How To

How to Create a Mid Century Modern Living Room

How to Create a Mid Century Modern Living Room

If eclectic, retro yet classic furnishings are all over your Pinterest board, chances are you’re ready to dabble in mid century modern interior design. Functional yet chic, mid century modern is the perfect addition to any room in a funky home, and the living room is absolutely no exception. With its fun, geometric shapes, bold colour options, and moody mid-toned wood, this style lends itself perfectly to living room furniture, and will establish a bold point of view in the cosiest area of your home – one that’s sure to impress.

Ready to give mid century modern furniture a shot? We asked our team of super stylists to provide a brief rundown of this celebrated interior style, plus their top tips for making it a reality in your home – and boy, did they deliver. Keep reading for your must-read guide to creating an enviable mid century modern living room.

What is mid century modern?

Peaking in the 1950s, the term ‘mid century modern’ defines an era of American furniture design that truly has outlasted all expectations, and is still ultra-popular to this day. Today, it feels vintage yet clean and bright, and can be adapted to fit almost any home and household.

So, what typifies mid century modern design? One of the key features is a mixture of shapes, including lush curves and rounded edges – recognisable pieces like the Eames chair are rooted in mid century modern style. You’ll also see lots of colour, particularly primary hues, and medium toned or even dark wood pieces with slim yet statement-making frames. When it comes to decor, expect pops of metal and glass – gold is a big fixture – and an array of contrasting textures, including leather, velvet and fluffy, shaggy wool.

Tones of wood are the perfect anchor to plan your palette.
Tones of wood are the perfect anchor to plan your palette.

10 tips for a mid century modern living room

Tones of wood are the perfect anchor to plan your palette.
Tones of wood are the perfect anchor to plan your palette.

When you’re ready to start creating a mid century vibe at your place, the living room is an ideal place to start. Use these handy hints from our pro stylists to guide you through the process of sourcing furniture and homewares, styling your living room, and really embodying what mid century style is all about.

1. Plan out your palette

Establishing your colour palette should be step one of your journey towards a mid century modern living room. This style relies on medium-toned wood – think rich chestnut and chocolate colours – so every other hue in the space should revolve around this. Mid century modern isn’t afraid of bold hues, so using the good ol’ fashioned 60/30/10 rule, select a couple of favourite brights that you’ll bring into the space. When in doubt, primary colours and jewel tones are always on trend and fit well with this aesthetic.

2. Start with a statement sofa

Perhaps the most important piece in the living room, the sofa is your chance to go all-out and really exemplify mid century design. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to have some fun with colour and texture – in a lot of mid century homes, you’ll see bold couches in materials like velvet really drawing focus in the space.

Make a splash with a mid century modern couch like the Frank 3 Seater Sofa. Its soft yet practical and somewhat straight-laced design is comfy yet falls very easily within the confines of this style. Go for an eye-catching colour and texture like the Ocean Blue in Premium Velvet to stay totally on-theme.

If you’re looking for something smaller, the Mitch 2 Seater Sofa in Mustard Yellow Mercato is another mid century favourite that takes a completely different approach, with a very rounded, curvy design that’ll juxtapose well with sleek, sharp tables and surfaces.

3. Select high quality wooden surfaces

Mid century modern style is all about gorgeous, rich wood that looks and feels premium – so, when it comes to your surfaces, you’ve got good reason to go all-out if you’re that way inclined. Consider the tables and surfaces that are non-negotiable in the space, such as a coffee table and an entertainment unit, and try to channel mid century style through these pieces. Keep that beautiful, warm chestnut tone in mind, and look for sturdy yet slim designs. When it comes to accent, gold is queen, but brass and black also look fantastic.

For the ultimate mid century modern coffee table, we can’t go past the Parc Coffee Table. The round tabletop is a little whimsical, and the symmetrical criss-crossed legs are geometric enough to feel right at home amongst other mid century faves. Pair it with the matching side table for a cohesive look and feel.

Your entertainment unit is a huge focal point in the space, as it’s what’ll house your television – the box everyone’s always watching, no doubt! Nail mid century style with the Frank Large Entertainment Unit, which ticks all of the boxes, including the stunning walnut acacia wood, gold accents, and sleek, slimline legs. There’s also a small option for those of us working with less space.

The kidney-shaped coffee table is an iconic Mid-Century motif.
The kidney-shaped coffee table is an iconic Mid-Century motif.

4. Consider geometric pieces

The kidney-shaped coffee table is an iconic Mid-Century motif.
The kidney-shaped coffee table is an iconic Mid-Century motif.

Geometric pieces have a huge place within mid century design – after all, this style birthed (or at the very least, popularised) iconic items like the kidney table and the curvy Eames chair. You’ll also see geometric patterns adorning items that are a little more staid in mid century design, such as rectangular console tables and sideboards. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure you’re including upbeat shapes as part of your mid century modern living room.

A great example of a mid century sideboard that plays with geometry well is the Conrad Large Sideboard, which features a starburst design on the front of each cabinet. Warm mid-toned teak is paired with cool black metal legs for a slightly less traditional take on this beloved style.

5. Mix and match materials

You’ll find a pretty diverse range of materials within mid century style, from the traditional – such as cotton, linen and wood – to the more unique and resplendent, like leather, velvet, boucle and marble. As a result, one way to easily achieve an authentic mid century aesthetic is to switch things up, and ensure you’ve got a wide array of textures on display in your living room.

