Characteristics of Mid-Century Style

The mid-century modern style is a design style popular in the mid-20th century. The style went out of vogue but soon became popular among interior design enthusiasts. Cara Greenberg’s “Mid-century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s” made the term mainstream in 1983. Check out some characteristics of this period in interior design history.

Geometric Shapes

Mid-century modern (MCM) designs are noted for their ideal geometric shapes. However, many of the classic pieces from the era are notable by their forms, such as the famous Eero Saarinen bar stool. In addition, MCM furniture has clean lines that highlight the simplicity of the design. Once you are familiar with the works of the period, it will be easy to spot them in any setting.

Simplicity is the Focus

The MCM style focuses on simplicity over ornate frills and extravagant decorations. The settings are linear, with abundant space to move around. From the furniture to the accessories, the MCM style is very minimalist. You will notice the dominance of large furniture or sculptures – statement pieces. Every other item is kept at a minimum.

Functionality over Fashion

One of the essential characteristics of MCM style is the prioritisation of functionality over fashion. Furniture and other decor are chosen first for their functions than their forms. For this reason, the furniture is made with durable materials and processes. This feature explains why mid-century homes and offices rarely needed to change their furniture. As a result, many pieces from the start of the era are still in circulation and functional.

Image Via: 1825 Interiors

Experimental Materials and Textures

Mid-century modern designers experimented a lot with materials and colours. While wood was the primary material of the period, other materials were used frequently. The type of wood also differs from standard oak trees. Many used teak and rosewood, while others were created with metal, glass and vinyl. The textures also varied. You may find it difficult to differentiate between wood and wood veneer until you check carefully.

Neutral Colours with Contrast

Neutral colours were the order of the day during the MCM era. In the early days of the era, rooms feature minimalist colours like black, white and grey. Over time, warmer and brighter tones were adopted. Colourful accent pieces were also popular during the period. So it is normal to see a roomful of neutral colours interrupted by a bright orange chair.

Bridge Indoors and Outdoors

Another essential characteristic of the mid-century modern period was bridging the interior and exterior spaces. Plants were used to decorate indoor spaces to bring the outside inside. Many of the favoured materials also give off the look of seeing something fresh from the outside. The interior was regularly linked to the outside to make people feel connected to their environment. Big flat-panelled windows were used to make the space more welcoming.


Since the 1930s, the mid-century modern style has been trending among interior decor enthusiasts. The period was very different in its styles, which are still distinct today. However, you can add a few modern style touches to prevent your home from looking outdated.

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