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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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Retail Design for the Millennials

The retail industry’s challenge of capturing and holding the attention of the Millennial demographic is officially ON. Retail design for the millennials involves designing retail spaces to create compelling shopping experiences.  That’s the name of the game for this sector.

Pop-up shops are prominent examples of the new experiential shopping space. These temporary shops are installations designed for selling merchandise in destinations where target customers are likely to be. Top fashion houses like Fendi and Armani have used these pop-ups at events like the Cannes Film Festival and New York Fashion Week in neighborhoods like Soho.

Fendi Soho pop-up shop

#fendishoho via

This #FendiSoho pop-up has a fun arcade theme, complete with handbag-dispensing vending machines and a lightbulb-studded chandelier in a vintage space with exposed brick walls and parquet floors.

The subscription shop is another example of experiential shopping. A more permanent model than the pop-up, the subscription shop is designed to entertain customers and encourage socializing.  Birchbox, primarily an online cosmetics subscription service, now has a physical shop for their customers to visit. 

Birchbox Soho

Birchbox Soho shop

The design Birchbox uses allows for in-store beauty services, classes and a DIY box-building station for samples to take home.

Merchandise displayed as art objects is a very popular concept, particularly for shoes and handbags. This theme often uses a minimalist design to give the customer the experience of luxury and value via the look and feel of an art gallery.

Movie theaters are probably the most familiar form of experiential retail.  It’s rare however, for theaters to implement original design — often it’s the unfortunate maroon velvet homage to the early 20th century here and there, or just outright schlock. This theater in Hong-Kong by Oft Interiors really got it right when they opted for a modern, almost Star Trek-y look for this huge space. Bravo!



Greg Klassen Glass Waterway Table

Green Furniture Design and Fine Craftsmanship

In the past decade the concept of green furniture design and sustainable interiors has achieved widespread acceptance. Its application, however, can still be tricky. At times, the look of the end product isn’t quite right, availability might be an issue, or maybe it’s the quality that’s lacking. It just isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

What follows are three examples of green furniture design that meet the criteria for sustainability, accomplished design and quality craftsmanship.

Berg River Dining Table/Greg Klassen

Berg River Dining Table/Greg Klassen

First up, the River Collection by Greg Klassen. All of Klassen’s works are crafted from a variety of sustainably sourced trees from the Pacific Northwest. Each piece is inspired by the area’s woods and streams as much as by the tree’s individual grain patterns and raw edges. The inlay of blue glass gives the collection its distinctive, a river runs through it, look.


Gradient Table

Gradient Table

Next, since ca. 2004 furniture designer and craftsman Eli Chissick has been creating pieces of furniture from wood scraps sourced from carpenters’ shop floors. Aside from the quality of the work itself, what’s most surprising is the volume of his body of work. As of this writing, there are three different collections, each comprised of many individual pieces. After visiting his site it’s easy to see why he’s won so many awards. Amazing. Definitely worth a look.

Finally, for many of us the charm of the sea shore is hard to resist. What’s harder is applying those coastal treasures in ways appropriate for anything other than a pre-teen girl’s bedroom. Solutions?


How about the Driftwood collection by Swedish architect/designer LInda Hagberg. She uses sourced driftwood and parametric technology to create furniture inspired by the ocean’s undulating patterns on the wood’s natural state. The result is sustainable furniture that is unique, practical and beach-y without being too precious.  Win-win.


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