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Mid-century modern furniture and how to style it in your home

By: Nicole Harris

Mid Century Modern is still going strong in 2023. Since its emergence, Mid-century modern furniture has become an iconic symbol of the modern era. From its sleek lines and bold colors to its timeless style, mid-century modern furniture has been a popular choice for interior design for decades. Its popularity has only grown in recent years, as more people look to the past for inspiration in their design choices. From iconic chairs and sofas to iconic tables and storage pieces, mid-century modern furniture is both functional and stylish. Whether you're looking for a statement piece for your living room or a timeless classic for your bedroom, mid-century modern furniture is the perfect choice. Read below for some quick tips on how to incorporate this style in your home.

What is Mid-Century Modern?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Mid Century Modern, or MCM for short, is a design style (both of furniture and architecture) from around the 1930s to 1960s characterized by "clean lines, organic and streamlined forms, and lack of embellishment."

Mid-Century Modern is an all-compassing term for a wide range of design, all going back to this time period with some of the same characteristics. MCM furniture is clean, with functionality at the forefront of its design. During this time period, there were various iterations of MCM including Eames fiberglass and molded plywood chairs, Scandinavian handcrafted wood and leather pieces, and Eero Saarinen's Tulip Chairs.

Now that the Mid Century style is popular again, many companies are making "Mid Century inspired" furniture, copying some of the elements of traditional MCM design and mixing them with other design styles. It is important to note that just because a piece is marketed as Mid Century does not mean that it is truly Mid Century.

What are some iconic MCM furniture pieces?

Mid-century modern furniture has been popularized by iconic designers like Charles Eames, George Nelson, and Isamu Noguchi. It is a style that is often characterized by its simplicity, functionality, and affordability. Mid-century modern furniture is a great choice for those looking to add a touch of timeless style to their home. Whether you're looking for a statement piece or a timeless classic, mid-century modern furniture is sure to make your space look and feel stylish. Below, you'll find photos of some iconic furniture and decor pieces from this era.

Mix and Match Styles

There are multiple ways to incorporate Mid Century Modern furniture in your home. Whether you love color, Scandinavian neutral tones, or a mix of several styles, MCM furniture can be a wonderful addition to your home.

One way to modernize these vintage pieces is to mix them with other styles of furniture and decor. You could have a more typical Mid Century couch and pair that with farmhouse decor and a chunky traditional end table. Mixing and matching styles with intention can help you highlight the different design features of the pieces within your home. On the other hand, keeping to one style can create a cohesive theme that doesn't rely on color. If you choose to do go that route, we suggest adding other decor with varying textures to create interest. Having too many similar items in a room doesn't give your eye a clear focus within a space.

A general rule of thumb for mixing styles is to create balance by including multiple pieces from each style you plan to incorporate. Choose similar colors, wood styles, lines, and scale across styles to pull all your furniture together.

Mixing decor styles can also be a great way to add personality to a room. By incorporating different textures, colors, and materials, you can create a space that feels unique and inviting. For example, you could pair a vintage armchair with a modern floor lamp and a contemporary rug. This allows you to add visual interest to the room without overwhelming it.

Play with Texture

What exactly does texture mean in interior design? This commonly used buzzword in design simply means, "an object's physical feeling or visual appearance." This can be anything from a chunky throw blanket, to a leather pillow, to harsh lighting. One of the best things you can do when trying to create a MCM-inspired space is use texture to create more visual interest. Adding the right pillows can add softness to the clean lines of MCM furniture. Or pairing a sleek modern chair with a chunky legged end table can help break up the sterility of the space. In short, don't be afraid to play with texture and add to the minimal texture of MCM pieces.

Steer Clear of Matching Sets

As with anything, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While you want to include similar furniture pieces within your space to create cohesion, simply purchasing items because they are a part of the same set shouldn't be your go-to. Instead, find furniture with similar lines or colors, but with variations in style, wood-types, and shape. You want your pieces to work together, but not repeat throughout the space. Having some variation also open you up to a wider variety of furniture and decor to choose from.

This leads us to our next tip: don't just buy a piece because it's MCM. As you first dive into furnishing your home, it can be tempting to buy anything and everything Mid Century Modern that you find. Hold tight and buy pieces that not only fit your style, but fit your new space. With most pieces from this era being designed with limited space in mind, new homes with open concept floor plans may not be the right space for every piece. Keep scale in mind as you choose furniture, being sure that you choose pieces that fit.

Don't be Afraid of Color

Color can be your best asset when it comes to designing with MCM furniture. While it might be traditional to use wood tones and neutrals in an MCM styled space, adding rust colors, mustard yellows, orange and shades of green can help modernize the space. Make yourself a color palette before shopping to help you make choices that will be easy to style with. Don't know where to start? Find example color palettes online as a guide. The purpose of creating a palette is to have a visual representation of what colors go well together, not to show you exactly which shades to look for. Various shades of the colors on your palette will go together and build depth within your space.

In Conclusion

How you choose to incorporate your Mid Century Modern furniture into your decor is completely up to preference! Don't be afraid to make bold choices, break design rules, and choose items by taste rather than what others might consider "timeless." We hope these tips help you along your decorating journey, wherever that may take you!


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