We all know that styles are cyclical and, of course, the world of interior design is not exempt. The best aesthetics will be popular again and again. Right now, mid-century-modern design is making a comeback and, if you ask us, it’s for good reason.
What is it about this aesthetic that keeps us coming back for more over half a century later? We’ll tell you why mid-century modern will never really leave us — and how to work the style into your interiors while making sure they are rooted in the new millennium. After all, sometimes the old way of doing things really is the right way.
What Is Mid-Century Modern?
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Mad Men, you’re already familiar with mid-century-modern design. In fact, the term was coined in 1984 by author Cara Greenberg. She used it to discuss the signature looks of the 1960s in her book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s.
Though the moniker has become a bit broad in the past few decades, it’s most commonly used to refer to the styles that became popular in a post-World War II landscape. While there may be a few variations, most people agree that this time period extends from 1945-1969.
Interestingly, this style doesn’t just refer to aspects of interior design. It is commonly used as a descriptor for any architecture, furniture, accessories, materials and technologies that grew in popularity after the end of the war.
It Showcases Simplicity
When you look at design projects that follow a mid-century-modern style, the one thing you won’t see is tons of excess. Rather than requiring a bunch of ornate embellishments, the mid-century look is all about stripping items down to their barest elements and letting their function become the star.
Keep this in mind when it comes to choosing the items that will fill your space. Look for furniture that has clean lines and, if needed, multiple uses. Stick to décor items that are modern or geometric in their aesthetic.
This concept should also be taken into account when it comes to designing the layout of your space. Rather than cluttering up the room, focus on choosing one strong focal area that will dictate the room’s function. For example, consider using a statement table in your dining room or creating an inviting seating area in your living room. Then, don’t be afraid to step back and allow negative space to play a key role in your design.
It Lets Us Play With Color
Of course, when you focus on bringing simplistic shapes into your space, it becomes necessary to add a layer of visual interest elsewhere. The mid-century-modern look does that by incorporating bold pops of color. Brooke Schneider, a designer based in Long Beach, Calif., explains it best:
“When homeowners think ‘color,’ they often think of the bright hues of the mid-century time period. With clear, cheerful colors, the 1950s exhibited a new American outlook of optimism that was comfortably removed from the drab war years.”
Don’t be afraid to go big with shades like blueberry, citron or fire-engine red. Just be sure to avoid mixing multiple loud colors like they did in that time period. Doing so might make your space look more outdated than retro-inspired. Instead, focus on tempering one colorful statement piece with more neutral hues to ensure a modern twist on this style of design.
It Connects Us With Nature
Since mid-century-modern design is all about simplicity, it makes sense that this school of style would harbor a strong connection to nature. In particular, those who are looking for ways to embrace sustainable design may be interested in what this aesthetic has to offer.
First, it’s important to consider how nature can affect the layout of the space. In mid-century architecture, large windows often play a key role. But anyone can work off those principles by making windows the focal point of your space whenever possible and making sure that they stay unencumbered from heavy drapery.
As for the design elements to fill your space, focus on choosing items made from natural materials such as wood, metal and leather or cotton textiles. Don’t be afraid to bring the outside in by adding greenery to accent your design.
There’s a reason why mid-century-modern design is present in our consciousness after over a half-century since its debut. Whether it’s the clean lines, bold colors or connection to nature, this school of style is currently making a big comeback in interior design.
Mario Martins Atelier designed this swimming pool at a home in Portugal, where the design intention was described as “simple with a quiet presence, and where the natural vegetation, of almond and carob trees, typical of the Algarve countryside, predominates.”
Photography by Fernando Guerra FG + SG
Atlanta-based design firm, Pyramd Design Co., have created their first offering, The Puphaus.
The designer’s description
Emerging from the musings of two designers who were disenchanted with their respective industries, dog-loving founders Roy Fleeman and Zach Griggs set out to create products they had a personal connection to and could see through from initial conception to final production.
With backgrounds in graphic and industrial design, the multi-disciplinary duo decided to design & build something for man’s best friend: the Puphaus. Time to ditch the plastic igloos and give our pups some stylish new digs.
Taking queues from modern home design, naturally-derived materials were chosen that would look and feel at home in any outdoor setting, while coming together to make a head-turning architectural statement. Staying true to form-follows-function, stainless steel food & water bowls are incorporated into the floor panel while a floating roof design enhances air circulation on those hot summer days.
Once Western red cedar and Portland cement board were selected as the primary materials, Pyramd fell in love with the combination and began drawing up different designs, ultimately manufacturing Puphaus in their hometown of Atlanta.
Puphaus’ unique construction allows it to flatpack for affordable shipping, and once unboxed it can be easily assembled in five steps without any tools. Now Spike and Leo have a sweet new place to rest their paws – and their humans have barely broken a sweat.
23o5Studio completed the design of BQ-17 Residence, a contemporary home located in an uncrowded neighborhood of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The design was adapted to the living needs of a couple and their three children, while taking in consideration the laws of urban planning. Local legislation required to leave 2.5m (8ft) front and 2m (6.6ft) behind the house, which somewhat challenged the initial plan of developing the construction more horizontally. According to the project developers, the solution was to “build interleaving spaces, which have different foolproof, placed around a central vertical space”, thus creating voids and connections between rooms.
