The mid-century modern aesthetic is back in full force. As many homeowners are making this trend an integral part of their remodeling projects, designers are finding new ways to implement it into new homes. These homes may look like they were built in the early 1950s, but they actually have some ingenious modern upgrades hiding inside. Who knew that mid-century modern home design could be so versatile? If you’re considering re-designing your home in this retro style, why not take a few cues from these cool examples to get started?
- 1 1. Leather Sofa and Ample Light
- 2 2. Glass Coffee Tables and Geometric Wall Art
- 3 3. Bold Color and Wood Furniture
- 4 4. Tiki Bar and Tropical Plants
- 5 5. Vintage and Handmade Designs
- 6 6. Large Furniture and Open Layouts
- 7 7. Textured Walls and Bold Colors
- 8 8. Rocking Chairs and Warm Tones
- 9 9. Simple Decorations and Clean Lines
- 10 10. Sleek Countertops and Hanging Lamps
- 11 11. Wicker Baskets and Modern Furniture
- 12 12. Geometric Patterns and Sculptural Features
- 13 13. Colored Glass Accents
- 14 14. Bright Colors and Pops of Patterning
- 15 Final Words
1. Leather Sofa and Ample Light
Mid-century modern can be defined by a few key features: clean lines, materials that have been elevated to art form, and an impeccable sense of form and function. The leather sofa is one such feature of the style: not only does it offer laid-back comfort (with no need for extra-thick pillows), but it’s also easy to clean and very durable. In other words, when you invest in a leather sofa, you know it’ll last as long as your love for mid-century modern does. In many ways, this piece of furniture is the centerpiece of the room because it leaves space for all types of other decor.
The floor-to-ceiling windows are another defining aspect of mid-century modern style. If you’re renovating an older home, putting these big windows in may be expensive; however, don’t think that this feature is out of reach! If your budget doesn’t allow for entirely new windows or work done by a professional contractor, look into more affordable options like installing a large picture window or French doors that open up onto a balcony or back deck area.
2. Glass Coffee Tables and Geometric Wall Art
You may also want to consider displaying shades of gray, gold, and green throughout your home. Gray is a popular color for contemporary homes, and gold lighting fixtures can make any space feel elegant. Adding some geometric wall art or a simple pendant lamp can create interest without taking away from your existing decor.
3. Bold Color and Wood Furniture
You don’t have to be afraid of color when it comes to mid-century modern design. In fact, quite the opposite is true. This living room features a bold shade of yellow that makes it feel bright and cheery, but the real standouts here are the simple furniture pieces. The rounded curves of the coffee table, armchair, and cabinet are characteristic of mid-century modern design—as well as those airy shelves (more on that in a minute).
Mid-century modern style takes influence from Scandinavian design which emphasizes simplicity and functionality. Materials like wood (wooden furniture is also typically seen with clean lines) pair well with neutral tones to create a space that feels warm but not overwhelming or stuffy. The goal is to make your home seem open and inviting, so less is often more.
4. Tiki Bar and Tropical Plants
A tiki bar is an ideal addition to any home, especially if the home has a mid-century modern feel. Tiki bars are often made of wood, and have an island-inspired look. They can also be used to serve delicious tropical cocktails (piña coladas and mai tais are favorites), or as a convenient place to store extra liquor bottles.
5. Vintage and Handmade Designs
You may think that vintage—or even handmade—designs are out of place in a mid-century modern room, but they can actually add some personality to the space. These pieces don’t have to be ugly or loud; in fact, they can be quite subtle if you so desire. A vase from your grandmother or an old piece of art you put on display can all make for great additions to your room.
Creating your own decorations and artwork for your home is another option, and it’s one that gives the space a personal touch. You may want to do this if you find some mid-century modern accents that are a bit too overbearing, as it will create a relaxing and comforting feel in the room.
6. Large Furniture and Open Layouts
When it comes to furniture in a mid-century modern home, bold is best. With clean lines and large shapes, the furniture you choose will be your main source of decor. Look for single colors and simple patterns that complement each other while avoiding prints or patterns that compete with one another. The goal is to fill the space but not overwhelm it, so keep items grouped together by use and color rather than scattered around the room.
If you have a larger space, this style can be a great way to show off your favorite pieces. Use some open flooring to emphasize the drama of a statement piece like an oversized couch or accent chair. In smaller rooms, however, avoid filling up every inch of available wall space with furniture—leave a little bit of negative space so that the room doesn’t look too crowded.
Finally, don’t forget about decor! While using statement pieces in neutral colors can keep your room from seeming cluttered, you should still take advantage of opportunities to showcase your personal style through colorful accents and small decor touches throughout the room. This style offers plenty of ways for you to make a big impact by adding pops of bright color or unique patterned pieces into a neutral base palette.
