16 Midcentury Living Room Ideas That Stand the Test of Time

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In the 1950s and '60s, when America started daydreaming about a Jetsons-like future filled with modern decor and even more modern conveniences, midcentury design took off like wildfire. And for over 70 years the (now) retro, yet classic, style has remained an interior design favorite. Although some homeowners choose to honor the aesthetic by decking out their digs in sleek light fixtures, curvaceous furniture, and space-inspired decor, you can choose a more modern approach, only adding a few accents here and there, while still incorporating your unique personality.


Here are 16 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.

Back in the day, midcentury design was all about teak and balsa wood. Today, this partnering still looks visually striking as witnessed in this living room designed 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 room designed by AE Design.

3. Hang graphic artwork.

Weave in throwback, yet on-trend details into your midcentury living room with graphic artwork. Here, in this space dreamed up by Shea from Studio McGee, the art prints take center stage. And bonus: They're available for purchase online.

4. Consider a subtle color palette.

There's no rule that says midcentury modern spaces must have attention grabbing color palettes. The style can also be communicated with a subtle approach, as seen in this living room designed by Jessica Helgerson. Whites, creams, and beiges come together to create a stylish refuge.


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 so they can truly stand out. In this living room designed by Martha Mulholland, classic furnishings 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. You can always go with a trusty Sputnik chandelier, or opt for something like this this golden wonder hanging in Sarah Sherman Samuel's home.

7. Embrace eclectic decor.

Bring in a few midcentury pieces, like a set of vintage chairs or Jonathan Adler ceramics, and mix them with a few 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 shelving unit.


9. Throw in a few coastal vibes.

Who says that midcentury design can't go on a beach vacation? 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 coastal cool abode hasn't lost its midcentury roots.

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 with your midcentury inspired furniture like blogger Justine Celina Maguire to create a dreamy refuge all your 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 looks as if we've stepped into a time machine.

12. Think quiet sophistication.

On the other side of the spectrum, a living room doesn't have to scream "midcentury." Go for a a minimal, yet elegant vibe like this pop-up shop presented by The Line. Midcentury furniture and wooden elements lend a refined look.


13. Warm things up.

As demonstrated by Amber Lewis, you can craft a warm, welcoming appearance in your midcentury living room by purchasing furnishings and decor with blush undertones. Also, 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.

15. Create a fresh space.

Looking to go light and airy in your midcentury living room? Then skip the dark wood and heavy furnishings, opting for a white sofa and neutral hues instead. This living room belonging to Lisa Bryan is oh-so-simple and soothing.

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, like this Green Body + Green Home area rug.


Shelby Deering is a lifestyle writer who contributes to national magazines and websites, including Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Well+Good, and more. When she's not writing, you'll find her shopping flea markets, hiking, and going for walks with her corgi.