What is Midcentury Modern Style?

This refers to the most popular furnishings of the 20th century, which were simple and functional wooden pieces made from teak. Curved designs were also dominant. Designer Liza Kuhn explained that midcentury modern design developed in response to the post-World War II environment. “Architects and designers were keen to find new ways to combine the technology of the first half century with an optimistic outlook for the future.

We talked to designers about the history, key features, and popularity that the midcentury modern style is known for (often referred as “MCM”). These professionals also shared their tips on styling a home with MCM pieces, and what to look out for when shopping.


Mid century modern design was born in the middle of the 20th century. It reflected the needs and desires of the time. Designer Amanda Thompson says that midcentury modern design is grounded in simplicity, functionality, and clean lines. This reflects the times. The furniture design was more in line with the home’s linear structure.

Midcentury modern furniture is simpler than frillier pieces and those with intricate details. Designer Eleanor Trepte comments: “The desire and need for functional, simple furniture and decor for our homes was a rebellion versus the ornate traditions of decades past and a way to allow families to embrace an organic, modern way of living.”

The style that was popularized in the early 1900s can be called midcentury modern. Midcentury modern design is often unabashedly retro and uses bright accent colors to emphasize its point. Modern design is, however, more utilitarian and industrial.

Principal Characteristics

teak is the most authentic midcentury modern furniture. Designer RozitArbiti explained that teak was chosen for its richness and durability. Rosewood and oak were also used in case pieces such as tables, desks, and storage cabinets.

Wood was not the only material used in midcentury modern pieces. Thompson says that mid-century design was dependent on the use of materials. Thompson says that a lot of metal, wood, glass, and vinyl were used together to create unique looks. These materials were often used to make furniture in curved shapes. Trepte shared that the well-known Eames chair is a key feature of this design. Other unique shapes were also popular, including curved and almost circular sofas, unusually shaped coffee tables, and geometric shapes that feel angular and clear.

The midcentury-style also included color. Thompson states that the use of color characterized midcentury style as an accent or a way to make furniture stand out in space.

The key elements of MCM decor

  • Furnishings are functional and not ornamental.
  • Simple geometric lines are preferred over ornate frills
  • Regular use of rosewood, teak, and oak
  • Metal, glass and vinyl are all used
  • Bold accent colors

Recent Popularity Rise

Midcentury modern design was all about functionality. This is still an important principle when designing homes in the 21st century. Designer Becky Shea said, “I appreciate multipurpose furniture’s rise. It was an ethos that was adopted in this design style and is something we continue to promote as designers today.” “Every piece serves an purpose and beyond. It casts shadows on days when rooms were only meant to be used once a calendar year for special occasions due to their elaborate, ornate design.”

The Furniture Rooms is a London-based antique furniture dealer and have been specialising in art deco, antique and mid-century modern furniture for over 40 years

Design Tips

Midcentury modern furniture should be admired. Arditi says, “Ensure that the woods you choose work well together and don’t contrast one another.” “Don’t mix teak MCM pieces with ebony and zebra woods in the room if you have teak. They will clash.”

Arditi also points out that furniture from yesteryear was not designed to fit today’s homes. Many people love to use midcentury modern credenzas for TV stands. However, some pieces weren’t made specifically for this purpose. Arditi explains that although the case pieces are decades old, people’s needs have changed over time. “Not all of your tech equipment will fit in the bookcases or sideboards.”

When incorporating MCM pieces in your space, you will want to find the right balance . Thompson advises that you pick and choose. Your home should feel modern and not outdated, Thompson says. A glass-topped table with chrome legs or an Eames chair can be contrasted well with a textural rug, an industrial-style cabinet or a transitional couch. Thompson also states that “Don’t forget the function!” While your home shouldn’t look like a museum, it shouldn’t be a museum. Thompson says, “The heart of the MCM Movement lies in function.” Thompson also notes that if you buy beautiful antique MCM chairs for example, ensure they can withstand daily use.


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