How to Use Mid-Century Modern Interior Designs in Your Home

Once called "modern" and now often referred to as "vintage," the mid-century modern interior design style continues to be popular today. Perhaps because of its simple lines, graceful curves, and distinctive signature furniture, mid-century modern home décor has timeless appeal for many people. If you're one of them, you may want to try  some or all of these seven interior design ideas when you're designing a room.


1. Uncluttered Delineation

Mid-century modern rooms are fresh and minimal. Their clean lines are so understated you can almost hear them saying, “Stop fussing. Chill out.”



Furniture is plain and unornamented. Tables and shelves are linear planes with token, modern support. Only a few basic room accents are allowed.


2. Geometric Forms

Geometric shapes are prominent in mid-century modern design. Furniture, wall hangings, pillows, window coverings, lighting, and rugs all rely heavily on linear geometric outlines, and they combine to create a layered graphic structure for the room as a whole. To compose this geometric scene in your rooms, blend round and rectangular furniture, then combine it with accents featuring smaller-scale geometric designs.



3. Blend Materials

Because the decades in which this design style reigned were focused on looking toward the future, mid-century modern designers moved away from traditional materials. However, they didn’t reject them entirely. Embracing natural resources like wood and other organic elements, this design then brought metal, glass, and plastic to the room design party. To get this look in your décor, choose furniture pieces that combine natural and man-made materials.



4. Earthy and Rich Colors

The backdrop for mid-century modern rooms are warm earth tones. These colors show up in a room’s wood elements and can also be used in wall and fabric colors.



For a room to receive the moniker of "mid-century modern," however, it must also get a stroke or two (or more) of contrasting rich color. You can choose almost any color or colors to combine with the more natural foundation colors. “Almost” is the key word here. Girly pastels like pale pink or yellow aren’t going to work so well with this style, but stronger hues of any colors are fine.


5. Signature Furniture

When mid-century modern design was in its heyday, mass-produced furniture in distinctive styles ruled the scene. Furniture, although imminently functional, was profoundly sculptural as well. From marshmallow sofas to egg chairs and womb chairs, seating wasn’t just a place to park yourself. It was also art. Although getting your hands on an original furniture piece from this era can be costly, it’s easy to find new furniture in similar styles.



6. Graphic Textiles

Mid-century modern rooms may be understated, but the fabrics used in those rooms are not. Textiles in these rooms are resolute. They don’t back down so much as they pack a punch.



That geometry I talked about in Tip 2 returns now in a big way. No little polka dots or checkerboard patterns are in play here. We’re talking audacious shapes and powerful, sensuous curves. The fabric patterns you’ll want to choose for a mid-century modern space range from the whimsical to the in-your-face.


7. Sculptural Lighting

Just as the furniture in this style could double as art, so could the lighting. Responsible for iconic light fixtures like the Sputnik chandelier, bubble lights, and Arco floor lamps, classic mid-century modern lighting is all about drama. Although you don’t have to find the quintessential mid-century modern light fixture to fit a mid-century modern room, the best fit for this style is a fixture reminiscent of the era. But no matter what, light fixtures in mid-century modern rooms should be striking.



You probably now have a sense of the synthesis required for a mid-century modern room. Designing in this style requires a balancing act, but it’s one that's easy to achieve. Although the elements are distinctive, there’s a lot of leeway in this design style. You have plenty of freedom to express yourself in mid-century modern rooms.


Images used with permission, courtesy of

Previous Post

Next Post