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14 Iconic Mid-Century Modern Decor Elements

Iconic elements of mid-century modern home decor continue to be on-trend and wildly popular. Refresh your memory on these essential home decor ideas that represent the heart and soul of mid-century modern style.

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Starburst ClockPhoto: Courtesy of Hayneedle

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Starburst Clock

The starburst clock is one of the first things that come to mind when someone asks: What is mid-century modern? The starburst clock is an immediate standout of mid-century home decor. This type of clock was first made by the mid-century masters at Nelson Associates. This design firm is responsible for a lot of iconic mid-century modern essentials that were found in many stylish homes in the ’50s and ’60s and again today. The starburst clock was conceptualized by Nelson Associates in 1949. Clocks of this style are so intricate they can be considered works of art.

When you hang a clock, or other wall decor, make sure it’s level as to not take away from its beauty.

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Eames Lounge Chair century modernPhoto: Courtesy of Herman Miller

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Eames Lounge Chair

Charles and Ray Eames are the designers responsible for this archetype lounge chair and help answer what is mid-century modern. The couple first started to experiment with plywood moldings to create affordable, stylish furniture.

Check out these 16 examples of plywood furniture you can make.

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mid-century modern wood ceilingPhoto: Courtesy of Cablik Enterprises

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Natural Elements

Wood elements are often incorporated in mid-century modern homes in ceilings, walls and floors. This gives these room a decidedly Scandinavian aesthetic.

Learn about the healthy Swedish lifestyle concept of “lagom.”

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mid-century modern hanging lightPhoto: Courtesy of Shades of Light

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Unique Lighting


Lighting in mid-century homes often plays with shapes and lines. Many installations either have curves and loops or they are overtly linear.

When you hang a statement light fixture, make sure it’s done correctly.

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Bio-Morphic Shapes mid-century modernPhoto: Courtesy of Formica

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Bio-Morphic Shapes


Biomorphic design elements were designed to resemble living organisms. These shapes (a.k.a. “boomerang”) were used in furniture design, wallpaper prints, plastic laminate countertops and more.

Laminate continues to be an affordable, practical countertop material for DIYers.

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mid-century modern home with glassPhoto: Courtesy of A Parallel Architecture

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Lots of Glass


Mid-century design took off after World War II. During this time, designers wanted to encourage people to see and incorporate the outdoors. One of the ways they did this was by using a lot of glass. Glass walls and large windows are a staple of many mid-century modern homes.

Why pay someone when you can clean your own windows just like a pro?

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mid-century modern homePhoto: Courtesy of A Parallel Architecture

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Clean Lines


Classic mid-century modern design features minimal fuss, maximum function and clean lines. One of the most notable designers of this era was Frank Lloyd Wright. These are the 10 favorite Frank Lloyd Wright homes you need to see.

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Hairpin Leg DeskPhoto: Courtesy of The Hairpin Leg Company

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Hairpin Legs


Hairpin- and peg-style legs are found in many mid-century modern furniture pieces. They exemplify the streamlined, simple look of the mid-century aesthetic. They are often mixed with natural wood tops to combine natural and industrial styles.

Here are five hairpin leg projects you can make.

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mid-century modern wallpaperPhoto: Courtesy of Fabienne Ayina

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Wallpaper Designs


Mid-century design often relies on natural colors and design elements, but this changes for wall paper. Often wallpaper is used as an accent in mid-century modern homes and it features bold geometric patterns. Wallpaper is definitely DIYable and it’s an excellent statement maker.

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modern slat front doorPhoto: Courtesy of Simpson Door

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Statement Doors


Even though these homes aren’t about ornamentation, mid-century modern homes often have statement front doors. Often times front doors are the one place homeowners play with color, shapes and design.

This collection of colorful front doors offers lots of inspiration.

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mid-century modern tulip chairrobertlamphoto/Shutterstock

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: New Materials


The iconic Tulip chair was created by designer Eero Saarinen for Knoll Designs in 1957. Saarinen used his sculpture background to create this chair to eliminate the need for four legs. It’s made of molded fiberglass.

Another classic is the mid-century modern console table. Make one of these great-looking tables with this IKEA hack.

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Mid-Century Modern KitchensPhoto: Courtesy of Arete Kitchens

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Mid-Century Kitchens


Mid-century modern kitchens often mix natural wood with bright punches of color and man-made countertops.

If you’re considering installing a plastic laminate countertop, here’s how to do it.

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mid-century modern womb chairPhoto: Courtesy of Knoll Designs

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: The Womb Chair


The womb chair, also designed by Eero Saarinen, was created in 1948 for Florence Knoll. The chair was made of molded fiberglass, covered with material. It was designed to provide the utmost comfort by Knoll who wanted, “A chair that was like a basket full of pillows.” She wanted something she could really curl up in.

These are the home decor ideas and trends you don’t want to miss.

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mid-century modern living roomPhoto: Courtesy of Chris Barrett Designs

Mid-Century Modern Decorating Ideas: Smart Pops of Color


Bursts of colorin furniture, pillows and accent wallsare one of the delights of mid-century homes. Color was used sparingly, not in every room. Color palettes often incorporated saturated oranges, aquas, yellows and reds. When color was used, it wasn’t subtle!

Strip the old paint off of a piece of wood furniture and repaint it in a bright color.