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How to Decorate with Mid-Century Modern Style on a Budget

Updated on October 30, 2008

Mid-Century Modern Style

Mid-century modern style has exploded back into popularity. Clean lines, intriguing shapes and materials, and nostalgia for an exciting, optimistic era in time combine to make this style more appealing than ever. If you are one of the many who has succumbed to the desire to decorate your home, or at least parts of it, in mid-century modern design, here's a few tips that will help you create exactly the look you're after.

Mid-Century Modern on HGTV

Keep Design Simple

Mid-century modern design, often influenced by the sleek, simple looks developed by Scandinavian designers, is almost a minimalist look. Walls are usually painted either plain white or a solid, monochromatic tone. Furniture and accessories can add the flavor your room needs. One of the nice things about this style is that you do not need to bring in an abundance of extra embellishments to create the look. A few pieces of well-chosen furniture and some simple accessories will pull it off.

Whether you choose vintage or reproduction furniture is up to you and your budget. A combination of the two is often the most doable. If you decide to stick with mainly new furnishings, retailers such as IKEA and several others offer value-priced pieces that blend perfectly with the mid-century modern look. Choose pieces with a streamlined feel. Plastics, stainless steel, sleek woods and glass are all typical of this era.

If you start haunting thrift stores, estate sales, auctions and flea markets, you may be able to find some real bargains. Don’t expect to discover designer originals, but there were many quality reproductions produced during the era and some of those are still available.

Put Mid-Century Modern Accessories to Work

You may not be able to afford large pieces of vintage furniture, but you might be able to splurge on some accessories. Ceramic figurines were a popular choice then, along with sunburst clocks, brightly hued glass vases and pottery pieces. Also, search for things that saw everyday use. Cookie jars, ceramic ashtrays, vintage telephones and classic board games can all add flavor to your room. A collection of vinyl records can be become a retro collage or collect postcards from the era and display them in a frame to make your own vintage artwork.

Don’t forget that lighting can also set the tone in a room. A swag lamp hung on a chain from the ceiling or a pair of modern table lamps will be functional as well as decorative. Pole lights topped with conical shades also bring in that retro flair.

When you’re shopping for vintage pieces, keep in mind that condition is always a deciding factor. If it is in good condition, and it is a piece that appeals to you, it’s worth purchasing if you can negotiate a fair price with the dealer.

By shopping carefully, and blending new pieces with old, you can get the look you want and stay within your budget. Be warned, however. Collecting mid-century modern furnishings and accessories can be addictive!

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