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18 Mid Century Living Rooms That Will Make Your Retro Heart Swoon

Mid-century modern was the iconic style of the 1950s and 60s and its timeless appeal has made it a mainstay in the world of interior design. Mid-century living room ideas combine a number of modern elements, artistry, and simple practicality to create an immediately recognizable look. You might imagine Don Draper’s office or the lobby of the Grand Budapest Hotel, which are excellent examples of the mid-century look. But if you want to play around a little with the interior design of your living room, there are actually tons of mid-century design ideas out there! If you like a more minimal aesthetic, blend mid-century and minimal designs for a clean, pared-down vibe. Love the boho look? Blend mid-century design ideas with lots of plants, patterns, and colors for a modern rustic vibe. Or maybe rustic interior design is your thing? Go modern farmhouse for a look that’s trendy and cozy all at once.

This is all that to say there are many ways to design a mid century modern living room. Get inspired by the following designs to see the full range of ways you can get this look!

mid century living roomA Touch of Glam

It’s no surprise that mid-century modern furniture can easily be glammed up for extra style! The walnut and marble coffee table and the tapered legs and open frame of the armchairs chairs are mid-century all the way. The gold velvet sofa adds a dazzling touch to this design and helps create a cozy conversation area. It is also in line with the jewel tones around the rest of the room—they add a bright and funky vibe while brass touches give the room more sass! This living room is great for the mid-century modernist who loves a bright pop of color and a statement piece you can’t miss.

mid century living roomNeutral Territory

Mid-century modern living room design doesn’t have to be loud and flamboyant! Tapered leg furniture makes this living room unmistakably mid-century modern while the neutral color palette and leather pouf on floor feel minimal in style. It benefits from a soothing color palette with warm neutrals like camel leather and shades of brown. Then, just throw in some pops of black and white for balance! This living room feels casual and cozy, and the low furniture and soft edges make it a kid-friendly space. The tripod lighting adds a fun retro touch, too.

mid century living roomDown-to-Earth Style

This mid-century modern living room blends retro furniture forms with a color palette that’s on the earthier side for a warm, cozy look. The musky green barrel chair is super retro and adds a funky pop of color into the mix. The leather pouf and landscape art also offer an earthy touch. We love the mid century modern thin leg coffee table and floor lamp. Meanwhile, the simple styling and geometric rug bring space together for a cohesive design.

Mod Enthusiast Living

This mid-century modern living room features a number of signature modern elements, like walnut wood finishes, the tapered leg chair and sofa, and a geometric rug. But the neutral color palette with pops of black and grey definitely adds a more contemporary vibe to the decor choices. The living room is minimal in decor, with an open and bright layout. Similar wood tones and signature mid-century modern touches of brass bring this look together. This is a great look for those who love mid century modern living room design but want a more subdued version of the style.

Mod Visionary Living Space

This living room is mid-century modern to the max in all of its forms and materials—walnut wood furniture in geometric forms, tapered legs, and thin metal are the elements that make this look iconic. To update the look with contemporary styling, you can add decor like minimal sculptures, oversized neutral art, sleek bookcase items, etc. The color palette of the living room is neutral with warm whites and greys, warmed up with lots of wood. It’s a great look for those who want mid-century modern style with a clean streamlined aesthetic.

Iconic Mid Century Living

This is a beautiful example of pure mid-century modern living room design. The sofa is lifted on a wood base with very retro legs. It has a very mid-century modern style with a neutral color scheme and pops of avocado green, and geometric patterns. Warm wood tones add warmth and a homey feeling to modern living rooms like this. And the iconic Noguchi coffee table is simple but stands out! All of the furniture pieces are architectural—like works of art—so they don’t need extra frills.

Mod Collector Space

Mid-century modern living room design typically sticks to a subdued color scheme with pops of bright primary colors. But living rooms can definitely be spiced up a little with more vibrant hues! The furniture is pure mid-century, like the camel leather sofa on tapered legs and blue upholstered armchair. A sculptural atomic light fixture in brass is mid-century, along with other lights in the room. The colors are in the iconic retro palette—muted jewel tones, primary colors, etc—but more vibrant hues than you usually see! Modern living rooms like this are great if you love mid-century modern style but want a slightly more eclectic flair.

Pastel Chic Mid Century

We love mid-century modern living rooms with an added hint of glam! This modern interior design features marble, brass, and velvet accents. The Kilim style rug and a sculptural atomic style pendant adds a polished touch. This look is great for mid-century modern style lover who wants a living room filled with bright and fun colors, shapes, and forms.

