thMid Century Modern home décor is in full swing in the decorating world. Maybe it’s because of the simplicity of clean lines and earth tones. Maybe it’s because it takes us back to memories of Grandma’s house. Whatever the reason, we love it. Here are 25 tips to create a Mid Century Modern style home.
The Brady Bunch. Rockford Files. Columbo. Anybody else like old shows? Or if you want to go back a little further, I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, Andy Griffith. (I count my parenting skills a success when my kids ask to watch Andy Griffith.)
Do you ever look past the show and admire the interior design? Surely you can picture the green shag carpet, the brown paneled walls and the gold accents. So when you think of the Mid Century style of decorating, maybe you think, “Um, no. I am NOT an old cat lady with brown and yellow afghans on the couch, but thanks.”
Or maybe you’ve jumped on the Mid Century bandwagon of the past several years and have embraced that unique style of home décor. But WHAT IS “that style” of décor? Because I don’t see too many people running out to get earth-tone shag carpet or lining their walls with brown paneling.
What Is the Definition of Mid Century Modern Style Home Design?
Mid Century era is from 1930s – 1960s, the middle of the 20th century (thus its name). There were a lot of changes in the world during this time period. We went from the beginning of the Great Depression, through World War II, into the Baby Boomer and Rock and Roll era and ended with landing on the moon. No, Mid Century Modern decor did not stay exactly the same through these four decades, but the principals of home décor did.
The “Modern” part of the style references the timeless appeal of the interior design styles that continue into the 21st century. This brings in the sleekness and no-frills attitude that you see in Modern décor. Midcentury Modern adds simplicity and historical together to form a timeless style of decorating.
What Furniture Designers to Know of the Mid Century Modern Style Era?
You can certainly furnish your home with vintage pieces that are not designer brands. And since the style is so popular, you can even buy new furniture in the Mid Century Modern style.
But when looking for a piece of authentic Mid Century Modern furniture, here are a few names to keep in mind. You might score an amazing deal on the real deal!
- Charles and Ray Eames – probably the most notable pioneers in Mid Century furniture design, their creativity is well known and still produced today. The iconic bent wood and leather office chair, sharp angled side chairs and molded plastic chairs with wood legs, just to name a few, are all loved to this day.
- Eero Saarinen – not only an acclaimed architect who designed the Gateway Arch of St Louis among other famous buildings, Saarinen created the tulip table and chairs. Expect to pay a premium for one of these original sets, but you will also have a piece that screams Mid Century.
- Herman Miller – another great in the world of furniture design, Miller also created clean lined furniture with molded plastic and bent wood arm chairs with no nonsense metal legs. His company sold Eames’ furniture designs as well as his own designs.
25 Tips To Create a Mid Century Modern Style Home
1. Sleek Lines (but not necessarily straight lines)
Mid Century furniture is very “clean” looking…think abrupt, unbroken edges. It can be straight; it can be curved. But it’s straight forward and un-frilly.
2. Firm Upholstery
Couches will not be overstuffed. They tend to have a firm seat and back, creating a square (or rectangle) angle at the arms, seat and back.
3. Light Colored Wood Furniture and Accents
Using light colored, natural woods like pine, maple or birch furniture is often described as having blonde wood, a very light color wood or wood veneer finish in a light yellow-ish color. It’s easy to find vintage furniture in good condition to add to your Mid Century Modern home decor since the style is so popular right now.
4. Scandinavian Design
Scandinavian or Danish Modern styles fit very well with the Mid Century style. These designs are known for they’re simplicity and minimalist decorating.
5. Earth-Tone Pops of Color
Now, while some Mid Century or Retro Mid Century styles include pops of bright colors such as red, most of Mid Century is more toned down. Think subdued green, bits of yellow gold and deep teal. Just don’t overdue it. Your statement pieces should be a pop, not an explosion.
6. Minimal Accents
Yes, there may be pillows on a couch and books on a shelf, but everything is pretty limited. A small and neat stack of books, not books overflowing the shelf. A big plant, but not every bit of space filled with plant babies. This style is not about collections (unless they’re records). It’s more about making a statement with a few quality items.
7. Gold and Glass
Glass top coffee table, gold metal bar cart, gold cabinet hardware. Gold (not used in vast quantities) is a sure-fire way to get Mid Century character. Even new pieces in gold and glass will fit in to this vintage style home.
8. Natural Elements Brought Inside
Natural materials brought inside are essential to Mid Century Modern style. Bamboo and rattan are favorites of the Mid Century style. They will be finished in a wood tone and not usually painted. A cluster of pampas grass in a floor vase is also popular.
