Mid-century modern: how to get the look

Get a sophisticated look with the iconic mid century modern style.

Blame it on Mad Men, but our appetite for 1950's style and furniture is insatiable. It was the design movement of the times, which launched a quintessential look that was organic, minimalist and smooth with a distinct style. Iconic names such as Eames, Ercol and Arne Jacobsen were key players in the innovative design movement and their ideals are still evident in today's contemporary design and are stronger than ever.

Whether you are creating a mid-century modern living room, a mid-century home office, bedroom or kitchen the essential elements of this grown-up modern look are the same; cool colours, clean, curved lines and a mix of muted motif patterns. The warm woods and muted palette make this trend ideal for a calm, contemporary look.

Start with organic and architectural forms; furniture should be characterised by tapered legs and curves. Then, combine with Scandinavian-inspired prints and ceramics, while a funky floor lamp and a nest of tables won't go astray either.

Go for a cool palette. Dusty greys, light teal, duck egg and Nordic blues and in some cases feminine pastels beautifully balance warm and light-coloured wood. Clean crisp white makes the perfect accent. Create a feature wall with fabulously funky wallpaper in geometric print or make a feature of screen printed artwork and complement the look with other textiles such as colourful cushions and rugs.

Simple abstract shapes in soft blues and browns fit the bill or go the other end of the spectrum and inject pops of bright colour. The finished mid-century look is perfect for creating relaxed but stylish mid-century living spaces.

Pink bedroom with Ecrol style furniture (pictured)Yes, mid-century modern can take on a feminine angle too. This pretty pink bedroom has been made comfortable by positioning an original Ecrol sofa at the foot of a similar blonde wood bed. 1950's style dandelion print fabric completes the retro look.

Fabric Sanderson.

1/17 Mid-century modern: how to get the look in every room

bedroom with bed and frame on the wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Cleveland)

2/17 Mid-century modern style bathroom

bathroom with shower and wash basin

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Cleveland)

This modern lay-out has been decorated with classic 50s materials to create the perfect mid-century modern bathroom with 21st century comfort. Cool grey metro tiles add an urban touch while the wood washstand create luxury with timeless style. Foral print towels nod to the iconic 50s fashion brand, Marimekko

Similar tiles
Topps tiles
Wash stand and basin
Fired Earth

3/17 Mid-century modern teal living room

living room with sofa and frame

(Image credit: TBC)

This living room has been re-energised with bold yet soothing teal walls. The mid-century modern vibe has been worked by teaming this feel-good shade with a mix of happy yellow for a hint of warmth and pale curved wood and white furniture. The warm teal tones have been offset with a display of fun Scandi style shelving and graphic artwork.

Coffee Table
House shelves
Rigby & Mac

4/17 Mid-century modern kitchen

kitchen chimney and gas stove

(Image credit: TBC)

This fabulous retro kitchen has smashed the mid-century modern vibe by teaming an exposed wall with eclectic furniture and simplistic cabinetry with circular cut-out handles. But the element with wow-factor here has to be the stunning geometric grey tiled floor which gives the room a defining graphic edge. 

Similar Flooring
Walls and Floors
Similar Range cooker

5/17 Mid-century modern kitchen diner

dining room with dining table and chairs

(Image credit: TBC)

This smart kitchen with smart, gun-metal gloss cabinets has been given just a touch of mid-century moder with a fabulous and rich ecrol style dining suite. The rich teak wood fills the room with warmth while the curved back, cushioned dining chairs continue the masculine style of the room. A wood chopping board and fun blue striped rug marries the scheme together.

Similar gloss cabinets
Cooke & Lewis at B&Q
Similar dining suite

6/17 Blue mid-century modern dining room

dining room with dining table chair

(Image credit: TBC)

Graphic repetition and pattern is a key element of this look and wallpaper can get you there quickly.Curved blonde wood furniture tones down the brave colour, while yellow accents lifts and lightens the whole look. A trio of pendant shades hung in varying heights creates organic shapes and sculptural style.


