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
Loft apartments always have a distinct feel. Their openness, combined with their usual amounts of streaming light, makes them instantly appealing for most urban dwellers. Who wouldn’t want more light and a sense of more space in what’s usually a more crowded area? But lofts can also feel a bit cookie cutter, especially when the original space has been mass-converted to support loft living. A dozen or more lofts with the same feel and layout can feel stifling. This loft, designed by Indot, takes the idea of a traditional loft and plays with it using geometry, color, and texture. Don’t think that lofts are just limited to red exposed brick and neutrally painted walls.
From the very first time you enter the Long Dune Residence, you know it will surprise you with a modern floor plan enhanced by carefully designed details. The architects warn that “little is revealed until entering the house through a tall glass door that emerges as one approaches the house“. Imagined by Hammer Architects, the modern summer home rises in a summer vacation community in Massachusetts, known as Truro.
Perched on a coastal bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, interiors absorb panoramas of natural surroundings from behind revealing floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. This permanent visual connection to the outdoors brings glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean deep inside and encourages owners to relax and enjoy their modern summer home.
Photos by Peter Vanderwarker reveal how the abundance of natural light filters through framed windows. Gleaming water views mirroring the atmosphere outside are captured like live transmissions from nature. Additional views of the Pamet River and a fresh water pond, together with tall trees complete the inspiring natural setting. Mirrored on the inside, this natural order appears mingled with the home’s sleek design lines.
According to the architects, “the entry side of the house appears very solid with its wood clad walls and narrow strip windows enclosing the bathrooms, outdoor showers, stair, and laundry room. Little is revealed until entering the house through a tall glass door that emerges as one approaches the house. Once inside, the living and dining rooms, which occupy the building’s center, open to the dramatic water views through a floor to ceiling glass wall that features large sliding doors connecting to a multi-level outdoor deck.”
The contemporary architecture is spiced up with a linear floor-plan “broken” by a screened porch where owners and their guests enjoy meals with a view. “One wing of the house provides the guest bedrooms, while the other wing, which is rotated forty-five degrees in plan, contains the master bedroom suite. A screened porch with a referential kite shaped roof occupies the intersection of the two geometries providing views in all directions.”
Embedding active and passive solar design, the modern summer home supports and encourages a healthy lifestyle. Once you know how to plan home activities for your summer guests, a modern summer home will make its way to your summer wish list.
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)
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
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.
RVDM Architects have designed the Aradas House in Aveiro, Portugal.
“Aradas House by RVDM Architects.” Contemporist. N.p., 23 July 2012. Web. Web. 23 Jul. 2012. <http://www.contemporist.com/2012/07/23/aradas-house-by-rvdm-architects/>.
Once upon a time, Arrighi was a watchtower peering over Tuscany and all along the Niccone Valley, with an adjoining fortified farmhouse. In recent years, the dwelling known as Castello di Reschio, in Umbria, Italy, is the result of a meticulous restoration that resulted in a luxurious L-shaped main house, and a standalone guest cottage.
Once the fortified farmhouse and watchtower, the impressive five bedroom main house is approached via a large paved courtyard beyond the entrance gates, past the sweet guest cottage that contains a double bedroom, en-suite bathroom, library and fully-fledged kitchen.
A glass encased external staircase tower is flooded with sunlight, and soaks in the extensive view over the very private and unspoiled 2,700 acre Reschio Estate, filled with rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, chestnut and oak trees, extensive infinity pool and pool house. (HOUSE TOURS)
HOUSE TOURS, . “Transition of a Fortified Italian Farmhouse.” home Designing. N.p., 18 Jul 2012. Web. 18 Jul. 2012. <http://www.home-designing.com/2012/07/transition-of-a-fortified-italian-farmhouse?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed: home-designing (Home Design Ideas)&utm_content=Yahoo! Mail>.
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/>.
lima-based artadi arquitectos have finished the ‘house in las arenas’, a private beach-side residence 100 miles south of lima, peru. the conceptual diagram consists of a hollowed rectangular box lifted off the ground and oriented towards the sea, bisected by a diagonal interior partition. strategic voids have been added to the outer planes to mediate the amount of light entering the residence andnd funnel views towards the sky and sea. the clean geometric design also offers a simplicity in material and tone, with white surfaces dominating the external components. internal sand-beige hues, the wooden walkways and darker granite tiles lining the foundation and furniture pieces subtly contrast the bright shell.
programmatically, the master bedroom and kitchen find themselves as central elements in the residence, visually connected to the semi-outdoor living area/pool/terrace space. the rest of the service functions can be found concentrically around the main volume, with two smaller sleeping quarters within a semi-basement level. circulation is in the open air, existing in the patio and entrance vestibule, as well as the periphery of the house itself. the regional climate allows the user to inhabit with the dwelling primarily as an external experience. (db)
db, danny. “artadi arquitectos: house in las arenas.” designboom. N.p., 12 07 2012. Web. 14 Jul. 2012. <http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/9/view/22307/artadi-arquitectos-house-in-las-arenas.html>.
