If you’re wondering what’s trending in interior design lately, it’s a style where both vintage and modern elements share the same space. It’s called mid-century modern and can easily be described as an ultra-chic, classic style with mad attitude.
The good that came out of the bad.
Hot off the heels of World War II came a virtual explosion of cutting-edge architecture and furniture design. New design had come to a screeching halt before that, as the demands of war caused both a shortage of materials and skilled craftsmen. However, new technologies developed during the war were now filtering in to mainstream society, where innovative designers began experimenting with new space-age materials and functional forms.
Become familiar with the designers of the era.
Mid-century modern is very designer oriented. To really embrace this style, it helps to become familiar with the iconic names and designs of the time. Famous designers include:
- Charles and Ray Eames- The Eames Chair, molded plywood chairs, La Chaise
- George Nelson- The Marshmallow Sofa, The Nelson Platform Bench, graphic clocks, bubble lamps
- Isamu Noguchi- Akari lamps, Noguchi coffee table
- Eero Saarinsen- The Tulip Chair, The Womb Chair, The Grasshopper Lounge Chair
- Arne Jacobson- The Egg Chair, The Swan Chair, The Ant Chair
This is just a handful of the dozens of designers that paved the way for the sleek, stylish curves of modern furniture. Most of these groundbreaking designs are still in production today and so are the manufacturers that produced them, such as Herman Miller and Knoll.
Start a mid-century makeover by downsizing clutter.
The one thing you don’t want to have in a mid-century design is clutter. Don’t overcrowd rooms with too much furniture or decor. The look is crisp and clean, embracing open floor plans, pared down forms and seamless transitioning between interiors and the outer natural world. Sliding glass patio doors, large picture windows and walls of glass open up rooms to natural light and scenic views.
Choose furnishings that complement the style.
Vintage elements of mid-century modern design blend easily with 21st-century contemporary décor. A room filled with modern, low-profile furniture needs only a few vintage accents to lend a mid-century vibe. A good thing, considering how pricey authentic reproductions are.
Make an iconic Bubble, Swan or Egg chair a conversation piece or focal point in the room. Wood paneling is also making a comeback, so consider paneling an accent wall. It doesn’t have to be hideous, go for a designer look with narrow planks in a herringbone pattern or mismatched, reclaimed boards for an eclectic twist.
Throw in a few mid-century accessories and colors.
Go vintage on your walls with a Nelson ball clock, sunburst clock or sunburst mirror. Place an Arco floor lamp behind your favorite reading chair. Hang a Sputnik chandelier in the dining room. Stock a portable bar cart with a few premium liquor bottles and martini glasses for days with impromptu happy hours.
Incorporate some wood veneer and organic colors such as avocado, mustard, turquoise and tangerine in your contemporary design scheme for some nostalgic, mid-century flair.