Add Midcentury Modern Style to Your Home

Midcentury modern style is a growing trend, but most people don't want to live in a home that looks like a time capsule. Here's how to get a retro-inspired look without going overboard.
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November 25, 2014
By: Liz Gray

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Design by Emily Henderson

Photo By: CB2

Photo By: CB2

Clean Lines, Natural Hues

Midcentury furniture pieces are characterized by their clean, simple lines. Wood pieces, often made of teak, are simply finished to showcase their natural beauty. Here, designer Beth Haley paired this traditional midcentury table with clean-lined contemporary chairs and bold teal walls.

Let Wood Details Take Center Stage

Don't hide wood details; let them shine. In this living room, a neutral wall color and soft-hued fabrics lets the handcrafted arms of these Danish modern chairs be the star. Design by Domicile Interior Design

Less Is More

Subtlety and thoughtful craftsmanship are much of what makes midcentury style timeless. When Eero Saarinen designed his modern classic, marble-topped table in 1956, he wanted to eliminate any extra parts, including extraneous table legs. Paired with molded plastic Eames chairs, the simple lines of the table still look fresh and modern in this slate gray contemporary kitchen. Design by Joel Snayd

Let There Be Light

Midcentury table lamps lend themselves well to any space featuring low-slung furniture, and they're easy to find at vintage stores. Look for curvy bases in bold hues, paired with tall, slim lampshades, like this Murano glass lamp designer Kenneth Brown used atop a vintage Knoll nightstand. Photo by Mayer Bowden Photography

An Affordable Focal Point

Flea markets are another great source for retro lighting. A brass helix-style chandelier purchased for $200 is the focal point in this midcentury-menswear mashup. Black, silver and gold pinstripe wallpaper covers the walls and lets the entryway's bargain chandelier stand out. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Find Retro Art

Add an unexpected element to your home with a vintage art piece. Look for graphic wall hangings using squares or circles, like this red, orange and brown piece. Or, find a vintage-inspired print on sites like Etsy.

Pick a Traditional Color Scheme

Embrace the era of mustard, avocado and tangerine with a '60s-inspired color scheme. This living room from designer David Scott nods to the classic hues without seeming like a movie set.

Decorate With Vintage Accessories

Outfit your coffee table with '60s inspired accessories, like this gold chain-link bowl, blown glass accents or sculptural vases. Design by Emily Henderson

Keep the Walls White

Midcentury style is all about showcasing quality pieces, so try keeping your walls white. This room's neutral palette allows the artwork and the rich blue velvet on the vintage Robsjohn Gibbings chair to stand out. Design by David Scott

Embrace Pattern and Texture

Graphic patterns and midcentury modern style go together like milk and cookies. In this vintage-inspired room, a neutral palette allows designer Sarah Richardson to play with pattern and texture, from the angular gray-and-white upholstery to the textured wallpaper and throw pillows.

Try a Bar Cart

If you've ever watched an episode of Mad Men, you know cocktail culture was almost as important to the show (and the era) as Don Draper's hair gel. Embrace it by picking up your own bar cart and stocking it with vintage glassware, cocktail shakers and ornate decanters. Design by Emily Henderson

Go Totally Retro

Take the midcentury look a little further by creating a space entirely furnished with '60s-inspired pieces. A George Nelson bubble lamp floats atop the vintage table and chairs, and retro vases, sunbursts and abstract wall art adorn the mustard-hued walls. Design by Alicia Friedmann

Mix Traditional and Modern

Midcentury style isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. This bachelor pad combines the clean lines of the tufted midcentury sofa and table lamps with more traditional elements, like the bronze-and-glass coffee table. Photo by Brian Patrick Flynn

Feature One Standout Piece

Even if you're more contemporary than retro, a single midcentury piece can warm up your space. In this red and white living room, an iconic wood-and-glass Noguchi table is an unexpected focal point. Design by Marie Burgos

Cozy Up With Midcentury Style

Midcentury furnishings in a nursery? Believe it. Designer Sarah Richardson used this orange chair, inspired by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen's iconic egg chair, as cozy seating in a nursery on Sarah 101. Find an iconic piece for your nursery to give it high style and a shelf life long past toddlerhood.

Restyle Classic Pieces

Don't be afraid to update midcentury pieces to suit your style. In this Los Angeles home, a classic Eames chair is reupholstered with an African fabric to add a bold pattern to the space. Design by Commune Design

Try Modern Industrial

The clean lines of midcentury modern furnishings are the perfect juxtaposition to rough-hewn industrial spaces, which makes this mix of styles ideal for urban loft living. Image courtesy of CB2

Shop New Midcentury-Inspired Pieces

As midcentury style grows more popular, many retailers are stocking new pieces that evoke the feel of midcentury greats. These chairs from CB2 are inspired by classic Bertoia Knoll wire chairs, but offer a slightly more streamlined silhouette and an on-trend, emerald-green hue. Image courtesy of CB2

Midcentury Prep

Preppy style and midcentury modern pieces can be a design match made in heaven. Here, designer Tobi Fairley used an iconic midcentury accessory, the sunburst mirror, to create a quintessentially preppy look with houndstooth pillows, a classic color scheme and lots of symmetry. Photo courtesy of Tobi Fairley Interior Design

Modern Eclectic Style

A vintage Mies chair is right at home in this reading nook. The geometric leather pillow from South America adds dimension to the space. Design by Luis Caicedo

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