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.
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
I spent the first 18 years of my life occupying Harry Potter–size quarters in an otherwise spacious house—and feeling as if I was the lucky one. And though I’ve since gained a bit more elbow room, I’ve been gratified to watch the tiny house movement mushroom in the past decade. (And yet frequently let down by the twee hippie-gnome lairs that await beyond so many downsized front doors.) More architects ought to join the downsizing crusade—but, fortunately, enough have that the seeds of first-rate minuscule design have been planted. Here are some standouts, many of them from Remodelista and Gardenista’s own greatest-hits archive.
N.B.: One man’s hut is another’s palace. We tend to be generous in our definition of tiny: Our selections here range in size but most are under 300 square feet.
Guralnick, M. (2015, May 20). Small-Space Living: 13 Radical Tiny Cottages. Retrieved May 21, 2015, from http://www.remodelista.com/posts/small-space-living-13-radical-tiny-cottages-designed-by-architects?utm_source=Remodelista/Gardenista Subscriber List&utm_campaign=d26f58a198-Remodelista Daily Mail Campaign&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_447a717cea-d26f58a1
A factory transformed: architect Yannis Kaklamanis overhauled the interiors of a former wine and tsipouro (brandy) production facility, creating a sleek and minimal loft–style vacation retreat on the island of Santorini.
The compound consists of four separate residences, joined by communal outdoors spaces; Kaklamanis has restored the interiors using traditional materials like polished cement combined with sleek stainless kitchens and modern baths. The villas are available for rent; for information, go to Villa Fabrica. (Julie)
“Villa Fabrica: Serenity in Santorini by Julie.” Remodelista. N.p., 20 July 2012. Web. Web. 21 Jul. 2012. <http://remodelista.com/posts/villa-fabrica-serenity-in-santorini?utm_source=Remodelista Daily Subscriber List&utm_campaign=8290c44c31-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email>.
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>.
Whether they’re new or reclaimed, the doors lend their rustic, practical sensibility to a space. They save room but are not tucked away like pocket doors, making a virtue out of their rugged beams and industrious hardware.
“Architectural Elements: Sliding Barn Doors.” Remodelista. N.p., 30 Mar 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. <http://remodelista.com/posts/architectural-elements-sliding-barn-doors?utm_source=Remodelista Daily Subscriber List&utm_campaign=e522f1ada2-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email>.