Essential to any design style, it’s the furniture that truly tells the story of a space and forms the structure of the room. Mid-century design is epitomised by its iconic furniture designs, from Eero Saarinen’s Womb chair to the Platner armchair—designs which have remained the pinnacle of good design for decades. Here’s our guide on what to look for and how to make the most of these timeless pieces.
The Mid-century Modern Furniture Guide
From coffee tables to armchairs, learn what to look for in this design era's most iconic pieces.
…are an essential component for embracing a mid-century look. From curved velvet sofas to more structured bouclé options, it’s the sofa that sets the scene in any living room. Quilted upholstery lends itself well to this look, as do those topped with a scattering of spherical cushions. Choose a sofa with a deep-seat, soft fabric and plenty of padding. This is all about comfort—they’re from the time of conversation pits, after all.
… often feature open grid-like designs with vertical slats of wood or metal which contrast their horizontal shelves, perfect for styling separate vignettes. Include artwork, ceramics and l'objet d’art in between books to create interesting focal points. Consider pieces that mix both wooden and metal elements for an added flair or even 3D illusionary woodwork for a particular nod to the era.
Mid-century coffee tables
… are traditionally best known for being functional, wooden designs, glamorous Space Age-inspired or of the nested variety. Whether you’re after a low-lying walnut piece, metallic statement or a triptych of organic shapes, mid-century modern coffee tables usually embrace a combination of soft, rounded corners, a mix of materials and a sense of flow making them perfect for hosting.
… are possibly one of the most iconic pieces of furniture to emerge from the period. Characteristically comfortable with their deep slanted seats and additional padded armrests, these designs look best in velvet, bouclé or thick wool and offer the perfect opportunity for a bold pop of colour. Alternatively, if your style leans more towards the rustic end of mid-century, opt for one that combines rattan with wood.
… are amongst the most structured of the mid-century furniture set and the most practical (hey, it was still the time of nightly family dinners with the proper china). Look for pieces crafted from plain or decorative warm woods that feature splayed legs or a pedestal base and offer plenty of storage within.
Looking for some finishing touches?
Though furniture is the true star of Mid-century Modern interiors, lighting and accessories shouldn't be overlooked. From cushions to pendant lights, here are some pieces to complete your space.
... is home to some of the most iconic pieces of lighting history. Think clouded glass, clusters of spherical forms and plenty of metal.
... often feature playful, geometric patterns that combine colour and shape to make an eye-catching design. You can style them individually or layer for a more kaleidoscopic feel.
... should feel like pieces of art in their own right. Steer away from rectangular mirrors and instead opt for those with a round or more unusual form. Light rays and geometric details also help to bring these pieces to life and signify the design era you are looking to emulate.
... are composed of fluid forms and playful shapes. Choose from an array of colourful glass and mixed metals to incorporate tones and materials from other points in the scheme. Again, avoid anything too rectangular or literal, this was an experimental time for art and sculpture was definitely reflective of that.