Anyone who tuned into Mad Men during its television run has seen décor from the mid-century (approx. 1933-1965). The producers of the show did their utmost to stay true to the flavor of the era with the furnishings in both the Madison Avenue ad agency and the swanky apartment of creative director Don Draper.
One look at that furniture and you can’t help but smile. There is something about the combination of this décor’s organic shapes and clean lines that just makes the eyes happy. There is an optimism to the simple style that most certainly came from the post-war age. Despite the international issues that plagued the time, the United States was beginning to experience an economic resurgence. There was new hope as the country raced toward a modern age that promised limitless opportunities … to the moon and beyond.
Noted designers like Hans Wegner, Charles and Ray Eames and Arne Jacobsen created exquisite pieces that were mass manufactured and sold to the expanding middle class. Architecture was blossoming and mid-century home designs appeared in many communities throughout the country. People needed furniture to fill these new homes and the mid-century modern style in architecture and furniture were the perfect complement.
The key to the mid-century style is quite simply … simplicity. Due in part to the scarcity of materials after two world wars, designers and craftsman needed to be more inventive, more resourceful and more thoughtful about the materials they used. The result — designs that embodied the concept “less is more.”
Lucky for us, many of these fantastic pieces live on today, and you can find them in vintage stores, antique dealers, eBay or online sites offering midcentury pieces. If you’re looking for mid-century style in contemporary furniture West Elm offers some excellent pieces in their furniture collections.
Bringing Mid-Century Modern into the 21st Century
Whether you purchase modern furniture reminiscent of the time of Mad Men or authentic antiques, a great way to bring mid-century style into this era is to combine it with other trends for a more eclectic direction.
For a classic modern look try complimenting your décor with lighter maple floors featuring smoother surfaces and less defined grains. To create more visual movement in the floor opt for sesame or flaxen maple to complement your space. White walls provide a clean backdrop and can be extremely dramatic with black accents such as a fireplace or bookcase.
Rustic floors make an interesting juxtaposition to many mid-century pieces. The defined graining in a wirebrushed floor can contrast quite nicely to the more refined curves of some of the streamlined Danish furniture. Think about layering texture around the room with various surface finishes and fabrics.
Don’t forget the accessories! There are lots of great mid-century finds and great reproductions that you can add to give a room a little extra pop.