Peachy Keen Pad: Five Tips for Flawless Mid-Century Modern Style
Though Mad Men will have been off the air for two years this year, there’s been no decline in the popularity of mid-century modern style. While it may have been sparked by nostalgia, this trend has prevailed thanks to it’s classic yet modern appeal. Mid-century modern design comes from the period 1945 through 1970 (though some argue it ended around 1960). It was part of the atmosphere at the time that celebrated the end of World War II and the impressive advances in technology that it brought about. Featuring clean lines, lighter wood tones, and functionality, mid-century modern design was a stark contrast of the heavily decorated interiors that came before. Designers like Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, Hans Wegner, and Charles and Ray Eames led the way into this modern aesthetic. New technologies and materials were used, and extra parts were eliminated to create streamlined pieces that helped keep rooms looking open and light. The style has endured because of its functionality; the no frills, pared back look isn’t extravagant but still conveys a sense of good taste. It’s easy to be inspired by this style, but be sure to mix it with some contemporary sensibilities to prevent your house from turning into a museum. Below are the essentials for creating a brilliant mid-century modern inspired space.
Knock on Wood
Mid-century modern design, especially that inspired by Scandinavian design, is all about simple, linear shapes rendered in natural woods. The fluid form and natural grain of wood was celebrated and highlighted by designers. While wood panelling was popular at the time, you don’t need to bring it back to have an authentic looking mid-century modern space. Including some beautiful pieces of wood furniture will get you the look without making the room appear dated.
Unique pendant lamps and chandeliers are a key accessory for a mid-century modern room. Sputnik lamps were especially popular during this time, and feature bulbs on straight rods radiating out of a central sphere. A great Sputnik lamp will instantly take your space back to the Space Age side of mid-century modern design. But if that’s not to your taste there are plenty of other lighting options. While you want to go bold, the design should still be relatively simple, and not too fancy.
For floor and table lamps you have two options — either very straight, geometric lines, or rounded, curved contours. Choose the option that will contrast with your furniture for the boldest lighting option.
While mid-century modern furniture design was pared down and often unornamented, textile designs were a feast for the eyes. Graphic patterns rendered in bold colors inject some fun into the space. An area rug or throw pillow with an eye-catching graphic print is an ideal way to incorporate this aspect of mid-century design into the room without overwhelming the space.
Modular storage is a great way to balance mid-century modern and contemporary. Modular storage units were iconic at the time, and are also currently having a revival of their own thanks not only to the resurgence of mid-century modern design, but their usefulness in minimalist design. Modular shelves can be arranged on walls for unique display areas, or bookcases can be used as storage that doubles as a room divider.
Color is key if you want a really authentic looking mid-century modern inspired space. Mid-century interiors typically featured darker neutral tones with saturated accent colors. Aqua and orange are often found in mid-century rooms as well as pops of other citrus tones. The color usually enters the room through the furniture and accessories, as walls were frequently left white to help the furniture take center stage. However, a graphic wallpapered accent wall would also be appropriate.
Those are the basics of putting together a mid-century modern inspired space. There are of course a bunch of other small details you can include to capture that retro vibe, including starburst mirrors and ball clocks. Also consider adding a bar cart to the dining or living space; cocktail culture was huge, and it would be an appropriate nod to the era. Full of iconic pieces created by renowned designers, we don’t foresee mid-century modern style going out of fashion anytime soon, so go ahead and embrace it.