Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (2024)

Mid-century modern style is a timeless design style that has been around since, well, the middle of the 20th century. This design movement emerged in the US after World War II and has been gracing our homes ever since. While it has evolved over time, it’s still a design staple used in many interiors today. So, what exactly is mid-century modern design? In this post, we take a look at how this style originated, what makes it so popular and how to incorporate it into your home.

What's in this post:

What is mid-century modern style?

History of mid-century modern design

Distinguishing features of mid-century modern interior design style

Color palette of a mid-century modern style house

Design tips for mid-century modern style homes

Design ideas for creating a mid-century home

Conclusion

FAQ

What is mid-century modern style?

Mid-century modern style is characterized by clean lines, minimalism and functionality. The main focus of this style is practicality. All furniture and decor elements have a function and not a lot of ornamentation. The design reflects the “form follows function” concept, which means that all pieces of furniture have an intended purpose in the home, and if they don’t, they are unnecessary.

Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (1)

Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (2)

You’ll see a lot of organic shapes, natural lines and mix-and-match materials in a mid-century modern aesthetic. While this might make you think of other styles, like minimalist, Scandinavian or Japandi, these styles came later and have several differences that distinguish them from mid-century modern.

History of mid-century modern design

The mid-century modern style is a post-war movement that reflects the trends and social values of the day. There was a housing boom in America, and there was a need to create practical and affordable homes for the growing population. The designers and architects had to turn to what was available to them to answer that need.

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Before the war, most furniture was made with natural materials like wood and fabrics that were built in small batches or customized for the client. The post-war designers embraced manufactured and readily available materials like vinyl, plywood and plastic to create new and innovative pieces of furniture. They also utilized mass production to build quality pieces in large quantities, making them affordable and accessible to more people.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (5)

Furniture pieces commonly found in mid-century modern design include iconic pieces like the Eames Lounge Chair, Noguchi Table, and Saarinen Tulip Chair, characterized by their minimalist aesthetic and use of natural materials.

Distinguishing features of mid-century modern interior design style

Mid-century modern style is still popular today as it easily fits in with how we want to live today. The emphasis on functionality over frivolity and classic designs that work with contemporary designs is as appealing today as in post-war America.

As we touched on above, the materials used in mid-century modern design embraced manufactured materials that were not commonly used in the past or were a new invention of the manufacturing process. You’ll find a lot of synthetic materials like vinyl, plexiglass, plywood and wood veneers mixed with fiberglass, plastic, wood and metal.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (7)

The overall look of mid-century modern is functionality. There is little ornamentation, as the pieces speak for themselves. It’s not to say that there is no decor at all. Plants and large statement pieces are often used in mid-century modern design and act as statement pieces. Prints, clocks and rugs are also frequently used in mid-century modern decor.

Furniture is typically designed with wooden or metal pin-style legs and has simple lines and a defined shape. You’ll also notice many geometrical shapes using mixed materials like wood, leather, plastic and vinyl.

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While mid-century modern architecture focused on manufactured materials in decor and building materials, it also looked to nature. In mid-century homes, we see a lot of large windows, exposed beams, brick and wood panels. This design allowed the fusion of the outdoors and the indoors.

Comparing mid-century modern to other popular styles:

The mid-century modern look is a very distinct one, especially when compared with other popular design styles. While there might be some similarities between some of these decor and design trends, they are all very different. Here is how mid-century modern design compares.

