mid-century living room

10 Essentials for Your Mid-Century Modern Interiors

Maybe it’s the compatibility with contemporary life. Perhaps it’s the elegance and functionality. Whatever the reason, the keen interest in mid-century modern design over the past decade remains strong. 

Getting the look isn’t hard once you know its basic elements. Here’s the breakdown: 

1. Aim For Light and Airy  

Even if a true, open concept, split-level floor plan isn’t possible, you can still create the light and airy feel of the mid-century modern (MCM) style with the right colors. Use white or neutral walls and create layers with saturated brights and patterns. The standard rule for color schemes is 60% dominant color, 30% secondary color and 10% accent color.  

mid-century living room

Mid-century Living Room

2. An Indoor / Outdoor Motif 

Nature plays a prominent role in MCM interiors. Showcase any outdoor views, flower gardens, rock gardens and patios by making the most of wide windows, sliding or folding glass doors. Locally sourced stone to clad fireplace mantels and accent walls is another way to achieve this interplay.   

mid-century modern white living room

Photo credit: Homepolish

    

3. Large House Plants  

The Monstera, Rubber Tree and Snake Plant / Mother-in-Law’s Tongue were the favored house plants of the period. The use of potted house plants in floor arrangements is common for this style and helps reinforce the nature motif.  They’re easy to grow too. 

Rubber Tree Plant

Rubber Tree Plant, Photo Credit: Sunset Magazine

Monstera Plant

Monstera Plant Photo Source: Pinterest

4. Simplicity and Clean Lines  

These are mainstays of the mid-century modern style. Furniture is mostly smooth surfaces with tapered legs and simple, deliberate embellishments, if any. Any accessories are highly curated to keep the look uncluttered and on point.   

5. Wood Elements  

Keeping with the nature theme, Teak was the favored wood for MCM interiors, but Rose, Oak and Walnut were also used for furniture as well as wall coverings. 

Teak Paneling in bedroom

Teak Paneling

6. Iconic Mid-century Modern Pieces   

The Bertoia Diamond Chair, Saarinen Tulip Table or a Nelson Clock are unmistakable pieces of the period. Whether original or reproduction, adding even one of them would go far toward anchoring the look.

 

7. Geometric and Graphic Patterns  

Here is where this design style gets playful. The restraint required in order to achieve those smooth and simple lines gets rewarded in the iconic patterns in wallpapers, rugs and fabrics. 

8. The Home Bar  

Cocktail culture was big part of the lifestyle during this period. Every home had some sort of bar, be it large or small, for mixing drinks.  

9. Statement Lighting   

Lighting is key to the MCM style. It should have a sculptural look and make a bold statement. If  there is enough space,  put in a floor lamp. Brass, bronze, chrome and copper finishes all work well with this style. 

10. Abstract Art  

Whether using sculpture, framed artwork or both, abstract art was the art of the times, so it fits very nicely. It also adds a lot of character to a room, so include it with confidence. 

That wraps it up. Have fun incorporating any or all of these elements into your MCM project then leave a picture in the comments.

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