Design Styles Explained: Mid-Century Modern

So this is the 5th installment of my series explaining interior design styles. I’ve had so much fun researching these topics that I also went super deep into historical styles like rococo and baroque on some draft posts, but I am not sure if it’s as interesting to my readers.

–> Can you leave me a comment and let me know if you might more historical design style posts like like that? I want to make sure you find my posts interesting. <–

Here you can read my posts about  other design styles:



Hollywood Regency


Today’s post is on a sweet love of mine, Mid-Century Modern (MCM, for short).  Now, I definitely don’t consider this my design style. I’m more of an earthy, comfy, urban industrialist. And I haven’t done my clients in MCM style, either. My folks, Katie and Lash Be A Lady were all more contemporary-traditional.

But some day I’d like to restore a proper MCM to its former glory. One that got beat up by 90’s decor. We are sort of working on that with our duplex, but that After shot is going to be a looooooooong time from now.

So on to MCM.

It’s my experience that most people think of Mid-Century Modern furniture as belonging to the 1960’s. “Oh! Jetson’s furniture!” exclaimed my mother-in-law when we were discussing the Room & Board catalog on my coffee table.

The MCM design movement actually has its roots farther in the past.

We cannot discuss Mid-Century Modern without introducing Bauhaus. This was a design movement post-WWI, started by the German architect Walter Gropius. Bauhaus is a German word meaning “school of building.” This school was the biggest influence on Modern design and architecture.

I capitalize the term Modern because I am not referring to the adjective “modern,” which means “of or relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past.” Modern, with a capital M, refers to a design and architectural style that started in the late 19th century that was a radical departure from the ornate traditional style. The focus was more on simplicity and minimalism. The term Modernism stuck. And it has been shortened to Modern. It’s also referred to as International Style.

Bauhaus’ focus was on art, first and foremost. It’s philosophy is that architecture, interior design and even graphic design must be centered on creating whole pieces of art in their works. Then, it must be mass-produced. Fine art should comfortably be available to the masses.

The most famous names from the Bauhaus were architects Le Corbusier in France, Walter Gropius, like I mentioned, and Mies van der Rohe in Germany.

Le Corbursier Chaise
Writing Desk and Occasional Table - Walter Gropius   Bauhaus writing desk with built in shelving, and matching side table.   Bauhaus Furniture:
Gropius side table


Barcelona® Chair
Mies van de Rohe Barcelona Chair

When Bauhaus was disbanded during Nazi Germany, many of the architects and designers came to the US.

In the late 30’s, this European International Style came to Seattle. I love these old photos from the 40’s.

Interior of architect Paul Hayden Kirk home, Seattle 1940’s
paul hayden kirk | Kirk residence II interior showing living room, Finn Hill, n.d.:
Paul Hayden Kirk interior, Seattle, 1940’s

MCM has survived a lot of decades. It’s a timeless style that is quite identifiable. It’s extremely popular now. Manufacturers are recreating some of the MCM masterpieces. But there is also a movement designing new pieces with a nod to the mid-century classics. My favorite manufacturer is Room & Board.

So now the modern style is modern-Modern. Ha. Some call it Neomodern.

Here are my favorite Mid-Century Modern and Neomodern rooms.

Love the paneling on the vaulted ceiling, and how the chandelier makes the most of an off-center fireplace.  Warm and rustic vibe, while still being light and airy.:
via Apartment Therapy Original vintage green Inga™ candlestick at Emma Solveigsdotter's home - guess she feels at home.:
via Design Market
4 Practical Tips That Will Have You Mixing Decor Styles With Confidence:
via Hey There Home
Fabulous retro styling in this bright and cleverly designed home with more than a nod to mid century furniture and decor. The colour scheme uses contemporary Lime Green and Dove Grey / Blue which presents it becoming a pastiche of an earlier period.:
via Bea Szakcs World

So what’s your favorite design style?


4 thoughts on “Design Styles Explained: Mid-Century Modern

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