The classic mid-century modern look is fascinating for its ability to be both timeless and so strongly associated with a particular era—especially the mid-1940s through the early 1960s. Its ability to convey modern and retro sensibilities at the same time has helped it endure over the many decades since its heyday, and even to enjoy a renaissance in recent years.
Below are some key ways to incorporate mid-century modern style into your home via furnishings, décor, room layout, and other design decisions. One of the greatest aspects of the mid-century modern vibe is how well it plays with so many other styles and periods. Often, the most successful, vibrant, personalized rooms seamlessly blend mid-century modern aspects with completely different ones.
Combining varying styles is the best way to make your living spaces your own, to capture something unique, and also to prevent overdoing it with one particular décor. Achieving a balance between a few modes, rather than diving all-out into just one, makes the difference between a tastefully appointed room and one that mostly just seems dated.
So, choose some of these strategies for spotlight a mid-century modern look, but certainly don’t feel obligated to use them all. And above all, follow your tastes and have fun!
Creating a Mid-Century Modern Look
- Favor simple furniture and décor items with clean lines, geometric shapes, or gentle curves.
- Choose furniture with thin, tapered, angled feet and a small footprint.
- Opt for seating that’s low to the ground, as with Heywood-Wakefield’s Margaret Collection Club Chair and Ottoman.
- Don’t clutter your rooms; a classic mid-century modern approach emphasizes open spaces, airiness, and minimalism.
- Let the minimalist atmosphere accentuate a fabulous focal point in each room.
- Make ample use of natural wood, a hallmark of mid-century modern style; don’t be afraid to mix and match different woods and finishes.
- Counterbalance the wood with accents from metal accessories and decorations—especially chrome or brass.
- Hang photography depicting scenes from the WWII era through the 1950s or early 1960s; retro art from these periods works well, too.
- Achieve subtle effects and organize your rooms with retro storage units like Heywood-Wakefield’s Record Cabinet or Tambour Utility Case.
- Add to the effects with a prominently placed retro accessory or two, like a record player, vintage radio, mid-century modern starburst item (like a wall clock or mirror), bar cart, typewriter, etc.
- Coordinate a darker, earthy, neutral tone with a small amount of a brighter accent color in each room.
- Define living spaces and add pops of color and pattern by placing mid-century modern area rugs in your rooms.
- Incorporate abstract, geometric, atomic, or modern Deco patterns with area rugs, throw pillows, paintings, or other elements in the room.
- Use mid-century modern lighting; in particular, look for lamps that are either thin and straight, round, or designed in a sunburst shape.
- If you’re going the home renovation route, knock out unnecessary walls for a more open floor plan or install large or even floor-to-ceiling windows.