How To Make The Perfect Mid Century Modern Living Room

Style Your Living Room

Mid-Century Modern style is here to stay. Popularized in the 1940s, this design style is defined by clean lines, high functionality, organic forms (think rounded and often asymmetrical), and bold primary colors to contrast a neutral palette. With timeless appeal, it’s easy to work this style into your home, particularly into your living room. 

After learning about what defines this design style, where it comes from and our living room style guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect  Mid-Century Modern living room.

Mid Century Modern Style Explained

Originally influenced by new manufacturing techniques, a post-war lifestyle and new materials, Mid-Century Modern has stood the test of time. Why are these designs so resilient some 70 years later? The furniture was (and still is) designed for a way of living that is still relevant. People still want chairs to curl up in, storage which is accessible and stylish, and everything on a smaller scale making it more mobile. 

In the age of smartphones, wi-fi and space tourism on the horizon, the allure and influence of Mid-Century Modern designs rests in its ability to both transport us back to the past and propel us to dream of the future.

Real American Oak Furniture

What Defines Mid Century Modern Style

Mid-Century Modern  is a style defined by an understated and classic look with clean/sleek lines, limited ornamentation and minimal fuss. The curves are subtle, gentle and organic. 

The furniture is all about functionality - form follows function - and that form is organic and often geometric. Featuring a discovery of traditional and non-traditional, often contrasting materials, this is a style all about being as simple and practical as it is beautiful. 

Other features of Mid-Century Modern design include low streamlined seating, plastic shell chairs, cocooning lounges, hairpin/tapered legs on tables and dressers, matte finishes, and plain surfaces showing personality via design flourishes. 

Mid-Century Modern is fresh, tinged with a retro vibe, dedicated to comfort and functionality, in a design that is somewhat elegant and seemingless timeless. Streamlines in design which highlight the materials the pieces are made from rather than pretending to be something they aren’t - this is the essence of Mid-Century Modern style.

Real Wood Living Room

Where Does Mid Century Modern Style Come From

While American modernists were loving the industrial materials and the ability to mass produce, their Scandinavian counterparts were staying with the longstanding traditions of crafting furniture from the natural elements of leather and wood - handmade over mechanical processes. The result was beautifully crafted pieces loved as much for the quality as the simple, modern forms and curves. And, many of the exact pieces designed in the 1950s and 1960s are still reproduced today. 

The phrase ‘Mid-Century Modern Style’  was coined by Cara Greenbery in 1984 who is unsurprised that the style has stood the test of time, “it seems to appeal anew to each rising generation of young people. Mid-Century design hasn’t been bested by any other movement since, so it remains the style of our own time, not of some antique pasts. And it still looks cool!”

Solid American Wood Furniture

Mid Century Modern Living Room Style Guide

Overall, the perfect Mid-Century Modern living room style can be created by: 

  • Foundational furniture - a coffee table, media unit, sofa, armchairs with tapered legs - provide simple elegance to substantial pieces and yet, in small spaces, create an open flow and the illusion of more space. 
  • Showing off natural wood tones - select furniture where the grain is highlighted (not hidden) and stick to a single wood finish/hue such as Oak to create cohesiveness. 
  • This is design that is as practical as stylish - pieces are function first such as closed storage or media units. 
  • Organic/geometric forms and retro shapes. The starburst or boomerang are very popular and classic examples however select one, not both to style a room. These forms and shapes can be incorporated in accessories such as mirrors and lamps. 
  • A mix of materials such as wood, leather, fiberglass, molded plywood, bent tubular steel, and metals. The more materials the merrier. 
  • Embracing natural textures such as jute and seagrass - think baskets and rugs. 
  • A minimal approach to styling - less is more. This design is defined by uncluttered surfaces and clean lines to create a sense of more space. 
  • Combines a neutral palette with bold primary colors - yellows, reds, blues to infuse spaces with a sense of fun. Earthy hues also work. 
  • Playful patterns such as bold, geometris, organic, abstract in bright colors to create contrast and interest. Patterns can be introduced through wall art, rugs, cushions. 

Magnus Media Unit

The Magnus media unit is versatile with reversible doors; there's the option of white and gray doors or flip them around for matching American oak. It's flawless design is intended for comfortable living, with dimensions offering the ideal height for your TV that works perfectly once you’re settled onto your sofa. The two sliding-door cabinets and iconic drawers are spacious enough to house all the essentials that come with home entertainment, while maintaining an effortless tranquility with two pre-drilled holes on the back to keep cables in line. Enjoy the soft curves and clean lines for decades to come with the iconic Magnus media unit’s thoughtful craftsmanship.

Magnus Coffee Table

The rounded edges and elegant design of the Magnus Coffee Table inspire gentle tranquility and bring a modern touch to your home. Magnus’s effortless balance of soft curves and clean lines is inspired by the Mid-century Modern furniture movement that creates an effortless, timeless atmosphere, designed for life. Solid, strong American oak construction means the Magnus coffee table is long-lasting - with the right care it can bring decades of service and refined style. Bring the soft, warm tones and smooth texture of the solid oak Magnus Coffee Table into your living space and experience easy, sweeping elegance. Available in a round or rectangular shape to perfectly suit your living room design. 

Olivia Sofa

The Olivia Sofa is the perfect place to relax and has a playful edge. Casual with cylindrical features and curved details, this Mid-Century Modern style sofa brings effortless style to your living space. Soak in the soft, warm tones of the solid American oak frame and relax in the soft, floppy cushions for a plush feel. Olivia’s covers are removable (dry clean only), and additional covers may be purchased separately so that you can mix it up with the seasons. Notice the rod detail that holds the cushions firmly in place and the rounded corners on the back of the frame that align with the Scandinavian-inspired form. With the right care, this Mid-Century Modern style sofa will bring long-lasting joy to your home. The Olivia Sofa is also available in a 3-seater and 2-seater sofa configuration.

Olivia Armchair 

The elevated frame of the Olivia armchair creates a spacious feel in your living space, and the sweeping, playful feel evoked by the soft, incredibly comfortable cushions creates the perfect retreat to take time out from the rush of the everyday. Choose from a variety of fabrics, or purchase extra covers so that you can change the look according to your mood. Solid Oak brings a smooth warmth to the frame, and a clever rod design keeps the cushions positioned ‘just right’. Enjoy the effortless style of Olivia. Look after her well and the Olivia armchair will be your ‘go-to’ oasis for years to come. 

Introduction to IconByDesign

At IconByDesign, our promise to you is that we will deliver high quality contemporary furniture that is designed for a modern, easy and relaxed way of life. We do that through our focused approach to design, craftsmanship, value and service. Each aspect of our business has been, very deliberately, designed to bring you a simple and satisfying experience of buying furniture you’ll love online. 

We want well-designed, sustainable modern furniture to be available to all. That’s why we designed our own unique supply chain and sourced only the highest quality real American wood. Our artisans then respect nature by designing and crafting furniture that is designed for life.

IconByDesign launched in the USA in January 2021 and delivers Australian-designed, Scandinavian-inspired, mid century modern furniture at a great price through a highly innovative business model.