Understanding Mid-Century Modern Interior Design

Mid-century modern is a recognizable style with retro elements and a mixture of traditional and contemporary design. You will find it in art museums, furniture, and architecture, fusing with minimalistic features and vibrantly colored designs alike. A simple online search for this style will bring up everything from a right facing sectional to the famous work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Learn more about the origins and characteristics of mid-century modern design and how you can integrate it into your space.

Origins of Mid-Century Modern Design

Cara Greenberg coined the term “mid-century modern” in the 1950s to describe what we now know as a fusion of organic and synthetic materials, clean lines, and retro style. It started with architects and designers from Germany who immigrated to the U.S. following the Second World War.

As the post-war economy boomed, introducing credit cards and mass production, architectural and interior design started to incorporate the functional needs of American households. Famous designers from this time include Arne Jacobsen, Herman Miller, and Eero Saarinen. Today, mid-century modern furniture still reflects those utilitarian values but with more character.

Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Furniture

You know a mid-century modern sofa when you see one. Picture a right facing sectional with tapered solid wood legs installed at a subtle angle. Other classic characteristics include:

  • Minimalistic, sleek, clean lines 
  • Mixtures of natural materials, such as wood, metal, and glass, and manufactured materials, like lucite and vinyl
  • Mixing pops of vibrant color with black, white, and wood tones
  • Fusing outdoor and indoor aesthetics to bring continuity from the house to the yard

A mid-century modern living room may have a contemporary coffee table with vintage lamps acting as statement pieces or a credenza with minimal decor on top to avoid clutter.

Tips for Creating a Mid-Century Modern Room

If mid-century modern design speaks to your style, remember a few simple tips when creating your room. First, ground your design in something natural. You may choose a neutral wall color as your base and introduce nature into the room with potted plants.

Next, boldly play with color. You might choose a right facing sectional in a vibrant blue or red to act as the centerpiece of your living room or a clean, rectangular headboard for the bedroom in sage green, a color deemed the new neutral in 2022. Color is what removes mid-century modern design from minimalism into its own category.

Finally, choose statement pieces and build the room around them. You may start with an elaborate art piece on the wall or a dining room table in a unique shape. Choose window treatments with bold geometric patterns and incorporate those shapes into the pillows or lamp shades. Mid-century modern design is about highlighting your character without clutter.

Shop a Mid-Century Modern Brand with Options

The mid-century modern style is approachable and versatile, meeting everyday life’s practical needs with room to make it your own. For living room furniture to enhance your mid-century modern design, view the collection at Poly and Bark.





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I'm Crystal. I'm married to Dale, and mother to Johnny.Some might say that my life is perfect because I get to do all the cliché wife things like cooking, cleaning, and decorating - but there's more! I also have many hobbies including needlework (crochet), sewing, and reading. My son's education is important, so we homeschool him together.

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