9. Unique Lighting Fixtures
Towards the 1950s – 60s, the space race took off and greatly influenced light fixtures of the Midcentury design. This was called the Atomic Age and many light fixtures were metal works of art in crazy angles and space age style.
10. Geometric Patterns
The most well know shape of this era seems to be the “boomerang” found printed on many countertops and kitchen tables. Even the shape of coffee tables mimicked this boomerang. Other geometric shapes of the era were the triangle and pyramid.
11. Open Floor Plans, Furniture and Shelving
Shelving units on a wall, floor plans and furniture is all about creating visual openness. It seeks an uncluttered effect and space. Often space is created under a piece of furniture with simple legs so you can see under it. No clunky furniture sitting directly on the floor.
12. Simple Yet Bold Artwork
Mid Century Modern art is very simple in that it is color blocks or black and white. Detailed landscapes are not a part of this style. It is a punch of simplicity and a true lesson on “less is more.”
13. Starburst or Sunburst Designs
Probably also from the space race era of reaching towards outer space, the starburst design shows up a log in Mid Century Modern interior design. Metal designs on the wall, candle sconces, mirrors and clocks are commonly in a sun or starburst pattern.
14. Wood Slats
Wood slat accent walls, wood slat table and hanging lamps, wood slat benches and coffee tables are iconic Mid Century Modern accents. It pairs the geometric shape with the natural wood tones for a great match of design.
15. Busy Patterned Curtains
The simplicity of furniture design did not seem to transfer to curtains. While still in simple graphic patterns, curtains were a burst of busyness. Various geometric forms and colors crowded together. Starburst patterns were also a favorite fabric choice.
16. Punch of Pink
Retro pink, you know the one. It shows up often in Mid Century Modern homes. All the same bright shade, this pink would be on a couch, wall paint, kitchen cabinet or even just a recipe box.
17. Modern Style Hardware with Clean Lines
Cabinet and furniture hardware is simple lines or a classic curved handle with straight edges. The exception is door pulls that have a back plate in a starburst pattern, yet another way to add this geometric design.
18. Chrome Metal for Mid Century Modern Punch
Mid Century Modern is full of chrome finishes. Faucets, towel bars and even chrome edging on a countertop adds a splash of bright metal often.
19. Mixing Metal Finishes
Though I just talked about chrome finishes, Mid Century Modern home décor actually loves all kinds of metals, and they mix them together in a room. Brass candlesticks, black painted metal legs and chrome hardware can all be found in the same room.
20. Painted Brick or Natural Stone Fireplace
Brick fireplaces are often painted white or light colors, though dark gray brick can also give a Mid Century Modern vibe. If you’re fortunate to have a natural (limestone color) fireplace, you immediately have a punch of Mid Century style in your home.
21. Large Windows with No Curtains
Mid Century style homes love large windows, even a wall of windows, with no curtains. This allows the outside to come in as part of the home décor, not to mention all the natural light it brings in.
22. Collection of Mid Century Records and Record Player
This is a great way to add Mid Century Modern style but to have a collection of vintage records. This doubles as décor AND lifestyle. An authentic Mid Century console record player completes the authentic vintage style.
23. Mid Century Style Crafted Décor
There’s the part of Mid Century décor that is simple and minimal. And then there’s the part of Mid Century Modern style that’s authentically Grandma’s house. Mid Century women loved to craft and decorate with their creations. To add a bit of Grandma’s Mid Century décor add, lucite grapes, felt paintings and paint by number paintings.
24. Shag or Geometric Rugs for Mid Century Home
You can go in a lot of directions with rugs and still be considered Mid Century Modern. Of course, neutral, solid color shag rugs are a win for Mid Century homes. You could also do a dark, nature inspired rug, like dark green or light blue. Bold and bright geometric shapes in rugs are also common. Or you can use a light colored rug with a geometric shape imprinted in the carpet.
25. Lifestyle of Mid Century Modern Style
So this is not décor related, but it seems to me that Mid Century décor lovers go beyond the décor. They have a collection of records played on their vintage record player and insist it’s the BEST way to listen to music. Or they have a glass and gold bar cart stocked with vintage barware. Knitting is a favorite pastime. And don’t put it past a Mid Century décor lover to have a couple pieces of vintage clothing or jewelry they pull out pretty regularly.
Badda-bing, badda-boom. There are my 25 tips to create a Mid Century Modern style home. Can you still remember the dates of Mid Century Modern? Probably not. Let’s be honest, few of us remember the date of our mother-in-law’s birthday much less the dates of a decorating style. But the punch of character from this style is hard to forget. The REAL question about Mid Century style is, is it for you and your home?
Comment below and tell me what you’ve added to give your own home Mid Century Modern style!
Read about more vintage home decorating styles below.
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