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How to Design a Mid-Century Modern Living Room

Design a Mid-Century Modern Living Room

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How to Design a Mid-Century Modern Living Room

Meet the Author and Your Future Designer: Julio Arco is a passionate architect with years of experience in architecture, interior design, urban design, and housing. He studied at prestigious universities across North America and Europe. 


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How to Design a Mid-Century Modern Living Room

Midcentury Modern Living Room – Introduction Video

Although it’s over two decades into the second millennium, mid-century modern style remains popular for interior design. This is in part due to continuing influence from modern art, architecture, and technology – all of which first appeared in the 1950s.

As a result, many individuals now integrate mid-century furniture into their houses – especially in the living room. This often includes straight lines, soft curves, and an overall minimalistic atmosphere. A better understanding of prominent era items and their inspiration may help you construct a mid-century modern living room.

Additionally, you may learn how to easily integrate the mid-century style into your home without replacing everything you currently possess and love. Thanks to its recent resurgence in popularity, it’s easier than ever before to find mid-century modern pieces that fit both your taste and budget.

However, it’s important to remember that not every item needs to be vintage or expensive in order to achieve the desired look. In fact, sometimes the most effect can be achieved by mixing new with old. For example, a modern sofa paired with a vintage coffee table can create an interesting contrast that feels both fresh and timeless. Additionally, you can hire an affordable interior designer at Havenly to help you create the design you are looking for! Click here and get 25% off!Curated image with Harmony Modular 82" Bench Cushion Sofa, Standard Depth, Chenille Tweed, Camel,...

All examples are courtesy of West Elm – You can shop this look at Havenly – Click here and get 25% off your first design!

Why Is Mid-Century Modern Design Popular?

Mid-century modern design is having a moment right now, and it’s easy to see why. This design style incorporates a wide range of styles and components, so there’s something for everyone. Mid-century modern furniture is also easy to find and relatively affordable.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you’ve probably seen some mid-century modern furniture in your home! But mid-century modern isn’t just about style; it’s also about functionality. As more and more people move to major cities and live in smaller spaces, they need a design that makes the most of their limited space.

Mid-century modern design can help you maximize every square foot while still maintaining a clean and simple look. If you’re looking for a stylish and practical way to furnish your home, mid-century modern is the way to go.

Curated image with Anton 105" Left 2-Piece Chaise Sectional, Ludlow Leather, Gray Smoke, Burnt Wa...Mid-Century Modern Design – How-to Guide

Mid-century modern living rooms have been growing in popularity in recent years as more and more people look to incorporate vintage pieces into their homes. Mid-century furniture is characterized by its simple, clean lines and minimalist design. It can be a great way to add a touch of elegance to your living room.

If you’re interested in creating a mid-century modern living room, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, focus on straight lines and soft curves – this will give your living room a sleek, stylish look. Second, consider incorporating some mid-century-inspired pieces into your existing decor – a vintage area rug or coffee table could be the perfect finishing touch.

And finally, don’t be afraid to mix and match – the best mid-century living rooms are those that have a bit of personality. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect mid-century modern living room.

Curated image with Newport Modular 94" Toss-Back Cushion Sofa, Performance Coastal Linen, White,...

1.- The Accent Chair

Mid-century modern design is all about creating a sense of balance and simplicity in your home. One way to achieve this is by anchoring your room with a piece of furniture that has a strong, retro style. Mid-century modern chairs are the perfect way to do this, thanks to their timeless design.

The most famous example of a mid-century modern chair is the Eames Lounge Chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames. This chair has a leather and wood recliner and ottoman, and it was inspired by 19th-century club chairs.

The Eames Lounge Chair has become a lasting part of popular culture, appearing in movies, documentaries, novels, and homes worldwide. If you’re looking for an accent or lounge chair with a mid-century modern twist, consider an Eames-inspired lounge chair, and it will surely make a statement in your home.

Curated image with Reclaimed Teak Round Coffee Table, Haven Sectional Set 102: Left Arm 3 Seater...

2.- The Coffee Table

The coffee table is often seen as an important design element in mid-century modernism. This is because the coffee table serves as a focal point in the living room, providing a place for people to gather and converse. In addition, the coffee table is also a practical piece of furniture that provides a place to set drinks and other objects. As such, the coffee table plays an important role in both the function and aesthetic of a mid-century home.

One popular type of coffee table in the mid-century is the hairpin leg coffee table. This type of table draws its inspiration from the soft curves and atomic-inspired design of mid-century modernism. Hairpin leg coffee tables are characterized by their clean and minimalistic appearance, which makes them a perfect fit for any mid-century home. In addition, hairpin leg coffee tables are also known for their durability and stability, making them a great choice for homes with children or pets.

