The clean lines of a long low sideboard on tapered legs is the icon of Mid-century style and the one piece of furniture from that era that every house should have it to make it a home.
Today I will talk about one of my favourite styles, the Mid-century Modern, but before jumping into all the details of how to design a room, let’s talk about its history. It’s very important to understand where, when and why the style surged.
Modernism was an international Avant-guard movement that surged by the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century and spread to almost all arts fields including Architecture and Design. The Mid-century Modern, which is the golden age of this movement emerged after World War II (1949) and continued to flourish in the United States and Europe until the mid-60s, hence the name Mid-century Modern.
When we talk about mid-century modern (MCM) furniture, usually it refers to furniture designed between 1920 and 1960, with the great peak being in the 50s and 60s. Some people also consider the 70s part of this style too. Furniture from this era features clean, simple lines and organic shapes that used fibreglass, aluminum, acrylic and bent plywood as the main materials.
STEPS TO CREATE THE MID-CENTURY STYLE
Furniture: If you can chose at least one original piece of furniture from the period.
Chose one colour scheme: Neutral, Bright or Pastel.
Pick your accessories: cushions, throws, rug, lighting and plants
Dress your walls: making one wall with an era-appropriate wallpaper and a few selected arts
Plan your space wisely: chose different heights for furniture, plants and lighting.
Although there are many options of retro inspired furniture these days, I would recommend to get at least one original piece from the Mid-century period. There are amazing websites/eStore that are specialist in original vintage and antique furniture. The one I love most is the Vinterior.co they have a great selection of Mid-century furniture from sellers all over the UK and Europe.
If you have the budget choose the original for your sideboard, prices can vary a lot from £500 to over £3000 for manufactures like G Plan, McIntosh, Ercol, Nathan. But keep a look on eBay, Marketplace, Preloved and you might be able to snatch a bargain, there are so many options of original pieces selling online. Those long, low sideboards on tapered legs are the icon of Mid-century style. Their sleek organic shapes are not only beautiful but practical with plenty of drawers and cupboards for storage. By the time I posted this article the left and middle items below were available at Vinterior.co, but if you prefer to buy an inspired piece you can search on Heals, Made, Habitat, West Elm and Dwell, just to name a few for great Mid-century inspired sideboard.
Top left: Original G Plan sideboard 1960s, right: Mid-century inspired sideboard by MADE, bottom left: Original Ikea sideboard 1960s, right: Mid-century inspired sideboard by West Elm
Then you can chose the other pieces of furniture like sofa, lounge chair, coffee table, for your space that can be a vintage original or inspired piece, or even a new original. Retro sofa have a unique design and shape and they are quite trend at the moment. MADE is my favourite for retro inspired sofas, like the Ritchie with curved shapes, tapered legs and colourful bottoms. There is nothing more Mid Century than that. But I also like their Scott sofa, which reminds me of my childhood, because my parents had a similar sofa, square lines, bottoms and tapered legs. For armchair or lounge chair, you have the option to buy a new original at Vitra.com as they are the official manufacture of many MCM design pieces, from designers like Charles and Ray Eames and their famous Lounge chair and ottoman, Isamu Nogushi coffee table, George Nelson Ball Wall clock and the Marshmallow sofa, and many others. It’s pricey, obviously, but is a great place to buy an original piece that is brand new.
Top left: George Nelson wall clock, right: Nogushi table, middle: Ritchie sofa by MADE, bottom left: Scott sofa and armchair by MADE, right: Lounge chair and ottoman by Eames
Now, let’s talk about colours. For this period the walls were mainly white which would work as a blank canvas for the new colourful art from the Modernism movement. But don’t go overboard with art, remember that most of the walls are plain to keep up with the clean aesthetic look of the Modern look. But accessories also plays an important role with colour and geometric pattern. You can start by placing a big rug with geometric pattern and working from there with other accessories, like cushions, curtains, vases and sculptures.
When comes to colour, you can go by three ways with your scheme, using olive green and earth tones for a relaxed more Traditional look, or a bright colourful scheme for a joyful Modern look or a pastel colour scheme for a glamours Contemporary look. Whatever you choose stick with it and don’t mix with the other colour schemes, so you can create a more polished design.
Natural scheme Bright scheme Pastel scheme
For accessories, choose your cushions, throws and rug according with your chosen colour scheme, but they should have some kind of geometric pattern on them, but not all of them together. Mix them with some clean simple lines and solid colours too, so you can put together a perfect balance. As for lighting, a floor tall lamp, like Arco lamp by Achille Castiglione would be great to set the mood to the space. You can find high quality reproductions that doesn't cost a fortune. And for art, as I mentioned before, colourful or black and white would be just fine to set the tone for a Mid-Century design.
Wallpapers can create a focal point in the room and a start talking point, as the Penguin book covers wallpaper by Osborne and Little, perfect for book lovers. But, worth to emphasize that Orla Kiely’s wallpapers are also amazing, like the Striped Petal by Harlequin at right above, she is the queen of retro style. But with bold wallpapers I would stick with one wall only, just to create a focal point, without been overpowering.
For the final steps, plan your space carefully, paying attention to the right size and varying height to create a perfect balance and keep your eyes moving around the room. Place a low sofa next to a tall floor lamp with a medium height credenza (sideboard) nearby. Put your plant pots on a side table or plant holder to elevate from the floor and create a different height.
When in doubt about a piece if it goes with the overall design or not, just remove the item, take a few steps back and have a very good look of the room, if you feel that the space has a good vibe of the Mid-century with clean simple organic lines, you done it. Don’t feel oblige to put each and every item or characteristic of the style. You are not supposed to create a replica of a living room from the 50s, but get inspiration from it and mix and match with contemporary items too. That’s the balance that will make your space unique.
If you still think that you need help with your design, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your inquiries or have a look at our budget friendly Interior eDesign Services.
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