Who doesn’t think Mid Century Modern as soon as the 1950s are mentioned? If you’re anything like me (and I hope you are!) you know this decade is absolutely overflowing with inspiration. While this style technically had its beginnings in the late Forties, it flourished and essentially took over the home decor of the Fifties.
As it had in the past, economic changes in America and Europe led to changes in the household. During the 1950s the economy grew and as a result, construction increased to provide families with new Ranch style homes. The architectural style was becoming more industrialized, and this sparked interest in goods that paralleled modern materials. Homes that were built during this time period were open and airy. Rooms were sometimes separated with screens rather than walls to make the home seem more spacious, and sliding glass doors and floor to ceiling windows increased this effect by letting in plenty of natural light.
The interiors of homes were bright, inviting, and casual. Walls colors were normally neutral colors (especially white) or paneled in light woods, but these homes were still colorful. Bright, lively colors could be found in seating, furniture, and flooring. The palette of the era was large, using several different complementary colors throughout each room.
While wall to wall carpeting remained popular, vinyl, cork, and concrete were also used due to the ease of cleaning. Living areas with these materials featured bright area rugs to soften the floor. The simple, clean lines of the interiors were contrasted by rounded geometric shapes. Inspired by molecular structures, these shapes could be found in lighting, furniture, and the small amount of decorative pieces used throughout the home. Aside from the occasional statement fixture, lighting designs were also fairly low key. Minimalism was very popular in this era, and even windows were frequently left bare.
I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of designers Charles and Ray Eames. This husband and wife team are considered two of the most important designers of the Twentieth Century. Many of the iconic Mid Century Modern pieces are thanks to them, not to mention their influences on the architecture of that time. The Eames, and other designers, began creating designs for mass produced furniture using new materials including: plastic, glass, and plexiglass. These pieces were found free floating within rooms with no defined arrangement.
In the Fifties kitchens were considered the heart of the home. Pastel colors such as turquoise, aqua, and pink gave the space a carefree and warm touch. These rooms were so frequently used, it became normal for a family to eat in the kitchen even if they had a formal dining room. Both formica and chrome dinette sets were a popular choice for kitchen which became the commonplace for family meals, even if the home had a formal dining area.
This room is an excellent example of mixing designs. While the furniture is reminiscent of Mid Century design, both the architecture and the decorative pieces are much more ornate. Combined, the room has both an extravagant and modern look.
Add an assortment of vases and decorative pillows to a Mid Century room to create a more personal look that doesn’t feel “bare bones”. Colorful prints and abstract art add color to white walls and help to carry the eye across the room.
Create a dinette area evocative of the Fifties using booth style seating and coupled with Eames inspired chairs. Take a careful look around this room and you’ll notice a few Deco pieces as well!
Written by TGH Domestic Design Expert: Adrienne Breedlove. You can also find Adrienne on her blog.