Mid-Century Modern is used to define architecture, furniture and graphic design from the mid-1930s to around 1965. The iconic style flourished after the Second World War when Bauhaus architects and designers migrated to the United States.
The term was first used by author Cara Greenberg in her 1984 book, “Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s”.
The style saw a resurgence in the 1980s from a small group of designers and went mainstream by the 1990s when many homeowners and designers embraced the style. Original MCM pieces became collector’s items selling for thousands of dollars at auctions.
Mid-Century Modern (MCM) style is as popular now as it was 60 years ago. Today, Mid-Century is featured in magazines and television design shows and is the new in-style for Millennials. It seems it is never out of style and labeled timeless by many designers. Knoll, Eames, Herman Miller and other furniture manufacturers continue to make this classic style furniture.
Mid-Century features clean, sleek lines with gentle organic curves and geometric shapes with minimal ornamentation. The style is known for contradicting materials and textures – mixing organic and synthetic materials including wood, metal, glass, vinyl, leather, Plexiglass, and Lucite.
Picture in your mind plastic furniture and skinny, peg or tapered legs on dressers and tables. The look was considered futuristic at the time.
Distinctive MCM furniture includes flared-back chairs with tapered legs and pops of color; cantilevered style chairs; wood or plastic coffee tables and glass-top tables; and large television stands with geometric design that feature minimalist design.
Accent pieces include lamps with bold shapes made of chrome and other metals. Add a mirror and wall décor, bold throw pillows, window treatments and artwork to complete the look.
In the Mid-Century home, every room has a distinct purpose with multipurpose furniture a must-have. The floor plan is simple and open. Over-stuffed rooms of the traditional style are replaced with modern, minimal decor. In MCM form follows function.
Color pallets range from neutral to bold including orange, brown, yellow, gray, teal, and graphic use of black and white.
Another popular feature in an MCM home is change in elevation with small steps between rooms creating a spit-level appearance. Remember the step down (sunken) living room or step up dining room, kitchen, or den?
Mid-Century Modern is also an architectural style. The iconic “Brady Bunch” house in Studio City, CA, is an excellent example of this style home. HGTV recently remodeled the house.
The city of Palm Springs, CA – the desert home for many celebrities – is known for its many examples of Mid-Century architecture. Other areas with a large numbers of Mid-Century homes are Austin, TX; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; and Portland, OR.
These ranch-style homes feature low gabled or flat roofs, large windows, and often stone accents, and feature clean lines. The classic split-level home of the fifties and sixties is also included in this group. I purchased a 1961 split-level two years ago that I am remodeling. But with my eclectic tastes, it is a combination of many styles of furniture and décor.
Are you a fan of Mid-Century Modern? What are your favorite features?