0
Start of main content.

Essentials of Mid-Century Modern Interior Design

 

 
Essentials of Mid-Century Modern Interior Design
 
Bauhaus School
The Background
Bauhaus School
The roots of mid-century modern design began in post-World War I Germany, when architect Walter Gropius had sought to reform art education and founded the Bauhaus, a school of art and design, in 1919. His teaching sought to unite fine art with architecture, keeping function slightly ahead of form, and creating designs that could easily be mass produced.

What was once a school became a movement when Bauhaus closed its doors in 1933. Its principals created a lasting effect on design and architecture both in Germany and, eventually, overseas. Bauhaus design was introduced to the American market post-World War II, after many German architects, including Gropius, made the move across the Atlantic Ocean and into the United States to set up shop. Along with their businesses, they brought with them their techniques and ideologies of designing with functional art, which they had already made popular in their homeland. Advances in technology and an improving American economy led to an expansion of urban development, and created an opportunity for them to introduce their methods into new designs. The Bauhaus style was the perfect fit for the new demand, and quickly gained popularity to become the modern look from the 1940s to 1970s. Today, we refer to this design style as mid-century modern, and Gropius is now revered as one of the pioneers of modern architecture.

Bauhaus School
 
 
Mid-Century Modern Chair
Functional Shapes
 
A major characteristic of mid-century furniture and decor is geometrical shapes and clean, sleek lines. Keep designs simple yet stylish, with an emphasis on functionality. Ornately carved corners and heavy inlays found on traditional furniture is very limited on mid-century pieces, as they often contain continuously smooth surfaces and subtle curves to create an uncluttered minimalistic appeal.
 
Mid-Century Modern Floor Register   Mid-Century Modern Faucet
Mid-Century Modern Stools
 
 
Mid-Century Modern Bold Patterned Paper
Broad Range of Colors
 
Mid-century art encompasses a vast variety of colors, ranging from natural, dim tones to bold, vibrant hues. Don't shy away from contrasting colors, either. Mixing a pastel blue with a burnt orange, or showing spring green alongside mustard yellow will work very well. Mid-century modern design embraces the use of a diverse range of tints and shades while using heavy doses of black and white.
 
Blue Bathroom Vanity   Gold Farmhouse Sink
Mid-Century Modern Bold Patterned Paper
 
 
Mid-Century Modern Kitchen
Mixture of Materials
 
New technology and advancements in the construction industry allowed for materials other than wood to be used for mid-century style. Durable plastics are used heavily in furniture and decor, as well as metals, glass, plexiglass, vinyl, leather, and acrylic. Blend a variety of materials in your space to create contrast and fully embody the mid-century modern look.
 
Spring Spout Faucet   Bathroom Vanity
Mid-Century Modern Dining Room
 
 
Vanity in a Bathroom
Mid-Century Design for your Bathroom
 
Hairpin legs or angled peg feet are symbolic of cabinets and other furniture from this period, so choose a mid-century modern vanity that features this detail. If you decide on a vessel sink vanity, be sure that the sink that you choose to pair with the cabinet reflects the clean, sleek design of the cabinet.

Tile and countertops should be relatively simple in style. A white or black background with pops of color here and there is a quintessential mid-century modern method. Get creative by adding geometrical patterns within your tile scheme.

Danenburg Bathroom Vanity   Arner Bathroom Vanity
 
If a shower is in your layout plans, consider a glass shower enclosure. Glass was a frequently used material during this era, so adding it wherever possible is a great way to achieve the look. Offset the rectangular shape of the enclosure with a big, round vanity mirror to create contrast.

Shower Room   Shower Room
 
For bathtubs, opt for styles that have clean, crisp edges. Rectangular freestanding tubs contain the straight, modern lines that are essential to mid-century modern design. Pair the tub with a very simple and functional freestanding tub filler. Ensure that your bathroom sink faucets complement the design of the tub filler.

Eaton Bathtub   Freestanding Tub Faucet
 
Bath stools and swinging makeup mirrors are a few examples of accessories that add flair to your space. Mid-century modern is all about function and style, so select items that serve both purposes.

Remember, when planning your bathroom layout, the key is to keep in mind that the overall feel should be clean, geometrical, and sleek.

Bathroom Mirror   Bathroom Mirror
Vanity in a Bathroom
 
 
Pendant Light
Ideas for Other Rooms
 
Lighting – Pendant lights and modern chandeliers fit perfectly into a mid-century modern redesign. Lighting fixtures can often become the centerpiece of your room, so take your time choosing the right fit. Don't be afraid to choose something bold.
Pendant Light
Wallpaper – Sure, choosing from a vast variety of wallpaper can be intimidating, but the result can also be glamorous. Consider adding wallpaper that contains clean, geometric patterns or striking graphic prints. If you aren't a fan of wallpapering an entire room, test out the idea by only doing one section and creating an accent wall.

Bar Carts – Bar carts were extremely popular in the 1950s, which was the heart of the mid-century modern movement. Scavenge your local flea markets and antique shops to find a vintage bar cart and use it to display your favorite liquor and cocktail set.

Mirrors – Mirrors are an essential accessory of this design era. When shopping, look for mirrors that are cut into asymmetrical shapes or feature simple, retro-looking frames. Mirrors with sunburst frames were a popular choice during the period.
Bathroom Hexagon Mirrors
Wall Decor – Don't overdo it. Choose one or two statement pieces for the walls—the goal is glamour, not gaudy.
Bathroom Hexagon Mirror
 
 
If the whole retro vibe of bold colors and geometric shapes isn’t for you, don’t fret. Read about other interior design styles below to help inspire your home’s redesign.
 
 
Read About Wabi-Sabi Design Read About Traditional Design
 
Read About Glam Design