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Defining Midcentury Modern Design

When discussing modern design, a number of themes come to mind, from industrial to contemporary styles. Midcentury modern design is one of those themes. In fact, many in the design world view midcentury modern as the precursor to other modern design styles.

This style first made its appearance in the 1930s and it reached it’s heyday in the 1950s and 60s. With their simple, sleek designs, these homes provided a stark contrast to the Victorian and Craftsman styles that were so common during this period. If you’d like to learn more about this style, here are some insights into the primary principles of midcentury modern design – both home styles and the furnishings that go with them.

Home Styles

On the outside, midcentury modern homes are known for their sleek, angular, sometimes boxy style. These homes often feature concrete floors, plain masonry and stonework. Because the design is focused around minimalism, the ornate woodwork or “gingerbread” common among Victorian and Craftsman homes is completely absent.

Instead, the beauty of the design is in the geometry. These homes normally have flat or mildly sloped roofs and inventive asymmetric layouts. Midcentury modern homes also feature numerous windows – preferably entire walls of windows that overlook a pool, patio, backyard or scenic vista.

Inside, midcentury modern homes are spacious. Rather than subdividing the home into multiple small rooms, the kitchen, living and dining area are kept as open as possible. While the bedrooms and bathrooms remain private, they often feature large windows so that the occupants are always connected with the outdoors.


In keeping with the style of the home, midcentury modern furniture tends to be relatively plain and utilitarian. That’s not to say that midcentury modern furniture is bland. Rather, it relies on shapes and colors instead of intricacy to create interest.

Material choices also shifted with midcentury modern design. During this period, furniture designers experimented with more exotic woods like teak or rosewood. They also began mixing other materials – metal, fiberglass and plastics like Bakelite and Lucite – into their designs.

One of the great things about midcentury modern design is that this style is incredibly versatile. You can choose a home plan like the Mitchell Glen specifically for its midcentury modern look, or you can blend elements of this style with more traditional ranch and contemporary themes. Few other styles allow for as much personalization and customization as midcentury modern.