The One Thing to Remember when Creating a Mid-Century Modern Interior
Let’s face it: try as we may, few of us are ever likely to live in an MCM house like the ones that set the pulse racing in those shiny architectural magazines.
However, what we can all do on a relatively modest budget is create a mid-century modern décor scheme.
Great, we hear you say. But what does that look like and how can we do it?
The answer is relatively simple: think natural.
Bring the Outside Inside
Bringing the outside world within the confines of your home is a huge part of mid-century modern house design.
This is why so many of the best mid-century modern homes you see in those architectural magazines have huge windows that stretch from wall to wall and top to bottom.
If you ever take the time to look at what’s on the other side of those windows, you’ll normally see an expanse of green (trees, grass, perfectly manicured gardens) or blue (a lake, the ocean).
From the light to backdrop, the room is being flooded with the natural. And this is a pretty good place to start with your interior.
We don’t expect everyone who reads this will be in a position to start kicking through walls, installing a series of sizeable windows and placing a forest at the back of their house.
But what you can easily do is start introducing organic shapes, themes and materials into your home.
Mid-Century Modern Colour Schemes
There is a slight misconception that mid-century themes must have white walls. This is not the case.
In reality, this is a contemporary, Scandinavian twist that has been added retrospectively.
This is not to say you shouldn’t have white walls in your home. If pushed, we’d probably recommend that you do as they reduce the risk of introducing too many competing elements in your theme.
But if you’re confident that colour is for you then don’t shy away because you are concerned you’ll undermine the authenticity of your look because you won’t.
If you return to those images from the architectural and design magazines we discussed in the last section, you’ll see plenty of mid-century modern homes with greens, blues, yellows and even reds.
So, where do you start? Easy: with organic shades.
If you take a look at this 1948 House & Garden cover, you’ll see a wide spectrum of colours. What unites them is that they are taken almost entirely from nature. Just look at some of the names of the colours: avocado green, geranium red, purple heather.
Cynics amongst you might be wondering where else colours could come from but don’t forget the two biggest product releases of 2017 have colourways named “Space Grey” and “Kinda Blue”.
Long story cut short, if you think organic, you can’t go wrong. Similarly, avoid using more than three colours in your theme and try to stick to the 60-30-10 rule (60% dominant base colour, 30% secondary colour, and 10% accent colour).
Bold colours reflected the optimism of the era. If you’re drawn to the idea, then embrace it.
Mid-Century Modern Furniture
It is no coincidence that most of the items we sell in our UK mid-century furniture store are made from high-quality veneer or solid wood.
Again, it goes straight back to this idea of bringing the natural world into your home.
Anything with an open grain is brilliant at doing this. Furthermore, any item that is either made from solid wood or with an expensive veneer like teak is usually a good indication of high-quality construction so you know you’re getting something durable and well-made.
If you’re unsure of what the term mid-century furniture actually means, have a look through our collection. You’ll see plenty of clean lines in a perfect balance with organic curves and a general absence of any superfluous details.
If you don’t feel like paying for the real thing, you can always get reproduction or imitation models that come with a lower price point. Just don’t expect the same quality and attention to detail.
Both blonde and dark wood can be used in your mid-century interior so don’t feel that you need to stick to one over the other unless you are doing so for the sake of consistency.
Mid-Century Modern Lamps and Lighting
Mid-century lighting designers had some pretty interesting ideas. Bringing some of these shapes into your home can take you ever closer to that mid-century house you desire.
Pendant lights (another largely organic shape) were en vogue at the time and adding a series of these to a living room, kitchen or dining area will have an instant impact.
Designers like Werner Panton made these lights in a rich assortment of colours so if you look hard enough you’ll have plenty to choose from. Just remember to stick to the 60-30-10 scheme.
Another bit of good advice is to look for designs that spread light horizontally as this will reduce glare. This was a mid-century trend that, while it may go unnoticed, is well worth introducing for the sake of comfort.
Floor lamps are brilliant at stopping a dark corner from making a room look smaller than it is. Mid-century modern lamps are often slender with either straight lines or subtle curves.
Again, expect to see a lot of teak or turned oak in your searches but don’t rule out metal lamps as they were prevalent at the time too.
Apply the same criteria to your search for mid-century desk lamps and you’ll get sorted in no time.
Mid-Century Rugs and Decorator Items
Same rules apply here: go natural and you won’t go wrong.
Items like sheepskin rugs or cowhide cushions will look perfectly at home if you follow the thread.
Similarly, filling some of the empty spaces in your house with verdant plants is another quick, easy way to create that mid-century feel without completely re-designing your home.
Mirrors with wooden frames or bases are another relatively affordable way to enhance or create that mid-century modern interior. We find that teak works particularly well in this instance.
Don’t be scared of introducing large mirrors either as they can make a room feel bigger and brighter, which is half the point of those big windows we discussed in the opening sections of this piece.
This element of your theme is also the one place where you can feel free to break with nature. Rugs and prints with geometric patterns will look both authentic and great.
By adding this visual interest, you can set up a balanced dialogue between contrasting design elements that will give your theme just a little something different.
You don’t have to go down this route, but if you feel like mixing it up a little you absolutely should.