Time period

Style name

Key elements

1180s - 1900s

Victorian

Ornate furniture, floral patterns, dark colors, heavy drapes, patterned wallpaper, chandeliers


1920s - 1930s


Art Deco

Geometric shapes, bold colors, metallic finishes, sunburst motifs, stepped forms, zigzag patterns

1940s - 1970s


Mid-century modern

Clean lines, mixed materials, functionality, tapered legs, atomic motifs, organic shapes

1980s - present

Contemporary

Soft lines, natural elements, neutral colors, comfy textures

Color palette of a mid-century modern style house

The mid-century modern color palette often featured bright and saturated colors in the 1950s and more earthy tones in the 1960s. Some of the most popular shades of this style include earthy colors like bright oranges, reds, yellows and browns, but you’ll also find plenty of shades of green, blue and even neutrals.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (10)

To create a mid-century modern aesthetic in your home, opt for neutral pallets with pops of colors or classic combinations of olive green and pale pink or mustard greens and avocado. You can easily add that vibe to your decor with an accent piece like a couch or abstract prints in bold colors to create a visual focus.

Design tips for mid-century modern style homes

You can easily add a mid-century modern style to your home. Thanks to the popularity of this style, you can easily find a great selection of furniture and decor items in stores today. The best way to incorporate mid-century modern is to do it strategically. After all, you want your home to look modern and comfortable, not like a time capsule from a different time. Here are some tips to help you avoid making that mistake.

Pick a statement piece

Select one or two statement mid-century modern pieces and build your decor around them. That can be a classic like an Eames chair, a couch or a teak cabinet. Assemble the rest of the room with furniture and decor items that complement and highlight those pieces. You can also add large plants and skip the blinds or window coverings to open up your room and tie in that mid-century vibe.

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Play with color

If you’re not ready to commit to a full mid-century color palette, you can easily incorporate these hues into your home. You can combine statement mid-century pieces with saturated colors, like an orange couch or dark blue accent wall. Graphic artwork with bright colors, bright rugs or accent pillows is a great way to add playful color to your decor.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (13)

Mix it with other styles

Combine mid-century pieces with other styles to create a unique look to avoid your home feeling dated. Moroccan poufs or rugs, commonly used in the Boho style, are a great addition to the mid-century modern style that can make it more playful and bright. Minimalism and industrial styles are alternatives you can combine with mid-century to give it a personal touch that feels comfortable and modern.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (15)

Design ideas for creating a mid-century home

The mid-century modern style works in every room in the house, so you can choose to incorporate it in select spaces or throughout your whole home. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Mid-century modern furniture style

Furniture is a great way to incorporate mid-century style into your home and achieve that iconic look. Look for furniture with clean lines, a minimalist design, and pieces with sculptural quality and organic curves or geometric shapes. Choose items that have a low profile and are simple yet functional. Look for upholstery with bold, graphic prints or a pop of color to add interest.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (17)

When shopping for mid-century modern furniture, look for quality craftsmanship and materials that will last over time. Some popular mid-century modern furniture pieces include the Eames Lounge Chair, the Saarinen Tulip Table, and the Noguchi Coffee Table. Additionally, consider adding mid-century modern accessories like geometric rugs, a retro clock, or a statement vase to complete the look.

Mid-century modern style kitchen

To incorporate mid-century modern style into a kitchen, choose furniture and appliances with a sleek and minimalist design, with clean lines and geometric shapes. Opt for wood, metal, and glass to create a sleek and stylish look.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (19)

Consider adding a pop of color with bold, retro-inspired hues like avocado green, mustard yellow, or burnt orange. Use statement lighting fixtures like a Sputnik chandelier to add a touch of mid-century flair. Finally, add organic elements like plants or natural wood accents to soften the look and create a welcoming atmosphere.

Mid-century modern style bedroom

To incorporate a mid-century modern style into a bedroom, look for low-profile furniture with wooden or metal legs, simple lines and orgnic shapes. Opt for pieces made out of wood and incorporate round-shaped mirrors and natural palettes.

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Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (21)

Add lighting with sculptural shapes like a tripod floor lamp or a pendant light to add visual interest. You can also use abstract art or graphic prints to decorate the walls and add cozy textures with a shag rug or a faux-fur throw. Finally, add some natural elements like potted plants or fresh flowers to bring a touch of the outdoors inside and create a calming atmosphere.