Curated image with Oak & Iron End Table, Waxed Black, Solid Pine Folding Chair, Light Brown, HTH...

3.- The Sofa

The sofa is one of the most important pieces of furniture in a mid-century modern living room. The style of the sofa reflects the stark minimalism of modern art. The sofa is typically low and rectangular and designed with contrasting textures. The simplicity of the sofa allows it to be versatile and go with any type of design.

For a more mid-century feel, get inspired by retro-blue sofas and sectionals. These colors will help to create a more mid-century feel in your living room. The result is a stylish and timeless space when combined with other mid-century pieces, such as an area rug and coffee table.

Curated image with Harper 118" Right 2-Piece Chaise Sectional, Deco Weave, Midnight, Dark Bronze,...

4.- Storage

Mid-century modern design is all about clean lines and simplicity. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need storage. In fact, storage is an important part of any mid-century modern living room. A modular storage system can help you to keep your living room clean and clutter-free. Made up of teak storage pieces, a modular system can be arranged in any way you choose. You can use it to store books, records, and even your television. By using a modular system, you can create a clean and simple living room that is still functional and stylish.

Curated image with Coastal Outdoor 76 in Sofa, Silverstone, Ross Chair, Poly, Ivory, Cozy Shearli...

5.- Living Room decor

Living Room decor in the mid-century modern home design is crucial in tying the whole room together and making it feel like a complete space. A sunburst clock and a teak mirror are two key pieces that can really help to make a Living Room come alive and feel finished.

Not only do they add a touch of luxury and sophistication, but they also help to tie the whole room together and make it feel like a complete space. A huge piece of art may also be used as part of the Living Room Decor and can really help to make a statement and add visual interest.

Whatever pieces are used, it is important to remember that the Living Room is one of the most important rooms in the house and should be given the attention it deserves. With the right decor, a Living Room can be transformed into a stylish and inviting space that is sure to impress guests.

Curated image with Newport 114" Toss Back Cushion 3-Piece L-Shaped Sectional, Performance Coastal...

6.- Lighting

When it comes to mid-century modern style design, the importance of lighting cannot be understated. And when it comes to choosing the right lighting for your living room, there are few options that are more iconic than the lava lamp. Created in 1963, the lava lamp became a staple of 1960s pop culture, and it continues to be popular to this day.

If you’re looking for a living room light that will give your space a retro feel, there’s no better option than a lava lamp. But if you want to capture the essence of mid-century modern style design, consider going for something resembling a spacecraft from the 1960s. The spun resin rocket light is a perfect example.

This orange rocket stands on three teak legs. It emits a warm, cozy light, making it the perfect addition to any mid-century modern-style living room.

Curated image with Marin 86" Sofa, Standard Depth, Performance Basketweave, Alabaster, Tulum Loun...

7.- Plants and Natural Elements

Mid-century modern design Prior to the mid-20th century, houseplants were mostly relegated to large, formal gardens and glass greenhouses. But with the rise of mid-century modern design, plants and nature also began appearing in homes.

Today, houseplants are once again enjoying a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to their ability to add a touch of vitality and color to any room. In addition to being visually appealing, they’re also quite practical, as they help to filter indoor air and improve airflow.

And for those who don’t have a green thumb, there’s no need to worry; most houseplants are easy to cultivate and maintain. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many popular houseplants are poisonous to animals or may have been treated with hazardous pesticides.

So if you have a dog or cat, be sure to choose pet-friendly plants or indoor trees. With a little care and attention, houseplants can provide both aesthetic and practical benefits for any home.

Curated image with Angus Slipper Chair, Poly, Leather, Old Saddle, Polished Stainless Steel, Mid-...

8.- Wooden Furniture is a Must!

Investing in wooden furniture is a smart move regardless of your design style. But if you’re especially drawn to mid-century modern style design, then stocking your home with a few key pieces is a must. From coffee tables and chairs to sideboards and storage units, there are plenty of ways to incorporate wood into your decor.

And the best part is that wood furniture only becomes more beautiful with age. So if you’re looking for pieces that will stand the test of time, both aesthetically and structurally, then look no further than wood furniture. You’ll be glad you made the investment for years to come.

Curated image with Shape Studies Vases, Vase, Black, Ceramic, Small, Shape Studies Vases, Vase, G...

9.- Slimline Legged Furniture

Investing in slim furniture is a great way to give the appearance of more space in a tiny living room. The unpretentious, functionalist style of mid-century modern interior design dominated the post-war period.

