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10 Easy Ways to Add a Mid-Century Modern Style to Your Home

sunburst mirror
IAISI / Getty Images

It may be 202, but the nostalgic pull of the ingenious architectural designs of the 1950’s is taking modern-day homes back in time. Homeowners are flooding the real estate market, hunting for unique mid-century modern gems, for numerous good reasons.  For many of these homebuyers the main reason is simple: living in our mass-produced society has caused us to crave custom-made, unique designs.  Simply put, our eyes are bored of staring at the same row upon row of houses that all look the same.  The majority of us could get lost on our very own street!Unfortunately, most of these elusive mid-century jewels have all been purchased (there are only so many left to go around).   On the other hand, there are some bonuses to living in our off-the-rack homes with  electricity that is up to code.How about we meet in the middle by taking our ready-made home out of its boring box and turn it into a mid-century architectural dream? Here are 10 ways to take your home back in time (without living in a time capsule).

1. Bring Wood Back

Most of today’s furniture is made of engineered pressed wood. Let real wood take center stage via the high-quality furnishings of the 50’s. These mid-century masterpieces have clean lines of teak, walnut, oak and rosewood.Maybe hunting for these old pieces seems like too much work. Or maybe a George Nelson or Noguchi piece is out of your budget. If so, there are plenty of modern-made replicas to be found that mimic these elements. Thanks to the increasing demand of this design movement, many retailers are grabbing hold of the trend by offering lower-end furnishings that nod to this style.

 2. Consider A Remodel

Do you love where you live, but want to add the marvels of mid-century character to your current home? Then consider hiring a design architect to help with some remodeling.Eliminating walls in order to achieve the open, airy floor plan that a mid-century home would boast is a great idea when done by a competent team of designers and builders.  You could also employ someone to design a huge floor-to-ceiling fireplace made of natural stone (An open floor plan in combination with this fireplace centered in the middle of the room, simply shouts mid-century modern).Or maybe consider something simpler such as adding mirror to your kitchen backsplash or on one wall in your living room. Take an online tour of some mid-century homes and you will be filled with nostalgic ideas!

tall stone fireplace

urbazon / Getty Images

 3. Do Your Lights Right

Look at any mid-century modern home and you will surely see dazzling modern marvels dangling from the ceilings or lighting up sleek side tables.Unique pendant lights and fixtures are not only functional; they are pieces of sculptural art. There are numerous online artists who custom-make these architectural lights. Look around until you find the piece that calls your name, and remember mid-century modern is not a matchy-matchy style, so no need to find lamp sets.Indeed, bold lighting is another must-have accessory to take your home back in time to this artistic era.

hanging circle lamps

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4. Furnishings – Get Your Flea On

Skipping past the mass-produced furniture store is the easiest step to add mid-century flair to your home. Your main methods of shopping for home goods should be a combination of flea markets, vintage shops, and seeking out many of the unique modern furniture designers who mimic mid-century lines.Think of it as a treasure hunt back in time!  Rummage around for old furniture with clean lines, mid-century legs, bold graphic fabrics, and most importantly think outside of the box. For example: Maybe you fumble upon four peg legs that scream the 1950’s at a local flea market; take these legs home and use them on a current piece you already own. Voila! You now have your very own mid-century design.

5. Include A Bar

Whether it’s a built-in or a bar cart; a bar for mixing drinks is a nostalgic way to bring back the 50’s. Fill your bar with vintage glasses, expensive liquors and of course a cocktail shaker.  A bar cart can be wheeled from room to room for parties and entertaining, and is the perfect accessory for every mid-century modern home.You will certainly feel like you stepped back in time as you sip your martini – shaken not stirred.

bar cart

lkelley30 / Twenty20

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6. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

No matter what style of décor you choose, mirrors are the perfect design accessory. They add a light airy feeling to any room in your home. If placed properly, a mirror can make a space look bigger by reflecting light into a room, or highlight a beautiful backyard landscape by placing it opposite a garden door or window. A sunburst mirror is an icon of this era. It is simply a must-have accessory that shines mid-century into your home. There are plenty of replicas or originals to be found online or in stores.

sunburst mirror

IAISI / Getty Images

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7. Modern Kitchen

The mid-century movement was propelled post-war by homeowners wanting to feel modern and futuristic. Everything in their kitchens was meant to be the wave of the future. In order to replicate this look, it is advised to have extremely clean lines in your kitchen. Replace curved, ornate kitchen cabinets with plain, flat wood ones.  Add sleek stainless steel and marble to countertop surfaces, and consider cork or laminate flooring. Overall, keep the lines in your kitchen clean, simple and uncluttered.

8. Paint – White Is Right

Most mid-century homes had walls covered in white paint. Why? Because it allowed for the high-quality furnishings to take center stage. Mid-century homeowners were proud of the craftsmanship of their home and furnishings, and white paint let the rest of the room show off its lines. What an easy mid-century design solution!


9. Small Details Can Make the Difference

Sometimes it’s the simple things added to your décor that make the biggest style statement. One or two artistic metal wall plaques or a large graphic oil on canvas can make a bold style statement. For a modern look, don’t clutter your walls with tons of artwork. Keep it simple and clean with a few bold, high-end pieces of art. After all, isn’t it better to have one or two high-quality pieces instead of a bunch of inexpensive knick knacks?

 10. Wallpaper – If You Dare

While most walls benefit from clean white lines, a touch of glamour in a dining room can be added by simply papering one wall with bold glitzy wallpaper in a graphic pattern.If you don’t like the idea of permanent wall paper, then try some of the higher-end wall papers that easily peel off.  Homeowners in this time period loved their bold, graphic prints.

graphic wallpaper in dining room

brooklynberry /Twenty20

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The history and nostalgia for the mid-century modern movement is not showing signs of withering off into the olden days.  On the contrary, it seems the artistry and architectural genius of that time is only becoming more revered.Maybe you will get lucky and land one of these mid-century modern homes hot off the market, but in the meantime, while you’re looking, add some of these above-mentioned style statements to your current home to feel the vibe of days gone by.

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