7. Textured Walls and Bold Colors
As the mid-century modern style has become more widespread, we’ve seen people embrace bolder colors. The muted, neutral palette that was once associated with the style has given way to a playful assortment of color palettes. In this living room example, we see a use of cheerful yellows and blues, which helps make this space feel more lighthearted and fun.
Adding texture to your walls is another great way to incorporate mid-century vibes into your home. Textured walls provide visual interest, hide imperfections (and busy wallpaper!), help add warmth to a room, and create a cozy atmosphere for you and guests alike.
8. Rocking Chairs and Warm Tones
Rocking chairs are a must for any mid-century modern room, as they add stylish comfort. We love the leather rocking chair pictured here, which is a great choice for any mid-century modern room. Rocking chairs are perfect for relaxing and puttering around—or just watching your favorite show on TV. They can be a great addition to your living room or even your bedroom.
9. Simple Decorations and Clean Lines
Mid-century modern is all about simplicity and clean lines. Don’t clutter the space or hang too much on the walls. Keep your decor down to a few choice pieces. Choose sleek furniture that’s not too busy or ornate, and keep your overall layout simple, such as using one large rug instead of several small ones.
10. Sleek Countertops and Hanging Lamps
We love the idea of a crisp, clean all-white kitchen with one statement piece. In this kitchen, it’s all about the hanging lamps and sleek marble countertops. The space overall is simple, but the hanging lamps add an elegant feel to the room.
Speaking of lamps, if you’re looking for a new light to hang in your home, consider these factors:
- What will be its primary function? If you’re looking for more ambient lighting than task lighting (from a desk lamp), choose something that isn’t too bright.
- What shape should it be? Choose a style that complements the furniture and decor in your room.
- What size should it be? Be sure to measure your space before buying or building anything!
11. Wicker Baskets and Modern Furniture
To be sure, mid-century furniture might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re into the look and want to invest in some quality pieces for your home, wicker is a style that can add a cozy element to modern design. A wicker basket coffee table looks chic when paired with a leather sofa and bold wall art, while a woven side table or magazine holder adds texture when placed next to sleek storage solutions.
Take care when sourcing your baskets—you’ll want something that will last and won’t unravel over time (or after the first few uses). For example, this vintage set is made of rattan and designed to withstand wear and tear. You can also pick up reed or rush varieties at local craft stores.
When shopping around for these woven wonders, don’t forget to look up: Wicker baskets hung on walls create a dynamic focal point in any room.
12. Geometric Patterns and Sculptural Features
While the principles of mid-century modern are more about minimalist shapes and clean lines, patterns can still be a key part of the look. According to the experts at Rejuvenation, bold geometric patterns are a great way to incorporate some color into your home without going overboard. Examples include diamond shapes (which can make a room feel more open), circles, squares, and rectangles. The patterns don’t have to be overpowering, either—even something as simple as a subtle herringbone pattern on your wood flooring could be just what you need to bring some mid-century vibes into your space!
13. Colored Glass Accents
Glass is one of the most beautiful materials in the world, especially when it’s colored. Mid-century modern designers were known for their use of clear glass, but there’s no reason to shy away from color too. In fact, colored glass can be used anywhere you’d use clear glass: light fixtures, vases, and even accessories. Look for multi-colored pieces that echo your color scheme to really make a statement.
14. Bright Colors and Pops of Patterning
When you’re ready to try out bold colors, think about incorporating them in small doses, like with a chair or throw pillows. Remember: You have the option to choose one standout color and use it sparingly, or you can use several different colors that are all similarly saturated. If you’re nervous about using bright colors, start with a few pops of patterning—it’s an easy trick for adding dimension without overwhelming your space.
Arguably the most important thing to keep in mind is balance: Use bright colors sparingly and don’t be afraid to pair them with neutrals. In fact, we recommend sticking with a palette of no more than three colors (not including neutrals). This will ensure that all of your hues complement each other and create visual cohesion throughout the room.
Consider strategic placement by making sure that the hues highlight important pieces in the room, like architectural features or art work. If you want to keep things simple but still want to incorporate bright pops of color into your home decorating scheme, consider accenting one wall with a bold color (like this rich orange) or adding some colorful pillows like these geometric ones from CB2!
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for bringing the mid-century modern home design into your life. Instead, it’s up to you to get creative and think about what will work best for your particular needs. A dull living room may be just the thing to freshen things up a bit, or the restoration of an old dresser might make the perfect addition to a young child’s bedroom.