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The Mid-Century Modern Style or Midmod has been enjoying a rise in popularity in the past decades. So popular that you might have seen it more times than you realize, whether you’re familiar with it or not.
This bit shouldn’t be a worry if uniqueness is on top of your list when designing your space. Because of the style’s numerous influences, not to mention the abundance of iconic pieces to choose from, there is no shortage in ways to execute it.
In terms of color schemes, you can go neutral, earthy, and colorful.
So if you have your eyes on this style, this post is about Mid-Century Modern living room ideas to inspire you in creating your own.
What makes a space Mid-Century Modern in style?
In a nutshell, the Mid-Century Modern Style draws its elements from its many influences, namely: the Modern Movement, and post-WWII events like the atomic bombings that ended it, the Space Race between the US and USSR, the Bohemian Era and the Pop Art Movement.
We have two posts discussing them at length, and if you’re interested, you can take a deeper dive by checking out the following:
This post is going to be more of a show-and-tell.
So here we go, let’s piece together Mid-Century Modern living rooms in three kinds of color schemes: neutral, earthy, and colorful.
Mid-Century Modern living room in neutral scheme
Neutral colors are probably not the first to come to mind when someone thinks of Mid-Century Modern Style. But because of its association with the Modernist Bauhaus, a neutral scheme of black, gray, and white is a natural look for a Midmod space.
And the mood board above is an example. Let’s break it down.
For our sofa, we have here a leather-upholstered piece with tufted backrest and straight, tapered, wooden peg legs.
Reminiscent of the Barcelona Chair’s seat and backrest, this black sofa by itself exudes a very masculine look. So, let’s take that and expand on it.
To provide some contrast against the solid black color of the sofa’s upholstery, let’s use an area rug with thin, alternating stripes, in gray and sand.
It’s simple, modern-looking, and adds to the masculine vibe.
In reference to Modernist Bauhaus, let’s use a pair of nesting tables to flank our sofa.
Inspired by the multi-colored set by Josef Albers, our set here has wooden top and black metal legs, matching the colors of the area rug. They also echo the rectilinear silhouette of the sofa.
We’re also tapping on the multi-functional trait of the Modernist Styles by using these nesting tables. The other piece stowed under can be pulled out to use for other purposes.
The Noguchi Coffee Table is not just used here as an icon of the mid-century era.
With its biomorphic tabletop, it’s a welcome addition to all the rectilinear pieces we have so far. It doesn’t just provide contrast, but also adds to the space another material of the Modern Styles, that is glass.
Let’s add some more of contrast. Another icon of the style is the Eames shell rocking chair.
It echoes the Noguchi’s curves and also adds molded plastic to the space, one more material used in the style.
For our lamps, we have a mismatched set, but both are “atom” like with their multiple spherical shades, in reference to the Atomic Era.
Using mismatched pieces adds dynamism to the space, and is also a modern trait. This is opposed to the Traditional Style’s matchy-matchy way of decorating.
Instead of a ceiling light, let’s use an Arco-inspired floor lamp.
With its sleek arching stem and shade that are made of steel, it’s one piece that conveys nothing else but modern.
It also repeats the metallic legs of the rocking chairs and mimics the spherical shape of the table lamps’ shades. And that helps in making the space look cohesive.
Let’s tie the space together by accessorizing.
For the wall, we’re using here framed abstract artworks in the same shades and colors that are already in the space.
Abstract art forms are used in Modern Styles, as opposed to the use of artworks in the style of realism for Traditional Styles.
Time to finish this space.
We have a trio of pillows in black and white, including one in stripes to match the area rug. And yes, there’s no harm in having a few more if you choose to.
And we shouldn’t forget the coffee table. Let’s make it more interesting by adding accessories in geometric and abstract forms.
Our living room set up is done.
You can place this against a white wall for a contemporary look, just like the one above.
Or if you want to go for a more retro vibe, use dark wood panels or a wallpapered background with a subtle geometric print.
Go for the neutral scheme if you’re leaning more on the style’s Modernist Bauhaus influence, or if you want a really masculine look.
Otherwise, scroll down for more ideas.
In the meantime, click on the items below to shop the look.
Or create this space with these Amazon finds.
Mid-Century Modern living room in earthy color scheme
Earthy is probably top-of- mind when the Mid-Century Modern Style is mentioned. So we definitely have to do one.
Just like we did with the neutral version, let’s have a sofa as a starting point.
Here’s a short background, Bohemianism and its “back-to-nature” principle were such major parts of the mid-1900s lifestyle that they inevitably influenced the Modernist Style.
