Midcentury modern design is making a comeback in a big way – and for more than one reason. Lots of the pieces you can now find replicas of in furniture stores? You can find the originals in a museum. When they were first designed almost a century ago, now-common pieces like the Eiffel chair were innovative in the extreme; a future-looking aesthetic that has become the practical, stylish design of today. Strip away the negative nostalgia of shag carpet and oppressive wood paneling, and you have pieces that are simple but distinctive, with enough stylistic cohesion that they practically do the decorating for you.
Why It Works
The resurgence of midcentury modern furniture is a dream come true for DIY designers. Why? Because the principle behind midcentury furniture was that it should be easy to mass produce but still have a distinctive flair. Traditional furniture comes in an almost infinite (and impossible to match) variety of wood colors, stains, and carving styles. That means you have to buy everything as a set or have a good eye if you want matching furniture. But the wood used in midcentury furniture is much more uniform, even across different brands. Most pieces feature slim, tapered legs or rounded geometric shapes done either in walnut or natural-finished wood. This consistency means you can buy the pieces you want and be reasonably sure they’ll look good together. Individually, each piece will be more simple, but together, you’ll end up with a set that has much more personality.
Get The Look
The beauty of letting the midcentury masters do your decorating for you is that you have more room to choose individual pieces, upholstery, and accents that appeal to you. Start with a fabric-upholstered bed frame. Choose the color or design that works best for your bedroom, but pay attention to the color of the legs; that’ll be your base wood tone. A pair of nightstands should have legs in the same style and color. Dress up the look with different-colored drawer faces or hardware. From there, you could choose an upholstered accent chair with matching legs and call it done. But armchairs with a full-wood frame have a more distinctly midcentury look, and will keep your space from feeling too simple. Iconic midcentury lamps will help seal the deal, while a nice area rug, wall art, a few pillows, and pair of vases cheer the look up.
“Uniform” and “mass-produced” might not seem like big selling points for a fresh new set of furniture. But being able to choose from pieces that match well empowers would-be decorators to make bolder choices and mix and match. An updated midcentury look will almost always be simple, but low-key, cohesive elements allow little personalized details to shine.
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