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5 Easy Ways to Add Mid-Century Modern Designs to Your Home

Have you heard of the mid-century modern design trend? The period spans the middle of the 20th century, about the mid-1940s through 1970, and has been popping up in magazines, on television shows, and likely homes in your neighborhood.

Mid-century modern features contemporary and graphic patterns, chic style, functional comfort, simple lines, and pared-down forms. It isn’t for the faint of heart. It packs a big retro punch, and can be bold, beautiful, and delightful.

If you’re looking to add some mid-century modern elements or accents to your home, there is a way to do it without having to do a major overhaul or move into a home from that time period.

Read on to learn more about mid-century modern design, and find out five easy ways to add elements of the style to your home.


1. Incorporate unique lights and fixtures


Think of the lights in your home as a chance not only to illuminate your work and play spaces, but to also add some artistic flair. Lighting can be a statement feature, and in the mid-century modern style it usually is.

Don’t head to a big box store to buy the same light fixture everyone else has. Instead, check out the flea markets, stores that sell local artisans’ wares, and other places you might be able to dig up lights that are quirky and retro.

For table lamps, choose curvy bases in bold colors. Top them with tall, slim lampshades to achieve the mid-century modern look. For a chandelier that catches the eye, go for the sputnik style, with bulbs jutting out at all angles.


2. Find furniture with some mid-century flair


When shopping for mid-century modern furnishings, look for clean, simple lines and the use of bold fabrics. If you’re after a wood piece, go for real wood, not the engineered wood that furniture today is sometimes made with.

Furniture in this style tends to be colorful, and has rounded edges and interesting, curvy shapes. Upholstered couches or chairs, end tables, and sideboards tend to have skinny, wooden legs (and arms if it’s a chair).

Again, flea markets and vintage or second-hand stores are a good place to look for mid-century modern relics. Or, buy new, modern pieces that have the design elements of the time.


3. Stock your own bar


With this the mid-century modern design trend, you are encouraged to properly display your barware and liquor. Designate a built-in cabinet for your bar area, or look for an interesting bar cart or table.

Every good bar is stocked with:

  • Glasses: wine, highball, and old fashioned
  • A wine opener, decanter, and ice bucket
  • A cocktail shaker, jigger, bottle opener, tongs
  • An old-school recipe book
  • Liquors popular back in the day: vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, tequila


If you don’t drink, a bar cart is a fun item to use as a nightstand, end table, or even a towel holder in the kitchen or bathroom.


4. Hang some era-specific wall art


Nothing says mid-century modern like a few well-chosen pieces of artwork from the era. Frame a few bold, abstract pieces of art with a retro vibe, and place them in an interesting array on your wall. Don’t cluster too many works of art on your walls, however. Keep them clean and simple. Or, go for one big, attention-grabbing piece.

If art isn’t your thing, opt for some graphic wall hangings. Look for geometric shapes, like circles or squares. Choose colors that provide a pop, but fit in with your furnishings.


5. Lay a geometric or shag rug


Nothing says times of old like a thick, colorful shag rug. The added benefit is, if you have children, they’ll want to curl up on your shag rugs with a book or game. Even adults don’t mind sitting on the floor when there’s a comfy shag rug to gather around on.

Bold designs with circles and squares were popular in the mid-century era, just make sure your rug choice doesn’t clash with your choice of wall art. If you’ve gone pattern-heavy in other accessories in your room, be careful that a bold, geometric rug isn’t too much. You don’t want to ruin the clean look of the space, or make it look cramped.

If a bold, colorful rug isn’t for you, choose a black and white rug, or a rug with a Moroccan or big zigzag pattern for your floor.


It’s your turn to put it all together!

To really make the mid-century modern look work for you, start an idea folder or book. When you spot a neat chair, interesting rug, or even a complete look that you like, add it to your file. Then, draw from those ideas when picking out pieces to suit your home.

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