So picking out a sofa in an earthy green leather upholstery is so on-point for our Midmod space. Plus it’s got the characteristic tufting on the backrest and the splayed wooden legs.
Now we’re adding an area rug.
Coming in matching colors with a soft striped pattern, it provides contrast against the solid color upholstery and structured look of the sofa.
For more of contrast, let’s use this pair or side tables with round tops and bases.
We’re adding metal to our space, and at the same time, we’re subtly tapping into the biomorphic element of the Mid-Century Modern Style with their lopsided rims.
Now that we’ve mentioned biomorphic, here’s a set of coffee tables that are exactly that, and because they’re inspired by Albers’ Nesting Tables, they naturally fit right in.
Their other Midmod traits include the dark-colored wood finish and splayed metal legs.
Completing our furniture layout are this set of lounge chairs with brown and black leather upholstery.
Inspired by the works of Finnish designer Alvar Aalto, they look at home in a Mid-Century Modern space because of the its association with the Nordic/Scandinavian Style.
But unlike Aalto’s chairs, these ones have bent metal frames instead of bent plywood.
It’s time to add our lighting pieces.
And for our main one, we have here the statement-making atomic branching chandelier.
To add variety, we’re adding a floor lamp with multiple adjustable shades and a pendant light.
Both with metal shades for more of the modern vibe.
We can’t leave our wall empty, and for this one, we’re using a mirror to add interest.
This piece is clean-lined but is distressed and rustic in finish to reference Midmod’s close-to-nature trait. That’s two of the style’s characteristics in one item.
Let’s dress our sofa with pillows.
We’re not just repeating the colors that we already have in the space, we’re also repeating the material leather in some of them.
Now let’s create table scapes for our coffee and side tables.
Mix rustic and organic elements with modern and engineered pieces to get that Mid-Century Modern feel.
Here’s our completed mood board.
Place the set up against a wood-paneled wall to emphasize the Midmod vibe.
Shop the look.
For our last take on the style, let’s go bright and colorful.
Mid-Century Modern living room - colorful scheme
This colorful version of Mid-Century Modern is inspired by Pop Art.
Pop Art as a movement happened during the mid-1900s. While it’s mainly about art, its funky, colorful vibe rubbed off on the Mid-Century Modern interior design style.
We’ve put together the above mood board for a fun version and it’s time to deconstruct it.
In a few words, we can describe Pop Art as loud and vibrant.
So let’s start off this one with an eye-catching, bright yellow sofa, also coming with tufting and splayed legs.
Inasmuch as we’re being bold here, adding an area rug in dark teal or turquoise is up next, resulting in a high-contrasting combination.
And being made of a natural material jute, the piece ticks the box for Midmod’s close-to-nature trait.
Let’s add to the modern feel by using this pair of stacking side tables with black iron base and white top – definitely inspired by the classic Nesting Tables of the Bauhaus Era.
For the coffee table, we can’t go wrong with a Tulip Coffee Table by Eero Saarinen.
Made of molded plastic, it’s one of the iconic pieces that came out of the 1950s when designers were using more of the material.
Another iconic addition to this space is a pair of the sculptural Eames LCW Molded Plywood Chair.
It completes our furniture layout, and also gives the set up that earthy, woodsy vibe that is usually seen in Midmod.
Let’s add another bold piece. This time, a starburst chandelier, in reference to the Space Age which also lent elements to Midmod.
The bubble-style pendant lamp inspired by George Nelson’s series also refers to the Space Age.
And we’ve paired it with a metal-shaded table lamp for contrast.
Let’s cement the space’s connection to Pop Art by gracing the wall with an artwork in the Pop Art Style. With the art’s floral subject, it also gives the space the close-to-nature vibe, just like the jute material used for the area rug.
The throw pillows echo the colors from the artwork, giving the space a more cohesive look.
Accessorize with a mix of organic and engineered pieces.
The set of nesting boxes on the Tulip Table is particularly fitting, with its Bauhaus Style print, wooden construction, and nesting design.
Using wood slats for the background adds interest, organic vibe from the material, and a modernist feel from the uniform and accurate spacing of the slats.
And we’re done.
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There we go, three ways to do this now timeless style. And we haven’t even used all design elements yet.
When it’s time for you to plan yours, we hope we’ve inspired you enough with these Mid-Century Modern living room ideas.
Check out our Pinterest board on the style for more inspo. Or if you haven’t decided on Midmod yet, let our quiz help you find your style. There’s also our guide to the most popular interior design styles, if you’re interested.