Minimalism is the key feature of this residence; yet, quite a few elements stand out: “Seen from outside, the house has simple lines, yet strong enough to combine cubes as a sculpture. Lot of squares, with different sizes and free layout, joined with graceful greenery to attract people and make them curious about entering inside. The squares become highlighted from the front door to the central block. They do not only get natural light for the house, but also create an aesthetic effect at night.” By employing wood extensively for the furniture elements, doors, floors and central staircase, the designers achieved a welcoming family atmosphere-have a look! [Photography by Quang Tran]
Photography courtesy of A.D.D. Concept + Design
Farmhouse by A.D.D. Concept + Design (Farmhouse by A.D.D. Concept + Design)
Located in the historic district of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill town, the GK House sits on a 1.5 acre site sloping from east to west. Accessible via an easement through an adjoining property, this imposing structure gathers wood, stone and glass in a contemporary display of architecture. Originally part of the Coker Estate, where amateur botanist Dr Coker composed a distinctive collection of plants derived from his experiments, the house sits surrounded by woods and greenery that offer an original outdoor experience. Constructed after the sketches of Raleigh- based Kenneth Hobgood Architects, the residential structure replaces the original house that burned down to the ground and took part of the vegetation down with it. Collaborating with landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburg, architects managed to revive the grounds and compose a bright, cheery and stylish set of interior and exterior spaces, as you can see in the photos. (Teicu)
Teicu, Ada. “Replacing a Burned Down House Surrounded By Experimental Vegetation: GK House.” Freshome Design & Architecture. N.p., 12 Aug. 2012. Web. Web. 12 Aug. 2012.
Architects: AQSO Arquitectos – PE. Pinés & Jové
Location: Laguna de Duero, Valladolid, Spain
Ground Floor Area: 200 sqm
Photographs: AQSO Arquitectos
‘Arquitectos Office’ (AQSO) has recently completed the construction of the ‘Fragmented house’. The concept solution for this residence starts from a compact block transforming, after several divisions and shifts, into an external broken-down form, result of the arrangement of the interior spaces.
The house is located near Laguna de Duero, a town situated in the municipality of ‘Tierra de Pinares’, in Valladolid. The building is orientated facing west and distributed in two levels: living room and day use spaces in the ground floor and master bedroom upstairs. The form is conceived as a series of juxtaposed elements defining the different atmospheres and spaces.
Therefore, the entrance is demarcated by two parallel blocks and another recessed one working as main access. The front part of the house, facing the garden, is marked out by the cantilevered block where the bedroom at the upper level is located, in contrast with the one of the ground floor. The rear of the house, where the garage can be found, is made up of several stair-shaped elements.
Inside, the living and dining rooms are linked into an open and continuous space just partially blocked by a stone masonry wall and the freestanding staircase giving access to the upper floor. From the master bedroom, provided with a generous walk-in wardrobe and ensuite Jacuzzi, it is possible to access the roof, partially used as terrace with a small solarium.
The façade is made by big scale matte ceramic pieces combined with stone masonry walls, inside there is a predominance of light colors in walls, floor, doors and windows. In the front garden of the house there is a slender swimming pool with spa and an independent block facing the yard with a wide bay window to be opened and converted into a summer house.
King , Victoria . “Fragmented House / AQSO Arquitectos” 15 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Mar 2012. <http://www.archdaily.com/216755>
Modern house design built on urban lot with dimensions of 6 x 24 m. This modern house designed in open-plan, a transparent style, lighted and ventilated at the front and back. The house exterior structure is cubic-like, full of large glazing windows and structured by steel reinforced concrete cast and slabs in prefabricated concrete. The interesting design idea of this modern house design is the interior design layout that has split-level. Split-level interior structure developed to organize 150m2 volume because it’s sloping terrain and spacious interior needed. The interior distributed in over half levels and create a three story zone of building volume with beautiful unclear floor interior division. Both exterior and interior has wooden and iron elementals, combine with rawness of concrete this modern house is simple and economical but looks beautiful. First floor split-level spaces are containing kitchen-dining room and half-level is for living room and entrance area, while all infrastructures including water tank, heating and sewage treatment system placed in lowest level of the ground. Nest to kitchen-dining is simple modern outdoor garden. Second floor level for space between area and bedroom&bathroom. Third floor level area contains workspace office with compact library and master bedroom suite (including bathroom), and the half level is outdoor terrace to capture the city landscape beyond.
Area: 150 m².
Architects: Apiacás Architects.
Structural design: Mr. Mesquita Maria de Lourdes.
Hydraulic and electrical design: Ramoska Castellani and Designers Associates Ltd..
Illumination design:Ricardo Heder – reka lighting.
Photos:Pregnolato Kusuki & Photographic Studio.
archinspire, . “Modern House Design Split-level Beautiful Unclear Floor Interior Division.” Home Design Ideas | Decorating | Gardening. Web. 15 Nov 2011. <http://archinspire.com/home-design/modern-timber-house-renovation-beautiful-landscape-site.htm>.
Description from the architect:
Modest houses on small lots comprise the Quillen’s Point neighborhood, adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay in Ocean View, Delaware. An eclectic mix of houses, gravel roads ending at the bay and wooded lots provide a nostalgic, informal setting for this new house. The project site is near the end of Burbage Lane, the second lot from the bay with expectations that the adjacent waterfront lot will eventually be developed.
In an effort to integrate living spaces with the outdoors while maintaining privacy from Burbage Lane and neighboring houses, the scheme is organized around a centrally located garden. With sixteen foot high ceilings, the eastern volume contains the public living spaces. Continuous clerestory windows assist in providing an abundance of natural light into the space, allowing views to the treetops and sky while minimizing the close proximity of the adjacent houses. A twenty foot wide glass wall slides into a pocket, enhancing the relationship to the outdoors, and provides a sense of living in a garden. The two story western volume is comprised of bedrooms and a small second floor living space. A one story glass link connects the volumes and visually opens to the central garden.
The house was conceived as two simple, flat-roofed volumes, varying in height, intersecting and overlapping a one story circulation space which connects the volumes. The east volume is constructed with cement board, the west volume with corrugated siding and the one story connecting space with the ground face concrete block. The exterior material palette is quiet and subdued. Materials are selected for their expected long term durability, ease of installation and initial cost. The impact of the one story horizontal volume facing the street is intended to reflect the scale of neighboring structures while the narrow two story volumes are oriented perpendicular to the street reducing their apparent scale.
This house is designed in strong counterpoint to many of the houses built in the last era of abundant resources, expensive materials, and limitless floor area. The house is not large; it comprises three bedrooms and 2400 square feet. The house is constructed with modest materials that include concrete floors throughout the first floor, oak flooring on the second floor and plastic laminate and oak millwork.
The house was designed to achieve a balance between recognition of the picturesque Chesapeake Bay landscape and a more intimate, secluded garden environment. Expansive openings to the private garden combined with smaller, selectively oriented openings toward the greater landscape allow for a sense of privacy while maintaining a sensibility of direct connection to the rhythms of nature.
Dave. (2011, November 12). Lujan house by robert m. gurney [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.contemporist.com/2011/11/12/lujan-house-by-robert-m-gurney/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed: contemporist (CONTEMPORIST)
Welcome to an extremely well designed apartment with plenty of light and space. Featuring two rooms and a total living space of 54 square meters, this crib is a great example of how to decorate a small home with style. The apartment also has a large superb terrace of 58 square meters, a relaxation oasis with a wooden deck and plenty of room for outdoor furniture. Fascinating flower decoration make this place a fresh getaway and a perfect place to have friends over for a peaceful gathering. A hammock and decorative rock materials contribute to an original atmosphere. The living room is the core of the home, with plenty of seating space, a color palette based mainly on black and white and a lovely dining table. Large windows add a nice touch to the overall design of the apartment. Have a look and tell us what you think! (“Freshome – Interior Design, Decorating & Architecture Magazine”)
“Lovely Two Room Apartment with large Terrace and Inspiring Decors.” Freshome – Interior Design, Decorating & Architecture Magazine. 10 Aug 2011. Web. 11 Aug 2011. <http://freshome.com/2011/08/10/lovely-two-room-apartment-with-large-terrace-and-inspiring-decors/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FreshInspirationForYourHome+%28Fresh+Inspiration+for+Your+Home%29>.
Outdoor walls become eye-catching gardens with our hanging wool pocket planters. Framed in a rustic wood, these unusual plant pockets make a striking statement and a convenient kitchen garden when planted with your favorite herbs or berries. These UV resistant 100% recycled fiber felt wall planters are made with reused plastic water bottles, making them a sustainable addition to your outdoor landscape. (Remodelista)
Remodelista, . Long vertical garden [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://remodelista.com/products/long-vertical-garden
Located on the peninsula south of San Francisco, this house sits on an internal suburban flag lot. The previous 1950s house, removed due to structural problems, featured mature landscaping and a manmade pond that the clients wanted to preserve. They wanted their new house to be a private retreat that maximizes the drama of the pond and takes advantage of the privacy of the site. The design solution breaks the program into four buildings – main house, study, pool house and garage – that ring the edge of the site and focus inward on the pond, garden and pool. Large sliding glass doors open directly out to the pond and terrace. The roofs conceal photovoltaic and solar hot water panels. The house is heated with a radiant system in the stone floors, and despite the hot climate it is not air conditioned, but passively cooled with a combination of overhangs, shades, and operable windows. The house also features many green building materials, including high fly-ash concrete, formaldehyde-free casework and denim insulation. The new house creates a special place for the clients, making a main residence feel like a vacation retreat. (Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects )
Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects , . (n.d.). Atherton residence california. Retrieved from http://www.tgharchitects.com/projects/houses/atherton/
The modern vernacular vocabulary of the architecture celebrates the singular qualities of this special urban environment. (Bernstein)
Bernstein, C. (n.d.). Potrero House, San Francisco, CA . Retrieved from http://www.cbstudio.com/projects/res-potrero1-2.html