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Midcentury Modern Style Defined

Get inspired by these mid century design ideas.

By Lisa Frederick

After a lull of several decades, midcentury modern design leapt back into the spotlight around the onset of the 21st century. The style became popular in the World War II era and remained so through the 1960s, signifying a fresh start and a break with architectural and decorating conventions. Its approach to form and function combined the purity of nature with the technological innovations of the Space Age.

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The Basics

Light Contemporary Kid's Room
Laura Britt
The midcentury modern look is anchored by simple architecture and understated furnishings and accents that look as avant-garde today as they did when they debuted. The explosion of new materials and manufacturing technologies in the mid-20th century gave designers unprecedented latitude to experiment, and they took advantage of it. Bold, confident, and graphic, this style contrasts organic substances with artificial ones and free-form profiles with rigid geometrics.

These designer rooms feature midcentury modern looks:

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Saarinen Round Dining Table
Design Within Reach
Does midcentury modern design strike a chord? Here's how to weave it into your home.

Landmark designers. From Arne Jacobsen to Florence Knoll to Charles and Ray Eames, design giants flourished in the midcentury modern years, and the pieces they crafted remain iconic. Distinctive furnishings such as a Saarinen tulip table or a George Nelson coconut chair can make a space read as midcentury even if the rest of the décor strays into other territory.

Open floor plans. Interiors from this era emphasized uncluttered flow and seamless transitions between spaces. Even if the layout of your home doesn't fit with this ideal, you can create a sense of openness through strategic furniture placement, visual echoes, continuous colors and materials, and a restrained touch with accessories.

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