Mid-Century Now: Mid-Century Contemporary for Any Home


For those with a laissez faire or a let the cards fall where they may approach to style, the goal of transforming a room may be easy to achieve. A new couch here, a visually stunning piece of art there might be all it takes to shake up a room.  For those with a slightly more elevated sense of style and looking to be a little bit more avant-garde or step above the status quo, there’s mid-century contemporary: the resurging style of yesteryear.

Mid-Century Modern Style: What Is It?

As you might expect from the name, mid-century contemporary style harkens back to the influences of post-war North America, specifically the era ranging between the late 40’s and 70’s. Definitions of the style can often be peppered with words like “fresh”, “clean”, and “simple” – but what it really boils down to is that mid-century contemporary encompasses functionally-designed pieces that can be paired with a wide range of palettes. It’s comfortable, unequivocally ties the old with the new, and has a sensibility without being so bare it lacks personality.


How To Add This Chic Style To Your Home

For inspiration, consider binge-watching AMC’s Mad Men; a recent and popular cable show that takes place in the 1960s, and a reason many believe mid-century contemporary has seen a renewed popularity. However, if you’re looking to capture this style in your home but you don’t subscribe to premium cable, here are a few simple guidelines you should stick to:

  • Allow wood furniture to grace your space again. We’re not talking about the pressed particleboard, mass-produced, put-together-with-an-Allen-key wood furniture – we’re talking honest to goodness wood. If you can find an authentic piece from the 50’s or 60’s, great – the smooth dark oak or cherry wood will really pop regardless of the room, and conjure the same feelings or waves of nostalgia that makes mid-century contemporary so effective. If authentic pieces in your area are limited, or you can’t afford a bidding war, many furniture retailers offer lower end pieces suitably priced for any budget that mirror the elements of mid-century contemporary nicely. The time period saw a lot more darker woods and finishes, so keep this in mind when redecorating.

  • Lighting fixtures! If there’s one thing mid-century contemporary is known for, it’s the absolutely stunning lighting fixtures. Not only are they functional, these fixtures also second as a stunning work of art. Don’t forget table lamps. Think great, beautiful, yet simple lamp shades, partnered with small, elegant and slightly modern base designs. While it might be difficult to capture this past essence, remember uniqueness plays a key role in mimicking this design. If the lighting feels like it has spunk, an unusual finish, all the while staying quite minimal, it will be perfect for your mid-century contemporary room. If you really want to go the extra step, know that there are no shortages of skilled artisans waiting to build you custom mid-century contemporary light fixture.

  • Include a bar. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate built-in bar; a simple glass and brass bar cart would suffice as the perfect accessory to tie in the room. With a bar or bar cart, it’s all about the accents. Be sure to include appropriate glassware, such as short, well-made scotch glasses, or even great, etched wine stems tinted in a darker colour. Pro-tip: showcase your taste in liquor, and add that edge of authenticity to your blast-from-the-past room design by adding in a few vintage brands.

  • Mirrors. While already a widely used design element, a classic sunburst mirror is the perfect visual accent that screams mid-century contemporary. Although you might want to limit mirrors as a smaller accent in your room and home, these style of mirrors tie in all the great elements of mid-century contemporary: reflective mirrors or glass, with a subtle, neutral frame to tie it into the natural woods or materials of the room. A mirror with a darker, almost-rustic frame can work wonderfully to bring the space together.


Making the Style Your Own

The best part about this style is that even pieces that weren’t built together can be used in conjunction with one another. This means adding mid-century contemporary pieces to your home as an ongoing project, or incorporating some of your favourite pieces that you already own is easy to do; you don’t need to remove everything you love as you redecorate, and a continuously evolving space is indelibly welcomed.

If you’re feeling spunky, and ready to call a contractor, knock down a wall or two to open up your living space. Mid-century contemporary thrives on the juxtaposition of ample space with minimal and simple furnishings; a tiny reno could create that level of openness needed to bring the room’s concept together. Because mid-century contemporary is all about lighting, do away with window treatments entirely; ensuring natural light can pass through the space unobstructed. Keep your spaces uncluttered, as this style lends itself more to natural forms and a lack of embellishment.


Ways to Shop For Mid-Century Contemporary

Because mid-century contemporary pairs so well with so many different paint colours and other styles, it’s actually a conservative way to do a quite-possibly risque or adventurous redesign. Also, because it has such ubiquitous elements, it means you can shop instore or offline to find the perfect finds. So the question is, what’s holding you back? Mid-century contemporary is a throwback to a simpler time, but keeps its modern edges to make for a fun, invigorating space you can call a home.