Mid Century Modern Design: Timeless Style for Every Home

Even if you’re not a design aficionado, chances are you’ve heard of mid century modern design and have likely been in a room featuring this style at some point in your life. And for good...

mid century modern homes

Even if you’re not a design aficionado, chances are you’ve heard of mid century modern design and have likely been in a room featuring this style at some point in your life. And for good reason – it is a timeless and forever-chic design direction that never seems to lose its appeal. But what exactly does it mean?

To truly understand the popularity and enduring resonance of mid century modern design across generations, it is important to explore what sets it apart from other design styles, why it might be the right fit for your home, and how to effortlessly incorporate it into your space.

What Does Mid Century Modern Mean?

mid century modern interior design den

While the term "mid century modern" wasn't coined until the mid-80s, the design style represents a combination of post-World War II practicality, 50s-era optimism, 60s-era earthiness, and 70s-era tones and textures. It is a stylish ode to Scandinavian simplicity.

Mid century modern design emerged as a reaction to the decadence and ornate designs of the 40s. It offers a fresh and poppy, retro-tinged aesthetic that is both alluring and comfortable. Unlike other design movements, mid century modern decor emphasizes streamlined design and focuses on the materials used, allowing them to shine without being overdone.

Why You'll Love Mid Century Modern Interiors

  • Mid century modern design allows you to add authentic vintage styling to your home without committing to a full retro look.
  • It offers countless opportunities to bring even the smallest of spaces to life with unique design quirks.
  • A perfect mid century modern house features practical, durable, and affordable design elements that are easy on the eyes.
  • This design style allows for more freedom and is less restrictive compared to minimalism or traditional interior design.

How to Create Mid Century Modern Style

mid century modern interior design

Since mid century modern design has its roots in architecture, it is important to highlight the architectural details that define this style. Here are some key elements to consider when incorporating mid century modern design into your home:

  • Keep everything structured, practical, and durable, with subtle design flourishes to add interest.
  • Incorporate natural elements, such as exposed beams, wood panels, and brick walls, to bring the outdoors in.
  • Add character with abstract prints, patterns, and art that are free of cultural references and reminiscent of the arts and crafts movement.
  • Embrace the casual, lounge-ready vibe of mid century modern decor while keeping it relaxed and balanced.

Mid Century Modern Colors

mid century modern design color palette

Mid century modern design reflects the energy and direction of its era through its color palette. Kitschy, bright hues evoke the optimism of the 50s, while natural woods, greens, oranges, and earthy tones pay homage to the sophisticated spirit of the 60s and 70s.

Even if you don't have an original mid century modern house, you can incorporate the style into your home by using these colors as a foundation. Moody hues like burnt sage, orange, and rust create a distinctly mid century modern living room, while other rooms can feature playful takes on turquoise, sunny yellow, bright orange, and primary colors. Use sobering neutrals to balance the mix and avoid an overload of colors.

Mid Century Modern Style Furniture

mid century modern furniture styles

Mid century modern design is all about clean lines, simplicity, practicality, and sumptuous silhouettes in furniture. Consider using materials like plastic, acrylic, and formica to achieve an authentic look.

Other hallmarks of mid century modern furniture include hairpin legs, low streamlined seating, plastic shell chairs, cocooning lounges, matte finishes, and consoles with plain surfaces punctuated by design flourishes.

Mid Century Modern Textiles

mid century modern design prints

Mid century modern home decor often features naive, playful, and abstract prints with geometric graphics. To update the style and avoid a kitschy look, use fabrics and textiles inspired by the era in small doses. Pillows, throws, linens, and drapes can add a touch of mid century modern nostalgia without overwhelming the overall design.

Mid Century Modern Style Accessories

mid century modern design accessories

Accessories are an excellent way to incorporate mid century modern design into your home without committing too much space or budget. Opt for decorative pieces that are unique and can stand on their own.

When decorating on a budget, explore local flea markets, secondhand shops, and online auction houses for rare, one-of-a-kind finds. In a mid century modern living room and common areas, choose decorative extras that evoke the 50s and 60s in saturated colors. Porcelain vases, sculptures, and wall hangings with graphic shapes can add unexpected pops of color.

Mid Century Modern Window Treatments

mid century modern design window treatments curtains

With an emphasis on natural elements and the outdoors, mid century modern design encourages maximizing natural light. Opt for sheer solid drapes, blinds, and window treatments that allow you to easily retract them and take in the views outside.

While mid century modern decor favors clean straight lines, consider neutral-colored window treatments with simple and symmetrical designs for a modern take on the style. Remember to mix vintage-inspired elements with contemporary touches to create a unique and balanced look.

Mid Century Modern Style Room by Room

To help you master mid century modern design in each room of your home, here are some ideas to get you started:

Mid Century Modern Kitchen

mid century modern kitchen interior design

Creating an authentic mid century modern kitchen can be challenging due to the clash between modern appliances and retro design. However, adding bright pops of color, small vintage appliances, and decorative extras can help you achieve a warm and practical mid century modern kitchen. Consider high-shine or matte finishes and primary colors grounded with dark natural wood for impact.

Mid Century Modern Dining Room

mid century modern dining room interior design

You can bring mid century modern design into any dining room, regardless of its structural style. Mix sturdy Danish-inspired furniture with moody hues and feminine curves for a playful, yet connected look. Strive for balance between mid century modern design elements and unexpected touches to create a visually stimulating space.

Mid Century Modern Living Room

mid century modern living room interior design

Living rooms are the perfect canvas for mid century modern design. Focus on harmony among furnishings and objects while incorporating statement pieces for depth and nuance. Don't be afraid to mix elements outside of the era to give your space a unique touch.

Mid Century Modern Bedroom

mid century modern bedroom interior design

Create a gender-neutral mid century modern bedroom with clean lines, muted tones, and textured elements. Look for timeless and durable furniture with Danish-inspired design. Add extras like oversized chairs and floor lamps to introduce playful silhouettes into your space.

Mid Century Modern Bathroom

inspiring mid century modern bathroom interior design

While bathrooms might not be the ideal room to fully embrace mid century modern design, you can still incorporate small touches for a mid century modern look. Consider mixing minimal marble and sleek lines with a custom vanity featuring wooden drawers, black and white canvas wall hangings, and mid century modern stools. These subtle details can add depth and character to your bathroom.

By following these guidelines and incorporating mid century modern design elements throughout your home, you can create a remarkably distinct and timeless style that will be admired for years to come.