Mid-century modern design furniture is easily characterized by its sleek lines, retro style, and heavy reliance on wood materials.

What is Mid-Century Design?

The mid-century modern design emerged as a popular interior design movement in the middle of the twentieth century. Its growth occurred after World War II, during a time when wood was beginning to be used in different ways. The form of design has influences in Danish Modernism and German style.

After World War II, there was a large emigration of Germans into America, including German designers. They brought these new design ideas with them, and the style began to spread. It remained popular until the 1980s and 1990s but has recently seen a fresh wave of popularity.


There are a few different elements and characteristics that are common in mid-century modern designed spaces, and several are outlined below.


Unlike more modern styles, where shelves and areas are cluttered with antiques, excess furniture, and wall decor, mid-century modern design has a focus on minimalism. Much like Scandinavian design, mid-century modern style has statement pieces, like sculptures and plants, that are either beautiful to look at or help complete the look.

In the past, some of the homes were much smaller than homes are now, so there wasn’t as much space for extra pieces of furniture or decorative pieces, and this aspect remained as the style evolved.

Geometric Shapes

A large component of this style of design was the usage of geometric shapes for clean lines and edges. This was accomplished through angular chairs with curves, the tapered and splayed legs of furniture, and long and low couches.

Clean lines were a part of the aesthetic and could be accomplished using framing. Framing is merely adding a border to an object and was shown through the usage of shelves and thick frames for pictures to create clean, straight lines.


Wood is one of the primary materials of mid-century modern design, particularly teak, which is a tropical, deciduous tree that grows in woods with mixed hardwood. Often recognized as a sign of quality, teak wood is known to be dark and durable and used in crafting tables and desks. Because of its dark color, teak looked great contrasted with bolder colors.

Other common woods used in this style of design include oak and beech. Oak is also durable and has a paler color than teak, and its shading helped it pair well with pale shades of color. Beech is the lighter wood of the three, often utilized in the frames of mid-century modern sofas and chairs because of its shock resistance and strength.

Wood wasn’t the only material used; it is a typical element of the style, but during the emergence of this style, other materials began to grow in popularity. These materials included plastic, fiberglass, and acrylic, amongst others; there was a shift in textiles as well, and the increased presence of velvet, corduroy, fur, and mohair, which were used in furnishings.


Function goes hand in hand with minimalism. Not only were homes free of cluttered spaces and extra items, but all of the pieces in a room needed to have a function.


Mid-century modern design likes to blend the indoors and outdoors together. This was done through the use of larger windows to bring the outdoors closer and the presence of plants inside the home.


Large windows were included in homes for two reasons; to bring in a little more nature and to allow in more light. Sliding doors and glass walls also are part of the mid-century modern design style.

Lighting options indoors usually consisted of straight lamps set in the corners, bedside table lamps in geometric shapes, and chandeliers with straight lines and shapes.


In mid-century modern style homes, there are primary tones of white, black, gray, and wood. The form of decor employs bright accent colors to contrast against these primary tones; in keeping with the natural vibe, these accent colors usually consist of earthy colors like brown, orange, and mustard yellow, as well as other natural colors like teal and deep clay red.

Other accents like pink, red, and blue were present as well, normally in pastel shades.

Adopting Mid-Century Modern Design

There are limitless ways to adopt the mid-century design style in your home.

  • TV stands were a popular option of the era and are still featured in different finishes and sizes. They’re just as chic today.
  • In the bedroom, adopt a low-profile platform bed with a solid wood headboard. There are different styles and designs available.
  • Incorporate natural wooden tables into your home with wooden finishes. There are beautiful options with marble and glass tops.
  • Add a few accent chairs to your living room with tapered legs and pastel colors.

However you choose to adopt the style, have fun with your mid-century modern furniture, and don’t be afraid to sprinkle in unique items and decorations that speak to you.