Mid-century modern: simple, yet filled with drama

Mid-century modern: simple, yet filled with drama

By Tessa Bezuidenhout on Nov 03 2016

If you’re a fan of the show Mad Men, then you’ll know exactly what mid-century modern decor is. This style erupted into fashion during the 1950’s, and has since died and made a come-back.

From a time featuring casual day drinking, houses designed for lavish parties, and the golden age of television came a simple, sophisticated, and original take on design.

To add a retro vibe to your home, here are 5 key aspects of the mid-century modern style.

1. Iconic pieces

Picture credits: residencestyle.com; metrofurniture.co.uk; hivemodern.com; livingedge.com.au

Use stand out and legendary pieces, like the above pictured Eames lounge chair and matching ottoman (top left). This piece is so iconic, it’s featured not only in homes everywhere, but also museums. A statement of modern design, this piece was a symbol of comfort and, as described by the designer, “a special refuge from the strains of modern living”.

Pieces such as the Isamu Noguchi table (bottom left), Arne Jacobson’s egg chair (bottom right), and Eames moulded plywood chairs (top right) are all famous and classic statements to add to your home. All these pieces are revolutionary in design, and have changed the way we create furniture and decorate our homes. To really channel the mid-century modern style, incorporate a statement piece that speaks for the period you’re modelling after.

2. Geometric patterns

Geometric patterns.jpg Picture credits: calfinder.com; residencestyle; houseofhipsters.com

Geometric patterns were incredibly popular with mid-century modern styling, so include it where you can. As scary as wallpaper is, having a geometric patterned feature wall is the perfect way to incorporate some retro styling into your home. Paired with other mid-century modern features, the wallpaper will fit in nicely.

You can include some geometric patterns in more subtle ways, such as the above stair railing (left) or a unique book shelf (right). Buy some pillows for your sofa or a geometric rug to tie the room together.

3. Sleek and angular furniture

Picture credits: ebay.com.au; etsy.com/tdfurniture; lexington.com; visualheart.com

Moulded plywood, soft and comfortable fabrics, and sleek and sharp angles make for the perfect mid-century modern pieces. Look for bright colours, such as teal and orange, to make a statement with your furniture. Or pick up a simply coloured piece to add more to with bright and patterned throws, pillows, and decor items.

A common feature is round, extended furniture legs, which make an appearance on almost every piece of furniture from the 50’s. Leather items are also very popular, but just keep in mind how much maintenance and upkeep those pieces need to last.

4. Incorporate lot’s of wood

Picture credits: industrystandarddesign.com; homedit.com; hz-weiyu.com

Since Ray and Charles Eames introduced moulded plywood, having wooden touches throughout the home is very stylistic of the mid-century modern trend, so have plenty of wooden sideboards, desks, and dining furniture.

Although it’s common for homes of this period to have been mutilated with bright, patterned carpets completely throughout, it doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. Keep your beautiful, original wooden flooring to create a modern and comfortable space.

5. Little touches 

Little touches.jpg Picture credits: endsintstyle.com; esty.com/lucentlightshp; overstock.com

Add some little extras to your house to drive home the mid-century modern styling you’ve incorporated. Buy a wooden bar cart to stand out at parties and serve some cocktails (left). Or install a classic Sputnik chandelier in your dining room or lounge room to add the drama to mid-century modern styling (middle). A common staple of every lounge room in the 50’s was the giant starburst (also known as sunray) wall clock (right), which is making a huge come back in homes everywhere.