Top Tips for Creating a Mid-Century Modern Interior

What is ‘mid century modern interior design’ and why is it popular?

The mid century design originates, as the name suggests, in the mid-20th century, encompassing the interior decoration styles of the 1930s to the late 1960s. Nowadays, a quick method to visualise the mid century style would be to remember or look up the American TV show ‘Mad Men’ which painstakingly recreated USA’s home decor of the 1960s.

The mid century movement centres around such revolutionaries in the design as Charles and Ray Eames who pioneered the Organic Chair and defined the era with simple, unobtrusive furniture, whilst artists such as Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock  pushed the traditional boundaries with their pop art culture and ‘atomic’ styles.

Needless to say, that the mid century period launched a new wave of home decor methods that dared to explore both simplistic functionality and artistic boldness so it’s no surprise that these revolutionary designs left a strong impression in people’s memories.

So now we come to 2020 and the resurgence of the mid century modern style. One thing to mention is that truly recreating the style is not an economical venture, with most of the authentic rugs and furniture from that time being considered expensive antiques. Thus, we have seen the emergence of the mid century modern interior design that seeks to capture the trends of the 1930s to 1960s decor without having to bargain for precious collectables.

Clean lines, purpose, prevalence of dark wood, metals and vinyl, subdued colour schemes accentuated by bursts of artistic grandeur and ambitious repeating patterns, are all hallmarks of the mid century modern design. Within carpets and rugs, the mid-century design manifests in multiple ways including the matching of an abstract rug to an equally abstract artwork, usually in the style of a famous pop art creator.

Choosing colours for a mid century modern interior

Colour balancing is a key part in crafting a mid century interior design. While browns, beiges and whites are the classic options for an authentic mid century modern interior, there are also more varied alternatives. Bright, space-age colours like reds, greens and golds can be used to give the depth of contrast when put together with the subdued, simplistic furniture. Autumnal and dusty tones are always popular in mid century designs though and it is up to art works alongside modern rugs to underscore the space with colourful boldness.

When choosing the colours for your own mid century modern rug, try to find a particular hue within your furnishings that you wish to highlight or a special sculpture whose classically art deco design would, with a similar luxury rug to match, daringly integrate with the mid century interior.

Mid Century Modern Rug - Colours

Fashionable shapes in mid century modern rugs

Geometrically bold patterns are a symbol of mid century interiors, be that in pillows, rugs or wallpapers. Abstract shapes, retro graphics and the atomic, star-like patterns that expanded into a multitude of directions from a single point, are all incredibly popular designs that complement the simple, clean lines of a mid century interior. Beyond symmetry, mid century decor also favours organic curves that makes furniture look minimal within the space.

When it comes to rug choices for a mid-century feel, eclectic patterns must not overwhelm the simplistic, chic interior and should follow the more obvious lines that run throughout the room thereby bringing visual excitement without unpleasant disruption. A hand-knotted rug can act as the focal point of the room, much like the atomic shapes that were a cornerstone of mid century design.

Transforming your living space with a mid century modern area rug

As usual, the placement of a rug is important in ensuring the seamlessness of the overall design. The usual rules apply: if putting a rug under a dining table, ensure that the rug stretches at least 30 inches/75cm away from the back of the chairs. In the living room, the sofas and arm-chairs could have their front feet anchored to the edges of the rug, but could also be entirely on or off it, while in the bedroom, the rug should ideally lie 24 inches/60cm past either side of the bed. That being said, the mid century modern interiors favour open planned spaces and thus an area rug is a key addition to the scheme. The rug brings softness and comfort to the otherwise cold wooden floor, but also brings the room together by visually connecting the various elements of the design.

A large modern area rug can unify the vastness of an open design and simultaneously make the space seem larger than it is. However, if you wish to divide up your mid century design into separate areas, there’s no better way to start than by placing two distinct area rugs to demarcate the borders between different utilities. That being said, large rugs are not the only answer for accentuating the interior as a mid century runner rug could just as effectively bring an accented tone to the room and create a transitional space. 

Mid Century Modern Rug - After Albers Deep

Achieving the simple, cozy aesthetic of the mid century modern decor (warm colours, organic shapes, natural surfaces)

The mid century modern interior design is a study in contradictions, both subdued and bold, natural but metallic, organically curved but with strict geometric patterns. Cutting through the contradictions, we have a design principle rooted in nature. Wood features as the most prominent material in mid century modern decor, usually complimented by greenery such as indoor plants in order to subtly bring the natural world inside of the house, mixing it with intriguing man-made materials such as golden metals and tweed. This all combines together to create a sense of timelessness within the design that can either be turned into a brash, artistic expression with vibrant colours and overlapping shapes or can invoke a sense of cosiness with autumnal muted tones that speak of curling up by the fire, on a soft, wool rug, a hot drink in hand. Either way, mid century interiors prioritise efficiency and simplicity, and thus your rug selection should be rooted in these principles.