Relaxed and Retro

This style has plenty of mid-century modern elements, like the tapered and angled furniture legs, wood tones, and shag geometric rug. The oatmeal sofa pops against a muted mustard-colored wall, keeping the palette mostly earth toned with pops of blue. It’s a cohesive style with a balance of patterns, solids, and wood tones. If you’re a lover of mid-century modern design but prefer more earthy, warm vibes, this look might be just right for you!

Atomic Industrial

This mid-century modern living room design features a signature tapered leg sectional and sculptural light fixture to showcase the style. But it also boasts a hint of industrial flair with darker tones, natural wood and metal coffee table, and more rugged style artwork. The overall look is unexpected and creates a unique and cozy vibe! A light colored rug adds light balance to the darker color palette so it has warmth without feeling too grey. This look is perfect for those who want a hint of mid-century modern with a moodier feel.

Boomerangs And Sputniks

This mid-century modern living room focuses on primary colors for a bright, vibrant look! The tapered legs and Noguchi coffee table ground the room in mid-century modern design and the orb style pendant lights and starburst mirror are iconic retro pieces. A cool, geometric rug pulls all of the colors and patterns together and anchors the seating area to create a cozy, conversational space. It’s a great look for those who love mid-century-modern style but want bright colors and pure style.

Peachy Mid Century

Instead of going all out with bold, primary colors, some mid-century modern living rooms focus on a soft color palette. The furniture pieces here are pure mid-century style with tapered legs, a formal sofa and a marble/wood coffee table. But then the design incorporates rosy pinks, mauve, and a white and blush rug along with pops of blue. Overall, living rooms with this color palette will have a simple and soft appearance, but with defined mid-century style.

Organic Modernism

We love this “Organic modernist” look featuring sculptural furniture instead of lots of decor. The chairs are perfect examples, as they feature a formed leather seat and thin metal base. Lighting brings an industrial vibe through in the materials but uses organic shapes for a softer feel. The colors are very muted, neutral, and soft for that organic modern touch! Only a small amount of decor is used and it’s all made from natural material—stone, wood, ceramic, etc. This is a great mid-century modern living room design for those who appreciate a natural aesthetic.

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Modern Rustic Living

For this modern living room design, we went with a rustic style and touches of mid-century flair. The fabrics in the pillows, bench, and rug are rustic all the way and make the room feel homey and warm. The furniture form is classic mid-century modern, but the wood tones are lighter than typical and add a boho feel. The room has a formal layout with conversational seating but casual vibe to create a laid-back, inviting living room in trendy modern rustic style.

Edgy Modern Style

This mid-century modern living room design features a leather sofa on metal legs and a black mid-century form coffee table, both of which have a slightly industrial edge! The black and white color palette is warmed up by a jute rug, camel leather sofa, and wood frames, making the space both stylish and inviting. The tripod brass lamp is classic mid-century modern and the multi-patterns gallery wall has touches of both mid-century and industrial and adds tons of visual interest.

Pure Retro Vibes

For all of you hardcore mid-century lovers out there, here’s another purist living room to show you what this style can do all on its own! This room features a slingback armchair with a sculptural form that makes a dramatic impact! The art deco art piece in back features primary colors and the overall palette showcases blue and yellow with warm wood tones. And at the center of the room is a signature Noguchi coffee table. This room is perfect for those who love pure, undiluted mid-century modern style.

Mid Century Minimalism

This living room offers a deluxe example of mid-century modern meets minimalist design. We love how the two styles blend together to create a sleek, cool take on the “Mad Men” aesthetic. The look features clean lines and a neutral color palette with darker greys and blues for a muted backdrop. The sculptural quality of the furniture pieces adds a sense of drama to the serene space! Every piece makes a statement, from the ladder bookcases, the Arco floor lamp, to the gorgeous tulip table. Like the best minimalist designs, it manages to say a lot with a little!

Mod Enthusiast

For this look, we mingled contemporary stylings with a mid-century aesthetic to get a look every Mod enthusiast will love. It’s a more approachable take on mid-century and the contemporary pieces make it super relaxed and livable. It has a transitional foundation to the style that prioritizes comfort—and then retro accents are layered on top. Although the living room has a mostly neutral palette, pops of leather, wood, and brass liven it up and add extra warmth. The armchairs and gourd table lamps have a distinct mid-century modern form. This look is perfect if you like a cozy aesthetic with hints of retro, but don’t want to go full-throttle on mid-century modern.

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The Modsy “Must-Haves” for the Mid-Century Modern Living Room

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: mid-century modern is a trend that’s here to stay! What is it about this particular style that has helped it endure the test of time so well? The list of timeless design elements goes on and on! For one, mid-century modern design was created with comfort in mind and it’s a look that is meant to be used and lived with. Who doesn’t love a practical design element that makes economical use of space?

