What is it about midcentury modern that has the world of design buzzing? It could be shows such as Mad Men, or just good, old-fashioned nostalgia. However, the ultimate driving force is that midcentury modern design has a blend of unique, retro elements paired with updated features that project personality and stand out among the mass-produced market of today. It’s important to understand that buyers don’t want to live in a time capsule (they are still trying to forget about those avocado appliances), but they crave the fresh and reflective look that midcentury modern has brought.
To achieve the look of this timeless trend, there are a few key design considerations. To master midcentury modern, use a fine balance of mixing traditional with contemporary to bring to life the details of this design, which has been dubbed “moderated modern.”
This design prides itself on cleaning up the clutter and focusing on a few architecturally stunning pieces. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest statement, and with this style, less is truly more!
Here are eight design elements to emphasize when adding midcentury modern touches to a home’s interior.
Let there be light!
Bold lighting is a must-have feature to bring buyers back to this artistic era! Take a step into any midcentury modern home, and surely there are impressive, modern marvels hanging from the ceiling, lighting up a sleek dining room table or showcasing an eye-catching art piece. Unique pendant lights and fixtures are not only fully functional but also act as art in midcentury-modern styled spaces. When it comes to the actual aesthetics of the light, brass or polished chrome (think Sputnik lights) creates sleek, stunning finishes when paired with bold-hued bases or striking embellished chandeliers. And lose the lamp sets! Let a buyer’s personality and preferences shine with one-of-a-kind lighting options, even if that means mismatching.
Art stands strong
Staying in line with “simple makes a statement,” minimal art pieces can pack a punch. By incorporating a few large, impactful pieces, art comes to life in midcentury modern design. One or two artistic metal wall sculptures or a colorful graphic image on canvas can achieve the vintage-inspired style that attracts potential buyers.
Bring back wood
The defined details of real wood that graced the high-quality furnishings of the ‘50s and ‘60s are continuing to come back in multiple areas of design. Alongside furnishings, accent walls and accessories are all paying tribute to the stunning statement that warm shades of wood create. Look to set the stage with clean lines or biomorphic forms of teak, walnut, oak or rosewood to embrace the midcentury modern feel.
A few standout accessories are sure to attract the attention of the midcentury modern fan. On every episode of Mad Men, the cocktail culture is almost just as important as the show’s plot, hence the reemergence of the bar cart. Whether built-in or a standalone cart, a designated area for mixing drinks is a fun way to bring back the era. Along with spirit-focused spaces, a shag rug is a creative design idea to bring in the midcentury modern style, while giving the home a comforting and cozy charm.
Lastly, mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Midcentury modern design prizes the use of mirrors, not only on accessories, but on accents walls and backsplashes, to make a space look bigger as they reflect light into a room or highlight the height of a ceiling. It’s hard to imagine this artistic era without the use of a stylish sunburst mirror.
Embrace patterns and textures
Graphic patterns and midcentury modern are a match made in heaven! In a retro-inspired space, a neutral palette allows bold patterns and textures to shine in features such as wallpaper, rugs, pillows, furniture and accessories. Tie dyes, atomic sunburst patterns, macramés, velvets and leather fabrics are imaginative design solutions that applaud this era. Just make sure not to overwhelm the eyes with a clutter of contrasts.
Furniture as the feature
Again, simple is chic when it comes to this style, so furnishings should have clean lines, with a contrast in patterns and textures. Pieces embellished with wood, era-inspired legs, and bold graphics and patterns embrace the modest, yet marvelous style that is midcentury modern. Try to keep a majority of the furnishings neutral, with a few that are stand-out personality pieces. A great way to bring in the creativity that buyers crave is to skip past the mass-produced furniture pieces and shop at flea markets or vintage shops!
Architectural elements take center stage
Look beyond accessories and furnishings, as the thoughtful details in architectural elements bring midcentury modern style to fruition. The fireplace was a focal feature of many homes in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Try adorning fireplaces with floor-to-ceiling, natural stone walls to create tons of texture and contrast in materials.
Along with a fabulous fireplace, an open, airy floorplan complemented with clean, crisp lines and cantilevered roofing celebrates the “less is more” mentality of the midcentury modern design. These simpler lines showcase the natural beauty of the architecture and strong statement pieces within a space. A smooth continuation between indoors and outdoors is also paramount to midcentury modern architecture. Think soaring, floor-to-ceiling windows (or large “picture windows”) and an extension of flooring materials to create a striking, seamless flow from indoor to outdoor spaces.
Colors bring in creativity
Embrace the era of turquoise, pink, mustard, avocado and tangerine! When used modestly in furnishings and accessories, these classic colors can create allure rather than feeling dated and drab. Also, here are a few significant ideas to consider: Keep the walls white or neutral, as this allows statement pieces to shine; and make sure not to overlook the importance of the muted hues that are trending.
The history and desire for the midcentury modern design movement is not showing signs of stopping. On the contrary, the artistry and architectural innovations of that time are becoming ever more popular. Turn browsers into buyers by embracing the minimalist lure of midcentury modern and portraying potential home owners’ personality and preferences. Just remember, less is more in this spectacular style, and don’t be afraid to have some fun!
The original article, written by Lita Dirks, was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Best in American Living.