Graham and Brown
Similar shelving unit

7/17 Mid-century modern

bedroom with table lamp with pillow

(Image credit: TBC)

You can create a mid century modern look with colour alone. A base of blue, grey and green is the perfect foil for top notes of yellow pink and lime in this bedroom. In a scheme of multiple colours patterns should be limited to only one or two key pieces to keep the feel calm. The velvet leaf print pattern gives this bedroom and fresh but indulgent feel.



Nikki Jones

8/17 mid-century modern home office

home with chairs and hexagonal storage units

(Image credit: TBC)

Geometric shapes and patterns are strongly associated with mid-century modern style. Bring a creative vibe to an office with hexagonal storage units and fun architectual wallpaper. The pattern and and quirky colours brings energy to the grey back-drop.

Wall shelf
Mini Moderns

9/17 mid-century modern sitting room

sitting room with table lamp and chair

(Image credit: TBC)

Adding graphic pattern is key and wallpaper get make a dramatic backdrop which is easy to update quickly. If you are worried it may be too strong simply tone it down by painting other walls neutral colours and use curved furniture to create a soothing balance.

Similar floor lamp

10/17 Mid-century modern open-plan living room

sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Hobhouse)

You don't need an abundance of pattern and colour to create a mid-century modern look. This open plan living room is super chic and fresh with chalky painted walls teamed with white furniture. Personality is brought to the space with strong shapes, warm wood and just a few pops of zingy lime and grey accents and soft furnishings.

Similar lamp

Similar Eames chairs
Fusion Living

11/17 Mid-century modern yellow living room

frame on wall

(Image credit: TBC)

Give an existing country scheme a mid-century spin by painting walls in a sunny shade of pale yellow. Swap key pieces of furniture for designs that bring a mid-century vibe, for example wooden tables with tapered legs and a modern sideboard with textured, wave-effect doors.

For a similar table

12/17 Mid-century modern study

study room with table and chair

(Image credit: TBC)

Transform a bland home office into a mid-century style space by sticking to a cool palette of grey, black and white. Choose a pale-oak desk with sleek tapered legs and an Anglepoise-style task lamp to really nail the trend. Finish off the look with a wire-back chair inspired by the iconic design by Harry Bertoia.

For a similar chair

13/17 Mid-century modern pastel kitchen

dining area with dining table and chair

(Image credit: TBC)

Turn a dining area into a Fifties-inspired zone by swapping a rectangular table for a white round design. A set of wooden Ercol dining chairs will complete the mid-century look. Give the scheme a laid-back feel by painting the walls and chairs in complementary pastel tones. A simple paint trick on one feature wall, for example a circle to frame a pendant light, will add a graphic element.

For a similar dining table

14/17 Mid-century modern green bedroom

bedroom with bed and round table

(Image credit: TBC)

Pep up a bedroom with a distinctive colour combination of green and black. A sleek bed frame will provide a crisp contrast to layered throws and botanical-print linens. Black side tables will anchor this look, but for a lighter take, you could team green tones with white-gloss furniture.


15/17 Mid-century modern kitchen

kitchen with dining table and frame on wall

(Image credit: TBC)

A simple way to give a kitchen-diner mid-century style is to invest in a pair of copper orb pendant lights. Hang them over an island, breakfast bar or dining table. Add industrial elements with factory-style bar stools and a bare-brick feature wall.

For similar pendants

16/17 Mid-century modern hallway

hallway with shoe rack and basket

(Image credit: TBC)

Brighten up a hallway with blocks of welcoming vibrant colour. Paint the lower half of the walls in a deep shade of teal, then add a strip of neon yellow above it to really make the scheme sing. Add interest to a basic shelving unit by filling cubbies with colourful boxes.

For a similar storage unit
The Furniture Market

17/17 Mid-century modern yellow and grey bedroom

bedroom with bed and chair

(Image credit: TBC)

Lend a bedroom an uplifting vibe with a sunny combination of yellow and grey. Choose a simple upholstered bed and pared-back wicker boxes for extra storage. Add a few geometric prints and a display of hexagonal box shleves for a nod to Fifties style.

For a similar bed


Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at Idealhome.co.uk to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.