31st July 2023

The Ultimate Guide on How to Get the Mid-Century Modern Look

By Darlings Of Chelsea

The mid-century modern look, which first appeared in postwar America in the 1940s, began to fade in the 1970s before re-emerging in the last few decades. And, it’s not hard to see why mid-century modern interior design has become the choice of so many in recent years. If you’ve heard the phrase or seen some mid-century furniture you like the look of and want to recreate this look within your interior, there are lots of different ways you can incorporate it without breaking the bank. From your living room to your bedroom, and from a city apartment to a country house, mid-century style can work anywhere – here’s the ultimate guide on how to get the mid-century modern look.

What is Mid-Century Modern Interior Design?

The Middleton Grand Sofa in Waxy Semi Aniline Tan

The phrase mid-century modern was coined by art historian Cara Greenberg, who published her book ‘Mid-Century Modern: The furniture of the 1950s’ in 1984. The book details the history of this furniture movement and some if its most influential designers. There are a few key characteristics of mid-century modern interior design that all contribute to creating a timeless aesthetic, such as:

  • Clean and simple lines.
  • Organic shapes.
  • Quality materials
  • and geometric shapes.

Bold colours have a role to play in mid-century modern interiors too, and dark wood is often a key feature, providing a stylish contrast to any fabrics and metals. Focus on simplicity – clutter is a no-no, it’s more about curating your furniture to create a stylish, enduring finish.

Is There a Difference Between Mid-Century and Modern?

When trying to define the difference between what is mid-century modern and what is modern, there are only a few small nuances. Essentially the main difference is the level of minimalism within your décor. Modern design is incredibly minimal and pared back, while mid-century is retro modern interior design, and it’s not afraid to use bold pops of colour.

What Style Goes Well with Mid-Century Modern?

The Exmouth 3.5 Seater Sofa Bed in Stain Resistant Broad Weave Linen Skylight

With a timeless aesthetic, mid-century modern interiors complement a range of other interior styles, including:

From the brick work and metal of an industrial interior to the textured, laid-back style of bohemian décor, mid-century modern can sit seamlessly alongside them, and what’s more, mixing styles helps to really capture your personality and make your space really bespoke to you.

How to Get the Mid-Century Modern Look

The Studio Lounger in Easy Clean Plush Velvet Elephant

If you’d like to create a mid-century modern interior, there are plenty of ways to do so without completely overhauling your décor. From mid-century modern living room ideas to bedrooms, we’ll look at the different options and colour palettes to create a stylish, retro-inspired interior.

Mid-Century Modern Living Room Ideas

If your living room is where you’d like to start, the key is to look at your space and what is currently in situ, working out what you want to keep and what you’re happy to invest in. Then the fun can begin!  

Mid-Century Modern Furniture

The Bletchley 3 Seater Sofa in Stain Resistant Cotton Velvet Lunar

One of the most obvious places to start is by looking at where you can incorporate mid-century modern furniture. Warm wood is a common theme in mid-century modern interiors, so if you’re looking at sideboards, coffee tables or bookcases, choosing a rich, deep wood will help to strengthen this aesthetic.

As well as wooden furniture, your sofa and any armchairs can play a starring role in helping you create a mid-century modern look. Mid-century modern sofas are defined be their simple yet functional design, clean lines and slim, tapered legs, such as the Bletchley.

Accent or Occasional chairs come in a real variety of shapes and sizes, with lots offering mid-century modern designs, such as the curved Wandsworth or the effortlessly elegant Exmouth loveseat with its clean lines and tapered legs.

And it’s not just the shape or your furniture, it’s the fabric as well. Nothing says retro modern interior design better than velvet! From soothing greens to vibrant mustards and burnt oranges, velvet can make a real impact in your interior.

Mid-Century Accessories

As well as your larger pieces of furniture, mid-century accessories can help to create layers within your décor. From rugs to wall art and clocks to lighting, there’s a wide range of different options which can create a retro aesthetic and add real character to your room. Spend some time researching what’s out there, with the likes of the kidney-shaped coffee table and the Sputnik chandelier there to inspire your imagination!

