Style Savant: Discovering The Midcentury Modern Aesthetic

We’d like to welcome you to a series within our blog called the Style Savant, wherein we discover and explore various architectural and design styles to help refresh your imagination. Today, we’ll be looking at midcentury modern interiors.

What is midcentury design?

This is a design style rooted in simplicity and practicality, often hearkening back to nature and widely regarded for its use of glass, flat panes, and clean lines. A movement that began in the early 1930s to the mid 1960’s, this manner of design was a response to the lifestyle shift that inevitably followed after the second World War, and flowed from International and Bauhaus movements.

It is in this design style that we have gotten to know names such as Arne Jacobsen, George Nelson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Isamu Noguchi, Charles and Ray Eames, to name a few—all of whom are still incredibly relevant and whose work is continually brought into so many living spaces today.

As the style is beloved and has yet to lose its place on many an inspiration board, many have tried to incorporate the style into their own homes. To keep things a little more chic and away from too far into the retro sphere, here are a few of our best tips to perking up your home style with the most timeless mid-century modern elements:

Start with functionality

What makes the form of midcentury modern pieces so attractive in its simplicity is often that it’s designed to be incredibly functional. When bringing pieces into your space, consider what the room itself needs most. Is it a comfortable armchair or perhaps a brighter lamp? Maybe a credenza for storing some of your dining essentials? Beginning with singular pieces is often the best jumping off point for any design challenge, not only to adhere to a particular design style like this one, but to ensure that you are surrounded with pieces you’ll both love and use for years to come.

Explore colour

Midcentury modern design kicked up its trademark neutrals and earth tones with some bright splashes of colour. Adding these dashes of colour to your front door or your interior walls can make just a bold enough statement that lifts a whole room, but dipping your toe in through your cabinetry and some accent furniture also works. Try softer, toned-down versions of signature hues of the time: soft pinks, a smooth red, soothing teals and aqua, a pumpkin orange, or a green softened with a hint of taupe.

Mix up your materials

Some of the most interesting markers of midcentury design comes from innovations in technology and construction of the time. While wood continues to be one of the standout materials in midcentury modern pieces, quite a lot of interesting work was done with metal, glass, Lucite, Plexiglass, and vinyl. This was not simply to extend the design vocabulary of the time, but to build less expensive, more accessible pieces that would last even with significant use. Consider a club chair with a steel frame, sculptural seating encased in velvet, or a metal end table to add that midcentury modern nod to your space.

Finish with intention

Personal touches are often what make a space. Midcentury modern design steers away from surrounding oneself with knick knacks, and instead focuses on the things you use most in your home. An arc lamp that brightens the room, candlesticks that provide softer lighting for intimate meals, floor pillows that can be used for extra seating.

With less clutter, this also makes the details of your space much more visible, so there’s great value in taking the time to finish off the functional with handles that take great form. So many of the handles across the brands we carry fit in seamlessly with this aesthetic. Have a look at the Withenshaw or Snowdrift from Armac Martin, or the different barrel handles from Turnstyle Designs.

Looking for further inspiration?

If you’re on the hunt for more design style, have a look at our focus on The Southcott Residence and The Somerville Residence. For more of the best of Gregory Croxford Living, subscribe to our newsletter here.