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Style guide: how to go mid-century with your interiors

Charmingly retro (but without the candy-crush overtones) it works for most homes, regardless of age
   Katie Byrne  |  written on: 10-09-2018 13:40pm


What is the mid-century look, and where does it originate from?
Mid-century refers to the style of the years between 1930 and 1965, covering everything from interiors and architecture through to fashion and art.

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Defined by strong lines, a retro-leaning aesthetic and a vibe that wouldn't look completely out of place in the NYC apartment of Mad Men's Don Draper, it's effortlessly chic, a little bit Scandi and instantly recognisable thanks to its bold use of a largely monochrome palette and simple yet striking shapes.

ensuite, tiles, flooring, door, grid, basin, storage, bathroom, monochrome, lights, timber, hotel, black, white, mirror, london, stool, freestanding, contemporary, retro, quirky, vanity, metro tiles,


Is there a specific sort of home the look particularly lends itself to?
Honestly? Not really. Of course, it lends itself best to properties with a retro-leaning pedigree, but that's by no means essential as your colour palette and furniture choices can all combine to create the look independently.

stylish, bathroom, washbasin, basin, sink, tap, stainless steel, boulangerie ceramic tiles, florian, whitechapel basin, baltimore basin mixer, josephine mirror, fired earth


One key detail to consider is the lighting. It almost certainly works better in spaces that can offer an excess of natural sunlight, in order to keep the look stylish and airy rather than compressed and stifling.

open-plan,kitchen design,modern,wooden,dining table,retro,dining bench


Which materials and textures does a mid-century space typically lend itself to?
Think glossy porcelain metro tiles, smooth Danish sideboards and burnished metals; bold lines and clearly defined shapes are also essential to the look.

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It can be subtle, as shown in the bathroom below, where shape and colour give a clever nod to the style. Designer Louise explains: "As well as utilising the space in the middle of the room and creating privacy, the shower area provides a useful backdrop for the curvaceous mid-century modern basin console with illuminated mirror".

bathroom,wooden,mirrored,natural,white countertop,towel rack,tiled flooring,rustic

Bathroom from West One Bathrooms; photography by Paul Craig



Which colours work best for the look?
Mid-century palettes typically comprise shades of black, grey and white. Metallic pops of brushed copper, brass and cool rose gold add extra interest. A contrast of a white wall and a darker texture - such as a mahogany cabinet - is a classic example of the typical mid-century interior. 

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Don't over-look the appeal of select pastels, too; grown-up shades of dusky and pale pink can both work beautifully, as can muted turquoises and mustards.

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In the kitchen shown below, for example, dark tones, glossy materials and a subtly sumptuous palette combine to produce a cook-space perfect for both relaxing and dining.

Mowlem & Co, dark, green, minimalist, granite, bar stools, stool, island, brass, bronze, mirror, JEROME TABLE, handles, worktops, dining, table, splashback, bar

The kitchen completes the open, glass-backed room in an edgy, grown-up way, making it the ideal space to entertain and enjoy



Which details should I particularly keep my eyes peeled for?
Bold metro tiles, ornate lamps, antique-looking mirrors, dark leather chairs and sofas, dark-framed windows... You get the drift!

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George bath in gloss white Ceramilux from Falper



Top image: Frontline Bathrooms

NEXT! Want a fix of vintage-inspired design ideas for your home? Click any image below to begin exploring our moodboard...





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   Katie Byrne
Katie Byrne is a writer, editor and filter fan (Instagram, not coffee), and lives in a Georgian-built flat that features various statement cobwebs.

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