Mid-century modern style living room

Your living room is where the mid-century modern style shines. Select furniture with clean lines and organic shapes, such as a low-profile sofa, signature coffee table or a statement lounge chair with a sculptural design. Look for natural materials like wood, leather and metal to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (22)

Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (23)

Incorporate statement lighting fixtures, such as an Arco floor lamp with a metallic finish or a Sputnik-style chandelier, to create a focal point in the room. Add pops of color with bold accent pillows or a statement rug. Finally, add some natural elements like a potted plant or large windows to add some nature and blend your indoor and outdoor surroundings.

Mid-century modern ranch-style homes

Mid-century modern ranch-style homes are a classic example of mid-century architecture. These homes are typically one-story, low-slung, and feature a simple yet functional design. They have horizontal lines and large windows that emphasize the connection to the outdoors. These homes often have an open floor plan focusing on simplicity and functionality.

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The materials used in mid-century modern ranch-style homes typically include natural wood, brick, and stone. They often feature distinctive elements like decorative screen blocks and flat or sloping roofs. Overall, mid-century modern ranch-style homes are known for their understated elegance and timeless design, making them a popular choice for homeowners today.

Conclusion

The enduring appeal of the mid-century modern style is a testament to the innovation and creativity of interior design of the middle of the 20th century. It was a time of prosperity and growth, a new beginning and a departure from the past. What makes mid-century modern style so appealing is the simple lines, functional design and creative use of materials. There is also a sense of nostalgia that makes this style appealing and comfortable, playing on the memories of a different time.

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We hope this overview of the mid-century style offers you a better understanding of what makes it popular and how to incorporate it into your home. Want to try on this style aesthetic before you commit? Design your perfect mid-century interior with Planner 5D and embrace a timeless style that works in any space.

FAQ

Is mid-century modern going out of style?

Mid-century modern is a popular design style that shows no signs of going out of style. It has clean lines, simple shapes and a timeless aesthetic that make it a versatile and enduring choice for modern interiors.

What design style is opposite mid-century modern?

The design style that is opposite to mid-century modern is maximalism. It emphasizes bold colors, intricate patterns and ornate details, creating an eclectic and layered look. In contrast, mid-century modern focuses on simplicity, minimalism and functionality.

How to combine white beach-style furniture with mid-century modern decor?

To combine white beach-style furniture with mid-century modern decor, consider using natural wood accents, such as a mid-century modern coffee table, and bold geometric patterns in neutral tones. Add pops of color with vintage textiles or modern artwork to tie everything together.

What is the difference between California Ranch and mid-century modern-style homes?

The main difference between California Ranch and mid-century modern-style homes is the architecture. California ranch homes are characterized by low-slung roofs, open floor plans, and large windows that blur the line between indoor and outdoor living. Mid-century modern homes, on the other hand, feature flat or gabled roofs, clean lines and minimal ornamentation.

What kind of wood is used in the mid-century modern style?

You'll often find light to medium-toned woods, such as teak, walnut or oak, used in mid-century modern style. These woods are known for their durability, natural beauty, and ability to complement the clean lines and simple shapes of mid-century modern furniture.

What is the style before mid-century modern?

The style that preceded mid-century modern is known as Art Deco. It emerged in the 1920s and 1930s and was characterized by geometric patterns, bold colors, and the use of materials like glass, metal and plastic. Art Deco was popular in architecture and design and is still celebrated for its elegance and glamour.

Mid-Century Modern Style for Your House Interior (2024)

FAQs

How do I add mid-century modern to my house? ›

Mid-century modern living room ideas – 15 expert ways to introduce this timeless trend
  1. Invest in wooden furniture. ...
  2. Create the illusion of space – with slimline furniture. ...
  3. Base your scheme around symmetry. ...
  4. Adopt authentic Scandinavian design. ...
  5. Decorate in a primary color palette.

