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Warm woods, sleek shapes, and retro patterns look just as fresh now as they did in the 1940s.

| By Kelsey Clark | Interiors

Mid-Century Modern Design: 6 Ways to Add Retro Flair to Your Space

Warm woods, sleek shapes, and retro patterns look just as fresh now as they did in the 1940s.

If there's one design style that has stood the test of time, we'd safely say it was mid-century modern. In fact, countless designs we know and love today have roots in the 1940s to 1960s, including trending marble-topped tulip tables and paper lantern-style lighting.

Suffice to say, adding some MCM flair to your home is always a worthwhile investment. Whether you’re just looking to add a few retro touches, like an Arco floor lamp, or you're going to embrace Mad Men with wood furniture and plastic Eames chairs, chances are your pieces will retain value and stand the test of time. 

To kick off your MCM design brainstorm, we’ve outlined the six building blocks of mid-century modern decor. From low-lift accents like houseplants and lantern lighting to genuine vintage styles from the likes of Eero Saarinen, George Nelson, and Charles Eames, there’s a little something for every budget and design aesthetic. Find our pro tips below.

1. Warm wood tones

This could be considered the single thread that runs through nearly every mid-century modern design, both old and new. Whether it’s a deep oak MCM dresser or a wooden TV stand and coffee table, mid-century modern interiors are brimming with warm wood tones. Even the tapered legs on most MCM-style couches and accent chairs are wood. If you’re considering making architectural changes, a wood-panelled wall paired with a straight brick or stone fireplace is classic MCM.

2. On-point accent chairs

From the classic Eames plastic armchair and the Eero Saarinen tulip chair to Harry Bertoia’s metal Diamond Chair and George Nelsons’ countless iconic styles, so many on-trend accent chairs were conceived during the 1950s and ‘60s. Adding one of these archetypal styles to your living room is a surefire way to lean into the MCM look, whether it’s genuine vintage or a modern replica.


4. Mixed materials

At the time, mid-century designers were heralded for their unique use of mixed materials, including plastic, leather, chrome, brass, wood, and velvet. If you dissect a classic MCM-style space, you’ll likely see an assortment of mixed materials rather than a single prevailing aesthetic. Think: a deep navy or evergreen velvet couch with wood tapered legs, a black leather Eames lounge chair, a chrome or brass floor lamp, and plastic dining chairs.

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