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Mid-century modern: A look at the design style and how to incorporate it into your interiors

By Natasha Heard  |  February 15, 2021
mid century modern

Interior design movements and styles grow and develop over the years to incorporate the changing seasons, evolving tastes and current fashions, but always remain firmly rooted in their original approach.

From Art Deco to mid-century modern to minimalist, and many others in between, the styles that we incorporate into our interiors do more than simply make our homes look stylish, they tell a story. Whether that is your intention or not – perhaps you just enjoy the style and how it looks – it is interesting to learn how certain styles came about and why they are still so popular today.

One such movement is mid-century modern, so, here we are going to take a look at what defines this style and how you can work the look into your home interiors.

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Mid-century modern is best known for its simple, functional and artful style

What is mid-century modern?

Mid-century modern is a design movement from around the late 1940s to the 60s and came to be after the end of the second world war when Bauhaus designers and architects relocated to America. The movement covered architecture, graphic design, interiors and products and is best known for its simple, functional and artful style.

Often associated with the word ‘retro’, mid-century modern interiors are characterised by clean lines, natural elements, organic and geometric shapes, curves, a range of materials, and either bold, black and white or neutral colours. It is this range of elements that ensures its enduring popularity, providing a timeless appeal.

Mid-century modern interiors are characterised by clean lines, natural elements, organic and geometric shapes, curves, a range of materials, and either bold, black and white or neutral colours

How to incorporate the style into your home

If you are looking to incorporate some mid-century modern design elements into your home, then you will be pleased to know that this is really quite simple to do. You will, no doubt, have a rough idea of the overall look you wish to achieve and, whether you are opting for a completely retro look or wish to modernise the style and incorporate certain elements to suit your contemporary tastes, you can do just this.

Coffee table

It may surprise you, but one of the more obvious places that the style really shows is within a coffee table. A central element to any living room, the coffee table blends functionality and style perfectly. A mid-century modern coffee table can have a glass top, be curved, round or rectangular, and will most certainly stand out in terms of style. Its shape should be unique, and its unfussy look will offer that signature practicality associated with the design trend.

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Low lying armchairs, minimalist style sofas, creative cushioning and ergonomic shapes – many factors characterise seating when it comes to the mid-century modern style

Chairs

Low lying armchairs, minimalist style sofas, creative cushioning and ergonomic shapes – many factors characterise seating when it comes to the mid-century modern style. Another predominant element of the trend, when you have the seating and table just right, your living room will be well on its way to showcasing this look, and this is the room that shows off the style in the most prolific way.

Firstly, consider sourcing antique pieces that you can perhaps have reupholstered. This will avoid you buying any watered-down versions of this fantastic style, though, if you can’t find something you like then, rest assured as designers have been and are still heavily influenced by this trend, so you will definitely find designer seating to suit.

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The style and era can be represented in so many ways, but designer elements and stylish furniture are a good place to start

Overall elements

If you are looking to add more to your room than selected elements, then you will need to think about your home as a whole and consider where you can make appropriate changes throughout to represent the era.

As mentioned, this trend loves to show off a range of natural elements, and blends them together too, so be prepared to create a stone wall surrounding your fireplace, add wood panels to walls and/or floors using a shining cherry wood, seek out glass table tops and incorporate a bold print. Perhaps an egg chair or statement artwork in blue, red and yellow would work too. Artists such as Andy Warhol represent this era well within their artworks, and abstract pieces from artists like Henri Matisse will complement the look very well.