Our love affair with Mad Men has reignited the craze for mid-century modern furniture and décor. Since it became popular in the 50’s, mid-century modern style has always had a die-hard following of collectors and enthusiasts. Its timelessness is the result of an unparalleled combination of sleek lines, functionality and playfulness. As renowned designer Charles Eames put it, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”
It’s also interesting to note that the Modernist aesthetic was born after World War II when economies around the world were in rough shape and people were just beginning to rebuild their lives — not all that different than the climate today. To get into the mid-century modern mindset think in terms of clean lines, interesting shapes, bright colors, wood details and revolutionary materials. You don’t necessarily need to go full-on Mad Men, it’s easy to seamlessly incorporate a few mid-century pieces with more contemporary décor for a touch of elegant whimsy.
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If vintage isn’t your thing, there are plenty of contemporary pieces inspired by Modernism. AllModern, CB2 and IKEA all carry affordable furnishings with a mid-century feel. Simple changes like removing hardware from kitchen cabinets and getting rid of ornate molding around doors and windows. Emphasize interesting, linear shapes and play with texture. For instance, woven wool upholstery with shiny wood or metal frames, a deep pile area rug over a finished wood floor. In other words, a melange of hard and soft, matte and gloss, gauzy and opaque, etc.
If you’re not ready for a complete redo, you can easily revive your surroundings with vintage lighting or accessories. Consider an eye-catching chandelier or a few well-placed lamps in space-age shapes. There are also tons of mint condition 50’s-era paintings, knick-knacks and wall pieces out there. Local flea markets and antique stores are a great place to start and every so often you can find a great bargain on a hidden gem at a thrift store. Ebay and Etsy also have a great selection of collectibles.
The beauty of this less-is-more approach is that it encourages you to declutter — something almost all of us are constantly striving for. Once you’ve streamlined your surroundings, come up with a simple color-scheme highlighting one or two rich hues — even earth tones or shades of grey. Add a smattering of bold, graphic patterns (maybe a few pillows, curtains or a rug) to keep it interesting then tie everything together with your mid-century accessories.