How to Add Mid Century Modern Design to Your Home

Mid century modern design refers really to a look that took hold in America in the 1950s and 1960s. It consists of a sleek, streamlined, "modern" aesthetic that seems to be making a comeback today. The emphasis of mid century modern furniture is on functionality, but form is paramount.
A characteristic of the furniture/ interior design for this period is to do away with all excesses. The furniture would be described typically as "minimal". This means no excessive adornments, no unnecessary arcs and curves and embellishments. The furniture pieces generally consist of straight lines and mono-color tones. The idea is to do away with the concept of "busyness". The mid century modern piece will typically be sleek, made of clean lines, consist of two or three color tones, and have a blend of only one or two materials. Despite the minimalism, a sofa such as these from mid century era, for example, brings with it a certain panache that can own a living room space.
Mid_Century_Sofa
Get Started with Mid Century Modern Design
To introduce mid century modern design into to your home, look around and study the existing tone of your decor. Study the ratios between wood, glass and stone. Examine the dominant colors. Complement the existing tone of the room with a piece that reflects and blends in. For example, a wood and glass cabinet might perfectly compliment your study which has large window frames of the same species of wood. There is no need for all the pieces to "match". You can also try and be adventurous by placing a denim chair in your den, where the other seating also has tough cloth upholstery. The idea is to retain the existing aesthetic of the room with one or two classic pieces that dominate the space.
The popularity of the television show "Mad Men" has made this design suddenly so much more popular. Banana Republic even offers "Mad Men" clothing. Luckily this newfound popularity and the comeback of the mid century modern design has contributed to making furniture in this line much more accessible and affordable.
Retro_Modern_Sofa
Original Mid Century Modern Design Pieces
Of course, there is the 'real thing', pieces lovingly manufactured and designed in the 1950s and 1960s, like the Knoll sofas, for example. There are many enthusiasts who track down and hunt out vintage mid century modern sofas, and do so with very good reason. However, for those looking not to acquire genuine vintage pieces, but simply looking for ways to infuse some mid century modern glamour to their home, large national home decor stores have come to the rescue.
Genuine collectors may turn up their noses or be largely unimpressed by the offerings of the larger lifestyle and home decor stores, which have a variety of pieces inspired by mid century designs. These new pieces are inspired and borrow creatively from mid century modern design pieces. They are "hybrid" pieces as it were. They are not entirely faithful to the original design, but borrow the spirit and creativity and wed it to contemporary sensibilities. Furniture with its Scandinavian simplicity would fit right in. Among the wares of home decor stores, there are many stylish chairs, leather couches, even sleek metal lamps available. These hybrid designs, while remaining loyal to the period, also blend in the constraints of the contemporary world. A few pieces that can simply change the character of the room are the Oviedo chaise lounge and Copenhagen denim chair. The Bel-Air oval coffee table, Petrie leather sofa, and Cavett leather chair are the interior designers 'go to' pieces to infuse some mid century modern glamour.
It is best to start with a mid size piece that stands out and adds bluster to your space, and slowly build around it. A large table instantly transforms a study. A leather couch does the same by dominating a living room. Modern offices are also elevated by this sleek retro look. Look for pieces that will become a conversation piece, but stay away from those with excessive detailing or embellishments. Look for pieces that are solid, simple, and comfortable. Try and identify dominant tones from the space and the structure of the building and work with pieces that reflect it, instead of adding too many jarring and different pieces, even if from the same period. Most importantly, enjoy bringing in some mid century modern design to your living space.

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  1. Will the type of wire or rope you use to string the pieces together effect the functionality of the chair? I used steel dog run cable on mine, but when I open the chair up it opens to almost flat. I've gone over the plans and the video about 100 tomes, so I'm positive everything is correct. Has anyone else had this issue?

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