The 6 things that every stylish mid-century living room has in common, according to an interior stylist

After that retro look? These simple design ingredients will help you create an effortlessly cool living room vibe

Green leather sofa in brown living room
(Image credit: Heals)

If you've been to any vintage fair or high street furniture store this year you will be aware the mid-century style is having a huge resurgence. Around the country, we're rediscovery the timeless style of Ercol furniture and embracing primary colours in our homes again. 

There is a careful balance to nailing mid-century living room ideas in a fresh and modern way. You don't want your home to accidentally look like a carbon copy of a Mad Men film set.

To help you get the look right we enlisted the help of our interior styling expert Laurie Davidson. Laurie lives and breathes interiors, styling homes for magazine shoots and sets for TV shows. She has seen her fair share of spins on the mid-century modern trend and has distilled the key ingredients into a foolproof mid-century living room recipe for getting the look.

1. Abstract artwork

Green leather sofa in brown living room

(Image credit: Furniture Village)

Think bold geometrics and blocks of colour on large artworks to create this look. Pattern stole its influences from the playful abstract expressionist art of the 1950s and 1960s, so go for one large graphic piece rather than lots of smaller frames. 

2. Statement lighting

John Lewis Mushroom Portable Dimmable Table Lamp

Mushroom lamp, £65 at John Lewis

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Nothing gives your living room that finishing touch more than a statement living room lighting idea, whether you opt for a sculpted metallic design, a grandiose chandelier or something more unusual. Globe, sputnik and retro-shaped pendants lend themselves well to this era, too. A floor lamp in a similar design will add to the look.

3. Wood furniture

Green living room with green sofa

(Image credit: Ercol)

Mid-century style is known for its beautifully sculpted modern lines, with warm, inviting furniture pieces in rich wood shades, often with tapered legs. Think simple and unfussy when it comes to shape, and opt for durable furniture in woods such as cherry, maple, teak and beech. 

4. Timber panelling

Wooden wall panel in front of black glass fronted cabinet and white armchair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Characterised by architectural details and furnishings that spanned the decade between the 1930s and 1970s, mid-century design also showcased the use of organic materials, which meant that timber wall panelling was often used. 

5. Modular storage

Green living room with shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC)

While wood was very much the material of choice for furniture in the mid-century, the overall style was uncluttered and minimal, making living room storage ideas a key ingredient. In a living room, modular shelving systems like this piece are a great example, while sideboards and cabinets, again with tapered legs and sliding doors, work equally well. 

6. Colour palette

Seventies inspired living room with Eames chair, wooden accents and log burner

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Primary colour palettes were popular during this era and subtle shades of red, yellow and blue took precedence, with darker colours coming into play later on. If you’re using a bold shade on your walls, such as this deep forest green, you may want to opt for furniture with a lighter wood to balance the look. 

For the finishing touch all you need is to sit back and relax with a martini in one hand, and listening to a new/old record.

Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at 

With contributions from