Design March 6, 2023

5 Features of Mid-Century Modern Interior Design

Few interior design styles have captivated our imaginations like mid-century modern. Though the mid-century modern movement began to impact design culture many decades ago, we still see its lasting impact today. This vintage style remains popular for homeowners everywhere and shows no signs of slowing down. To aid your home décor efforts, let’s dig a bit deeper into what makes mid-century modern so special.

What is mid-century modern interior design?

The mid-century modern movement came to define graphic design, architecture, product development, and interior design in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Its emphasis on simplicity was a direct reaction to the more opulent styles that preceded it, heralding a shift in suburban home life. Here are a few of its signature features.


A mid-century modern living room with an open credenza containing cameras and books, a comfortable yellow chair with wooden peg legs, a small minimalist table, and several house plants. The colors of the furniture and plants pop against the white walls and white sheer curtains.

Image Source: Shutterstock – Image Credit: Ground Picture


5 Features of Mid-Century Modern Interior Design

1. Minimalism

Both mid-century modern architecture and interior design live by the maxim “less is more.” With minimal decoration, the space between objects is emphasized, giving interiors a fresh and clean look. Straight lines are a tenet of this design style, reflected in the signature pieces of the era, such as the Eames chair (pictured below). This minimalist approach to interior design maximizes each object by removing all unnecessary elements.


A leather Eames chair in a modern brick loft apartment with hardwood floors, an open kitchen/dining room area, and a large bookshelf decorated with accent items and house plants.

Image Source: Shutterstock – Image Credit: Karen Culp


2. Combining Outdoor and Indoor

The minds behind the mid-century modern movement prioritized nature and questioned how interiors could interact with the outside world. Nowadays, it’s common for homeowners incorporating this style to decorate with house plants, but the harmony with nature extends further into home design with such elements as stone materials, exposed wood beams, and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light.

3. Mid-Century Modern Color Scheme

If you’re a fan of decorating with a neutral color palette, this style is perfect for your home. With a reliance on colors like black, white, cream, and grey, a quintessential feature of this décor style is using bolder colors as accents to pop against a neutral backdrop. Primary colors create added contrast and help to lead the eye throughout a room. Experiment with dark brown or black to create different moods within the mid-century modern color spectrum.


A mid-century modern living room with a herringbone hardwood floor, low leather couch and matching chair with black metal framing, a minimalist bookshelf, and a small coffee table with wooden peg legs.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: gremlin


4. Materials and Texture

Its ability to remain popular for decades is what separates this style. Its principles are still reflected in the latest home design trends. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than its philosophy on materials and texture. It combines natural and synthetic materials to bridge the gap between eras, creating interiors that feel simultaneously vintage and modern. Plastic and fiberglass are commonly used manmade materials, while wood, marble, and stone are typical natural elements.

5. More Space, Less Clutter

Just as the space between objects is emphasized, open floorplans are typical in mid-century modern design to create spacious environments. Decorative décor is limited to reduce clutter, and enclosed storage spaces are kept to a minimum. If you’re planning to decorate in this style, it’s an opportunity to pare down your belongings and keep only what’s essential for your lifestyle at home.

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­­­­­­Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: vicnt