In the 1950s and '60s, when America started daydreaming about a Jetsons-like future filled with modern home decor and even more modern conveniences, midcentury design really took off. And for over 70 years the now-retro, yet classic, style has remained an interior design favorite, especially thanks to shows like Mad Men. Although some homeowners choose to honor the aesthetic by decking out their digs in sleek light fixtures, curvaceous living room furniture, and space age-inspired decor, you can opt for a more modern approach, only adding a few accents here and there, while still incorporating your unique personality.
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Here are 25 picture-perfect spaces that prove there's no such thing as one right way to create a stunning midcentury living room design.
1. Add natural texture.
Once upon a time, midcentury modern designs were all about teak and balsa wood. Today, this partnering still looks visually striking, as witnessed in this living room by Art Home Garden. It's midcentury in spirit with an overarching floor lamp and Noguchi coffee table, paired with a hint of boho-chic charm.
2. Glam things up.
A mirrored coffee table? Curvy sofa? Sputnik chandelier? We can't get enough of the galactic glamour in this far-out living space designed by AE Design.
3. Hang graphic artwork.
Weave in throwback, yet on-trend details in your midcentury living room with graphic artwork. Here, in this space dreamed up by Shea from Studio McGee, the navy art prints take center stage above the sectional sofa and side table. And bonus: They're available for purchase online.
4. Consider a subtle color palette.
There's no rule that says midcentury spaces must have attention-grabbing color palettes. The classic style can also be communicated with a subtle approach, as seen in this modern home designed by Jessica Helgerson. Shades of white, cream, and beige come together to create a stylish refuge, complete with an Acapulco-style accent chair in natural materials.
5. Allow white to act as a neutral backdrop.
Since many midcentury-inspired pieces of decor tend to be vibrant, with graphic patterns, it only makes sense to give them a fitting backdrop, like white walls. This will allow them to truly stand out. For example, in this living room designed by Martha Mulholland, classic furnishings, like the iconic Ray Eames chair, sit on top of a bold area rug.
6. Spotlight a retro light fixture.
You can't have a midcentury living room without an ultra-modern light fixture. Consider a classic option, like a Sputnik-inspired chandelier. Or opt for something like the Jonathan Adler-designed wonder hanging in this family room by Sarah Sherman Samuel. Without a doubt, the fixture makes a much bigger statement than a standard table lamp.
7. Welcome eclectic decor.
Consider bringing in just a few midcentury pieces, like a set of vintage chairs or ceramics. Then mix them with items that are personal to you, such as meaningful artwork or houseplants in handcrafted pots. This midcentury living room designed by Emily Henderson went the eclectic route, and it simply sings.
8. Create a midcentury reading nook.
Transform your living room into a midcentury reading nook like the one in this Eichler home designed by Michael Hennessey Architecture. Pair cozy seating with timeless pieces such as an Arco floor lamp and Vitsoe bookcase. A midcentury fireplace feels just right here alongside the floor-to-ceiling shelving unit, too.
9. Embrace coastal vibes.
Who says that midcentury design can't lean a little bit coastal? In this vacation home owned by Haleigh and Scott, you might find yourself saying, "Surf's up." While the color palette is inspired by the sea, this cool abode hasn't lost its midcentury roots, especially with a throwback-inspired leather sofa from West Elm that pairs nicely with a sky-blue tufted velvet sofa.
10. Combine with boho charm.
If you're envisioning a midcentury living room but you can't ignore your inner bohemian, do both. Pair a little greenery and a few woven wall hangings (Don Freedman wall hangings always look ideal in midcentury spaces) with your mid-mod furniture. This is how blogger Justine Celina Maguire created a dreamy refuge all her own.
11. Commit to authenticity.
So, you know that thing we said earlier about bringing in hints of midcentury here and there? Well, if you're more of an all-or-nothing person, take a page out of Lindsey Herron and Yoni Goldberg's midcentury Airbnb, and just go for it. Their living room is the epitome of cool and makes us feel as if we've stepped into a time machine. Craving pendant lights in your space? Turn to a George Nelson bubble lamp.
12. Think quiet sophistication.
On the other side of the spectrum, go for a slightly industrial, yet elegant vibe like this pop-up shop presented by The Line. Midcentury modern furniture pieces, like a chair and ottoman sporting clean lines, and wooden elements lend a refined, contemporary look.
13. Warm things up.
As demonstrated by Amber Lewis, you can craft a warm, welcoming appearance in your midcentury living room, and accompanying dining room, by purchasing furnishings and decor with blush undertones. Natural wood finishes, as seen in the lounge chairs, coffee table, and woven floor poufs, also lend warmth. Be sure to include faux fur throws and patterned rugs to create a cozy, layered effect.
14. Don’t forget the details.
Although midcentury can be big and bold, sometimes it comes down to the smallest details. Don't overlook those mini flea market finds and under-the-radar patterns — a punchy throw pillow here, a brass pig there — like the ones seen in this cool pad captured by photographer Tracey Jazmin. Another detail in this space that's worth mentioning? The Andy Warhol quotes serving as wall art.
15. Create a fresh space.
Looking to go light and airy in your midcentury living room? Then skip the dark wood and heavy furnishings. Instead, opt for a white sofa, natural light, and neutral upholstery throughout. This living room belonging to Lisa Bryan is oh-so-simple and soothing, while the arched floor lamp by CB2 clearly represents midcentury style.
16. Make an area rug the focal point.
Shag carpet was all the rage during the height of midcentury design, and you can bring the (literal!) feel of shag into your living room with a high-pile area rug. Bonus points if it has a nostalgic, daring print as well. This landing pad by Green Body + Green Home is a perfect example.
17. Include wood beams.
If your home has been blessed with original, midcentury post-and-beam construction, seriously, congrats. Otherwise, you can add beams to your ceiling for a bit more flair, a feature that's seen in this living room belonging to Carrie of Dream Green DIY. The mid-mod-inspired furniture from Article finishes the cozy design.
18. Invest in an atomic-inspired clock.
Atomic-style clocks were pretty popular back in the day. Luckily, they can still be discovered by scouring antique stores and flea markets. Brittni Mehlhoff carved out space in her bookcase to display her striking piece of mid-mod decor.
19. Opt for symmetry.
Even though midcentury spaces were traditionally bombastic with their color and pattern choices, symmetry was also employed regularly. Bring that same approach to your living room design by placing your accent chairs across from the sofa. In this setup by Emily Henderson, the leather sofa sits directly across from a pair of Fernweh Woodworking sling chairs. Symmetry is also viewed in the matching window treatments and balanced wall art.
20. Make entertaining the focus.
Cocktail hour and midcentury design pretty much go hand in hand. Embrace convivial spirit in your living room à la Jessica Brigham. With a brass bar cart, sumptuous velvet furnishings, and a capiz shell pendant light, we can envision long hang outs with friends and family. Anyone up for a Tom Collins?
21. Weave in sculptural pieces.
Sculptures have always been a big part of midcentury design. Add authenticity and visual interest to your space by including an artistic sculpture or two in your decor scheme. Clark + Aldine included a bull sculpture on their tapered-leg coffee table. Here's a similar piece if you like the look.
22. Go minimalist.
You can always choose a more minimalist aesthetic if that's a better fit for your lifestyle. Between the simple yet chic furnishings, cool coffee table, and geometric area rug, this space styled by Emily of The Sweet Beast is a study in midcentury minimalist design.
23. Play with patterns.
Perhaps midcentury style inspires you to take some design risks. In that case, follow the lead of Dabito from Old Brand New and get playful with patterns in your living room. Throw pillows in complementary patterns and hues feel very midcentury, while the painterly artwork from Minted increases the visual interest.
24. Mix eras.
Midcentury loyalists will tell you to stay within that time period with your decor choices, but we're fans of mixing things up — and clearly, we're not the only ones. Megan of M Pettipoole paired her Thetis lounge chairs in channel-tufted cognac leather with pieces that represent other periods, like an art deco table lamp and modern-day graphic artwork above the sofa.
25. Build a fireplace.
If you're doing a full-on renovation in your living room, include a fireplace for some increased midcentury panache. A chiminea will always look delightfully on point. But you can always take a more contemporary turn like Jen of The Effortless Chic with a sleek, tiled fireplace surround.