“People think that I live in a space pod, but it’s pretty mid century modern.” – Fred Schneider
The middle of the 20th century was an exciting time socially and culturally. It was also one of the most notable time periods for interior design. As with everything else, interior decor took a leap forward. Designers created furniture pieces that embraced an optimistic view of the future by using familiar materials in new and inventive ways.
You can celebrate this iconic time period by decorating your living room with a mid-century modern feel. The clean lines and minimalist aesthetic are the perfect combination that allows mid century design to remain relevant even today.
Get inspired by these ideas to add a touch of stylish mid century decor to your living room.
1. Small Mid Century Modern Living Room
If you have a small living room, then mid century design is the perfect solution. The furniture is on slender legs, which elevates it and leaves plenty of space underneath to help your living room feel larger and open. The furniture also tends to be smaller, lower to the ground, and more compact. This stout and modest size reduces the visual space it takes up in the room.
White walls are a standard for mid century modern, which works flawlessly in your small living room. White walls will reflect more light and help the space to feel bigger.
2. Minimalist Mid Century Modern Living Room
While mid century design is generally already minimalist, you can take it a step further. Try eliminating a majority of the color that you’d see. Opt for a color palette that’s more muted and heavy on the neutrals. If you decide to add bold color, keep it to one piece as the accent or focal point of the room.
This approach tones down the vibrancy of mid century design, helping to bring a sense of calm and blend everything together. You’ll want to limit the wall decor and keep the walls bare white.
Keep the plants to a minimum. One fiddle fig tree in the corner or one small plant on a table is plenty. Look for streamlined lighting fixtures with a simple rod and light. You could even mount lights that are almost flush with the wall or ceiling, so they blend in.
3. Simple Mid Century Modern Living Room
Mid century design embraces a simple elegance. The furniture doesn’t have a lot of intricate details. You don’t need to fill your space with tons of accessories and accent pieces. Embrace the elegant simplicity of the furniture and continue that theme throughout the room.
You should place a wooden bookcase in your living room and then fill it with your favorite books and a few simple framed images. On an empty wall, you could have one piece of art or a family portrait. Place one small plant on the coffee table.
Don’t feel as though you need to have a lot of furniture in your living room. Simple decor is about having the right pieces to fit your lifestyle. This could mean your living room features a small couch and a single accent chair with one overhead light fixture and a single lamp on your side table.
4. Vintage Mid Century Modern Living Room
For a truly authentic mid century modern living room, you can buy vintage or antique furniture. These are pieces that were originally designed and sold during the 1960s and 1970s. Many of them were well made and are in beautiful condition today.
The most famous and favorite piece of modern designers is the Eames lounge chair. This iconic piece is probably one of the most comfortable chairs you will ever sit in. They feature smooth backs and seats that follow the curve of the body.
Then they’re upholstered with leather with the perfect amount of cushioning. You’ll find the ideal Eames chair for your living room as they come in a wide variety of wood finishes from walnut to teak. Then they have a range of upholstery options for the seat.
Having an Eames chair in your living room instantly brands your living room space as mid century modern. It’ll evoke the feeling of Don Draper’s masculinity and suave style.
5. Mid Century Modern Living Room With Plants
One of the hallmarks of a mid century home is the artful incorporation of the outdoors. You’ll see rough-hewn stones used to create interior half walls or stairs. Wood paneling will create accent walls.
Plants are another great way to bring nature inside and add bold color to the room. A fiddle leaf fig tree creates a large dramatic presence. It’s a popular choice for modern home decorating, but it also happens to be a perfect choice for mid century modern design. Place it in your empty corner near a sunny window.
If your green thumb isn’t very skilled, not to worry. Try a prayer plant or snake plant. These plants are virtually foolproof, thrive with any amount of light, and require the most minimal amount of maintenance.
Consider hanging a plant basket from your ceiling. It could have one large basket or several smaller baskets in a line. Place a plant in each one. This creates some height in the room and adds layers to your design. Just avoid the vining plants. These are messy, require a lot more work, and don’t fall in line with the clean and minimal aesthetic you’re going for.
6. Large Mid Century Modern Living Room
The challenge of a large living room is that mid century living room furniture can make the space feel bare and empty. This is not a sensation you want for your living room. The easiest way to combat this is by adding more furniture. You’ll need to be careful, though, too much furniture and the space will look cluttered and crowded.
You can avoid this by creating different seating areas. Use your main sofa for entertainment and socialization. Then to one side, create a separate reading nook with a floor lamp and Eames lounge chair. On the other side, create an intimate coffee or cocktail spot with a small table and two accent chairs. You’ve now turned a long rectangular space into three separate living spaces.
7. Masculine Mid Century Modern Living Room
A black and white color scheme is a classic look of masculine interior design. You can embrace that in your mid century modern home by making it the predominant colors of your living room. You’ll also want to focus less on sleek curves and more on sharp corners and edges. This focus-shift will reduce the feminine feel while increasing the masculine vibe.
Mix browns into the room by choosing a leather sofa and adding wood pieces. It will help the room to feel warm and prevent it from becoming too ultra-modern and not enough mid century.
You also can’t go wrong with an Eames chair. This single chair has become a symbol of masculinity. The Eames lounge chair and ottoman have appeared in Tony Stark’s mansion in Iron Man, Tron Legacy, Closer, Frasier, and The Ghost Writer.
8. Grey Mid Century Modern Living Room
You can consider grey the beautiful, neutral backdrop to your more colorful accent pieces. Consider placing a textured grey rug or choose a laminate wood floor with a grey hue to it. A grey couch is also another smart choice.
Don’t paint your walls grey. Classic mid century design dictates that your walls should be white. However, if you really want grey walls, consider a grey accent wall. You can create an angular geometric pattern. This style combines modern living room design with classic design ideas.
One thing to remember about grey: It’s a cooler color. If you want a warm living room, you’ll need to add natural materials and warm accent colors to balance the grey.
Mid Century Modern Living Room FAQs
What color palette is mid century modern?
You’ll find a lot of earthy but bright colors. These include shades of orange and brown. You’ll also see accents done in pink, teal, and chartreuse. White and grey are common neutrals for a fresh touch.
What does mid century modern furniture look like?
Tapered legs are a hallmark of mid century modern furniture. They look a bit like peg legs. You’ll find them on cocktail tables, side tables, coffee tables, armchairs, dining tables, and lounge chairs. They also used organic and familiar materials in reimagined methods. The overall finished look is futuristic, but not too foreign.
What makes a house mid century modern?
To make your house mid century modern, four characteristics should immediately come to mind; a minimal aesthetic, clean lines, angular structures, and a touch of nature indoors.