Decorating the Mid-Century Way

Clean, classic lines, a bright pop of color, graphic interest and a nod to the Atomic Age — these elements characterize the Mid-Century style, which has made a recent resurgence, often with subtle, modern tweaks that refresh a look that’s been in play for nearly 70 years. The popularity of television shows like Mad Men and a hearkening back to the mod symbols of the Sixties have helped to bring this style to the forefront in everything from fashion to food to furniture.

Achieving this look in your decorating scheme can be as simple as including a few key pieces that draw the theme together. Take inspiration from your home’s architecture, as well as any pieces you may have or find that exemplify the era. If you’re lucky enough to have a house or apartment that dates back to the Mid-Century, much of the work in setting the stage is already complete. If your home’s architecture hails from another era, you can implement a paint color scheme or add wood paneling to help boost the theme.

The color palette of the Mid-Century era was a mix of soothing pastels and shocking bursts of intense color along with a backdrop of natural wood tones. Startling color combinations, such as calming ocean-colored blues mixed with bright oranges to make complimentary, eye-catching graphic designs. Textiles of the era were a mix of colorfully woven tweeds, long, shaggy fibers and printed fabrics with bold designs. Whimsical touches made reference to the space race, such as chandeliers echoing the Sputnik satellite, lamps shaped like rockets or starburst-shaped mirrors.

Because successful decorating requires layers of color, texture and theme when dressing a room, each of these elements play their part in creating an overall look. Start with crisp white walls and add an accent color to one wall in deep Mediterranean blue. Add a gold starburst mirror, a couch in bright orange, a cream-colored shag rug under a wedge-shaped wooden coffee table, and these simple layers can come together to create a room that wouldn’t be out of place when hosting Don Draper for dinner.

For a more subtle nod to the Mid-Century, adding an accent piece like a chair in a coordinating color from a furnishing company dedicated to reproduction designs, such as Joybird Furniture, can add a nostalgic touch to modern design. Companies like Joybird also cover the range of pieces from office to living room to bedroom, so you can mix and match throughout your home. You won’t need to include a number of pieces to get the Mid-Century effect; often a side table added here or a bookcase included there can be a subtle reminder of the Atomic Age in a room that boasts an overall eclectic theme.

The warm wood tones, lush fabrics, bold graphics and playful use of color recall the nostalgia of the Mid-Century era, a design choice that is not only currently in vogue, but one that provides a comforting and cozy sense of home. Add just a few pieces for a subtle look or fully embrace the sleek lines and creative use of color that made the era one of enduring appeal. Whatever you choose, the Mid-Century style is sure to provide a beautiful accent for your home.

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