all images courtesy of architects of invention
london-based practice architects of invention has recently completed the ‘prosecutor’s office’, the firm’s first project constructed in tbilisi, georgia. delicate, transparent volumes are suspended within a stark black frame, creating an exterior of floating elements. the combination of envelope components represents a metaphor of the internal functions, visually dominated by the typically uncompromising nature of the legal system in contrast with the endless reflections of the mirrored elements contained by it, representing the versatility of the process. approximately 70 percent of the profile is setback from the solid sides generating chasms between the outer and inner massing. a ground level passageway has been formed by carving a void beneath the stacked boxes.
a security checkpoint and lobby welcome visitors at the entrnace level while the top storey is dedicated to the judicial offices. the staggered floor plates generate balconies and terraces accessible from the interior while a sky garden may be used for conferences and celebrations. positioned adjacent to the court building, the workplace facilitates 60 staff members and adequate parking for commuting employees. (db)
db, lauren. “architects of invention: prosecutor’s office, tbilisi .” designboom. N.p., 04 Apr 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2012. <http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/9/view/20191/architects-of-invention-prosecutors-office-tbilisi.html>.
Three-story residence with simple modern rectangular design style. Although has simple exterior and look rigid, this modern rectangular house has completely different style between frontage and rear side. The frontage exterior and half-parts of this modern rectangular house is closed. The frontage coated with glazed aluminum panels. Certain of panels can be automatically open to reveal the windows.
The rear part of this modern rectangular house is completely open. The transparent look achieved by installing the glass sheets walls from rear house until half-part volume of side of house (vertically and horizontally from first until third floor), and of course full-glass sliding doors. The transparent volume overlooks the waterfront and panoramic view beyond.
Inside, more surprising interior design achieved. Most of each zone has double-height ceiling and the interior spaces meandering around center “inner-tower”. The “inner-tower” clad with wood and contains toilets of each floor and as storage, and a dumbwaiter. Beside of three bedrooms, lounge, utility area, and two studies area, this house has an open roof terrace built at third floor. The simple roof terrace directs connect with main bathroom. The furniture and other interior elements details specially created for this modern rectangular house. This modern house design also has sustainable house features, like cold and heat pump, thermal energy storage and solar collectors. Designed by Heeswijk.(archinspire)
archinspire, . Simple Three-story Modern Rectangular House Design. Home Design Ideas, 29 Mar 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2012. <http://archinspire.com/home-design/simple-three-story-modern-rectangular-house-design.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)
The Residence strives to set new standards in contemporary design in Cherry Creek. Located at 5th and St. Paul streets, the home anchors the corner in this distinctive Denver neighborhood. Drawing from the principles of mid-century modern architecture, the interior embraces the exterior and floods sunlight throughout the two-story space. The elegance of form is enriched by the use of textural, natural materials. Walls of Colorado rose sandstone, smooth sandstone veneer and polished concrete block interlock with stainless steel and glass to create a truly unique, yet comfortable urban living environment. Patrick Beaton designed the Residence while the design principal/co-owner at Site 7 Solutions. (Beaton DESIGN, LLC)
Beaton DESIGN, LLC, Initials. (n.d.). 478 st. paul. Retrieved from http://www.beatondesign.com/
Location: Himeji, Hyogo
Private residential purposes
Conventional method of construction wood structure
Large two-story above ground
Land area 125.22 m²
Floor Area 85.64 m²
Completed October 2008
Oota Makoto Taku Photos
YOSUKE ICHII ARCHITECT, . (n.d.). Ma house. Retrieved from http://www.yosukeichii.com/?page_id=71
These photos of the Architect Werner van der Meulen and showcase the extraordinary work of redevelopment of an old house in a small town in South Africa, chosen for its location and converted into a luxury villa One Thousand and One Nights. Modernity is apparent in every inch of the plot, where the stylistic research has gone beyond the common standard, to wrap a building product of your dreams, dominated by the beauty and sheer, in a game of volumes and composition worthy of a great author. (househomedesign.com)
househomedesign.com, . Modernity of luxury villa in south africa [Web log message]. Retrieved from househomedesign.com – house and home design idea
Pinch, R. (n.d.). Alba console. Retrieved from http://www.pinchdesign.com/albaconsole.htm
The Glass House or Johnson house, built in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut, was designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence and is a masterpiece in the use of glass. It was an important and influential project for Johnson and his associate Richard Foster, and for modern architecture. The building is an essay in minimal structure, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection. The estate includes other buildings designed by Johnson that span his career.
The house is an example of one of the earliest uses of industrial materials like glass and steel in home design. Johnson lived at the weekend retreat for 58 years and since 1960 with his longtime companion, David Whitney, an art critic and curator who helped design the landscaping and largely collected the art displayed there. (“Glass House,” )Read more…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_House
Fallingwater or Kaufmann Residence is a house designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The home was built partly over a waterfall on Bear Run in the Mill Run section of Stewart Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in the Laurel Highlands of the …Allegheny Mountains.
Hailed by Time shortly after its completion as Wright’s “most beautiful job”, it is also listed among Smithsonian’s Life List of 28 places “to visit before you die.” It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. In 1991, members of the American Institute of Architects named the house the “best all-time work of American architecture” and in 2007, it was ranked twenty-ninth on the list of America’s Favorite Architecture according to the AIA. (“Fallingwater,” 2011)
Fallingwater. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved February 27, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallingwater