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.
LABor Studio transformed this historic office building in Chihuahua City, Mexico, by maintaining the facade and adding a contemporary addition to the home.
The designer’s description
This house is located in the historic center of Chihuahua City, in north-central Mexico. This district displays a deteriorated urban fabric due to the demolition of a great number of old buildings being replaced by surface parking lots. The population has migrated to the fringes leaving an empty housing stock.
The project was aware of the importance of both the restoration and integration of architectures while demonstrating the possibilities of contemporary housing in the urban center.
The old building is a two story structure built in the early twentieth century in a 40 square meter footprint. The construction system includes adobe walls, wood beams, a limestone facade, and an earthen roof.
The project and construction began in 2010 working with an office program. Restoration started by eliminating all of the non-original additions and rebuilding the earthen roof. The frontal facade was stabilized since it was detaching from the main structure. The neighboring 300 square meter property was added to the program while during this first construction stage. Therefore the program changed from office to a house.
The old and new construction was articulated by a vertical stair cube. The stair provides access to the two stories and the rooftop terrace where views of downtown Chihuahua can be enjoyed.
Access from the street happens in between the old and new constructions in a sequence that first goes through a patio-zaguan before penetrating to the interior. This access patio allows for additional light and ventilation for the old building while allowing for the concentration of rainwater collected from the rooftops.
Once through the threshold in the ground floor one can access a painting studio in the old building or the social area in the new building. The latter is a double height space composed of the living room and the kitchen. Both areas are divided by a bar and joined in the exterior by a patio. The garage can be added to the expansion of the social areas spilling to the exterior.
The second story contains the family room in the old building while the new construction has two bedrooms separated by a library-bridge. One bedroom is related to the street in the front and the other looks to the backyard.
The third and top level is a rooftop terrace with a steel plaque grill. The floor is a ceramic tile which allows the earthen roof to breathe out excess moisture. Plant pots and a light-well complete the arrangement with patio furniture.
The backyard has hardscape and softscape areas. The grasses, shrubs, and trees are a selection of native plants. Concrete modular pavers allow for the absorption of rainwater in order to help support the plants.
In the back of the property there is a water fountain framed by recovered timber from the construction’s scaffolding. Other recovered materials include the original limestone flooring, some of which was reinstalled while another part was crushed and used as ground cover to reduce the loss of moisture.
Built on a coconut plantation outside of Mumbai, India, on the Arabian Sea, Studio Mumbai’s Palmyra House is a place of refuge, not only from the city but also from people (houseguests possibly included). The 3,000-square-foot setup is split into two wooden louvered structures, each constructed using local traditional methods and wood. One building contains the living room, study, and master bedroom; the other houses the kitchen, dining room, and guest bedrooms. And should the occupants be feeling convivial, there’s a long, thin pool, perfect for swims together while sharing the expansive views out to the sea.
Hanway, C. (2015, May 27). Architect Visit: A Louvered Beach House on the Arabian Sea: Remodelista. Retrieved June 3, 2015, from http://www.remodelista.com/posts/architect-visit-a-louvered-beach-house-on-the-arabian-sea-studio-mumbai-palmyra-house
The Caterpillar House is a strange but beautiful combination of styles and influences. It is essentially a modern reinterpretation of a ranch-style house. At the same time, the mid-century influence is very strong. The idea of combining all these elements is an odd one but, when you think about it, these styles might not have much in common but combined they result in a well-balanced and original composition.
The house only has one level. This makes it long and close to the ground. If we also take into consideration the choice of materials and the architectural elements, we can say that the Caterpillar House integrates naturally into the surroundings. It’s almost as if it were there from the beginning of time. Given the fact that this is a ranch-style house, the close indoor-outdoor connection should be a given. The house rises from the ground and grass and becomes a part of the landscape.
Internally, the Caterpillar house is open planned. This is only one of the features of modern design. It has wood-paneled ceilings throughout, a feature that also continues outside, creating a continuous design. The interior thus becomes cozy and warm but also casual and elegant. Most of the furniture is also made of wood and features a modern and simple design. Also, the house is sustainable and beautiful at the same time. (Ganea)
Ganea, Simona. “The Caterpillar House by Feldman Architecture.” Homedit. N.p., 15 Jul 2012. Web. 16 Jul. 2012. <http://www.homedit.com/the-caterpillar-house-feldman-architecture/>.
buenos aires-based practice lacroze miguens prati have completed ‘la compartida’ a residence positioned within a field in tajamares de la pedrera, rocha, uruguay. a minimal rectilinear volume stretches along a northeast to southwest axis. a low-profile roof spans the continuous interior, with a stepped profile to introduce natural daylight through a clerestory band. glass walls enclose a central living space, offering views to the meadow in either direction. the quaint size of the common areas is expanded by visual transparency to the rolling landscape.
the interior opens to a veranda which borders each side of the building, one containing a swimming pool which parallels the facade. the end wing contains the master bedroom while the opposing half of the home is subdivided to create two intimate spaces, large enough for individual sleeping quarters. (db)
db, lauren. “lacroze miguens prati: la compartida, house in tajamares.” designboom. N.p., 04 Apr 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2012. <http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/9/view/20315/lacroze-miguens-prati-la-compartida-house-in-tajamares.html>.
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>.
Previously, this modern timber house is a boathouse with integral garage boat. To accommodate modern needs and flavors of building owner, this house renovated and become modern house with new timber frame construction. This modern timber house built on existing foundation with simple volume. The asymmetrical roof of this house covered with asbestos. A simple but beautiful façade terrace volume built with untreated Douglas fir. The exterior wall also has exposed timber construction, add more beauty of surrounding green landscape that consists of hills and lake valley. This modern timber house plans of floor has symmetry concept, create more privacy got two families who inhabit this house by mapping of sleep and wet the area per family. Designed by Bauzeit Architects.
archinspire, . “Modern Timber House Renovation Beautiful Landscape Site.” Home Design Ideas | Decorating | Gardening. Web. 9 Aug 2011. <http://archinspire.com/home-design/modern-timber-house-renovation-beautiful-landscape-site.htm>.