If you opt for simple and classic with your couch, offset it with buttery leather armchairs, or a velvet ottoman. Large pieces of furniture might make the most sense in wood, but smaller items could be where you diversify, using glass, marble, resin and concrete to add depth. Don’t forget to play around when it comes to styling, too – throw pillows, blankets and those fun coffee table items also present an unmissable opportunity to add flair with varying materials.

6. Add armchairs, ottomans and more

Now that you’ve nutted out the fundamentals of your space, it’s time to introduce those smaller furniture items. These might seem like space-wasters to some, but if you choose wisely, they’ll not only level up the practicality of your space (e.g. adding more seating for guests) but they’ll also give you more opportunities to show off your mastery of mid century style. Armchairs, ottomans and other small seats are a good place to start! Determine how many you want in the space and position them around the sofa and coffee table accordingly – guests are sure to love being able to all fit comfortably in your living room.

Our choice of mid century armchair is the ultra-chic Calvin Leather Armchair in Pebble Black. Leather is a huge mid century staple, especially in darker tones, and will help establish that retro, moody vibe in your space. Of course, if leather’s not your style, there are so many other options that’ll enhance your budding mid century aesthetic. The Imogen Armchair in Russian Sage is a lusciously curvy choice in beautiful velvet, whereas the compact Nora Chair screams mid century with a bold red geometric pattern and cosy cocoon shape.

The ultimate in functionality, the bookshelf provides ample storage for you to display your Mid-Century decor.
The ultimate in functionality, the bookshelf provides ample storage for you to display your Mid-Century decor.

7. Don’t forget functionality

The ultimate in functionality, the bookshelf provides ample storage for you to display your Mid-Century decor.
The ultimate in functionality, the bookshelf provides ample storage for you to display your Mid-Century decor.

Throughout the process of styling up your space, don’t let functionality stray too far from mind – after all, it’s crucial that your space not only looks good, but serves its purpose without fail. Once you’ve placed all the major furniture items in your living room, take a step back and see whether you’re covering all your bases. Chances are, you might need to include another surface or some more storage to ensure your living room is both pretty and practical.

While it might feel more suited to the office, a mid century modern bookshelf won’t go astray in the living room. It’ll provide ample storage for your favourite colourful tomes – ideal lazy decor pieces in a mid century room – as well as any trinkets you want to display. The Frank Open Bookshelf definitely understood the assignment, with chestnut-coloured wood and tonnes of room for you to show off the items that make you, you.

8. Soften up the space

With all of your furniture items in place, all there’s left to do is get styling – which is a task that’s easier said than done, but ultimately can be heaps of fun, and a chance to flex your interior design muscle. A good place to start, just like when you’re furnishing a room, is with the big pieces before you get into the nitty-gritty. We’re talking baskets, big plants, throws, floor lamps, and one of our favourite ways to jazz up a space – rugs!

Mid century modern rugs don’t follow any particular rule, but back in the day, you would’ve seen some very out-there pieces that incorporated lots of geometry and bright colours. Today, you could definitely lean into traditional mid century with a similar piece, but you’ve also got the option of downplaying it a little with a neutral-coloured rug with an eye-catching pattern. It’s totally up to you how far you want to lean into this style! Just keep in mind that a rug will take up quite a lot of your floor space, so it’s got to be something you love. Our pick for a mid century living room is the Medina Ivory Flax Wool Rug, which features a checkerboard pattern in earthy tones, and a super plush woollen feel you’ll love under your feet.

9. Style with pops of colour and metal

As you cross off those bigger homewares items and trickle down to look at the little things, the key is to think carefully about colour and material. Pieces that might otherwise feel insignificant can have a huge impact on your space if they’re curated correctly, following the tenets of mid century modern style. This aesthetic is all about bright, bold pops of colour, and often makes use of metal tones like gold and brass.

Consequently, try to include these elements when you’re selecting decor items like lamps, pot plants, trays, vases, and even candlesticks and small trinkets. Lighting is a super-easy way to zhuzh things up using pops of colour or metal – if a floor lamp is on your list, the Virgo Floor Lamp is a unique piece designed in eye-catching rose gold that’ll slot right into the mid century aesthetic. For table lamps, we’re obsessing over the gorgeous Kio Table Lamp.

The final piece of the puzzle: add greenery of course!
The final piece of the puzzle: add greenery of course!

10. Finish with greenery

The final piece of the puzzle: add greenery of course!
The final piece of the puzzle: add greenery of course!

Because mid century style is all about colour, homes of the era weren’t short of leafy houseguests – in fact, this is probably one of the most plant-friendly aesthetics around. So, to finish things up and tie your mid century modern living room together, the last piece of the puzzle will be adding greenery, and if they’re your style, blooms.

Be sure to work within your means, selecting plants that will jibe with the light levels in the room, as well as your lifestyle (translation: how neglectful or nurturing of a plant parent you are). Mid century faves include the majestic monstera, fiddle leaf figs, ferns and rubber plants.

Mid century modern style has definitely had a resurgence, and that’s for good reason – not only is it ultra-chic, eye-catching, and versatile, it’s also easy to adapt to your space and household needs. Get started on the mid century living room of your dreams with the help of us here at Brosa. Our range is packed full of stunning, expertly crafted pieces you’ll love, and our team of knowledgeable stylists are here to help, both in-store at our Sydney and Melbourne Studio spaces and virtually.