Interior design magazines and furniture retailers are abuzz with the return of “Mid Century Modern” to American art, architecture, and pop culture. But in a market now flooded with mass-produced copycat pieces, where does a homeowner with a high-end budget begin to recreate this look while prioritizing quality and authenticity?
Back to Basics
Before it was called “Mid Century Modern,” this aesthetic arose from a community of artists and designers in the 1950s. Biomorphic and clean-lined originals by the likes of Eames, Saarinen, Nelson, Nakashima, and their contemporaries now sell at prices in the tens of thousands. While modern homeowners may be able to get their hands on one or two of these coveted pieces, making over an entire room or home requires identifying key Mid-Century design elements and materials, then carefully mixing them to complement each other.
One of the basic characteristics of Mid-Century Modern is the meeting of the indoor and outdoor worlds. This element is also expressed in the mixing of natural materials like wood and stone with man-made materials; teak, walnut, metal, glass, fiberglass, vinyl, lucite, and even plywood were all trendy in post war design. Beginning with an assessment of the space to be furnished, specifically the materials and exposure to the outside via windows, skylights, balconies, etc., will make it easier to accentuate the space’s unique assets in a subtle way.
Next comes the most exciting part of this process: choosing accent pieces that complement the light and natural elements in the space. The earlier in the process you choose your eye-catching pieces, the more outrageous they can be. Sputnik chandeliers, marshmallow sofas, and modern art can add a fun and unique touch to any space, but too many detailed designs will overwhelm it in a hurry. Start with a piece of iconic furniture or avant garde art and determine what materials work with its color scheme, pairing “busy” pieces with more subtle furnishings. Choosing a designer or artist as an inspiration is a great way to keep a space artfully focused.
Finish With Care
Depending on what’s native to the space and individual taste, choose furniture and finishes made from just a few contrasting materials and colors. Complement sleek metal and glass with plush textiles or bold patterns; or accent stained wood with clear glass. The perfect Mid-Century Modern balance is eclectic, but not chaotic. Restraint will pay off in the open yet luxurious feel of the high quality finished space. Remember the key words for this style are futuristic, urban, and sleek. Clean lines never go out of style, and you will be tweaking your Mid-Century chic living space for years to come.