How to Ace Mid-Century Modern Design

Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels 

The mid-century modern style is both timeless and elegant. Think Mad Men and martini carts. Mid-century houses and furnishings are often characterised by their practical solutions and exquisite craftsmanship, which has a lot to do with the design idea that ‘form follows function.’

Mid-century is hard to definitively explain because it was crafted over a long period so it draws from several eras (1933-1965). The style is mainly associated with the modernist movement and takes cues from the Industrial Revolution and the period succeeding WW1. 

This is a simple guide to get you started on a mid-century modern revamp of your space, the beauty of this style is that is can be incorporated in varying levels so you can customise it to your liking.

1. Start Strong With Furniture:

Heavy-duty and functional pieces are a key staple in the mid-century style. Think hardwood, metal and glass. Most mid-century furniture has a rounded element to it like big round tables, dining chairs and bedheads and dome shaped drinking glasses and lamps.

The best place to source furniture for a mid-century modern revamp is thrift stores. Conservationist Jayesh Dayal loves incorporating second-hand pieces into his home because they are extremely environmentally friendly, full of character and authentic. 

To achieve the most authentic mid-century look, opt for furniture with peg or hairpin legs and sturdy hardware. You may have seen rattan furniture making a comeback in headboards, buffets and table bases, rattan is heavily featured throughout mid-century modern interiors and pairs really well with house plants. 

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels

Mid-century styling is even making it’s way back into bathrooms. Funky coloured tiles, big wooden buffets and pastels are all making a comeback, says plumber Paul Jennings. Get creative with it, mid-century modern is so flexible and can be elevated or minimised depending on your style.  

2. Rearrange your space

A key part of acing a interior design look is creating spaces that are interesting to the eye. A well-balanced area should feature a nice balance of highs and lows when it comes to furniture height, especially in mid-century modern design. While there is a plethora of options for mid-century decor, the furniture can also become the statement pieces. Look up mid-century modern couches and you’ll see what I mean, they are comprised of curvy shapes and weird and whacky colours that will instantly elevate any space.

In mid-century interiors, you’ll often see rooms with sunken areas (typically seen in living rooms), you can achieve this look by opting for a lounge that is shorter in height or incorporating other items that are taller like bar carts, side tables and lamps suggests interior designer and decorator Gary Hamer.

Using large mirrors in your space are a fantastic way to make your room look bigger and add to your mid-century style. Mirrors that are framed with rattan or round work best. 

3. Bring It Alive With Colour 

From the vibrant colours that were popular in homes during the 1950s to the warm and jewel tones of the 1960s, this colour scheme spans the gamut. If you want a sophisticated appearance, consider emeralds or deep crimsons or if you prefer a “swinging sixties” vibe go crazy and experiment with bright eclectic pieces and artwork.

Pick a light colour for the walls, such as white or beige, this will help to break up all of the dark wood pieces and won’t clash with any artwork you choose. Pastel hues, pale pinks, black, white, cream, navy or shades of beige will also work to give your mid-century modern interior design a brilliant and contemporary appearance.

4. Dress your walls right

The majority of mid-century houses feature white walls and open-plan designs. You may go a step further by applying era-appropriate wallpaper or creating a colourful artwork on an empty wall that reflects your colour scheme. Think Andy Warhol, abstract and over the top for artwork. You could even incorporate a neon light sign, lava lamp or strip LED lights for a more modern look. WAKE&LOOK has some awesome post-modern pieces including extravagant “bubble walls” which would be the perfect addition to a mid-century modern living space. 

Photo by Karina Zhukovskaya from Pexels

5. Add Accessories to Your Heart’s Desire

Accentuating your house with the right drapes, cushions, decorative furniture, and bulbs is critical to achieving mid-century style. Look for pendant lights or big architectural lighting fixtures that resemble art rather than a light source says lighting expert Abhiraj Singh. Incorporating metallic finishes is a safe way to amp up your room and keep it looking classy.

Traditional candlesticks, gilded yet basic round mirrors, bar trolleys with glass decanters and vintage glasses with stylised embossed patterns all have a mid-century modern vibe. Complete your look with big, dome floor and table lamps, as well as indoor plants and patterned carpets. Peter Finn is a fabric expert who says texture is super important in mid-century modern interiors, after all shag carpets were a staple of the time. Peter recommends fluffy pillows, rugs and faux fur throws to replicate the fun of a shag carpet without the headache of vacuuming.

Now you’ve mastered the mid-century modern look it’s time to revel in it with a homemade martini or prawn cocktail!

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