Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Furniture

Discover the Four Defining Elements

From the early 1940s to the late 1960s, mid-century modern style took the design world by storm—bringing with it a flurry of multi-functional pieces that mixed tradition with innovation. Over the years however, the defining features of this trend have taken on new shapes as it faded in and out of public eye. And today, many young designers and bright-eyed home remodelers are itching to refresh their space with this retro-chic look. After all of this time though, what are the key characteristics of mid-century modern furniture? Let’s take a look.

Functionality Over Everything

According to The Spruce, functionality was the distinguishing characteristic of mid-century modern furniture—as the saying goes, form follows function. The design style became popular after WWII as families were growing, settling into new homes, and looking for pieces that were both aesthetically pleasing and purposeful. Learn more about the origins of mid-century modern when you read our in-depth analysis of its history.


Geometric Shapes

Known for its clean lines, intentional curves, and congruous structures, mid-century modern furniture helps create a subtle yet underrated look, according to Iris Abbey. In fact, the pieces are often statements of their own, requiring very little additional decor to compliment it—less is truly more in this case.

Colors, Patterns & Textures

Mixing traditional and non-traditional materials is a hallmark of mid-century modern furniture. Often, you can find a piece that has classic wood elements seamlessly blending with other parts made of metal, glass, plastic, vinyl, plywood, Plexiglass, or Lucite. Additionally, this style boasts a range of colors and patterns, from neutral tones to eccentric hues that catch the eye. For example, if you’re interested in a more subdued seating option, grace the space with a white or cream-colored Jessica Sofa, complete with a dark walnut finish. On the other hand, if you’re searching for a conversation-starter, opt for a vibrant Belmont Sofa finished with white rustic pine. Whether you like the iconic shag rug look, or you prefer smooth glass elements and textured velvet seating, mid-century modern furniture has a magical way of seamlessly blending them all to create one bespoke space. Need tips and suggestions on how to design with patterns? Read our blog to learn more.

Minimal Embellishments

When you take one look at a mid-century modern piece of furniture, it doesn’t take much to realize these statement pieces require little to no other small trinkets or decor elements to bring the room to life. Keeping the space uncluttered and sleek, and focusing on the basics by letting the textures, colors, and shapes do the talking is a key characteristic of mid-century modern furniture.

It’s no secret that this design style isn’t going away anytime soon. Actually, we assessed the popularity of mid-century modern furniture and we feel safe in saying it’s here to stay while new designers, e-commerce retailers, and everyday department stores continue creating pieces inspired by the era. If you’re considering incorporating this style into your latest design, visit our Custom House to curate a one-of-a-kind look, or explore our latest catalog for inspiration.

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