Wall Décor

Once you have decided on your furniture and accessories, the next step is wall décor. Whether you want your art to follow the same principles as your furniture, or like the idea of having some Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock on your walls, there’s a range of styles that fall into the mid-century modern era. It’s simply a case of choosing the artwork that you like the best.

And it’s not just art, there’s also the option of wall sculptures, which will not only create a talking point, they’ll add real character and personality to your space.

Introducing Geometric Shapes

A popular facet of mid-century modern design is its use of geometric shapes. Coming from the word geometry, geometric shapes make use of repeated shapes and lines to create an eye-catching design and can be used in interior design in a number of ways, including flooring, art and cushions. If you want to create a retro look in your home, geometric shapes will help you to do so.

Colour Schemes

The Shoreditch 3 Seater Sofa in Waxy Semi Aniline Tan

When planning your mid-century modern interior, your colour palette has a big part to play in creating the look. Earthy hues are a popular choice, with the likes of ochres, browns, mustard yellow and reds all working with this aesthetic.

Soft neutrals are also a stylish option. If you’ve chosen some dark wood to feature in your room, pairing it with warm colours really makes the most of this style of décor. If the thought of a mustard yellow wall is too much, why not have a mustard yellow velvet sofa instead, creating the perfect retro aesthetic! If you opt for browns, a leather sofa can help to build this picture, with a range of different leathers at your disposal.

Mid-Century Modern Bedroom Ideas

The Puddletown Headboard in Stain Resistant Cotton Velvet Holly

The beauty of mid-century modern design is that it works beautifully in any room. So, if it’s your bedroom that you’d like to decorate in this style, there’s plenty of ways you can create a mid-century modern bedroom.

Your furniture is a good place to start – if you’re buying a new bed, your bedframe tends to be a real focal point so it’s a great opportunity to dictate your style – think about clean, uncomplicated designs, with either a dark wood or a retro fabric such as velvet.

Once you have a mid-century modern bed, look at ways to complement it, with furniture such as bedside tables and a vanity table. Then think about what mid-century accessories would work in your space, such as mirrors, lighting, rugs and artwork. On your bed, you could incorporate a geometric pint through some cushions.

Master Bedroom Ideas

If it’s the master bedroom you’re looking at, and you have a little more room to play with, as well as the ideas mentioned above, you could also look at creating a cosy reading nook with a bedroom chair, which could sit alongside a bookcase or some shelves, creating the perfect place to relax with a book after a busy day.

Mid-Century Modern Bedroom Ideas for Small Rooms

The Bampton King Size Storage Ottoman in Stain Resistant Recycled Cotton Cliff Walk

When space is at a premium, mid-century modern design is still an option, it’s just a case of carefully mapping out where everything will go. Where possible, keeping clutter to a minimum really helps with this style, and looking at clever storage options, such as an ottoman bed, enables you to keep everything you need. When there isn’t much room for additional furniture, your art, wall colour and any accessories can help you to create that mid-century modern look.

Bedroom Colours

Similar to your living room, the colour you choose in your bedroom can really make a difference. The most important thing to decide is whether you’re looking for retro bedroom ideas, or want it to feel more contemporary. If you’re interested in a more retro feel, colours such as mustard yellow, warm browns and burnt oranges are a great place to start. If you’re thinking along the more contemporary lines, soft neutrals will provide the perfect backdrop.

Mid-Century Modern Boho Bedroom Ideas

A bedroom should be a place of calm, a place that inspires a restful night’s sleep – and a mid-century modern boho design would certainly help to create that kind of feeling. Bohemian décor is more rustic and brings a certain softness with it. It’s also an eclectic style which gives you the freedom to be quite liberal with what you choose.

Mid-century modern furniture can dictate the style, while bohemian accents, such as art, rugs or plants can help to soften the look. A neutral colour palette will work well in a bohemian aesthetic, complementing any wooden bedroom décor and helping to make your house plants really pop.

Mid-Century Modern Vintage Bedroom Ideas

If you’re a fan of vintage style, it’s time to hit the antique shops and flea markets! In addition to whatever mid-century modern furniture you’ve added to achieve a vintage vibe, you’ll need to incorporate some 1950’s bedroom furniture., such as a bedside table, lamp or desk. Not only will this add some authenticity to your design, but it will also make your décor unique and have a real story to tell!