What Is Mid-Century Modern Decor? Your Design Guide

What Is Mid-Century Modern Decor? Your Design Guide

Interested in Mid-Century Modern decor but not sure where to start? Explore our complete guide for a journey through this iconic style.

It’s no surprise that mid-century modern style continues to captivate design enthusiasts and homeowners looking to elevate their space with its clean lines and elegant use of natural materials. In this guide, we’ll explore the origins, key elements, and practical tips to incorporate mid-century modern design into your home. 

Large Triangles - Foxwell Blend
Interior Design & Build - Lensis Builders
Photography - Greg Hadley

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What Is Mid-Century Modern Style?

Mid-century modern, also known as MCM, emerged in the mid-20th century at the very end of World War II. A departure from the lavish and often excessive home design of the previous century, mid-century style is all about clean, minimal design.

The mid-century modern home design stands out for its simplicity, organic shapes, and unity with nature. Not only do natural materials like concrete, brick, and ceramic tile shine throughout a mid-century home, but architectural elements like large windows, exposed beams, and slatted wood accent walls allow the homeowner to let even more nature in. 

Key Characteristics of Mid-Century Modern Design

With an emphasis on simplicity, clean lines, and natural materials, what’s not to love? The unique characteristics of mid-century design make it a timeless style that will last for many years to come. With minimalism at its core, mid-century modern interior design promotes functionality of all things, blending form with function in a way that hadn’t been done before. Let’s take a look at some of the key characteristics of a mid-century modern home. 

17”x17” Foxwell Mid-Century Modern Squares

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Simplicity and Functionality

In a mid-century modern interior, living spaces are functional and uncluttered. Every element from the rooms themselves to the pieces of furniture throughout the space is thoughtful and serves a purpose. This focus on functionality drives the overall design aesthetic. Open floor plans make it easy to move around the house without wasted space. Low-sloped roofs and flat planes are practical, and the architecture helps control the climate and looks interesting. 

Organic and Geometric Forms

Apart from the simplicity and functionality of the mid-century modern aesthetic, there’s a strong focus on organic and geometric forms. Whether in furniture or accent pieces, the blend of organic and geometric shapes play off one another to bring balance and visual depth to the home. Combining organic curves with more angular forms is foundational to the mid-century modern design philosophy. 

Clean Lines

Another thing we can’t get enough of about mid-century design is its emphasis on clean, crisp lines. You’ll notice this in furniture, decor pieces, and the overall architecture of mid-century modern homes. The legs of furniture are often hairpin or tapered, for example, or the roofs on mid-century homes that are low-sloping and angular. These sleek, clean lines enhance the form and function of design elements and create that timeless MCM look. 

Minimalist Silhouettes

As we’ve mentioned, minimalism is at the heart of mid-century modern interior design. Furniture and other objects are simplified to show their basic form, helping us appreciate their simplicity and usefulness. With this approach, natural materials like walnut, teak, and stone shine in their true form.

Mid Mod Squares - Fair Hill Blend
Interior Design - Emily Pueringer
Photography - Rubinski Visual
Contractor - Quality Cut Design | Remodel

Explore Mercury Mosaics sample packs to experience the look, and feel the difference of handmade artisan tiles for your mid-century modern designed home.

Common Elements of MCM Design

In addition to being practical and efficient, there are a few key elements that are essential to MCM style. The materials, finishes, texture, and nature all play important roles in this design style. Consider these when thinking of mid-century modern ideas to incorporate into your home to achieve that timeless MCM look. 

Bold and Strategic Use of Color

Mid-century modern interior decorating leverages pops of bold color to bring more interest to an otherwise clean and simple color palette. Mid-century homes usually have white or tan walls. You can add character and dimension to the space by incorporating bold accent pieces such as chairs, lamps, and art. In the early mid-century modern era, bright teals, pinks, and blues reigned supreme but slowly gave way to more neutral oranges, browns, and yellows in the later part of the era. 

  • Teal and Turquoise
  • Pink
  • Golden Yellow
  • Orange


The key to MCM design is the use of natural materials throughout the home- in furniture, building materials and finishes, and accent pieces. Wood, metal, fiberglass, and even concrete provide both aesthetic beauty and functional durability. This preference for natural over man-made materials helps craft spaces that are attractive, practical, and enduring. 

