Mid-Century Modern Decor Explained

Welcome to my blog, My Mid-Century Modern Home! My husband of three decades, Chris, a.k.a. “the Mister”, and I bought a 1956 ranch home in January 2020. We have loved mid-century design our entire marriage and this house is perfect. This is my journey to bring in the “modern” and make it our dream home.

What is Mid-Century Design?

Mid-Century Design desribes architecture, furniture, and graphic design which roughly spans about four decades, from the mid-30’s to the early 70’s, depending on your source. Some say 1940 to 1970, so you can pretty much pick any year between and know that you’re in the ballpark. The concepts behind the design are more important than the exact year.

The hallmarks of Mid-Century design include uncluttered and sleek lines with organic forms and geometric forms. For the first time in centuries, “form follows function” became the forefront, so you’ll see minimal ornamentation and simplicity in design.

One of the wonderful things about the design is the mix of materials, both new and traditional. Natural materials like various woods, leather, and wicker, or cane, mix with metals, glass, plastics and even plywood.

Mid-Century Modern design is very flexible on colors, although the original design celebrated bright colors like orange, teal, blue, chartreuse and yellow. Colors can be bold, neutral, and even black and white in today’s design aesthetic.

Some Mid-Century History

At the risk of exposing my inner history nerd, the things that were happening in society at the time had a big influence on architecture, design and home decor. During and after the World War II, when many Bauhaus architects and designers migrated to America as a result of changes in Germany. Bauhaus design was probably the beginnings of what we call Mid-Century Design.

During the post-war time in America, people were moving to the cities and needed homes built quickly. Technological advances and new materials fed people’s demand for modern homes, furniture and decor.

Mid-Century designers were re-imagining traditional furniture and decor, bringing it into the present and even future. At the time, Americans were optimistic and all about embracing the future. It was the era of Sputnik, of and the space race was on. We were watching Twilight Zone and the Jetsons on one of the three channels we could get on TV.

Scandinavian Design

In another part of the world, Scandinavians were becoming known for their own design aesthetic, often called Scandi today, during the Mid-Century design wave. We often associate it with stores like Ikea. With the extreme winters and short days in Nordic Countries, Scandinavian design is largely influenced by a desire to brighten up spaces and bring sunlight and nature into the home.

Scandi Design

Some of the elements of Scandi Design:

  • White Walls
  • Wood floors, often painted white
  • Modern furniture with simple lines
  • Lack of clutter
  • Lack of window treatments
  • Neutral color palette
  • Lots of green plants
  • Thin legs to let light circulate everywhere possible
  • Lots of texture, including stone and wood
  • Hygge – A Danish word that means a content, cozy feeling.

My Favorite Books for Mid-Century Modern Design

Mid-Century But Timeless Appeal

Mid-Century Design has stood the test of time, which makes it a classic in my book. Bringing some modern elements into the design while keeping to the spirit of minimalism is what makes it so much more popular and relevant today.

With the flexibility of colors, materials, shapes and textures, getting the look you want for your home is very achievable.

Categories:   Mid-Century Design