How to incorporate mid-century design into your contemporary home

You only have to open up Pinterest to discover a multitude of ways to incorporate mid-century design into your home. It’s no longer about choosing a ’50s, ’60s or ’70s “theme” that you have to commit to, it’s about choosing sleek designs that fit into your 21st century home perfectly. Here’s how…

Of course, selecting an era – possibly the date your mid-century home was built – and sticking to it for all your decorating decisions is quite an achievement. A kitchen that looks like it’s been held in time since the 1950s or a living room decorated in orange and olive hues with psychedelic patterned wallpaper demonstrates that you’ve done your research before launching into your decorating project.

It can be a fun challenge to source classic pieces from the era, starting with furniture and lighting, right down to the clock over your mantlepiece and the nick-nacks on your shelves. It can become quite a hobby to go out searching for genuine mid-century items at vintage fairs, retro dealers, charity shops and car boot sales.

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When visitors remark that your home office looks like something from the set of Mad Men or your kitchen resembles Ma Larkin’s domain from The Darling Buds of May, you know you’ve got your period décor spot on.

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This isn’t the only way, however, to bring a dash of mid-century style into your home. Many a contemporary, minimalist interior has been enhanced with the addition of a sleek teak Schreiber sideboard or a blonde wood Ercol daybed.

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A single piece of mid-century furniture becomes the focal point in a room and can look as modern today as it did when it was constructed in the middle of the last century. Iconic designs are often timeless – and some are even still in production to this day – yet will add a sense of heritage that no flat-pack piece could replicate.

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The key to introducing mid-century pieces into your present-day interior is choosing items that complement your existing décor. An industrial style loft apartment with exposed brickwork and brutalist concrete flooring is the ideal setting for the chipped paint and battered metalwork of vintage filing cabinets, bent-metal Remploy chairs and original Anglepoise lamps.

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A rustic farmhouse with beamed ceilings could incorporate a vintage kitchenette larder unit, enamelled cookware and Wesco weighing scales into the kitchen. And a contemporary Scandi-style décor of grey walls and light wood flooring would benefit from the addition of a Danish SKM sideboard in light oak or a freshly upholstered Ercol Windsor armchair.

Mid-century pieces naturally catch the eye thanks to their rarity and can help to add a touch of personality to your home. There’s no need to turn your home into a museum though; if you chose items you love or those that you remember from childhood, that have a practical use or are made by classic brands you admire, you’ll be sure to create a vintage interior that doesn’t look contrived, with spaces that you’ll enjoy living in every day.

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I’ve written about many different mid-century modern designers over the past couple of years and now a collection of my mid-century Design Icon articles can be found in the supplement book that comes free with this month’s issue of Reclaim magazine! So grab a copy of Issue 39 to learn more about famous mid-century designers and find inspiration for your vintage decor. I’m super-excited to have worked on this publication and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Let me know how you’ve used mid-century pieces in your own home in the comments below 🙂


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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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