Many people, particularly those looking for tiny living room ideas that create the appearance of more space, are now embracing its utilitarian, flowing furniture with slimline legs.

This style of furniture is perfect for small living rooms because it takes up less visual space and makes the room appear more open. So if you’re looking for ways to make your tiny living room seem larger, investing in slim furniture is a great place to start.

Curated image with Arianna Chair Poly Alabaster Performance Coastal Linen Washed Oak, Arianna (67...

10.- Focus on Symmetry

Symmetry plays an important role in interior design and can create a feeling of harmony and peace in a room. Suppose your house was built in the 1950s. In that case, a symmetrical arrangement could keep your interior design elegant while still providing a homey feel.

Every area in your home will benefit from a sense of cohesion if you can master the art of symmetry, and tiny rooms will seem more spacious and orderly as a result. The introduction of symmetry in interior design can help achieve this stylish and inviting look.

With a few simple tips, you can bring symmetry to any room in your home and enjoy the many benefits it has to offer.

Curated image with Aluminum Flat Leg Coffee Table,Aluminum Top and Legs,, Pure Foundation Marble...

11.- Add Scandinavian Accents

A home that reflects Scandinavian style is one that is uncluttered, functional, and radiates a sense of minimalism while still feeling warm and inviting. It’s a perfect blend of form and function. Each element serves a purpose and comes together to create a simple yet beautiful aesthetic. 

Scandinavian design has its roots in the countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. The climate in these northern countries is notoriously harsh, so functionality is key in order to make everyday life a little easier. This need for functionality is reflected in the clean lines and uncomplicated forms of Scandinavian furniture and decor. 

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in this design, which shares many similarities with the Scandinavian style. Like Scandi-Inspired homes, mid-century-style spaces are uncluttered and emphasize simplicity. There is also a focus on the marriage of form and function.

Modern life in the 21st century can be chaotic and overwhelming, so it’s no wonder that people are gravitating toward these two timeless styles. Whether you’re looking to add some Scandinavian accents to your home or you want to dedicate your space to this iconic style, there are endless ways to bring this look into your room.

Curated image with Dalton 121" Right 2-Piece Chaise Sectional, Yarn Dyed Linen Weave, Alabaster,...

12.- Use Primary Colors

Since the style relies on clean lines and simplicity, it can be easy to add a touch of color without going overboard. Red, yellow, and blue is the three basic hues or colors that cannot be made by mixing other colors, and these are also known as primary colors.

Color may be added to a mid-century modern living room in a variety of ways, including with paint colors and furnishings. It’s a fun and easy way to change the atmosphere of a room without having to completely redecorate. Plus, using primary colors is an excellent way to decorate in this style since it ties in nicely with the historical roots of the design aesthetic.

Curated image with Take the tour, Upholstered Grid Back Chair, Black, Remi 105" Modular Sofa, Yar...

13.- Wood Paneling

Wall paneling was a popular design element in the mid-twentieth century, and it’s making a comeback in a big way. Wood paneling is the way to go if you’re looking to add a touch of retro style to your home. Not only does it add visual interest, but it can also help to create a sense of spaciousness.

Wall paneling can make a room seem longer and wider when installed horizontally, which is ideal for smaller spaces. And if you want to get really creative, paneling doesn’t have to be limited to walls; it can also be used to create stunning accent pieces or even works of art. Whether you’re going for function or style (or both!), wood paneling is a great way to add character and personality to your home.

Curated image with Arianna 104" Modular 4-Piece Chaise Sectional, Chunky Boucle, White, Abstract...

14.- Add some Retro Colors

What’s not to love about retro colors? They’re fun, they’re trendy, and they can really make a space pop. If you’re looking for a way to add a little bit of retro flair to your home, consider using an old-fashioned color system.

With its bold geometrics and whimsical blocks of color, this style is perfect for those who are kids at heart. And best of all, it’s easy to incorporate into any existing decor scheme.

So, if you’re ready to add a little bit of retro flair to your home, go ahead and try this style. You might just be surprised by how much you love it.

Curated image with Round Wood Base Swivel Chair - Amber, Joon Nesting Tables, Maple, Set of 2, Ra...

15.- Oversized Florals

Oversized florals are a great way to add color and interest to a mid-century aesthetic living room. They can be used to create a focal point or simply to add a touch of color and pattern. There are many ways to incorporate oversized florals into your decor, from using them as art prints to incorporating them into furniture and accessories.

If you’re looking for a bold statement, go for oversized florals in vivid colors. Choose flowers in shades of white, cream, or pastel for a more subdued look. To add a touch of whimsy, go for oversized florals with fun patterns or shapes. No matter what your style, oversized florals are a great way to add personality to your living room.

