Design 101: Midcentury Modern

Midcentury Modern is a classic style that never grows old. It came to be in the mid-1940s. According to the remodeling and design website Houzz, “[Midcentury modern’s] uncomplicated, fresh aesthetic arose from a desire to propel postwar America into the modern era and recast design through a bold new lens.”

The style puts an emphasis on simple forms, contemporary patterns and natural materials. Here are five of its signature characteristics.


Clean lines. Midcentury Modern furniture features simple lines and taut upholstery. The look is understated and there is minimal ornamentation. The Bradley Gray Tufted Chair is a great example. Designed with the sleek scale in mind, it’s covered in soft grey linen and features a tufted back and birch-finished legs.


Organic shapes. Complement the straight lines of Midcentury Modern seating with tables that feature graceful curves and geometric or organic shapes. Cocktail tables are an important furnishing in this era (think about the cocktail hour on the TV show Mad Men.) The Rocket Cocktail Table is a perfect example, with its faux metal top and pecan wood base. The eye-catching design is chic and sleek.



Wood. Furnishings in Midcentury Modern rooms are often crafted from wood with finishes that showcase their natural beauty. The dark walnut finish of the Casarano Midcentury Desk showcases the sleek curves and contrasting white drawers.



Statement light fixtures. In a streamlined Midcentury Modern home, every piece counts. Add a style statement with an unusual light fixture or lamp or pendant with clean, geometric lines. The tripod base of the Dryer Floor Lamp is a Midcentury Modern classic, with its wood base and textured shade.


Neutral hues with a jolt of color. Midcentury Modern rooms use neutral tones as their base, but the look is completed with pops of strong color in wall art, throw pillows or decorative furniture. The Pascal Chair combines the beauty of a natural wood frame with a bold red seat for a look that’s retro and fun.