Design Debate: Is Mid-Century Modern Style “Meh” Or Marvellous?
The mid-century modern aesthetic, a popular style of architecture and furniture that first appeared from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, has captured the design hearts of many. Furniture from this era is understated yet finely crafted, with simple forms, clean lines and no extra ornamentation. Versatile, attractive and functional, mid-century modern pieces are known for blending well with other aesthetics to punch up any interior.
Of course, there are always a few quibbles when working with this look. Authentic mid-century furniture can be expensive. Some consider the style ubiquitous, almost too popular, today. And though the vibe is great for pared-back rooms, it may be too spare for those who like more-is-more decorating.
Here at H&H, we think mid-century modern style is a great aesthetic with staying power. We’ve collected some of our best rooms with mid-century flair and we want to hear what you think: Is mid-century modern style “meh” or marvellous?
This breakfast nook’s iconic Saarinen dining table and chairs make an impact in this Mediterranean Revival home in Palm Beach. The color in the wall sculpture by Teresita Fernández is echoed in the chair seats.
In this lake house designed by Margot Bell and Dasha Ricci of Peaks & Rafters, a mid-century modern Eames lounger and ottoman deliver a vintage moment in an otherwise contemporary room.
Flat-front, mid-century modern-style cabinets afford storage for pantry items and dishes in this sleek yet full-of-warmth kitchen.
A new-build in Burlington, Ontario, is outfitted with a treasure trove of authentic mid-century modern pieces. The sideboard was designed by Grete Jalk in the early 1960s, the Cesca chair is part of a set that was handed down to the homeowner, and a Noguchi lamp and Saarinen side table round out the look.
More clean-lined, mid-century pieces are found in the home office. The vintage teak Poul Cadovius wall unit holds art books and other inspirations, and the table is designed by Charles and Ray Eames.
In a living room corner, the Eames lounge chair and ottoman look right at home next to simple built-in cabinets that underscore the mid-century aesthetic.
Articulated sconces and a handsome wood bed frame with integrated headboard and nightstands deliver mid-century modern style in a Montreal bedroom.
At his Cape Cod saltbox, museum director Kelvin Browne paired two mid-century Bertoia chairs with an antique sofa for an evocative blend of styles that demands attention.
Moving into the dining room, a Danish teak dining set, mid-century-style sideboard and Louis Poulsen pendant offer a dynamic juxtaposition to the circa-1780s envelope.
An authentic mid-century modern sofa and chairs by British designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings anchor the airy screened porch of this century-old cottage in Muskoka.
In a corner of the principal bedroom, another authentic mid-century modern sofa is a tailored counterpoint to rustic beadboard walls and a wall-mounted woven tray.
Designer Montana Burnett combined earthy elements with streamlined, mid-century-inspired furnishings to create a graphic principal bedroom with plenty of style.
A vintage mid-century desk and reproduction tulip chair give Valérie Morisset, design director of H&H’s sister magazine, Maison & Demeure, a stylish spot for her home office.
This eating nook in Florida combines a vintage beehive chandelier, woven chairs and a mid-century modern Saarinen table for a breezy, unique look with a bit of edge.
In this hardworking kitchen designed by Camille Daher, a leggy, mid-century modern-style bar cabinet has a retro-cool vibe. A simple pendant and colorful art complete the vignette.
A clean-lined nightstand and headboard borrow from mid-century style in this principal bedroom. A textured throw, hanging pendant and fresh flowers keep the look low-key and inviting.
Designer Sophie Burke lightened up this space with white paint on the walls, panelling, railing and trim. The addition of gilt brass scones and a mid-century chair add hit of warmth to the transitional zone.
Louis Poulsen pendants and Cesca chairs give an airy dining room mid-century heft, energizing this Craftsman-style home in Vancouver.
The theme continues in the living room with a Platner chair and two armchairs by Carl Hansen. Designers Cathy Radcliffe and Teigen Jorgensen loosened up the retro furnishings with an undulating bleached-oak coffee that evokes Vancouver’s ocean shoreline.
In this petite Calgary condo, designer Alanna Dunn created a home office nook in the bedroom. The compact desk has a mid-century feel and the chair was a lucky Kijiji find. A gallery wall just above the workspace contributes to the vintage, collected look.
This artful condo living room designed by Patti Rosati is anchored by a round Saarinen dining table. The mid-century modern piece contributes design clout.
In this breezy home designed by Sam Sacks, a woven armchair has serious Hans J. Wegner style, which is a lively counterpoint to the whimsical raffia elephants that survey the living room.
Designed by Shirley Meisels (pictured), this sunny dining area features a sleek wooden and metal table surrounded by mid-century modern chairs. A mod pendant and curvy vases round out the retro look.
Hans J. Wegner’s mid-century modern lounge chair for Carl Hansen & Søn looks elegant in this serene principal bedroom. Paired with an Eames stool, the inviting spot is perfect for reading or enjoying a cup of coffee.
Leggy, mid-century modern-style furnishing in this Montreal home office are punctuated by a whimsical ampersand sign and dynamic leafy wallpaper for a lively mix of styles.