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A Mid-Century Modern Makeover

Achieve a "Mad Men"-inspired space in your home with this guide to mid-century modern interior design.

Have you been repeatedly binge watching Mad Men since the series finale in 2015? Do you just have to get your hands on any vintage antique you can find, and wish you could dress like it was the 1960s all over again? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be interested in mid-century modern interior design for your home!

Characterized by sleek lines and functional elements, “mid-century modern” is defined as the design era that took place between 1933 and 1965. It regained popularity in 1983, when author Cara Greenberg defined the movement in her iconic book, Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s. Since then, the mass appeal of the style has been ever-growing and still prevalent in our interiors today.

The mid-century modern style has remained popular throughout recent American history because it is great for small spaces, blends well with other design styles for a transitional look, and is very easy to find, whether you’re looking for a vintage antique or shopping for retro-inspired contemporary pieces.

But how can you achieve mid-century modern interior design in your home?

There are several overarching elements to mid-century modern design. Iconic statement pieces like credenzas and the famous Eames chair will set the scene for your space. Natural wood details and a balance of neutral and bold color palettes will create the nostalgic aesthetic you’re looking for. And to top it all off, vintage-inspired lighting to pull the space together. Mid-century modern furniture is a perfect choice for any home because you’re able to do as much or as little as you please. You can commit to an entire theme with mid-century modern details from floor to ceiling, or you can incorporate a piece or two in each room to blend seamlessly into your existing space.

No matter how you swing it, mid-century modern style is here to stay. Here are a few ways you can incorporate the timeless design into your home.

Make an Iconic Statement

You can start your journey to a mid-century modern home  with a few iconic statement pieces that defined the era.

Whether at the office or at home, it seemed that Don Draper was never without a scotch in hand thanks to his trusty bar cart. Bar carts are available in a variety of sizes and can easily fit a small space or stand out as a larger accent. Simple, clean lines and metallic detailing can give your bar cart a mid-century vibe. Decorate the piece with ornate bottles and bar accessories to create a charming statement piece with the added function of displaying all your beverage needs.

Couches and accent chairs can also be a focal point in your space. The famous Eames Lounge Chair was designed in 1956 by husband-and-wife design duo Charles and Ray Eames, and became an iconic staple in mid-century modern decor. Our Manhattan Black Leather & Walnut Arm Chair by Mobital is one of many tasteful recreations of the classic chair and will add a real sense of elegance to your space. Comfortable black leather seating and natural wood accents invoke a mature mid-century vibe that can incorporate well into an eclectic motif.

Another beloved accent chair popularized by the mid-century movement is the Tulip Chair, designed by famed furniture designer Eero Saarinen. The Tulip Chair has taken many forms since its inception in the mid-1950s, and remains a staple in mid-century modern style to this day.

If an accent chair isn’t really your style, consider a retro-inspired couch. Defined by unique upholstered detailing and natural wood peg legs, mid-century sofas ooze ‘60s style without looking outdated. Available in a wide range of colors, from neutral to bold, you can create a space with a subtle mid-century atmosphere that is cozy and inviting.

It’s All in the (Wood) Details

Natural wood and wood finish details are an important part of mid-century modern style. Sofas and accent chairs include wood elements like peg leg supports and wooden arm rests to create a outdoorsy feel in your space. A major component of mid-century modern styling is a closeness with nature, so natural woods like teak and walnut are often used in the construction of mid-century furniture.

This timeless detail is a primary feature for another iconic piece of mid-century modern furniture, the credenza. A credenza, also called a sideboard or buffet table, is a low-sitting side cabinet used for storage and decor purposes. You will often see a credenza in a dining room to store excess china, but they can also be used in a living room as a television stand or in a hallway to place belongings like keys and wallets. There are tons of retro-inspired credenzas with unique wood details that would be a perfect addition to your mid-century home.

Another iconic mid-century piece famous for its wood accents is the Noguchi table. Designed by Isamu Noguchi for iconic furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, the Noguchi table features a glass tabletop with an attractive sculptural wooden base. The Noguchi table is considered a collectible item to mod-furniture enthusiasts, and many replicas of the original design are still available today for use as a mid-century modern coffee table.

The Importance of Lighting

As we mentioned before, mid-century modern styling takes much of its influence from bringing the outdoors inside. Nature-inspired elements like natural woods and indoor plants create an outdoorsy feel while maintaining sophisticated elegance. Another way nature comes into play in mid-century design is lighting. Ideally, mid-century design would utilize mostly natural light from large, tall windows with little to no drapery. However, since natural light isn’t always abundant in every home, there are several ways to incorporate mid-century style using light fixtures.

Brands like Stilnovo have cornered the market on mid-century modern lighting, with a wide selection of metallic chandeliers and pendant lights that invoke the 1960s aesthetic. Mid-century modern lighting embraces the popular starlight configuration to create mod, almost futuristic-looking fixtures that are classic and timeless. Large chandeliers work as statement pieces in a mid-century modern inspired home, making them perfect to add a single pop of mod to a room or to complement other mid-century pieces in the space.

The Little Things

Whether you’re tackling an entire home makeover, or you’re just looking to incorporate a little mid-century into your existing space, there are plenty of ways to add retro-inspired design to your interior.

Iconic statement pieces like an Eames chair, Noguchi table, or natural wood credenza are timeless and classic, adding a mid-century look to your space without being outdated. Be sure to incorporate plenty of nature-inspired elements like wood detailing and indoor plants, and utilize natural lighting where you can. Retro light fixtures can further illuminate your space, with metallic chandeliers and tall narrow table lamps.

Accessorize your space with a starburst mirror, metallic accents, and bold-patterned rugs and enjoy the vintage charm of your mid-century styled home.

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