It's nearly two decades into the second millennium, but there's an interior design style from the last century that's more popular than ever: mid-century modern. Mid-century style, which arrived in the 1950s, is an aesthetic that has endured, and today people are still intrigued by this look that is influenced by modern art, architecture, and the budding age of technology.
Today, many people incorporate mid-century furniture into their homes, particularly in the living room. The living room makes for a great space to incorporate pieces that have straight lines, gentle curves, and an overall minimalistic feel.
If you want to create a mid-century modern living room, it can help to understand more about the popular pieces of the day and their inspiration. You can also learn about how to incorporate the mid-century look into your space seamlessly, without having to overhaul everything that you already own and love.
The Accent Chair
The mid-century accent chair traces its roots back to the lounge chair, which was one of the most luxurious and famous pieces during the height of mid-century design. Charles and Ray Eames created the Eames Lounge Chair, a luxurious but handsome leather and wood recliner with leather ottoman. These chairs, inspired by 19th-century club chairs but with an updated twist, made an indelible mark on popular style and appear in movies, documentaries, books, and tons and tons of people's living rooms.
If you're going to incorporate an accent or lounge chair into your space, choose one that is also inspired by the mid-century era. The brown leather chair is a great option for an Eames inspired lounge chair to anchor your space.
The Coffee Table
If there's one item of living room furniture that screams mid-century it's the coffee table. This central living room item appeared in nearly every mid-century space, and it represented both a focal point and a convenient spot to set down drinks as you socialized.
One look that is particularly influenced by the mid-century aesthetic is a coffee table with hairpin legs. Hairpin leg coffee tables exude all of the best of mid-century style: they have gentle curves, they look inspired by the atomic technology of the time, and they are clean and minimalistic.
For a good idea of a coffee table that fits into mid-century design, check out these mid-century-inspired pieces.
The mid-century living room always had a sofa, of course. But the style of the mid-century sofa is very distinct. There is nothing overly cushy or decorative about the mid-century sofa, which reflects the stark minimalism of modern art. The sofa is typically low and rectangular and designed with contrasting textures.
Watch: Mid Century Living
5 Steps to a Mid Century Modern Home
Looking at pictures of mid-century modern decor is easy, but when it comes to actually incorporating the look into your own home, you’re going to need a lot more strategy. Here are five steps to help you strategize your mid-century modern home – and some easy-to-look-at pictures along the way!
1. Glam Up.
Mid-century design may have focused on minimalism, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t retain a ‘memento’ of the high-gam decor of traditional Victorian homes. Top off a mid-century modern room with a shiny accent piece or a luxe velvet pillow for an authentic vintage feel.
2. Choose Low-to-the-Ground Seating.
When it comes to mid-century modern, the sleeker and lower the profile, the better. Opt for chairs, beds and sofas with shorter-than-normal legs or bases to maintain the simplicity of mid-century modern.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, homeowners were looking toward the future of design – without fully letting go of traditional elements. The result? A mix of colors (bold + neutral), but especially textures. To bring the mid-century mindset into your home, combine natural wood finishes, sleek metals and cozy upholstery.
4. Go Retro.
Get in the mid-century modern mindset with ‘blasts from the past.’ Incorporate distressed finishes reminiscent of vintage furnishings and bold, Warhol-like paintings to seal off a retro feel.
5. Reinvent Geometry.
Geometry is very mid-century; in a nutshell, geometric shapes are to mid century modern what baseball and apple pie is to America. In the 1950s, modern American homes embraced the clean lines of geometric shapes and patterns – and the sleek aesthetic they created. Look for rugs, pillows and wall art that incorporate intersecting lines and modular shapes to add a pop of geometry into your space – and define a mid-century look.