The Ultimate Guide to Mid-Century Modern Interior Design: All you need to know

mad men rug with mid century modern chair
15 September 2022 9 min read
The Ultimate Guide to Mid-Century Modern Interior Design: All you need to know

Mid-century modern is a classic design style that has been coming back into vogue for the last several years. This look has its roots in the mid-20th century, with its emphasis on simplicity, function, and elegance. A home that features this aesthetic is warm, neutral, and uncluttered. It will have clean lines, simple shapes, and bold colours. Natural materials such as wood, leather, and stone are frequently used in mid-century homes.

If you’re ready to embrace the classic inspiration of mid-century modern design in your home or apartment, read on to learn more about it. Below you’ll find an explanation of what the design principles of mid-century modern are along with examples of how it can be incorporated into your space.


mad men dedalos rug with mid century modern sideboard

Mad Men Dedalo Rug by Louis de Poortere

What is Mid-Century Modern?

Mid-century modern was a design movement that occurred in many countries around the world in the middle of the 20th century. Although there is no specific date for when the movement began or finished, the consensus among experts is that it was the period between the mid 1940's and late 1960's. The style was popularised by publications like "House Beautiful" and "Architectural Digest".


module retro rug by louis de poortere

Nuance Module Rug

The style not only had a significant impact on interior design but also changed the way designers looked at architecture, graphic design, furniture, and industrial design. Designers celebrated the idea that form should follow function. They also emphasized the importance of simplicity and the use of natural materials.

Another key characteristic of mid-century modern interiors is its focus on aesthetic simplicity, which is evident in the use of clean lines, simple shapes, and bold colours. Natural materials such as wood, leather, and stone are frequently used in mid-century homes. You’ll also often find lots of natural light and windows with no curtains. One thing that unites all modern design styles is the idea of embracing minimalism. You can also see this aesthetic reflected in other design genres, including Scandinavian design and Japanese design.


mid century modern interior with iconic eames chair and ottoman

Photo Credit: Herman Miller


Benefits of Mid-Century Modern Design

There are many benefits to incorporating mid-century modern design elements into your home decor. Here are a few of them:

Visually pleasing - Mid-century modern style is a visually pleasing style because it embraces simplicity. Clean lines and geometric shapes are aesthetically pleasing, and bold colours are eye-catching.

Warm and inviting - Mid-century modern homes are warm, inviting, and uncluttered. This aesthetic is great for people who prefer a more minimalist look.

Functional - Mid-century modern furniture is typically very functional. It is often simple, easy to clean, and doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Versatile - Mid-century modern pieces are versatile and can be used in many different types of spaces, including traditional and modern ones.

Affordable - Mid-century modern furniture is often very affordable, so it’s a great option for people on a budget.

Timeless - Mid-century modern furniture and decor pieces are timeless, so they can be passed down for generations.


mad men griff jersey stone rug

Mad Men Griff Jersey Stone Rug

Things to Keep in Mind When Designing Mid-Century Modern

Remember to embrace minimalism - The mid-century style embraces minimalism. This means that you should try to keep your room uncluttered and free of decorative items that don’t serve a function.

Use bold colours - Mid-century modern design uses bold colours as part of its aesthetic. Rugs are the perfect vehicle to incorporate this into your design by adding bold pops of colour or statement rugs that complement other decorative items, paint colours, or furniture inspired by iconic designs of the period.

Use natural materials - Natural materials are common in mid-century modern design, so try to incorporate them into your home decor. Keep in mind that you don’t need to go all out to achieve this look. For example, you can use wood on your furniture, natural fabrics on your bed linen, or stones in your landscaping.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match - Mid-century modern design is an aesthetic, not a strict set of rules. This means that you can incorporate it into your home decor as you see fit, using both traditional and modern interior design styles.


mid century modern living room with nova traditional rug


Mid- Century Modern Style Designers

There are several famous Mid-Century Modern design makers who continue to inspire and motivate upcoming designers with their work, which is renowned and emulated frequently.

Herman Miller, a leader in this field in America, has collaborated with other major players like Charles and Ray Eames, Hans Wegner, Mies Van Der Rohe, Florence Knoll and George Nelson. Other designers have captured the true essence of this style and made it so popular in addition to it. Even if the names are not familiar you will definitely recognise the iconic architecture and furniture these amazing designers created. For more information on Mid Century Designers we would highly recommend a visit to Mid Century Modern Hub.


Iconic Eames chair in mid century modern room

Photo Credit: Herman


Decorating with Mid-century Colours

Orange - Orange is a common colour in mid-century modern design, but it’s a tricky one to incorporate into your space because it can seem overpowering. You can go with a bold orange wall color or use orange accents in decor items.

Turquoise - Turquoise is another mid-century modern colour that you can incorporate into your design. It’s a great color for bedrooms because it can help you feel relaxed and calm.

