Sunday, April 22, 2012

Make mine MCM

  I'm a baby boomer who  loves a sleek, open and slightly boxy look and  hates "do dads".  I was chatting with a  friend the other day and  praised  the mid century modern  (MCM)  period in home decor and was met with a quizzical look.  "Ah", I thought a good topic for a blog post.

Just as the name implies, this style  spanned a period of roughly thirty years  in the middle of the 20th century, from the mid-1940s to 1970. This fresh aesthetic developed  after  the Second World War when there was a desire to  recast earlier design to be more in keeping with  the bold new world that was expected. 


Mid century modern  took from the simplicity of Scandinavian design and gained inspiration from the earlier Bauhaus style in Germany. During that period of time architects like Frank Lloyd Wright were designing  using organic, natural shapes  and bringing a whole new aesthetic to design.  This was also the era of mass production of furniture and accessories which made them more accessible to the average family.

The elements of MCM I like best are the  pared-down forms, contemporary patterns and  natural materials. 
I like to pick and  choose aspects from this design era and mix them with contemporary pieces. The 50's space age look - metal and mesh chairs,  sunburst clocks, bubble lamps and pole tension lights- is not to my personal taste, but I love to see it paired in someone else's decor. 

If you want to reference a mid century modern look in your decor consider the following: 

 Choose round and sleek

Saarinen Executive Chairs, a Florence Knoll table and a PH Pendant create the ultimate mid-century dining area.   The MCM  look is  about spaciousness and light. Think lots of windows, minimal walls,  clean and sparse styling with eye-catching elements.   The rounded lines and monochromatic colour scheme here produces a very calming look. I particularly like the tone of green which is similar to the wall colour in the room below.  Versions of George Nelson's bubble fixtures are still found in today's decor.

 Margaret Ryall

 Even mid century styled  rectangular furniture often had slightly  rounded edges as seen in this  hand crafted dining room furniture.  

 Explore Medium Toned Wooden Furniture

Mid-century style entry modern entry
Niche Interiors: San Francisco Interior Design Services modern living room
Niche Interiors

  As this era was about embracing nature, lighter  woods such as teak, oak and fir made their way into living rooms. 

Use  mid century modern  materials 

While the use of wood was a prominent feature of mid century modern decor, man made materials were just as prominent. Plastic including Bakelite on table tops, along with Plexiglass and Lucite, were all the rage.Other common materials wer  molded plywood and  wire mesh.   A good example of  how plastic was molded and is still popular today is  the tulip chair by Saaranin.

Kitchen table modern kitchen

Use bold textures and colours 
Living Room modern living room

There are so many mid century modern designs that are still popular today that I'll need another post to do them justice. Stay tuned. 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. What a great post Margaret! Very interesting, and I love how you illustrated with photos. Thank you for the inspiration =) xox Linda

  3. Thanks Linda. I've been a lover of mid century modern for years- long before it became the in thing in decor.

  4. Wow! these are wonderful tips. Thanks for sharing them with us. Please visit


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