The mid-century modern style is back in a big way and I for one am here for it. I actually don't really believe that clean lines, natural light, simple forms and natural materials ever went out of style... but the fact that people are searching for my beloved mid-century modern look makes me oh so happy.
There is something about the simplicity of mid century houses that is just so comforting. There is no clutter. No extra, unnecessary stuff. Just the necessities but necessities done in a beautiful way. Nature is of utmost importance in the mid century design style and framing the outside like a living painting with different scales of windows allows you to truly admire the beauty of the natural world. There is something so peaceful about watching the leaves fall or birds in the bath and mid century design draws your eye outward.
I purchased an original mid century modern home last year. I have had my eye on this particular house for almost 10 years and when I saw the owner putting the For Sale sign in the ground with her Realtor, I rolled down the window and asked when I could come see the house. 10 minutes later I was in the perfect little house. The owner had built it 65 years ago with her late husband and raised her 2 children here. I almost could not believe that a house half the size of my current house was seemingly perfection but there I was thinking just that.
Small and original, there were renovations that were needed to accommodate life for today's standards but I could see through it all and knew I could create the perfect home. I am so glad I was able to save this house. So many others would have torn it down. So many other homes like mine are being torn down. They are little bits of history reduced to rubble. My hopes are to inspire others with some ideas so that other original mid century homes can be saved. They are true gems.
Are you lucky enough to have your very own mid century home? Or, are you looking to incorporate the design elements of this era into your current home? Here are some tips when incorporating mid century modern living room design into your own home.
The importance of a focal point
If your room doesn't have a main focal point, create one. When I bought my original mid-century modern home, the one thing I knew the living room needed was a fireplace. I couldn't imagine cooler weather in Chicago without one. The wall of windows in my living room showcase the backyard and when the snow falls, it feels like you are in the center of a snow globe. And the only thing that can make that better is a fireplace.
I opted for this sleek, linear insert and flanked the fireplace with marble topped cabinets to give me a space to add much needed design elements. I added balanced but different wall art, interesting decor and these amazing light fixtures which I intentionally flipped to have the colors opposite each other. The additional storage is also a very mid century thing to do. When looking at original mid century homes you will see that well designed storage solutions are the key to keeping your living space free of clutter.
So this focal point provided me more that I originally thought. I got my beloved fireplace, I added storage and I now have the perfect area for some of my favorite decor pieces.
Mid-century design is the perfect choice for small spaces
Living spaces that lack the space part work perfectly for mid-century modern design. The name of the game is minimal and clean. This means you need to make the most of what you do choose to put in the room. Each piece that goes into these smaller spaces are so important. A chair is not just a chair to add seating. A chair is an important design element in the space. When you see original mid-century modern furniture you will see that each piece is a work of art. Furniture pieces of this era are stunning and incorporating originals (if you can!) or mid-century inspired pieces will bring that classic look while providing much needed seating that we need in the modern home.
What do you look for in the perfect mid-century furniture piece? SHAPE!
My coffee table is new but these curves are what interior designers dream of. This brings me to another point... you don't need to stick to just one interior design style. My mid-century inspired sofa pairs perfectly with this modern coffee table even though they may not necessarily be the same style.
If you can't find a big coffee table (or don't want to invest in one right now) a great way to incorporate shape is through side tables. The gorgeous little table below sits perfectly next to my original mid-century side chair that I had reupholstered.
This chair holds a special place in my heart. The original owner, Gert, gave me this beautiful chair of hers when I bought the house and I cherish it beyond measure. If you are looking to start small, a great way to incorporate shape is through side tables. This gorgeous little table sits perfectly next to my original mid-century side chair that I had reupholstered.
If you don't have a beautiful gift such as this, finding original accent chairs may be easier than you think. Your local vintage shop is the perfect place to start. If they don't have what you want don't worry. The beauty of these shops is they're always getting new treasures so keep checking back.
A note about the color scheme
The original mid-century modern living room may have been full of wood and neutral colors with pops of rich colors but now what is also perfectly acceptable is making this style your own and that means that using mixed neutrals or a variety of rich bold colors or even primary colors can work well with your mid-century style. Traditionally you would see rich ochre, or bright orange or vibrant mustard yellow so it is nice to incorporate these somewhere. I have chosen to add this in the arrangement on the side table. Even though I have chosen soft white walls for my small living room as it is the perfect backdrop for my open floor plan, this floral arrangement gives a little nod to the color palette of the past.
Here are a few things to get you started...
What are some other ways to incorporate the look?
Nature, nature, nature! Like I said earlier, the one thing that was quintessential in mid-century homes was the emphasis on nature. You may not be able to replace your small windows with floor to ceiling ones but you can add some potted plants. The bigger the better! There are so many amazing indoor houseplants that can work in almost any room of your home whether you have a green thumb or not. One good thing that came from the pandemic is the amount of new plant parents we have seen emerge so if you don't know what to get, ask around. Head to your local nursery or plant store and tell them about your capabilities (or lack thereof). Show them a photo of the room where you'd like to add a plant and tell them what direction it faces. They will be able to guide you to the best options for your space. I have found that the people who work at these places are so incredibly knowledgable and helpful. They have helped me to successfully grow many plants over the past few years.
Another way to be sure to add some nature is to maximize your views to the outside. By minimizing the amount of your windows that are covered by drapery or other window treatments, you will let the light shine in and bring your eye outside to the beauty of nature. Minimal window coverings means maximum outdoor views.
Remember, mid-century living room design doesn't have to be an all or nothing type of a deal. If you start by incorporating sleek lines, organic shapes and an accent piece or two you will get a new look that brings you back to the beauty of the mid-century era. Have some fun by looking up original living spaces and draw inspiration from that. I promise it will be a great place to start.
Splurge or Save?
This is a question that is often asked when reworking a space. When do you splurge and where should you save? Here's my general rule of thumb:
SPLURGE-WORTHY : This is where the bulk of your investment will be spent. Think: LONG TERM. Are you going to do a bit of construction? That is not a decision you should be making lightly nor is this an area to spend on trends. Long term investments should be the timeless elements in your home (although timeless is a relative term!). Another place to spend a bit more is on your heavily used furniture. Think: PRICE PER USE. If you are in the market for a new sofa for the family room that gets a ton of use, this is a great place to spend your money on a high quality piece of furniture. It gets a ton of use and you want it to last. Well made furniture with high performance fabrics that can stand up to wear and tear cost a bit more but are worth spending for a high use space.
SAVE : If you are looking to replace a piece of furniture in an area that does not get a ton of use, say a guest bedroom, you should save and get something that aesthetically works well in the space but is a cost-saving purchase. Trending elements is another category to save. Is there a color that is the 'it' color right now? Add it in accents like pillow and throw blankets rather than committing to repainting your entire first floor. Is there a design style you are looking to incorporate? Maybe start with a side table rather than a dining table to start small.
The bottom line is there are ways to save where you need to in order to splurge where you want to. Need help? Reach out to us for some advice!
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