Olive Green - Greens are used extensively to obtain the classic mid century modern look. The colour sits well with soft neutral shades, earthy tones and heritage colours. Combined with vintage pieces such as a classic Eames lounge chair and natural elements, such the use of teak furniture, a statement coffee table or dining table, associated with mid century modern decor.

Teal - Teal is another mid-century modern colour. It’s a bold colour that is perfect for an entryway or a living room. Teal can be combined with other mid-century modern colors to create a colour scheme.

Salmon - Salmon is another mid-century modern colour that you can use. It’s a bold colour that is great for an entrance area or living room.

Yellow - soft antique gold to ochre yellow tones, yellow is a colour often used to contrast with neutral tones, whether that be with a mustard armchair or a geometric patterned rug. But works magic as a tone all over if you’re looking to add a bold, bright colour into your home.

Neutrals - Off white, old white or bone, there are countless shades of neutral colours available, it is a great colour to use as a base to achieve a timeless and cohesive scheme. When deciding on your colours, try to consider the light in your room. Sometimes warmer tones can be more effective than cooler colours, and vice versa. Farrow and Ball offer a grey choice of neutral paints in tonal groups, try the architectural group for a more heritage look to your room.


mid century modern colour palette by farrow and ball

Image Credit: Farrow and Ball


Furniture and Accessory Options


Sofas and Chairs - Mid-century modern settees have sleek, clean lines and bold, geometric patterns. They come in a variety of styles and colours.

Armchairs - Armchairs are a terrific way to introduce mid-century modern elements into your home. They can be used in any room and are perfect for adding extra seating. Combine your scheme with vintage pieces such as a classic Eames lounge chair if the budget will allow for a classic look, or could opt for the iconic Barcelona Chair as below by Mies Van Der Rohe and Knoll


mid century modern barcelona chair by Mies Van Der Rohe

Photo Credit: Knoll

Coffee tables - Coffee tables are another decorative item that works well in mid-century modern spaces. They are practical and useful but also have design elements that make them stand out, use a teak coffee table with tapered legs for a more authentic look and feel.

Floor lamps - Floor lamps are a great decorative item for a mid-century modern space. They are functional and provide extra light, but they also have design elements that make them stand out. 


mid century modern room with floor lamp

Photo Credit: Elle Decor


Side tables - Side tables are a functional piece of furniture that you can use in any room. They are a wonderful way to introduce mid-century modern elements to your space.

Dining Tables and Chairs - The classic mid century modern style would have had a teak dining table and teak dining chairs with sleek tapered legs. Later in the period the tables and chairs would have been more inspired by new manufacturing processes and the use of new materials such as Formica, tubular chrome and plastics. A more futuristic approach was taken by designers of the time due to the popularity of the space race.


mid century modern dining table and chairs

Photo Credit: Mid Century Modern Hub

Rugs - All rug styles can work with mid-century modern designs, use of traditional rugs in both classic and tribal styles ease seamlessly into neutral colour schemes. For a lively feel add a bold accent colour in either plain, textured, or contemporary rug. The 1960's and early 1970's saw the popularity of the traditional Nordic Rya rugs explode. These were a must have furnishing addition for the young trend setters of the era. Long shag pile finishes bold colours and simple designs, these rugs fell out of vogue with the masses in the eighties and nineties, but the originals are now highly collectable. Certainly a more Scandi feel to your living space, these rugs still work extremely well the Mid Century Modern aesthetic.


mid century modern rya rug

Photo Credit: Estelle Bilson


Using a Focal Piece:

While you can obtain iconic and classic pieces of the era, we constantly see contemporary furniture, soft furnishings, lamps, and ornaments being revived and copied, inspired by the originals. If your budget allows a classic piece by one of the iconic designers or companies such as Herman Miller or Knoll, that is the place to start. You can, however, get amazing results on a much smaller budget by searching out small iconic pieces and modern style furniture.


mid century modern interior with iconic florence knoll chair

Photo Credit: Knoll


Lighting ideas

Mid-century modern design rarely features wall-mounted lights or contemporary down-lighters. Hanging lights adorn the living area instead. Designers prefer using several lamps such as table lamps and floor lamps that are creatively made to suit the theme of the home. During the day, natural light flows into the home, creating a mesmerizing mixture of the indoors and outdoors.


nelson lamps by herman miller

Photo Credit: Herman Miller

When adhering to the core theme of the Mid-Century Modern Movement—creative and daring—designers frequently utilise creative mirror frames or pendant light shades. These add a bit of creativity and timelessness to your home. If you looking for more inspiration, please visit our website Rugstore NE where you will find a great selection of rugs to suit your Mid Century Modern Home.


mid century modern living room

Photo Credit: Pinterest



There are many benefits to embracing mid-century modern design in your home decor. This classic style can be visually pleasing, warm, and inviting, functional, and affordable. You can also combine modern elements with other design styles. To design a mid-century modern space, keep in mind that you don’t need to go all out to achieve this look. Simply incorporating a few key elements can be enough to make your home look this way. Remember to embrace minimalism and incorporate bold colours into your decor.

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