Mid-century modern style also offers the perfect marriage between form and function. It features minimal ornamentation so it’s super easy to care for and keep clean. The design seamlessly blends clean, crisp shapes with bright colors and organic materials for a look that’s both bold and approachable. There’s a lot to love about this classic style, especially when it comes to mid-century living room design.

Thinking about designing your living room in mid-century style? Read on for our list of Modsy “Must-Haves”—the essential checklist of mid-century living room furniture to help you ace that perfect retro look. Incorporate one or two pieces for a slightly mid-century space, or go full-steam ahead with the whole list!

Mid-Century living room furnitureFurniture With Tapered Legs

No mid-century modern inspired space would be complete without tapered legs, as noted by Modsy’s very own VP of Style, Alessandra Wood in this HuffPost article. If you are looking for mid-century living room furniture, look for pieces with this signature look.

Why? Tapered legs add height and drama to any piece of furniture, making larger pieces—like a big sectional sofa—feel lighter and less cumbersome. The triangular shape of tapered legs draws the eye up and makes smaller spaces seem more open and airy. Not only do they look sleek, but they also make it easy to clean underneath pieces.

It’s a “must-have” because The simple elegance of tapered legs is perhaps the most enduring legacy of the mid-century movement. Their functionality and streamlined forms make them perfect for almost any space truly giving this trend a leg (or four!) to stand on.

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Mid-Century living room furnitureA Retro Side Chair

Part of what makes mid-century style so distinctive is its clever mix of strong shapes, vibrant colors, and natural materials. A fun retro chair design, like this one, is the perfect piece of mid-century furniture to complete any space. Look for one made of natural wood and colorful upholstery—mid-century modern style is all about simple, streamlined shapes and organic forms.

It’s a “must-have” because: It not only provides extra seating but gives you an opportunity to highlight some of the best elements of mid-century style.

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Mid-Century living room furnitureNatural or Acorn Wood Finishes

While mid-century modern design is known for popularizing a slew of man-made materials for the home (think fiberglass and concrete), its use of natural wood is truly exemplary. Warm finishes in acorn tones are super common in mid-century designs and they are used for their warm, inviting quality. Streamlined mid-century shapes and minimal ornamentation bring out the beauty of the wood and add to its popularity by bringing a friendly “everyman” quality to the design.

It’s a “must-have” because: We all need a little warmth in our space and mid-century wood pieces are the perfect way to add subtle (and design-savvy) sensibility to yours.

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Mid-Century living room furnitureAccents in Primary Colors

One of the most fun components of mid-century design is its playful use of color! Historically, mid-century spaces utilized a mix of bold, primary colors. You can also try pairing complementary or secondary colors to capture that retro feel in a more approachable way—think yellow and turquoise or lilac and tangerine. Layer in pops of neutrals or beige to keep it from going too technicolor—there’s no need to go crazy with colors in a classy style like this.

It’s a “must-have” because: Vibrant color is an integral part of mid-century design aesthetics. It adds a sense of levity and joy to the serious designs and geometric shapes of the movement.

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Mid-Century living room furnitureGeometric Shapes and Accents

Eye-catching geometric accents are absolute mid-century necessities. Hugely popular in mid-century design, the tripod lamp is exemplary of the movement for many reasons. Tripod legs add stability while maintaining simple and elegant form—it’s both functional and design-savvy.

The starburst mirror is a popular staple of mid-century style, too. It features a whimsical and retro look and creates an immediate focal point. And the beautiful brass end table exemplifies the mid-century love of form and function in the strong geometry of its design.

It’s a “must-have” because: The dynamic shapes used in mid-century design are not only eye-catching, they often work to enhance the quality of the space by creating focal points around a room.

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Organic and Natural Textures

Mixing organic textures was all the rage during the peak of the Mid-Century era! Incorporating these textures is still a great way to bring a room together today. The square leather ottoman features a simple shape that really brings out the vintage of the leather and this jute rug gets double mid-century style points for its groovy geometric pattern and organic material. The marble coffee table adds a bright spot to the earthy palette in this design—plus the slender metal legs add additional mid-century finesse.

It’s a “must-have” because: A big tenet of the mid-century movement was making designs that were both comfortable and livable. The organic materials preferred by many mid-century designers (leather, teak, tweed, jute) reflected that sensibility, providing both natural warmth and durability.

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Iconic Furniture Pieces

So many amazing signature design styles came out of the mid-century movement that it’s easy to find an item that’s perfect for your own take on mid-century. For example, the Nogucci coffee table designed by Isamu Nogucci is a classic representation of bold mid-century style, with its tear-drop shape glass top and boomerang-shaped legs.

