Define Your Style: Mid-Century Modern

Midcentury modern kitchen.
Photo: Remodelista
Find out how you can pull off the style in your own home.

Though it has its roots in the period between the 1940s and 1970s, mid-century modern style has gained a seriously chic reputation in the 21st century. The sophisticated, uncomplicated aesthetic still feels fresh today—aligning itself with the current obsession with all things minimalist and modern. Mid-century modern emphasizes contemporary patterns, natural materials and pared down forms. It effortlessly balances functionality and chic style and places importance on integration with nature. Famous examples of the style include the Philip Johnson Glass House, Neutra VDL Studio and Residence, Mies can der Rohe's Farnsworth and the Stahl House.

Mid-century interiors have an innate sense of ease and an organic edge, but are by no means boring. Bold geometrics, dramatic lighting and neutral palettes with pops of bold color are the style's bread and butter. Intrigued? The images and tips below illustrate how mid-century translates IRL and help you make it your own.

Photo via OneKindDesign

Mid-century furnishings are all about clean lines, simple finishes and natural materials—teak, oak, rose and walnut wood reign supreme. The combo ensures timeless appeal and let's be real—is pretty easy on the eyes. If you can't score originals (Etsy is a pretty prime spot to find pieces), there are plenty of affordable replicas on the market.

Photo via Emily Henderson

An aesthetic that embodies effortlessness is more than okay with us. Simple lines, pure forms and soft palettes via furnishings, architectural elements and accents create an uncluttered, calming atmosphere.

Photo via SF Girl by Bay

Finish a room with artwork, accents and furnishings iconic of the era. Be it a Pollock print, Eames lounge chair, Broyhill Brasilia credenza or a collection of funky brass figurines, pieces true to the period will give your space an authentic feel.


Photo via New Darlings

Mid-century lighting offers a dramatic and decidedly chic way to add visual intrigue to a room. Sputnik chandeliers and Arco floor lamps in particular have a sculptural quality that is symbolic of the era.

Photo via Dwell

Creating connection with nature was an important aspect of mid-century modern design, the concept of which is apparent in the work of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. While you may not be able to customize your space with sliding doors or wall-to-wall windows, weaving greenery in throughout your space is the perfect way to bring the outdoors in.

Photo by Remodelista

Mid-century style is pared down at its essence, which means the clutter has to go. Clear countertops puts the focus on a kitchen's unique features, be it a bright backsplash, sleek stainless appliances or a funky light fixture.

Photo via Decor8

While neutral hues and wooden accents are mid-century modern's bread and butter, pops of saturated color—fiery orange, rich red, moody teal or a cheerful shade of yellow—enrich a room and create an element of cool contrast.