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
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.
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
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.