Other iconic examples worth considering are the Eames recliner and ottoman or the Jeanneret Chair. There are lots of gorgeous (and affordable) reproductions that make them easily accessible—you don’t have to hunt down and pay the hefty price for an original!

It’s a “must-have” because: Having a recognizable piece of mid-century furniture will not only give you some design cred, but it also functions as a work of art and adds tons of visual interest to your space!

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A Bar Cabinet

This bar cabinet serves up plenty of mid-century charm with its traditional shape and design. As we mentioned before, tapered legs are a hallmark of mid-century style and help add height and drama to the simple shape of the cabinet. The beautiful acorn wood finish and warm organic texture add visual interest that easily blends in with a variety of living room styles. Antique brass handles are a refined detail present in lots of mid-century furniture pieces! This cabinet offers plenty of storage for bottles and stemware—and it can double as storage for books and board games.

Style tip: Add some retro accessories like a gold martini shaker for extra mid-century pizzazz! We think Don Draper would approve!

It’s a “must-have” because: Not only is this bar cabinet an excellent example of mid-century style because of its elegant and streamlined design, but the ample closed storage is wonderfully functional.

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A Conversational Layout

One of the key philosophies of mid-century design was to create social spaces that were equal parts functional and inviting for gatherings. This is why these spaces tend to have such a conversational feel.

To create a conversational layout in your space, keep things casual. Try an asymmetrical arrangement of your furniture, which will feel less formal and more casual and inviting. Play with proportion by using foundational pieces with different shapes and colors. This helps create dimension and draws the eye around the conversational area instead of into one focal point as more formal spaces do.

It’s a “must-have” because: Many mid-century designers wanted to create spaces which made social gathering feel more organic and fun. Using mid-century furniture to create a living room that feels open and welcoming is the perfect way to make your space feel both modern and homey.

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mid-century modern interior design

Everything You Need to Know About Mid-Century Modern Interior Design

We don’t need to explain the mid-century modern interior design trend, which has been a fan favorite for the past decade. A style that’s been in the spotlight for years, mid-century modern is the most popular look among our customers. Read on for the full scoop on this iconic style and where it’s headed for 2020 and beyond!

What is Mid-Century Modern Interior Design?

Inspired by mid-twentieth-century design, Mid-Century Modern style combines elements like natural woods, bold colors, slightly whimsical furniture designs, organic shapes, and tapered legs. These interiors are comfortable and encourage lounging, relaxation, and conversation. This style also loves pattern, and often incorporates graphic patterns with geometric and organic designs (think diamonds, starbursts, and boomerangs).

mid-century modern bohoWhat’s the Current State of Affairs With the MCM Trend?

As we enter a new decade we’re noticing a shift away from “Mad Men” mid-century design to something more organic and collected.

From a high-level trend perspective we’re seeing beloved mid-century elements such are beautiful woods and iconic pieces mixed into more eclectic or organic interiors as opposed to rooms that feel themed as “mid-century.” The softer approach to mid-century design allows iconic and special pieces to be the stars of a space. We’re also seeing bolder styles that introduce glam elements in dramatic and sophisticated ways.

Historically, when you look at the progression of trends in the 20th century, you see what looks like a cyclical change in our current culture. Postmodern design trends introduced organic shapes and whimsical feelings to interior design, while the 1970s and 1980s introduced drama and glam. Both of these styles have reemerged in our culture and trending with different groups. As we learn more about styles, we also see how they evolved over time!

mid-century modern interior designWhat Will Mid-Century Modern Look Like in 2020?

We’ll still be seeing mid-century elements and iconic pieces, but they’ll be used as accents in the space, as opposed to the overall theme of the design.

We’re seeing a softer, earthier side of the mid-century look come out to play with bohemian, collected elements, and organic shapes and forms. It feels more eclectic, mixing in worldly patterns, pops of color, natural textures, and lots of plants.

We’re also seeing the use of iconic pieces beyond the Eames chair. The Cesca chair, Jeanneret chair, and even the Wishbone chair… Many of these were pieces that came from the Bauhaus in the 1920s, and were re-popularized in the mid-century and again in the 1980s. Minimalist at heart, these pieces give us mid-century and 1980s associations due to their ubiquity in design during those time periods.

Minimalist Maximalist design is also on the rise and this trend is exactly what it sounds like—a style that plays with the unlikely combo of a minimalist’s design principles and a maximalist’s love of patterns, colors, textures, and all things over-the-top. Look out for all of these trends in 2020!

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