that the first things that will impress you are the marvellous, dazzling lighting solutions that have the perfect form and function.
The out-of-the box static and pending fixtures are not only there to enlighten the room, but also serve as sculptural artworks. Even nowadays, you can find multiple talented artists that specialize in custom lighting solutions, and match perfectly a mid-century modern home.
The basics of mid-century furnishings
If you want to obtain a truly mid-century modern interior design, exclude visiting a mass producer to purchase items half-price. Purchasing inspiring elements won’t be expensive, but will require some smart matching of vintage shops and flea market offerings, so get to it only when you have enough time.
Try to enjoy the process of ‘hunting hidden treasures’ as much as you can, and check every piece made with graphic fabrics, large legs, and of course – catchy appearance. Remember that remodelling pieces is also an option, and you can always use the peg legs of an old and unattractive sofa on your current couch. Indeed – your options are limitless!
Get a bar
Another nostalgic approach to injecting a 50’s vibe is to get a cool bar for your place, be that a built-in or a standalone cart one. Get some vintage glasses and display your expensive collection of liquors, and you will be ready to share the experience with your friends.
Note that a cart will be much more practical to move your cocktail shaker around and to entertain people, and will do for any modern home.
Don’t forget the mirrors
Leaving the style and decor aside, can you really imagine a perfect decor without mirrors? These amazing accessories make each room feel airy and more beautiful, and will also expand it visually if facing the main source of light. A great idea would be to hang large pieces across your garden-overlooking window.
Looking back to the roots of the mid-century modern movement, we’d come up with sunburst mirrors as the delight of the era. If you can’t find or afford an original, a good replica will always be an option.
Tips for mid century modern kitchens
The homeowners who took the least time to adopt the mid-century modern movement were those in need of a modern (even futuristic) solution. The first place where they made this plan work was the
If you want to do the same, pay special attention to clean and sharp lines, and take all ornately carved cabinets out. In their place, you will need flat and plain pieces, ideally accompanies by marble countertops and stainless steel accessories.
Such pieces look their best arranged on laminate flooring, and will demand you to take excellent maintenance of the place.
Another distinctive feature you will notice in mid-century homes are the plain white walls. Homeowners adopted this practice in the past, so that their ultimate-quality furniture could take the leadership at first sight.
At the time, however, the pieces to be showcased were rare works of art, and products of famous artisans and experienced craftsmen. Nowadays, the choice of wall palettes is notably expanded, and allows us to make combinations without disrupting the central role of our furniture.
Details that can make the biggest difference
As it is for all other design movements, mid-century modern interiors are highly influenced by the smallest details they feature. For instance, a single graphic oil canvas or few metal wall plaques convey a stronger message than a large, professionally designed sofa.
This doesn’t imply, nevertheless, that you should pick up pieces as you notice them, as walls will look too cluttered with plenty of artwork to show. Instead, your accessory shopping should focus on only few high-impact assets that capture attention right away.
Wallpaper for the brave
Crisp clean and white walls remain the leading option for many mid-century modern designers, excluding those who’d rather play with their ideas. Would you, for instance, dare to get glitzy wallpaper for your dining room to enhance the atmosphere?
We’d advise doing so, as wallpaper is not often a permanent option, and it can peel off easily for a new pattern and a whole new look. The choice is up to you!
Going back to our most important point, it is critical to remember that mid-century modern style was the first to move towards casual and minimalist decor. This idea is therefore often associated with visual and simple aesthetics, and spreads in full steam even 60 years later.
Compared to the past when people lacked resources and time to enjoy the ornate delights of the rich, minimalism is now embraced by almost everyone who needs a clean, simple, and functional place to live.
To become a real mid-century modern professional, free the room for all elements that look outdated and exaggerated, and support the semi-minimal scheme already going on at your place. Choose and pinpoint a distinct focal piece, and display stunning work of art to enhance the mood.
When it comes to picking stunning accessories, mid-century modern aficionados can also consider introducing timeless sculptures to their completely renovated interiors, and let visitors admire them. A single, beautiful piece of art has the power to make any visual story more attractive, so make use of it!
Regrettably, high-end accessories and decorations happen to break the bank, so you may as well abandon the idea of purchasing a valuable gallery piece. Instead, you could look for interesting additions on flea markets and local antique shops, and get a unique star for your interior decor.
Products here will in any case be easier to afford, and you will hardly ever come across a respectable replica.
Brave wallpaper with geometric patterns
Since we already tackled the wallpaper topic, we may as well advice you on which look to pick to integrate in a classic modern scenario. Your best bet here will be intricate, yet modest designs with bold patterns, as long as they add balanced contrast, and don’t compromise the colours and patterns already present in the room.
Neutral backdrops and saturated colours
As discussed even before, the best colour palette for a mid-century modern scene is a neutral and warm one, including such that ‘have nothing against’ you bringing in some interesting patterns. Instead of a single, neutral colour, consider an exposed brick wall, but keep in mind one could really cost a small fortune.
Decent replacements are wooden wall panels you can also couple with your accessories, and further support the nostalgic and cosy atmosphere.
With the backdrop problem solved in time, you can start thinking of saturated and vivid hues to make the room distinctive and more personal.
Mid-century modern – outdoor ideas
Despite of contemporary solutions associating indoor and outdoor design by default, for mid-century modern this connectivity emerged only in the 1940s. At the time, the fundamental idea was to rediscover one’s lost connection with nature, and to embrace a life surrounded by bare minimal utilities.
The practice turned out to be very sustainable, and remains popular until today. This is why we have open floor plans with large windows and walls made entirely of glass.
To get your mid century modern design plan on the move, browse the internet for inspiration and ideas. Keep in mind that certain awesome design plans will combine bits of other styles as well, which makes it absolutely OK to bring up any idea you like
Picking the right colours
The choice of suitable colours should always be on top of your to-do list, as it will dictate your furnishing and design possibilities. What a mid-century modern professional would recommend here is combining neutral and darker tones with saturated colours for accent pieces.
The standard colour selection rule (60-30-10) remains active: the room should have 60% of the base, dominant colour; 30% of the chosen secondary colour, and only 10% of the impactful, accent colour. More than 3 colours are not recommended.
Picking the right furniture
As we already explained, the best way to recognize mid-century modern furniture is to look for clean lines and curved, smooth angles. Most probably, there won’t be any fancy upholstery or ornamentation, and elements will be made mostly of wood, metal, and fibreglass. There will be 2-3 colours the most, and no patterns at all.
Had you decided to introduce a mid-century modern scenario in your home, you have to consider how it is going to influence your choice of rugs. By default, mid-century’s favourites are abstract and asymmetrical patterns, which is already a good place to start looking.
Generally, similar interiors abstain from rustic elements and aged materials, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use such if you find them suitable.
For your rug, the ideal solution would be a single solid colour (unless you were able to retrieve a cool, original pattern from the 60s, of course). Get creative, and pick pieces that correspond to your lifestyle and personal habits.
Tips & tricks for professional lighting
When it comes to table and floor lamps in mid-century modern scenarios, the rule is simple: you either go for pieces with curved and round contours, or such that feature only clean lines and geometric forms.
You can also get a couple with notably contrasting shapes to ensure light has a central position, and consider metal-wood combinations that convey a modern message.
When it comes to ceiling lights, your most popular option are straight and centrally positioned rods with exposed bulbs – as simple as that!
The nostalgia for mid-century interiors is nowhere close to withering off into the history. Rather than that, the architectural art of this time has never looked more genial and attractive, and we’ve only began revering its multiple advantages.
The aficionados of mid-century modern decor can easily pick up a hot suite off the market, while those who prefer getting around it themselves can consider our style statements and tips to retrieve this unique vibe.