With some patience and planning, you can capture the retro-glam style of mid-century modern design on almost any budget. The better you understand it, the easier it’ll be to put together your space without spending a fortune. But before learning some top tips for a mid-century modern living room, let’s take a closer look at this classic style.
What is mid-century modern decor?
The iconic mid-century modern look is inspired by the interior design and home decor from the mid-20th century — specifically between 1933-1965.
Young families wanted a bright and optimistic environment, emphasizing minimalism, natural light, family gathering spaces, and efficient design.
Some of the distinguishing features of mid-century modern homes include:
- Organic and geometric shapes in artwork and furniture
- Flared-back lounge chairs with tapered legs and bright colors
- Functional TV stands, credenzas, and coffee tables with minimalist and geometric designs
- Bold shapes and sleek materials for floor lamps, table lamps, and chandeliers
- Color schemes with primary and secondary colors as the focal points
Colors and materials for the living room
Mid-century color palettes often feature saturated primary and secondary colors to emphasize design elements (and optimism). Think colorful statement pieces that pop when placed alongside natural, neutral, and muted tones.
As for materials, mid-century designers like Eames, Knoll, and Noguchi drew inspiration from the scientific and technological advances of the time. Along with natural materials like wood, metal, and glass, they used newfound synthetic materials such as plastic, plexiglass, vinyl, acrylic, and formica.
Mid-century modern living room furniture
Capturing mid-century design in a few pieces of furniture is one of the easiest paths to an affordable living room look. Basics usually include a minimalistic coffee table, a colorful couch, and one or two sleek lounge chairs. A low, geometric TV stand and a couple of simple end tables or side tables with hairpin or canted legs will help complete the look.
If your budget can’t handle a big-ticket item like a couch, consider more affordable pieces for your mid-century modern living room. For example, try a bold floor lamp, a geometric bookshelf, bright abstract wall art, or accent stool to amp up your space.
The key to a mid-century modern interior is to avoid clutter and embrace empty space. Add only what you need in the living room and leave it at that. This makes for beautiful, clean design and keeps costs to a minimum.
5 steps to an affordable mid-century modern living room
Mid-century modern is trending and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. If you’re not careful, such high demand can mean a higher price tag. Fortunately, with these creative design tips, you can make your mid-century modern living room shine regardless of your budget.
1. Get the colors right
The right color palette can make or break your living room. And if you know what colors you’re looking for, it’ll keep you from spending money on items that won’t fit your design scheme. For example, the room in the image above uses a six-color palette of white, ivory, tan, navy blue, pastel blue, and green.
Focusing on four to six colors for your living room is a good rule of thumb. Consider a color palette designer to make the process easier. Some popular hues include:
- Neutrals like white, grey, ivory, tan, brown, and adobe-style yellow
- Primary and secondary colors like blue, yellow, red, orange, green, and violet
2. Shop regularly and be patient
Patience is a must when decorating on a budget. Buying the pieces you need one at a time, maybe over several months, can help keep your living room affordable.
Keep your eyes open for good deals at yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores along with retail shopping. It helps to create a running list of the things that you need and want for your living room.
It will take time to get the right pieces, so save up for splurge items and piece together what you want. That’s right, we said splurge. If you find a piece from a retailer that you can’t live without, save for it and try to grab it on sale. You can always call the store to ask about any upcoming sales, such as end-of-year sales, half-yearly sales, or holiday deals.
Remember: Not every piece needs to be a statement piece. It’s enough to have one or two statement pieces that you love in your living room. Otherwise, you’ll have too many pieces vying for attention and it’ll be that much harder to create a calm, focused space.
3. Focus on natural light
Natural light and nature play an important role in mid-century modern homes. One idea of the interior design movement was to blur the line between outdoor and indoor spaces. Open the curtains, pick lighter-colored fabrics, or get rid of them altogether to let in more light.
You don’t have to redesign your home or install bigger windows. Letting in more light through the windows you have is just as good, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
Also, consider a few houseplants to add more of a natural element to your living room. Keep it minimal with a few showcase plants unless you’d like a bit of an urban jungle look. If you have a green thumb, look for discounted plants that just need a bit of TLC instead of paying full price.
4. Embrace minimalism
Minimalism is a fundamental element of MCM design. And it makes it much easier to stay on budget. Keep your decorative items to a minimum, keep surfaces decluttered, and work with open space in your living room. Less is more. If it helps, make a game of seeing how pared down you can keep your space.
5. Play with bold shapes and designs
Furniture will take up a lot of the decorating budget in any living room, so make it count. Play with bold shapes and designs for your couch, chairs, tables, and other furniture. Canted legs, geometric profiles, and retro textures will draw the eye, making the space stand out.
Abstract and geometric designs are very mid-century, so consider geometric area rugs and abstract wall art as the icing on the proverbial cake.
4 Mid-century modern living room pieces you’ll love
Now that you have a better handle on how to achieve that quintessential MCM look on a budget, here are some of our favorite mid-century modern furniture pieces. Any of these would make an excellent statement piece to build your living room around.
1. Natalia Upholstered Sofa in Dove Grey
This expressive and inviting Natalia upholstered sofa will add an on-trend MCM silhouette to any living room. With hardwood canted legs and tufted upholstery, this modern sofa has a delightfully retro appeal. The soft dove grey chenille pairs well with any color palette in your mid-century modern living room. Consider colorful throw pillows to make it stand out.
To keep it budget-friendly, take your time to complete the set with the Natalia upholstered loveseat and the Natalia upholstered chair. Or, if you have a small space, go minimalist and just add the accent chair.
2. Two-Drawer TV Console in Dark Walnut and Glossy White
This two-drawer TV console in dark walnut and glossy white is a retro gem that’s perfect for mid-century modern design. It offers a charming and stylish look that revisits the 1960s with room for 21st-century technology such as a large-screen television or game console.
3. Tripod Base Table Lamp in Black and Light Grey
This tripod base table lamp in black and light grey will add a bold profile to your living room. Thanks to its versatile neutral hues and eye-catching lines, it’s perfect for mid-century modern styling on an end table or anywhere that needs more light.
4. Clear Rectangular Coffee Table
This magnificently modern and minimal clear coffee table features a timeless design made for a mid-century modern living room. Skillfully crafted from a single piece of smooth glass, the open space design creates a fresh, sophisticated look.
5. Upholstered Papasan Rocking Chair
This comforting rocking chair in rosewood and brass brings a chic yet cozy presence into any home. With its attention-grabbing oval shape, high back, and sloping arms, this chair will fit right in with a mid-century modern living room. If rosewood isn’t your thing, this beauty also comes in silver.
Create a Mid-Century Masterpiece on a Budget
There’s something exciting about designing a mid-century modern living room. With clean lines, bold colors, and retro accents, it’s hard to deny the appeal of this classic interior design style. And it’s even more satisfying when you stay on budget.
Remember to plan your living room ahead of time so you can enjoy the process. Start by browsing Coaster Furniture’s wide selection of living room furniture for inspiring pieces that will help you create a gorgeous modern home without spending a fortune.
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