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Yesterday, we saw how to achieve that Mad Men look using fabrics. And previously on this blog, we’ve talked about the traditions of mid-century modern design. This was a period roughly from the mid-50s into the early ’70s that we associate with post-war luxury. That period in history is a favorite for a certain generation, when an economic boom after the war made everything seem as though things could never look anything less than rosy. It was an optimistic time, generally speaking, even if history shows that this wasn’t the whole picture.

Even still, perhaps that’s one of the reasons why mid-century modern design is finding its way back into pop culture, and into our sense of what makes great interior design. In our continuing series of posts about living rooms and design traditions, here’s an example of a mid-century modern living room.

This design tradition is the one most likely to have the word ‘retro’ attached to it, mostly because it was the standard not too long ago, historically speaking. For we generation Xers, along with latter-period Baby Boomers, this is the look of our childhood. It was the world we were born into.

Mid-century modern and 21st century interior design

But, one thing that I’ve begun to notice is how 21st century design is being influenced by mid-century modern design. Maybe this has to do with that sense of comfort, with Gen-X designers are hearkening back to that hazy period of childhood, while perhaps leaving some of the harvest gold carpeting and avocado kitchen appliances out of it.

What can be seen is that open concept, big windows (and therefore lots of natural light), and area rugs on wood or tile flooring kind of approach that is becoming more and more a part of contemporary design again. In true 21st century fashion, we’re looking to the past, mining it for all its treasure, and re-defining it for the modern era. Maybe this is a cultural search for identity in some way. But in that quest, we’re finding what can be applied design-wise in 2012.

Design lines become blurred

Of course, some of the lines become pretty blurred between one era and another. Maybe the “flat screen TV” reference above can be seen as a design anachronism, since there weren’t too many of these around in 1963. But that sleekness, almost minimalist feel to the room is one of the stylistic bridges from that mid-century modern period and our current contemporary one. That the technology can fit into this look is a reminder that borrowing from this era of design, and making stylistic (and ultimately comforting) references to it in a living room space is more than feasible.

Some questions for you

  • Do you find mid-century modern design to be kitschy or cool? Rat pack or Brady Bunch?
  • What elements most appeal to you?
  • Which elements would you find to be too retro?
  • Have you visited a home that incorporates mid-century modern design? What did you think?
Tell me all about it in the comments section!

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.