Mid-century modern is an interior design style that’s slowly becoming more mainstream.
But, what exactly is mid-century modern anyway?
This style focuses on what was popular in the mid-20th century (as the name suggests). That means decor within this style would have been in its prime between the 1930s and the 1960s.
Think post World War II, social revolutions, and, of course, the Brady Bunch.
You probably can’t make structural changes to achieve this look in your apartment. But, there are quite a few ways that you can add this decor to spice up your living arrangements.
So, let’s go over five different ways you can incorporate mid-century modern into your apartment today!
1. Wood Furniture
There’s one thing you’ll see in just about every mid-century modern apartment.
And lots of it.
Almost all hard surfaces in mid-century modern apartments will be wood. That includes chairs, desks, dressers, tables, and just about any other hard surface you can think of.
But, not all wood fits this style.
To achieve a natural mid-century modern look, you have to look into the types of wood that were popular between the 1930s and the 1960s. For the most part, that usually means beautiful teak, oak, and mahogany, among others.
If you can, stick to the same type of wood across all your furniture.
Mid-century modern wood furniture also offers quite the minimalist feel. You’ll notice that the design of these pieces is often quite understated. And, they usually have very narrow legs on all four sides.
2. Abstract Artwork
Though the wood furniture is plain, the artwork in the mid-century modern style is anything but.
So, you want your artwork to stand out!
Andy Warhol was perhaps one of the most famous artists in the mid-century. He created vibrant-colored repeating portraits of pop culture icons like Marilyn Monroe.
Though you probably won’t be able to get your hands on an original Warhol piece, there are resources you can use to design your own Warhol-style pop art.
The best part is — you can use your own photos or pictures of your favorite celebrities.
Other mid-century modern artwork is a little tamer.
Most of these “retro” pieces boast a neat geometric pattern with somewhat dull colors. They seem a little busy to the untrained eye, but they make the perfect focal point in just about any room.
Plus, they’re easy to incorporate into a room since they’re just colors and shapes.
3. Neutral Colors
The muted decor in the 60s and 70s sitcoms wasn’t an accident. The earthy color palette identifies a lot of the mid-century modern look.
In this style, most colors are “earthy” and sometimes even appear dull.
You’ll want to lean more toward oranges, browns, dark greens, and even teal. After all, you don’t want any colors that are too bright or distracting.
Are you a little hesitant about introducing new colors to your apartment?
You can still achieve a mid-century modern look with gentle whites and greys. Just be sure to add some patterns to liven up the place instead.
But, this isn’t just limited to paint colors.
This goes for your furniture as well.
It’s very rare to see a dull grey or black sofa in a mid-century modern apartment. So, if you don’t want to replace your entire living room set, you’ll want to invest in mid-century chic slipcovers instead.
This will save you money while avoiding the moving process.
4. Groovy Patterns
We know the time between the 1930s and 1960s as being the emergence of disco.
So, add a groovy pattern anywhere that you can. That goes for your walls, artwork, furniture, rugs, and any other surface in your home.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through wallpapers.
Try to find a wallpaper with a retro-looking repeating pattern. Make sure it has the cliche mid-century modern color palette and odd design shapes. The more variety you can find — the better.
But, maybe you’re strapped for cash.
You don’t have to buy several cans of paint, brand new furniture, or even restructure the layout of your apartment.
So, here are some affordable tips to help bring these patterns into your home:
- Bed sheets or blankets
- Slipcovers for your couches or sofas
- Small pieces of artwork
- DIY painting or artwork (with the help of tiny cans of paint and painter’s tape)
- Memorabilia from the time period
No set pattern makes your apartment any more or less mid-century modern. Just choose a design or scheme that fits your style best.
5. Extravagant Lighting
More modern design styles usually put a focus on furniture and accent pieces. But, no method emphasizes lighting quite like mid-century modern.
Your regular old lamp won’t cut it here.
Long gone are the days where your lamp was just a single bulb and a shade.
The last thing you want is “average” when it comes to keeping your mid-century modern apartment well-lit. That’s why you’ll want to look for large lighting pieces that can be the focal point of every room.
These include multiple bulbs, crazy asymmetrical designs, and bizarre shapes. You might even want to squeeze a chandelier into your living room.
This is a little different when it comes to lamps.
You’ll notice that most mid-century modern lamps are larger in size. They usually boast a very thin neck, are wooden, and have oversized beige lampshades.
These will fit perfectly in your living room or beside your bed on your nightstand.
It’s not all that difficult to achieve a mid-century modern look in your new apartment. But, you’ll have to put in a little time and effort into doing your research.
The 1930s through the 1960s were full of brand new decor ideas.
That means you’ll want to focus on earthy tones, vibrant artwork, and retro designs whenever possible.
But, the type of furniture you use is also incredibly important.
You want to make sure that your furniture is wood-based and made of woods like teak or mahogany. For an even more authentic mid-century modern look, invest in bulky lighting options with huge shades that were common for the period.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Arch at Bloomington to help them with their online marketing.