Curated image with Static Diamond Pillow Cover, 18"x18", Natural Flax, Set of 2, Static Diamond P...

16.- Timeless Accent Chairs

Designer armchairs are timeless pieces that can add a touch of luxury and style to any living room. These chairs are often inspired by mid-century aesthetic design, and they come in a variety of different styles, including the slender Wassily chair constructed of tubular steel and the opulent Lounge chair created by Charles and Ray Eames.

Boucle Jagger armchairs are a great option for those who want to add a touch of luxury to their living room without overtaking it. These chairs have flowing lines and a sleek design that is inspired by the 1970s style. They are the perfect addition to any mid-century modern living room, and they will make it feel more inviting and stylish.

Curated image with Arianna 104" Modular 4-Piece Chaise Sectional, Chunky Boucle, White, Chenille...

17.- Display art against Neutral-colored Walls

One popular way to display mid-century art is against a neutral-colored wall. This creates a clean, sophisticated look that makes the art stand out. Plus, it’s a great way to show off your collection if you’re a fan of mid-century modern design.

The sleek lines and simple aesthetic of this period make it easy to mix and match with other styles, so you can really have fun playing around with different patterns, materials, and finishes. So if you’re looking for a way to show off your artwork in a really eye-catching way, consider using a neutral backdrop, and it’s sure to make a big impact.

Curated image with Rattan Arm Chair, Soft Corded Throw, 50"x60", Dark Horseradish, Chajul Wool Ru...

18.- Go Minimalist

The mid-century modern era was a time when designers sought to create furniture that was both functional and stylish. One of the defining features of this style is its minimalism. Rather than overcrowd a room with multiple pieces of furniture, mid-century modern designers sought to create a sense of space by using fewer, larger pieces.

This focus on simplicity allowed for the development of some truly iconic designs, such as the Eames Lounge Chair and the Noguchi Coffee Table. Many people have adopted the mid-century modern aesthetic in their homes. By minimizing the number of furnishings, they are able to create a more open and airy feel in their living spaces.

In addition, this approach can also help to save money, as it requires fewer pieces of furniture to achieve the desired look. Whether you are furnishing a new home or simply looking to refresh your existing décor, consider adopting the mid-century modern philosophy of “less is more.”

Curated image with Cozy Swivel, Cozy Shearling, Ivory, Concealed Supports, Chunky Cable Knit Thro...

19.- Install a Statement Ceiling Light

Mid-century living room ceiling lights are a great way to add modern flair to a more classic living room. These lights are often made with clean lines and geometric shapes, which can help to create a mid-century aesthetic design. In addition, mid-century living room ceiling lights can be used to make a statement in a space. Often, these lights are larger in scale than other lighting fixtures, which can help draw the eye up and make a space feel more open. Whether you are looking for a subtle way to add mid-century style to your living room or you want to make a bold design statement, mid-century living room ceiling lights are a great option.

Curated image with Anton 86" Sofa, Yarn Dyed Linen Weave, Frost Gray, Burnt Wax, Dotted Chenille...

20.- Functionality is Key

Functionality is key in any kind of design, but especially in mid-century design. Every piece of furniture and feature in your living room should have a certain function, and you should only have a few decorative accents.

In order to meet the demands of the ordinary American family, this post-war design style focused on furniture that could be stacked, folded, or interchanged. It also indicated that this design approach prioritizes user convenience above anything else.

A statement ceiling light is a perfect example of how functionality and convenience can be combined with style in this kind of design. Not only does it provide bright illumination, but it can also be easily moved around or even taken down if necessary. The mid-century design emphasizes practicality and ease of use in any setting.

Curated image with Take the tour, Angus Slipper Chair, Poly, Leather, Old Saddle, Polished Stainl...

21.- Juxtaposition of Elements

The juxtaposition of elements is a key feature of mid-century design. Traditional and non-traditional materials are placed side by side to create an interesting effect. For example, a coffee table might have sleek, narrow legs made of metal or plastic, while the top of the table is made of wood.

This contrast between materials is one of the things that makes mid-century design so unique. Another characteristic of this style is the use of organic curves and forms. Curved lines are used to create a soft, relaxed feel. However, many straight lines and clean patterns are also used in mid-century modern design.

This combination of organic and geometric forms gives the mid-century modern design its characteristic look. Statement ceiling lights are another common element in this style. These lights are often large and eye-catching, and they help to bring a sense of sophistication to any space. If you’re looking to add a touch of mid-century style to your home, keep an eye out for these key elements.