  • Wood: Oak, Walnut, and Teak
  • Various Glass Elements
  • Acrylic, Plywood, Formica Laminate

Finishes and Textures

Aside from color and material, mid-century modern decorating is renowned for incorporating a combination of unique finishes and textures to add depth and interest to the space. This diverse range of textures shapes the overall sensory experience, offering both visual and tactile interest. The warmth of a polished walnut chair with richly textured upholstery and a velvet accent pillow is the perfect example of an effortless blend of textures in MCM design

  • Smooth and Sleek: polished wood, glossy ceramic tile, and metallic finishes bring a level of sophistication and sleekness to the space
  • Mixed Textures: shagged rugs, wool textiles, and glass accents all interplay to create sensory interest throughout the space

Bring Nature Indoors

Another key element of mid-century modern design is the emphasis on bringing nature into the home. This is achieved through the use of natural materials like wood in furniture and finishes, but also via architectural elements like expansive windows and glass walls. Stone and concrete fireplaces are common in mid-century homes and often include long hearths to invite visitors to sit up close to the wood-burning fire. Bringing nature inside makes the space feel peaceful and helps us appreciate the environment more.

Mid Mod Squares - Fair Hill Blend
Interior Design and Photography - StudioKG

Still not sure which design is right for you? Take our personal style quiz to find out.

How to Identify Mid-Century Modern Styles

As you continue to read up on all things mid-century modern and begin to train your eye, you will get better and better at identifying mid-century modern styles. People recognize furniture, lighting, and decor accents for their emphasis on sleek form, practicality, and visual appeal. You’ll even start to notice things like mid-century modern ceramic tile in kitchens and mid-century vanities in bathrooms. The signature look will stand out for its simplicity and beauty, distinguishing it from other design movements. 


Mid-century modern furniture pieces are all about form and function. Designers in the mid-20th century used new techniques and technology to make furniture that was functional and beautiful. The furniture designs were unique. The designers utilized innovative manufacturing methods. The furniture was both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Designers created elegantly molded chairs like the Egg Chair for ultimate comfort by matching the body and paired them with curved pedestal dining tables like the Tulip Table to solve the problem of crammed chairs and legs under the table. Pieces like these are renowned retro modern furniture and will remain timeless for their comfort and visual appeal. 


Mid-century designers played with form in light fixtures too, and they created some pretty rad pieces. There are two popular mid-century modern lighting options. One example of mid-century modern design is the Artichoke pendant light, which has 72 aluminum leaves. The other is George Nelson's bubble lamps, which have a wire skeleton inside translucent plastic. These iconic pieces are visually stunning and set the mood of MCM spaces by reflecting light in unique ways, complementing the overall design scheme. 

Mid-Century Modern Decor Accents

Mid-century modern design often features decor accents like abstract art, geometric patterns, and organic sculptures. These elements can serve as a main focus and add character to the room. Mid-century decor accents can add flair to minimalist settings without overpowering the space. Decor accents serve as statement pieces in a room and allow you to showcase your individuality and creativity.

How to Incorporate Mid-Century Modern Design Today

Let's make it easy with some mid-century decor ideas and tips for your home. The mid-century aesthetic can be added to any home, whether it's contemporary or farmhouse. MCM pieces provide a nice balance and refreshed look to any home. Choose MCM pieces you truly love to create a personalized space that brings in the core principles of MCM design. 

  • Start Small: try bringing in smaller mid-century pieces first like side tables, pieces of art, or table lamps
  • Experiment With Color: lean into teals, pinks, and oranges for small pops of color in items throughout your home like pillows, vases, or chairs
  • Simplify Your Space: take some time to declutter your space by putting away unused items and making sure everything in the space has a purpose or visual interest
  • Make it Your Own: no home is truly complete without your unique touch; choose pieces that tell a story or bring you joy

Create Your Mid-Century Modern Sanctuary with Mercury Mosaics Artisan Tiles

At Mercury Mosaics, just like mid-century modern design, we take great pride in our functional, clean, and beautiful products. We let the natural material and handmade characteristics shine in every piece of tile our craftspeople make. Whether you’re looking to shake up the subway style trendtry out a new herringbone tile pattern, or give your new backsplash a mid-century modern look with our mid mod squares, the design possibilities are truly endless. 

Build your sample pack to feel the handmade difference, or reach out to schedule a free design consultation with one of our experts to take your tile dreams from idea to reality. 

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