Thrilled as I am at how quickly I have acquired new clients on the west coast, I find myself less than thrilled (and somewhat unprepared) when each one of them discloses that their personal style is Mid Century. I never expected to be practicing design anywhere outside of the South (where style tends to be more traditional, if not downright preppy), so I failed to pay proper attention to the Mid Century style that is so predominant on the West Coast. Not only will I need to learn how to work with this style, but I will need to adapt my own interpretation. As a designer it is important to adapt to the needs of my clients, but it is equally important to me to leave my stamp on their home. Otherwise, why are they hiring me?
As I began sourcing furniture it was easy for me to fall for today’s take on Mid Century interiors. Strong and clearly defined lines in furniture pieces, clean case goods, large scale (and often vibrantly colored) repeat patterns and statement lighting. Each piece has a significant impact, eliminating the need for over accessorizing. One key difference between Mid Century style furniture produced today and vintage pieces is the selection of upholstery material. Textiles have come a long way… (this is not your grandmother’s itchy floral sofa). Reproduction pieces will have more comfortable fabric and tend to have more neutral color palettes.
How to execute Mid Century style in your home. Great news if you are on a budget, because Ikea has you covered! If you are even thriftier, or looking for a project, check your local Craigslist listings. I am a huge believer in Craigslist and swear I could furnish an entire house from it (later post on that). For a splurge purchase, consider a pair of Barcelona Chairs for your living room or an Eames Lounge Chair for a corner in your den or bedroom (do not pair, a single Eames chair commands more than enough attention).
Balance and symmetry. Rooms always centered. Mid Century style is about simplifying. While your layout options may seem predetermined, there is a subtle opening for creativity and personal style with the use of scale and proportion. Try a small brass starburst mirror over a large scale fireplace or place an over-sized hanging textile on an accent wall.
Just like your furniture and space plan, keep your walls clean with a non-fussy paint color. Today’s Mid Century style is all about minimalism. There’s nothing I love more than crisp white walls to accentuate a well furnished room. Make a statement with your art and lighting. Consider a piece of pop art or anything abstract and colorful. If your walls allow, consider a large scale piece.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out Don Draper’s office on Mad Men for historically accurate Mid Century style… go ahead and indulge yourself in Joan’s wardrobe too!
P.S. Some of my local Craigslist finds…