Curated image with Safi Rug, True Blue, 8'x10', Andes 94" Right Multi Seat 3-Piece Ottoman Sectio...

22.- Mixing Materials

When constructing a mid-century modern living room, mixing materials is key. Metal, plywood, plexiglass, and lucite can all coexist in one space since this style promotes the mingling of different materials. Not only are non-traditional materials being utilized more than before, but they are also being used in new ways.

For example, plywood can be shaped into a comfy chair, or a transparent geometric end table can be made out of plexiglass. A statement ceiling light is another important element in a mid-century living room.

This type of light fixture is often large and dramatic, making it a focal point in the room. Mixing different materials and using them in new ways is what makes this style so unique and interesting.

Curated image with Colca Wool Rug, 2.5x7, Flax, Streamline 36" Console, Whitewash, Dark Bronze, T...

23.- Mixing Textures

Mixing textures is a popular design technique and one that can add a lot of interest to a room. When mixing textures, it’s important to consider both the visual and tactile elements. For example, a rough-hewn wood table would pair nicely with a smooth fabric chair.

Similarly, a sleek metal lamp would look beautiful next to a plush velvet sofa. By mixing different textures, you can create a layered and inviting space. And, by mixing both traditional and unexpected materials, you can add a bit of mid-century flair to your home. So go ahead and experiment with various textiles – the result may just be your new favorite look.

Curated image with Solid Reclaimed Wood Square Coffee Table,Wood,, Hamilton 123", , White,, Beck...

24.- Curved Furniture

Curved furniture and organic shapes were popular in mid-century modern style design to soften the sometimes harsh look of contemporary furniture. Curves can also help add visual interest and contrast to a room otherwise dominated by straight lines.

If you are hoping to transition your living room from contemporary to mid-century modern, consider adding some pieces with curves or rounded edges. Kidney-shaped coffee tables, boomerang-shaped sofas, and chairs with small Curved backrests are all good options.

By incorporating these Curved elements into your living space, you can create a more inviting and stylish Mid-century modern living room look.

Curated image with Feature: New Neutrals at the Lorca, Wood and Ceramic Table Lamp Black White Li...

25.- Add Prints

Mid-century modern living rooms are typified by strong geometric patterns and retro-style prints. Geometric patterns were used extensively in mid-century style, often in carpeting, cushions, and shelving units. These patterns sometimes took the form of intersecting lines or geometric forms, which was a hallmark of mid-century modernism.

In addition to geometric shapes, bold, vintage designs were also popular in mid-century modern living rooms. These designs might be featured on wall art or rugs and would add a touch of personality to the space. Color was also important in mid-century modern living rooms, with bold hues being used to create a vibrant atmosphere.

Curated image with Pure White Ceramic Sack, Petrified Wood Pyramid, Virtues of the Soul 2, Print,...

Design a Mid-Century Modern Living Room – FAQ

When was the mid-century modern period?

The mid-century modern period is generally considered to be from the 1940s through the 1960s.

What are some common mid-century modern furniture pieces?

Some common mid-century modern furniture pieces include chairs with tubular steel frames, sofas with tufted upholstery, and coffee tables with glass tops.

What is a common mid-century modern living room color palette?

A common mid-century modern living room color palette includes bold hues such as orange, yellow, and red.

Is achieving a mid-century look and purchasing living room furniture expensive?

Achieving a mid-century look and purchasing living room furniture is not necessarily expensive. You can find mid-century modern furniture at many different price points, from high-end designer pieces to more affordable reproductions.

Where can I get mid-century modern style furnishings to create a mid-century living room?

To purchase furniture from the mid-century era and achieve a mid-century flair, look for local antique stores, estate sales, and online retailers that sell vintage furniture. You can also find many affordable reproductions of mid-century modern furniture from online retailers and home goods stores.

What features are key to creating a mid-century space design?

To achieve this timeless appeal, you need to use clean lines, white walls, a neutral palette or bright primary colors, a leather sofa, a symmetrical layout, iconic pieces, tapered legs, graphic patterns, and natural materials. These features are key to creating a mid-century space design.

What are the most iconic colors for a mid-century modern living room?

The most iconic colors for a mid-century modern living room and mid-century furnishings are black, white, and brown. These colors are often seen in leather sofas and chairs, which are common pieces of mid-century modern furniture.

How to Design a Mid-Century Modern Living Room

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M.Arch. Julio Arco
M.Arch. Julio Arco

Bachelor of Architecture - ITESM University
Master of Architecture - McGill University
Architecture in Urban Context Certificate - LDM University
Interior Designer - Havenly
Architecture Professor - ITESM University

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