How to create a Mid-century-inspired living room

Designing a living room in a Mid-century modern style? We can’t get enough of the clean lines, unusual patterns and uncluttered feel, but the Mad Men vibe can sometimes feel like it’s difficult to obtain when you are doing up a living room on a budget. But don’t let that deter you, you can still incorporate the Mid-century modern style into you living room without splurging. 

So if you love the mid-century ideas for your interiors but you’re not exactly sure where to start, we’ve got some tips and tricks from vintage expert Kate Beavis to help you add that minimalist-yet-vintage vibe to your living room.

Head over to our living room ideas feature for loads more inspiration next. 

How to choose Mid-century living room furniture

Lightweight, thin-framed wooden furniture is an essential for a Mid-Century modern aesthetic. Opt for simple silhouettes, tapered legs and medium-stained brown wood. 

‘Teak living room furniture from respected manufacturers such as G Plan, Nathan and McIntosh became popular in the early 1960s. They designed functional items such as sideboards with a contemporary feel, integrated handles and a medium-gloss finish,’ explains vintage expert Kate Beavis. ‘Other woods were popular also: Ercol’s English elm and Danish rosewood became the wood of choice for higher-end pieces.’

Mid-century modern living room

(Image credit: Ikea)

For a contrast to all the brown wood, make sure you add in plenty of pops of colour or accents of white. Try mixing and matching wooden furniture with resin or plastic furniture such as tulip chairs or a transparent coffee table. 

Mid century modern living room with Farrow and Ball wallpaper

(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

No Mid-century living room is complete without a beautiful stand-out chair – an occasional chair if you will. These strikingly simple chair designs soared to popularity during the mid-twentieth century and are definitely making a modern day comeback. The pared back look and the slimline shape makes for the perfect piece of furniture for both small livings rooms and more lofty spaces. 

Mid-century modern green living room

(Image credit: Essential Home)

Redecorating on a budget? Go for Mid-century modern remakes

It may be the dream to fill your living room with one off vintage pieces, if your budget won’t stretch to that there are loads of great Mid-century modern inspired pieces available from high-street stores. (opens in new tab) is our go to site for anything Mid-century, and its especially great for Mid-century style sofas. Swoon Editions (opens in new tab) offers some amazing sideboard options – look for anything made from warm wood and with a tapered leg.  Even Ikea has jumped on the bandwagon, anything from their Stockholm collection (opens in new tab) is going to add a ton of Mid-century aesthetic to your living room.

Blush pink Mid-century living room

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We suggest mixing and matching remakes with the real thing to keep your living room looking authentic. Mid-century modern knick knacks can often hide on the shelves in charity shops so you can pick them up relatively cheaply if you are lucky. Look out for Scandinavian-inspired prints and quirky ceramics.

Don’t forget to scour eBay (opens in new tab) for any bargains too. The pieces you find may need a bit of TLC but it will be worth it to save the £££s.

Get smart Mid-century modern storage

No matter how clean and simple your desired aesthetic, you are still going to need some kind of Mid-century living room storage to hide away your 21st century clutter. ‘For your books, vinyl and even your TV, choose a modular storage system, such as Ladderax (opens in new tab),’ suggests Kate. ‘The system consists of teak shelves, cupboards, drawers and pull down cocktail units which can be positioned exactly as you wanted.’

Mid-century modern living room with storage unit

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Opt for Mid-century modern flooring

To get a smarter finish to your Mid-century living room flooring, opt for a real wood floor such as parquet. Wool rugs in autumnal muted tones will add texture and softness to your room – you could even hang rugs on your walls as artwork. 

Mid century modern living room with wooden flooring

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Incorporate Mid-century modern living room decor

There are two essentials when it comes to decorating your Mid-century living room  – a sunburst clock and teak mirror (or indeed a sunburst mirror and a teak clock.) Style them together to create a feature gallery wall or choose one large piece to stand alone. 

There are tons of remakes out there, like this starburst Newgate wall clock (opens in new tab) or this round gold mirror (opens in new tab)from H&M home. But if you are after the real thing, try online auctions like 1stDibs (opens in new tab) or keep an eye out at antique fairs. 

Starburst mirrors and clock in mid-century modern living room

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Finish the look with Mid-century modern lighting

Living room lighting during the 1960s was heavily influenced by all things cosmic so opt for anything that looks vaguely spaceship-like. ‘The defining lights of this era were both rocket shaped,’ explains Kate. ‘The lava lamp was designed in 1963 but didn’t become popular until later in the decade. The rocket lamp made from spun resin was a must have in the 1960s. Standing on three teak legs, the orange rocket is tall and eye catching… and lit up sends a warm glow around the room. Expect to pay £150+ for a fully working one.’

Again, there are plenty of replicas out there. West Elm (opens in new tab) has some incredible Mid-century modern inspired lighting, as does Heal’s (opens in new tab).

Mid-century modern living room lighting

(Image credit: Essential Home)

Where to buy Mid-century furniture

Online: There are many shops to choose from, here are some that Kate recommends:

Almeida Interiors, (opens in new tab) Oh So Retro, (opens in new tab)Vintage Mischief and Whittaker and Gray (opens in new tab)

Fairs & Festivals: The Vintage Home Show (opens in new tab) , The Furniture Flea (opens in new tab) and Mid Century Modern all hold regular events in London, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol with some of the best traders in the UK who sell items suitable for all budgets as well as co-ordinating homewares. Look out for vintage festivals too, who have a large homewares arcade such as The Festival of Vintage. (opens in new tab)

Shops: Keep your eyes peeled for emporiums who sell pieces from different sellers such as Space in Harrogate (opens in new tab) and Hemswell Antiques Centre. (opens in new tab)

Join Kate on her blog

Twitter:  @yourvintagelife


Instagram:  @ihavethisthingwithvintage


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