How To Style A Mid-Century Modern Living Room That’s Not Dated

Though "Mad Men" has ended, our appetite for mid-century modern design hasn't. The clean lines and a mixture of wood, textured fabric, glass, and metal that permeated the mid-20th century from roughly 1933 to 1965 are everywhere. However, many of the original rooms, if transplanted into a 21st century home, would appear dated.

This how-to guide will help you create a mid-century modern living room without going overboard.

Choose a Color Palette

Designers agree that before you begin to incorporate furniture, you need to determine the colors that will set the tone for the space. Choosing colors can be a daunting task, but it's not impossible.

Mid-century color schemes introduced bold colors and deep tones for interior spaces. Some of the most popular colors included navy blue, red, avocado green, sunny yellow, teal, tangerine, gold, and white. You will want to tone this down and select a couple of bold colors that you can complement with a neutral.

Sample color palettes include:

  • Deep teal, mustard, walnut, and winter white
  • Red, navy, white, and gold
  • Orange, teak, and white
  • Mint green, pink, gold, white or dove grey

How do you choose your color palette?

  1. Flip through magazines and browse the internet for spaces that inspire you.
  2. Pick up paint swatches, fabric swatches, and wood samples that are most similar to those in the spaces you identified as favorites.
  3. Tape your swatches to the wall and take a few days to appreciate the colors at different times of day.
  4. Every few days, take down the swatches that you can't see yourself living with on a daily basis until you settle on a few colors that fit within the color scheme you chose. Now you can paint your walls and begin selecting furniture pieces.

Select a Sofa

The first piece you should buy is a sofa or sectional that will anchor the rest of the room. Mid-century sofas have clean lines, low backs, wood or metal legs, and were typically upholstered in a textured fabric or leather in a bold color.

Don't worry if you can't locate or afford an original piece. Many furniture lines are offering newly manufactured mid-century designs using more modern materials. These sofas will also be more affordable than a good quality original.

Avoid choosing an overly bold pattern though, unless that's your typical style. An all-plaid sofa may seem kitschy at first, but could quickly become tiresome. Instead, opt for a teal or rust tweed sofa for a bold look that will stand the test of time.

Choose Accent Pieces

Your next purchase will be accent chairs and tables. Look for chairs that fit your color palette and design style, but are also comfortable.

Many original pieces were designed to be aesthetically pleasing and without comfort in mind. You won't find overstuffed chairs to sink into, but you can lounge around in an Eames-style lounger.

Look for narrow teak or walnut coffee tables with spindle legs and step side tables for a smart and sophisticated room. If you're going for something closer to mod-style, look for oval or round white tables with metal legs.

Now the real fun begins. Choose a credenza, lamps, and don't forget the bar cart, because what mid-century modern room would be complete without one?

As you design your room, remember to select pieces that are beautiful and high-quality, especially the big ticket items such as a sofa or credenza. You want your investment to last. Now, get to work planning your space and then sit back and enjoy your mid-century modern room. To learn more, visit a website like