What is mid-century modern interior design? ›

Design in the mid-1900s was characterized by a little bit of a minimalist approach, clean lines, functional use, ornamentation, and organic shapes. The mid-century modern interior design has a fresh vibe with a retro feel. Aesthetic design coupled with comfort and functionality makes it timeless and still in style.

What are the colors for mid-century modern interior design? ›

The best colours for mid-century modern houses are earthy and bold. If you're decorating with a mid-century modern theme, choose warm tones of beige, orange, ochre yellow, mustard and brown. Combine these with a mix of punchy, playful colours like teal, burgundy red, mustard yellow and moss green.

What styles can you mix with mid-century modern? ›

Art Deco design exudes luxury, glamour, and ornate detailing. To seamlessly combine it with the timeless appeal of Mid-Century Modern, consider incorporating MCM furniture with clean lines and bold shapes. Accentuate the fusion with Art Deco elements through lighting fixtures, mirrors, and decorative accents.

How to mix mid-century modern with farmhouse? ›

Bold colors: While farmhouse interior design often uses a neutral color palette, adding pops of bold color inspired by midcentury modern design can create a more modern and playful look. Consider adding bold-colored throw pillows or a colorful rug.

What color wood is mid-century modern? ›

Teak. According to Livingetc, one of the most common wood types used in mid-century designs is teak which is a dark, durable, and high-quality material. It pairs well with bold colors like red, yellow, and orange, and its sturdy nature lends well to stately desks, tables, and storage cabinets.

Is grey a mid-century modern color? ›

Midcentury modern embraces a more neutral yet deep color palette, which can work as a base for the rest of the decor. White, gray, dark, and olive greens, browns, deep browns, and muted, mustard yellows and oranges are often featured in midcentury modern designs as well as natural wood tones.

What is mid-century modern vs contemporary interior design? ›

Contemporary and midcentury modern are very different designs. Midcentury modern is minimalistic and features neutral tones, while contemporary incorporates more curvy furniture and decor with bolder colors. It can be difficult to mix the two styles together, as they are distinct opposites in design.

What does a mid-century modern house look like? ›

A midcentury modern house plan is characterized by a very wide, low footprint with large, open spaces, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an emphasis on bringing the outdoors in. Although midcentury modern architecture boomed all across America from 1945 to 1969, it's seen a major resurgence in recent years.

Is Shiplap mid-century modern? ›

Mid-century modern is all about the furniture, architecture, and design elements from the middle of the twentieth century. It's known for its organic shapes, sleek lines, and a mix of materials (think plastic, metal, and wood). Shiplap fits right into any mid-century modern design room.

What is an example of a mid-century modern? ›

Many famous architects created iconic midcentury furniture pieces that are still popular today including the Eames Lounge Chair, the Barcelona Chair, the Wassily Chair, the Egg Chair, the Noguchi Coffee Table, the Eero Saarinen Tulip Table, the Platner Armchair, the Bertoia Chair, the Jeanneret Chair and the Florence ...

How much does it cost to build mid-century modern home? ›

A mid-century modern home costs $200 to $500 per square foot to build because you may need custom materials and features, like windows or roofs, that cost more per square foot. A true MCM home typically has around 1,500 to 2,500 square feet, so your total project cost could range from $300,000 to $1,250,000.

How do I make the exterior of a house look mid-century? ›

Mid-Century Modern homes often feature bold, contrasting colors. Consider using a vibrant door color, like turquoise or mustard yellow, to make a statement. For the main exterior, opt for neutral tones like white, beige, or gray to complement the bright accent color.

Is mid-century modern still in style? ›

Why the MCM aesthetic continues to dominate. What is it about mid-century modern furniture that makes it so enduring and desirable? Home design trends may come and go, but classic lines are always in style.

How to get a mid-century look? ›

Mid-century modern style is all about tension and juxtaposition. Pair unique curved or rounded couches and armchairs with more angular or geometric coffee tables, light fixtures, and artwork. Craft focal points in every space through layers and statement pieces that command attention.

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