Making Mid-Century Modern

Hello again! I’m Dawn from back this month with another mood-board for your decoration inspiration. As always, if you’ve missed any of my previous inspiration posts here on Remodelaholic, you can always check those out here. This month, I’m talking about a favorite design style of mine: Mid-Century Modern.

How to Decorate in Mid-Century Modern Style

Mid-Century Modern style, made popular in the 1950s and 60’s (as the name would imply), is all the rage right now, and happens to be my very favorite design style. I love to hunt thrift stores and vintage sales to find stunning Mid-Century pieces and incorporate them into my home’s decor. Check out the amazing chairs currently residing in my dining nook!


It’s really no surprise that the style has had such a resurgence lately. The clean lines and attention to detail that MCM furnishings tend to work really well in a lot of modern applications. The trick is taking the best I thought that this month, I’d delve a little into this classic style, and explore how to make this style work without creating a space that feels like you stepped into a time machine.

I think it can be easy with this style, or any style, to go a little overboard to the point where your living space just looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1960’s, and that’s no good. The goal would be to incorporate Mid-Century style into your space, while still keeping a modern feel. Some examples:

1952 Mid Century Modern Living Room by American Vintage Home on Flickr
1952 Mid Century Modern Living Room by American Vintage Home on Flickr
 mid-century modern living room by army.arch on Flickr
mid-century modern living room by army.arch on Flickr
Mid Century Modern living room by tikitacky on Flickr
Mid Century Modern living room by tikitacky on Flickr

These images from the 60’s and 70’s, while all having some absolutely gorgeous furnishings, are clearly not modern. The combination of colors, wood tones, patterns, etc, combine to create a space that, while stylish for the time, looks dated now.

Now some updated Mid-Century styled rooms for comparison:

Via Brian Patrick Flynn - Flynnside Out / HGTV
Via Brian Patrick Flynn – Flynnside Out / HGTV
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You can see how these rooms have taken all the best of Mid-Century style and woven it into a space that feels modern and timeless. A far cry from the examples above.

So what’s the secret? I’ve put together a mood board below that incorporates some of my ideas on creating a contemporary Mid-Century space. Read on!

Making Mid-Century Modern – Designing Dawn for #midcenturymodern #moodboard

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Check out sources and similar products for the mood board below:

You can see that this space has a distinctly Mid-Century style, yet still looks updated and fresh. So here’s my thought process and list of things to keep in mind to avoid feeling like you’ve stepped back in time.

• To really get a Mid-Century vibe, furniture selection is key. Select a few classic pieces to anchor the space. Look for clean lines and tapered legs and you can’t go wrong. To keep things form getting too themey, I’ve mixed in some more modern styles, like the rustic coffee table and the structured bookcase in the mood board above. The key is to keep the lines clean and low on your main pieces, avoiding overstuffed furniture, or anything with intricate scrolling or detailed carving.

Black and white accents and geometric patterns tend to work well to bring a modernized look to a space with vintage pieces. Simple patterns and colors echo the clean lines of the style, but don’t fight for attention.

A patterned wallpaper is a classic Mid-Century look, but here I’ve updated it with a more whimsical design.

Bright colors are a must, either in the main furniture pieces, or in accent pieces. Traditional Mid-Century rooms featured a lot of warm colors in the popular orange or brown fabrics and prominent warm wood details (like paneled walls). To update the look, try mixing in some cooler colors. Elements like gray walls, cool blue in the artwork or upholstery, and (as mentioned above) black accents, can all help offset the warm colored wood found in many MCM pieces, and can modernize a space with vintage flair.

So those are my tips for incorporating Mid-Century style into your space in a modern way. Do you love this style as much as I do? Do you have any tips to add for incorporating the look into a contemporary home?

Thanks again to Cassity & the Remodelaholic team for having me here today. I look forward to being here each month to share some inspiration! If you like what you see, be sure to visit me over on my blog, DesigningDawn, or follow along on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Have a great day, friends!




Looking for more mid-century style to modernize?

Try this DIY reclaimed wood hairpin leg coffee table

mid-century modern hairpin coffee table

or try on some modernized mid-century decor inspired by nature.

mid-century modern nature-inspired decor

Website | + posts

Dawn is one half of the team behind the creative blog, AD Aesthetic. By day she works as the VP of Creative for a design and marketing company (getting paid to make things look good!), while by night she renovates her Midwest home, refinishes thrift-store furniture for fun, and works with her husband on raising two tiny humans. Dawn believes in the potential to design your surroundings and your life one day at a time, and lives by the motto, 'Make everything beautiful.' Get to know her better by visiting her blog,, or following along on Facebook and Instagram.

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  1. Love this! Great ideas! 🙂 I’m so happy I stumbled on your blog a few months ago!

    I have an old Victorian house and would LOVE to see a similar board with Victorian or French provincial decor with a more modern/traditional/updated twist! I am so bad at mixing and matching!!!

    1. I would love to have an old victorian house to go all out maximal bohemian with!. Have you read justina blakeney’s blog or book “the new bohemians”? it’s to die for.

  2. Not much of a Modern fan but I love the way it looks. Such beautiful clean lines. I’ve always wanted to live in a BIG, open, steel, beamed, concreated loft. I know. I’m weird and eclectic.

  3. Do you know who made the chairs in your dining nook?! I have one of them and would love to find more but have no idea what name to look for.

    1. I can tell you that whatever it is, you can probably find it if you comb through the website They have EVERYTHING mid century modern. Unfortunately, the prices are outrageous on the site but they would most likely have that chair. And from there, finding out exactly who made the chair, you could probably look for it on ebay or etsy.

  4. I recently was GIVEN a mid century modern Russel Wright for Conant Ball dining room table (minus the chairs) because the person who gave had no idea what they were giving. You have no idea how excited I was/am. I could barely contain myself. I kind of felt really bad about not telling them what they were giving..not really. But I can’t wait to get it refinished and into my dining room. :p