Posted Feb 27, 2015

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern

For a long time, I looked around my bedroom and the pins I added to my Pinterest boards and wondered, “What exactly is my design style?” With the wealth of inspiration we have these days, narrowing down our findings and defining our tastes is pretty challenging.

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern

However, my interest in architecture, design and history won out, and I finally figured it out! As it so happens, I really love mid-century modern decorating, which is not to be confused with modern style (also called contemporary).

Mod is the domain of Don Draper, and the world of “A Christmas Story“. It’s classy, bold, and innovative, hearkening back to a time of suits and martinis– my kind of environment. If you’re unsure of your personal interests, you and I may share something in common (we should totally follow each other on Pinterest).

Here are some tips for how to tell if your style is mid-century modern:

You Like Simple Lines

There are a lot of decorating styles out there, from bohemian and nautical to eclectic and classic. But what really sets mid-century modern design apart is its use of simple, clean lines. While you may be drawn to some funky prints, your furniture is sleek and lacks ornamentation.

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern - You Like Simple Lines

No flowery pillars, no baroque finishes, your furnishings follow either the sparse curves of nature or the linear look of manmade objects. Mid-century modern design is known for its organic shapes.

You Love Organization

Clutter is my arch nemesis. I feel stressed in an unkempt environment, which is a bit frustrating when my boyfriend does not feel the need to make the bed. What’s more, having an orderly space free of knickknacks makes me breathe easily and improves my focus.

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern - You Love Organization

If you can see sides with my need for organized space, you might like mod design. Mid-century modern promotes ease of living, so unnecessary items are banned from the home. Think of dressers sporting a simple vase or two rather than a sea of collectibles. Imagine a coffee table with a book on top. That’s the most clutter you’ll find in most mod designs.

You Want to Blend Indoor and Outdoor Living

Knowing how to tell your decorating style isn’t always easy, but in the case of mod, you can look outside. Prolific architect Frank Lloyd Wright helped define modern architecture and design. Although his career began before mod took hold, many of his ideals can be seen in the style. For instance, Wright tried to bring outdoor and indoor spaces together.

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern - You Want to Blend Indoor and Outdoor lIVING

When you browse your Pinterest boards, do you see rooms with large windows, doors that open to the outside, lines that match the horizon or plant life indoors? If so, the mid-century modern sensibility might run through your veins.

Play off this impulse in your apartment by letting in tons of natural light (sheer curtains are great) and decorating with plants (terrariums are in right now).

Graphic Patterns Please You

Do you like looking at repeating diamonds? Do your pillow cases all have geometric patterns? Mod design has similar art. The movement contains plenty of walls decked out in bold, playful and creative shapes.

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern - Graphic Patterns Please You

Living in an apartment, you can’t plaster wallpaper without getting in trouble (in most cases), but you can apply those mid-century modern patterns in other ways. Like I mentioned, pillowcases are a great option– they can contain graphic patterns without overwhelming your space. Area rugs may also provide the unique look of mod patterns.

You’re Nuts for Neutrals

From the warm browns found in natural wood to light creams, mid-century modern was the age of neutral colors. However, this design style did have some edge. You’d often see a neutral room accented with pops of crimson, canary yellow, or teal.

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern - You're Nuts for Neutrals

If your apartment is filled with neutrals and one or two choice bold shades, mod may be your cup of tea. Play off this feature by buying your furniture and big pieces (such as bedding) in neutral tones. You can switch out your accents as much as you want by replacing art, rugs, pillows, and throw blankets.

Lighting Matters to You

Good lighting can make a room feel warm and inviting, and it’s a tool used often in mid-century design. If your apartment is outfitted with soft light and a plethora of lamps, you know where your tastes lie.

How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern - Lighting Matters to You

When picking fixtures, prioritize quality of light.  A lamp that creates a cozy pool of illumination or a bulb that makes the space seem like home will improve your decor.

Also, never forget sunlight. Make use of your windows and add mirrors to bounce the beams around your room. Additionally, decorative lighting fixtures were all the rage back in the middle of the 20th century. Some lamps looked more light sculptures or art installations than light sources. If you can blend a funky lamp with high-quality lighting, you’re on your way to a mod decor style.

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How to Tell if Your Decorating Style is Mid-Century Modern

Photo Credit: diepuppenstubensammlerindiepuppenstubensammlerin,

Jen Jackowski


Jen Jackowski is a graduate of Illinois State University, where she studied theater and English. Her experiences in the theatrical arts left her with a love for storytelling that she breathes into her writing. She’s also passionate about art, gaming, sustainability and fashion. Her work has been published in the literary magazine, Euphemism.

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