Dating back to the period between the mid-1930s and the mid-1960s, Mid-Century Modern style emerged as a popular design aesthetic after World War II. More than just interior design and decor, the term refers to architecture, art, literature, furniture and accessories.
Nowadays, as an interior design and decorating style, Mid-Century Modern encompasses everything from an Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair to a gold and wood Starburst wall clock. It can regularly be seen filtering through the work of 21st-century designers and has achieved cult-like status with design-lovers everywhere. If you want to embrace Mid-Century Modern style in a home, these are the most common elements to consider.
You will know Mid-Century furniture when you see it – it’s sleek, with clean lines and sophisticated curves that make it instantly recognisable.
For a sofa that boasts a vintage yet glamorous aesthetic, look no further than the Mid-Century trend. These large visual pieces have beautiful upholstery, with matching piping and strong symmetrical lines.
Tapered feet are a classic feature of modernist design and a sofa can easily be accessorised with Mid-Century-inspired patterned scatter cushions.
If you’re looking to invest in something with a smaller footprint, consider a statement chair. Although there are many designer chairs available today, there are two Mid-Century Modern designers who stand out from the competition: Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames.
Eero Saarinen’s designs employ modern materials in graceful, organic shapes that create perfectly-curved chairs such as the famous Womb and Tulip chairs. These ground-breaking pieces were designed to support countless lounging positions providing ultimate comfort.
Another staple of Mid-Century design is the Ottoman lounge chair by Charles and Ray Eames. It’s the ideal way to combine comfort, sophistication and functionality in a client’s home – perfect as a standalone feature or paired with a wooden table. These chairs are conveniently available in a variety of colours to suit every Mid-Century-style home.
Mid-Century Modern interiors rely on the use of fewer choice pieces. The aim is to not clutter a space. It’s about adopting a minimalist style in open-plan rooms to draw attention to each piece of furniture.
Mid-Century design is often free-form, unpredictable and flowing in appearance. Fortunately, the modernist design approach hasn’t changed much over the centuries. We can incorporate fascinating pieces, such as the organic glass coffee table from Isamu Noguchi, into an interior design scheme. The Noguchi table has a solid wood base consisting of two identical pieces that create symmetry and stability. It’s the perfect centrepiece for a Mid-Century-style living room.
Mid-20th-century designers commonly used natural materials in their designs. Using wood can give even the most contemporary space a Mid-Century Modern look. To create a nature-inspired style, consider using a wooden dining room table, chest of drawers, television AV unit or wardrobe. The Romana dining table by ercol is one of those rare designs that never dates ensuring stylish practicality for years to come.
ercol emerged in the post-war era with a passion for creating furniture that was both well-designed and well-made. Nearly 70 years later, the brand’s design icons are still as stylish today as they were in the 1950s and its long-lasting reputation for creating pieces that stand the test of time is what sets it apart from other modern-day furniture makers.
Wooden cabinets, ceiling details and doors can also be used to add warmth to a space. Whichever way you choose to use timber, investing in carved wood furnishings will bring everything together nicely.
When working wood into a space, be sure to utilise one range of colours and avoid using contrasting hues. Finding pieces with similar undertones – warm yellows, reds and oranges, cool greys, or neutral beiges – will help to keep a room unified.
When it comes to lighting, there’s no need to be modest – using unique and eye-catching fixtures are encouraged.
Colour and pattern
Be sure to explore earthy hues of orange, mustard yellow, olive green, soft blue and brown. Consider George Nelson’s iconic Atomic and Sunburst clock designs, which are ideal for hanging alongside modern art and sculptures in a living room. Or you can simply decorate a space with an amber vase, yellow velvet cushions or a vintage desk lamp to give it a Mid-Century Modern feel.
Use asymmetrical and abstract patterned cushions and throws for an effective way to add interest to a Mid-Century Modern-style home. Using understated geometric patterns, calm greys and blues are mixed with shots of yellow and green to bring a modern twist to British heritage.
Home accessories are the easiest and quickest way to add creativity, a touch of texture and pizzazz to Mid-Century Modern style. Reject the minimalist approach and instead add pieces that pack a punch.