Mid-century modern design continues to be found everywhere these days. In office spaces, waiting rooms, and, yes, personal homes, mid-century modern style seems to be just about everywhere. TV shows like Mad Men have helped to further the popularity of a design style that never really faded away.
While historians don’t agree on specific dates for this style, which took over everything from interior to graphic to product design, we can date mid-century modern from the post-World War II era through the mid-1970’s, or from roughly 1945-1970. The post-war boom saw home ownership explode in the United States, and all of those homes were in need of furniture to fill them. Despite the high price tags found today on many classic mid-century modern furniture pieces, the design of many of these pieces was initially meant to keep costs affordable for the average office or homeowner. Charles and Ray Eames successfully explored the use of plywood in the use of furniture design and plastic was used for its ability to be inexpensively mass-produced.
The continued prevalence of mid-century modern finds its way into our kitchens as well. It’s likely you’ll find elements of mid-century modern design in images of kitchens and baths that draw you in, whether it’s as basic as a barstool or as substantial as the entire kitchen! Here are some elements of mid-century style to look for:
Play with color. Unlike many design styles such as transitional and contemporary, mid-century modern is all about color! Pastel pinks, mint green, and robin’s egg blue from the 1950s, bright primary colors of the mod 1960s, and rusty oranges and avocado greens from the late 1960s/early 1970s. Color factors in a big way here, in everything from upholstery to tile to appliances.
Natural materials. Despite all that color, natural, neutral materials still take a leading role. This primarily takes the form of wood (wood paneling, flooring, cabinetry, etc.) especially in darker tones like walnut. Natural tile, stone, and fibers are also popular.
But also experiment with new ones. The post-war period saw experimentation with new materials, which is why furniture from the mid-century modern period is often made of plastic, steel, glass, or a mix of these materials with natural ones. Think of the famous Eames lounge chair made of molded plywood (new technology) and leather (old material).
Lack of ornamentation. Mid-century modern design is anything but fancy. Lines are crisp and clean and visual clutter is nonexistent. Those bright colors may pop, but you won’t find any carvings, moldings, or other distractions here.
Form follows function. The design philosophy here, especially for furniture, is about understanding the basic elements and function of a piece. Similar to the lack of ornamentation above, it’s about as far away as you can get from the Baroque and Victorian styles of eras past. Mid-century modern pieces tend to heave a light and airy feel, with neat proportions and geometric shapes.
Interior design and our homes are always evolving. As with any design style, it’s not necessarily about creating a carbon copy of another era. (Though I wouldn’t say no to living on the Mad Men set!) The mid-century modern style is an easy one to personalize in your very own home. Clean, frameless cabinets are a very contemporary look already; accent them with some brightly-colored plastic counter stools and a simple backsplash to lend a mid-century vibe. Most of all, it’s about adapting what you love in a particular design style to fit your home and your taste, to truly create something that looks like you.
Interested in a mid-century modern or other remodel of your own? Contact Bella Domicile to meet with one of our talented designers today! Call (608) 271-8241 or fill out an appointment request form here.