The “Mid-Century Modern” Look

light grey and wood mid-century modern home, exterior view
Mid-century modern has had one serious comeback over the years and we’re here for it!

No doubt, we’ve all been there — You’re sitting down to your morning coffee or relaxing with your evening tea while watching HGTV.  You’re listening to the lucky homeowners and their playful banter while they politely bicker about their preferred (yet seemingly always clashing) styles; while the star designer is getting ready to find and craft their dream house out of thin air.

You finally hear a consensus between the two lovebirds, “in order to blend our retro and modern tastes, we would love a house that’s mid-century modern!”

To which, of course, you roll your eyes because we all knew the episode was heading in that direction all along. But you don’t change the channel because sitting through those next 49 minutes is totally worth not missing that final reveal. (Plus, let’s face it, the second you start changing the channels to avoid all the commercials is the second you start missing things!)

And you so wait patiently for the end result, which always looks fabulous like something straight out of a mid-century modern magazine. But then you think: mid-century modern… You know what it is, but you don’t really know what it is.

here’s what it is

Mid-century modern style was born out of a flourishing economy and a booming population during the mid-1930s to the late 1960s. The suburbs were rapidly growing with so many young families building, buying, and furnishing their first homes. Newly constructed homes were built smaller than those before them, open living spaces were desired for more room to entertain, and new trends in architecture became more appealing in order to stand apart from the old. Designers and builders became more experimental with new materials, aesthetics, and shapes to meet the needs of new home buyers.  Form and function were more necessary than ever before to accommodate the smaller, yet more usable, rooms in the house. Thus, the mid-century modern look came to be.

here’s what it looks like

mid-century modern rustic media console
strandmon wing chair with ottoman in dark forest green
  • Includes a vast range of colors from neutral to bold
  • Timeless, classic styles
  • Take a look at the STRANDMON Wing Chair from IKEA
mid-century bookshelf in acorn wood by west elm
  • Primarily uses organic materials like wood, but have grown further into mediums like plastic, vinyl, glass, and the ultra-modern, metals
  • Mid-Century 38″ Bookshelf in Acorn by West Elm
sleek entryway table/console with geometric mirror
mid century modern house exterior view with stone chimney
  • Mid-century modern begins with the architecture – featuring lower, flatter roofs on houses
  • Open floor plans
  • Bigger windows, more natural light
  • See more examples through HOOMDESIGN

here’s how to use it

Mid-century modern design is not a replica of times past. There’s no hard and fast definition, so don’t feel the need to hunt down countless pieces of vintage furniture just because it was made during that time.  (But if you do feel the need, please send me some photos because I would love to see that!!) As you would do in pursuing any style, it’s best to take it piece by piece.  Mid-century modern furniture tends to be a statement/focal point in a room. Too many statement pieces and the space can begin to look over cluttered or too busy.  Start out simply, with a modern table, mid-century bookcase, or brightly designed chairs that you absolutely love, and build your room around it.

Happy designing! 🙂

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