Mid-century modern design has been one of the most popular interior design styles for decades. It first came onto the design scene in the late 1950s, and it has been a pillar of modern interiors since. (If you’re curious about the full scope of Mid-Century Modern’s influence on design today, listen to our deep dive into the history of the style in our new podcast, The Render.)
Like many other design movements, mid-century modern style has changed over the years, reinterpreted in myriad ways to suit the interiors of the times. Most recently during the early 2000s, the millennial design aesthetic gave rise to a new mid-century modern trend that favored pared-down spaces, pastel hues, and traditional mid-century modern design staples. The look veered away from the traditional Mad Men vibe and gave rise to a more youthful version of mid-century modern that felt fresh, light, and anything but buttoned-up.
From that, we’re now seeing mid-century modern interiors move in the direction of embracing more boho touches, organic elements, and rustic notes.
Come along with us as we take a look and break down how the mid-century modern trend is taking shape now.
Classic Mid-Century Modern
Before we delve into the various new interpretations of the style, let’s take a look at its origins and some of the pieces that made this an iconic interior design aesthetic.
From the very beginning, mid-century modern design championed the use of new materials ranging from plastics to fiberglass. There was also a focus on geometric and streamlined forms in furniture, and the sculptural chairs designed by Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen, and Harry Bertoia are among the iconic pieces that came to define the mid-century modern aesthetic. Today, these are still some of the most coveted designs in homes, whether it’s in a cool and airy minimalist living room or a warm and inviting modern dining space.
Another style that contributed to the mid-century modern movement was Scandinavian design, which adhered to the same modernist principles. Although it focused on furnishings with an organic approach inspired by shapes found in nature. These designs boasted materials, such as natural woods, like birch and ash, which are elements seen in many of the furniture pieces by Mid-Century designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Isamu Noguchi. Many of these iconic wood pieces, most notably the Eames lounge chair, are considered staples in modernist homes today.
But what does Mid-Century Modern look like today? Here are a few ways we’ve seen this trend evolve and take new stylistic forms!
Mid-Century Meets Boho
Mixing color, texture, and pattern into the mid-century modern look is what sets apart this look. It’s also a style that’s commonly blended in with the millennial interior design aesthetic.
It’s About Patterns
Part of what makes the mid-century boho look is its lively layering of patterns paired with modern design. From boho dots to kilim textiles and graphic stripes, it’s an approach to bold textiles and eye-catching prints that work beautifully in mid-century modern bedrooms.
Key Elements: Boho-patterned pillows, rug, and art, nightstands with tapered legs, woven bench, textural decor (colorful baskets, painted wood objects, two-tone ceramics)
It’s About Bright Colors
Mid-century boho style also emphasizes a mix of colorful textiles. In addition to patterns, you’ll find a warm palette of rusty red, deep blue, earthy brown, and bright orange. If you love mid-century organic forms with a pop, the eclectic hues give this style a casual and hip vibe.
Key Elements: Kilim-style upholstered bench, layers of colorful pillows for comfort, rattan ottoman, walnut wood side table and chairs, mid-century modern sofa
It’s About An Eclectic Mix
Alongside the vibrant colors and patterns, the boho mid-century look also highlights clean-lined furniture and sculptural forms. You’ll find tapered legs, organic silhouettes as well as key vintage styles, such as sputnik lights and Wishbone chairs, resulting in an eclectic design mix.
Key Elements: Vintage-style rug, Wishbone-style chairs, atomic light fixture, clean-lined walnut dining table, brass accents, smooth ceramics, tall greenery.
In recent years, organic modern interior design has been a big focus in homes. Known as Organic Modernism, it combines mid-century modern design with earthy organic elements.
There Are Natural Materials
True to its moniker, Organic Modernism highlights the use of mid-century designs featuring natural materials. From light-wood and leather furnishings to natural fibers, such as jute, sisal, and rattan, it’s all about bringing out the warm textures and beauty of organic materials.
Key Elements: Jute rounded pouf, leather-and-wood daybed, shibori-upholstered swivel chair, light-wood coffee tables, handwoven rug, cotton sofa, glass and ceramic objects
There Are Earthy Elements
Besides natural materials, you’ll also find colors and shapes that recall nature, from rustic brown and ocean blue to sundials and curvy modern design. These details give a sense of warmth as well as softness that help to set an inviting and livable tone in Organic Modernist rooms.
Key Elements: Minimalist maple-wood console, ornate mid-century round mirror, earthy color palette, two-toned modern chair, organic-shaped decor (sculptural vase, rounded bowl)
There Are Organic Designs
From combining rich leather, textural woods, woven accents, and metal pieces, the emphasis is on mid-century furnishings with an organic edge. The result are spaces that play up the Organic Modernism look while still feeling livable, distinctive, and perfectly balanced.
Key Elements: Leather platform bed, mid-century-style rounded accent chair, grainy light-wood dresser, organic shape accents (vases, ceramic bust), simple patterned rug and pillows.
Equal parts mid-century and rustic, Modern Rustic style plays up clean-lined designs that don’t sacrifice comfort for looks. It’s one of our most popular interior design styles among customers.
Think Farmhouse Furnishings
What defines the Modern Rustic room is its mix of mid-century modern design with rustic materials and accents. It’s a streamlined slipcovered sofa paired with leather armchairs and graphic art alongside a raw wood bookcase. The result is a balance of style and big comfort.
Key Elements: Rustic vintage-inspired rug, natural-wood bookcase cabinet, leather-and-wood accent chair, hide ottomans, dark-wood tray-top cocktail tables.
Think Rustic Materials
Part of the mix includes rustic furnishings and elements with sleek materials and shapes. You can expect to find an industrial cabinet and an edgy mirror alongside classic mid-century seating and light fixtures. The idea is to play up a hard and soft contrast to create a bold yet livable vibe.
Key Elements: Log side table, natural-wood mid-century console cabinet, leather sofa with tufting and tapered legs, concrete-and-wood tables, glass pendants, rustic artwork.
Think Comforting Textures
Finally, with Modern Rustic style it truly comes down to the rich and nubby textures that give it that deep sense of homey comfort. These are the woven chair seats that add soft padding to the grainy wood table that looks and feels inviting, and the natural-fiber rug that opens up a room.
Key Elements: Rustic dining table, Wishbone-style chairs, organic shape tabletop accents (bowls, vessels), natural color palette, jute or sisal rug, mid-century-modern light fixture.
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