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What is Mid-Century Modern Style? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

  • October 30, 2023

A quick lesson on mid-century modern style, including its advent, evolution, and defining traits.

<p>Scott Van Dyke/Getty Images</p>

Scott Van Dyke/Getty Images

At first glance, a mid-century modern home or building may seem fairly straightforward with its simple lines and low profile. Look closer, though, and you’ll quickly see that this style has a way of seamlessly connecting to nature and infusing playful touches throughout. There’s also great appeal in its timelessness, versatility, and strong functionality.

“Mid-century modern’s minimal look and clean lines allow for the design to transcend time,” says interior designer Adriana Hoyos. “It also allows for the design, whether it’s a building, an interior design concept or a furniture piece, to blend well in different places and with different personalities.”

Below, we’re offering a quick history lesson on mid-century modern design and architecture, how it’s changed over the years, and what characteristics set it apart from other types of design.

Related: 13 Different House Styles to Know if You’re Shopping for a Home

History & Evolution of Mid-Century Modern Style

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about mid-century modern architecture and design is that it didn’t truly originate in the “mid-century.” The style actually dates back to Germany’s Bauhaus era, which was founded by architect Walter Gropius in the late 1910s.

This newfangled “modern style” emerging from Germany slowly began catching on. Scandinavian designers helped catapult it to greater fame in the ‘30s and ‘40s, and by the time the true mid-century hit it was wildly popular across the world.

“Both mid-century modern architecture and interior design became popular during the mid-20th century,” says Hoyos. “They share similar aesthetic goals and traits, characterized by minimalistic designs, and a focus on functionality. They both also emphasize the use of natural materials like wood and an integration with the surrounding environment.”

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Seven Modern Design Tips You Haven’t About Heard Before

  • May 29, 2023

Modern homes are more popular than ever, but many of us think decorating one can be achieved by purchasing the right modern furniture and decor, as if it is a formula. However, this ultimately ends up looking like someone else’s Pinterest Board or worse—a showroom. If you are in the process of decorating a modern home and want to create a truly unique space, it’s crucial to consider the details in a new way. Here are seven modern design tips according to top interior designers that you probably haven’t heard about yet.

Have Fun With Modern Design

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One of the biggest problems with modern homes is that they often feel cold and impersonal—almost museum-like. But according to Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini, designers, and co-founders of House of Nomad, modern design spaces don’t need to have that serious, stark aesthetic. “We love to layer on natural materials such as a woven light fixture, grasscloth, or an accent rattan chair and incorporate unexpected moments of interest throughout the space.”

The designers also love to mix in what a client already has such as their travel finds, personal art, and vintage pieces. These elements are what can make a space feel more personal.

Lastly, they prefer to choose furniture and decor in a variety of shapes. “Try to balance sharp edges with some curves with a round coffee table or rounded back swivel chairs for instance.”

Quite simply, you don’t need a curved sofa, bookshelf, and chairs. Just choose one or two pieces.

Mix It Up With Natural Materials

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Many designers use manmade materials such as quartz countertops or acrylic chairs when designing modern homes. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—mixing it

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Modern backyard ideas for a mid-century oasis

  • July 12, 2022

Backyard photographs from a bygone era have a certain panache that we covet today, whether it is a poolside paradise or a lush green space crawling with cocktail-carrying guests.

Creating your own backyard oasis filled with mid-century modern style pieces, like sectional sofas and outdoor rugs, is quickly earning a spot as one of summer’s hottest patio design trends.

We spoke to several design experts about how to create a mid-century modern oasis in your backyard and have it looking Frank Lloyd Wright-worthy in no time.

No backyard? No problem. Any of these ideas can be modified to fit your small outdoor space.

Outdoor patio furniture with clean lines and neutral colors

An outdoor couch next to two blue chairs

Credit: Bullock / Crosley Furniture / Reviewed

Don’t forget to put weather-rated outdoor sectional sofas and lawn chairs on your vision board full of modern backyard ideas.

The modernist movement of late 19th century inspired more thoughtful furniture designs focused on ergonomic comfort and style. Natural materials and clean lines came into play, and design gravitated to simplicity instead of embellishment. But thankfully, this didn’t mean boring.

Los Angeles designer Mae Brunken says, “Simplicity is key, and repetition is a great way to emphasize the design,” when it comes to furniture for your patio or pool area. “Incorporating refurbished vintage pieces, such as the curvy 1960s and 1970s fiberglass loungers, adds a touch of both history and interest.”

Look for classic pieces like a vintage freestanding hammock, which can impart a certain mid-century laissez-faire with its wonderful yet functional shape, or Cesca-style outdoor chairs.

Although much of the mid-century’s palette is void of color, that also doesn’t have to translate to a neutral yard. According to Brunken, you can’t go wrong with accents of turquoise or any of the other traditional mid-century colors like green, pink, and yellow.

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