During the 20th century, a significant design movement swept across the world: Mid-century Modern. This covetable look and feel incorporated clean lines, simplicity and an emphasis on nature. The design approach and aesthetic remains popular today, and covers everything from architecture from industrial design and graphic design.
When you factor in the open-plan living and light-filled spaces required by mid-century style, you have a recipe for the ideal Australian home. Now, we can’t all live in houses designed by likes of mid-century greats such as Alvar Aalto, Rudolph Schindler or even Australia’s own Harry Seidler, but it’s not hard to get the look at home. Here’s how:
1. Get close to nature
Bring the outdoors in with floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors, and don’t restrict the view with clutter and bulky frames. Connect indoor living spaces to outdoor areas by using like materials across both zones and create an ‘outdoor room’ with all the creature comforts you could need, including outdoor furniture and lighting, rather than simply an empty garden.
2. Choose organic materials
Natural timber, stone and brickwork add warmth and that signature mid-century style. Consider adding one or two of these organic elements to living spaces in the form of wood-paneled walls or ceilings, a stone mantle over a fireplace or timber floorboards. Again, you can create a sense of connection to the rest of the home, including outdoor spaces, if these materials are continued throughout.
3. Just a few key pieces
Unless you hit the jackpot at vintage markets and garage sales, original mid-century modern furniture is, most of the time, prohibitively expensive. Instead of languishing over the fact that you can’t fill your home with all the Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Arne Jacobsen pieces you’ve been dreaming of, commit to just one or two statement items to set the mood – a Noguchi coffee table, perhaps, or a set of Hans Wegner dining chairs would be a nice touch. Take inspiration from the textures, lines and colours of those to inform the style of the rest of your home: mix and match with a variety of new items and no-name pieces from markets, vintage stores and eBay.
4. Lighting in the spotlight
A statement pendant light can immediately add a hit of mid-century style to your space. Aim for just one pendant per room for maximum impact, or if you have multiple zones in an open-plan space, mark each with a different style of pendant or task lighting.
5. Make it personal
Avoid excess flourishes and decorative elements: mid-century style is all about clean, streamlined design over frills and fluff. Add personality with bold graphic wallpaper on one wall, or if you can’t commit to wallpaper, simply hang framed abstract posters and prints where you need a little colour.
Architect (living area, above): Blake Civiello Architecture
Photography (living area, above): Philippe Le Berre
Want more inspiration? Take a tour of this sun-filled Los Angeles home: