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What You Need to Know about Mid-Century Modern Design

What You Need to Know about Mid-Century Modern Design
4 min. read

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Are you in search of a classic design style that offers clean lines, interesting shapes, and an abundance of style? Mid-century modern design is all that and more. Not to be confused with contemporary style, which actually refers to what is current at any given time, mid-century modern architecture and interior design came into vogue in the 1940’s and 50’s.  

While the style originated in the post-war era, it has a timeless appeal and is still extremely popular today. Because it’s so distinctive, mid-century modern (MCM) interior design can be tricky to get right. Too much can leave your space feeling dated while it can be hard to get the size and scale of individual pieces right. Here’s what you need to if you’re thinking about adding some mid-century modern design to your space.

Clean Lines and Interesting Shapes

Function, simplicity and fine craftsmanship are the hallmarks of mid-century modern design. The beautiful pieces are easy to spot because of their distinctive shapes and features. The telltale tapered wooden legs, sculptural chairs with smooth curves, and low, wide storage pieces help mid-century modern pieces stand out among their newer counterparts.

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com


Mid-Century Modern Furniture is Iconic

Chances are that stunning chair or table that you keep seeing over and over in design photos is a mid-century modern piece. When it comes to iconic furnishings that stand the test of time, many of them have their roots in mid-century style.

The most famous is probably the Eames lounge chair which is still a symbol of masculine style and has seen many knockoffs. But there are so many iconic midcentury modern pieces to choose from. Tulip tables, Barcelona chairs, wishbone chairs and the egg chair are all standouts of the era. You only need one or two of these iconic styles to showcase the beauty of MCM furniture in your home.

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It Plays Well with Others

Even though it’s known for being sleek and timeless, you can have too much mid-century modern design in your home. To keep your home from looking dated, try mixing mid-century modern with another design style. Keep things current by pairing it with contemporary, coastal or Scandinavian pieces. Choose a few MCM pieces that make a statement but be selective to create balance.

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Less is More

Mid-century modern design favours a minimal aesthetic. Because when your furnishings are this beautiful you don’t need any distractions in the room. But even though the pieces are beautiful, you shouldn’t waste space on anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. Instead of a lot of decorative items, focus on simple basics. Choose statement pieces like large sculptures or oversized artwork as a focal point. Then add plants and a few special pieces to complete your space.

Image: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com


Incorporate More Wood

Although innovative new materials such as plastic, fibreglass and laminates, became popular at the same time as mid-century modern design, wood is still the star of the style. Durable hardwoods such as teak, cherry, maple and beech were favourites of the era’s furniture designers. Look for upholstered chairs with wooden arms and legs, all wood coffee tables, and beautiful wood accent tables and sideboards to bring some mid-century style to your home.

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Keep A Low Profile

You won’t find any big, bulky or overstuffed pieces in a mid-century modern home. Furnishings are generally low-profile with chairs and tables that sit close to the ground. The low-profile style keeps sightlines open and allows oversized artwork and picture windows to be the focal point of the room.

Image: LEKSTOCK 3D / Shutterstock.com


Let Your Lighting Shine

In a style where excess décor is avoided in favour of beautiful standout pieces, lighting is often used to make a statement. As a result, mid-century modern lighting is almost as iconic as the seating. In fact, many of today’s most popular lighting trends are replicas of popular mid-century styles. Sputnik chandeliers, orb lights, oversized paper lanterns, and arched floor lamps are top lighting choices today just as they were 70 years ago.

Image: LEKSTOCK 3D / Shutterstock.com



Mid-century modern design embodies so many principles that still matter to us today. Quality, beauty, style and functionality are more important than ever now that we spend so much time in our homes. Who doesn’t need a little mid-century modern in their home?

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