If you are just starting to get into designing your own space, you might have heard that there is indeed more than just one style of décor that you can use to make your home come together. There is, of course, a mid-century modern style of décor, but the thing about mid-century modernism is that you rarely see it on its own.

This is because mid-century modernism (today) refers to a comglomerate of styles that created a particular time period in the history of modern furniture. Nowadays, those styles have expanded and many of the tweaks that made mid-century modernism great are now independent styles with lots of furniture behind them.

Let’s answer a few questions you might have about décor while also naming some of the styles that go great with mid-century modern furniture. To read up on the history of the period, you might want to check out our Modernist History articles, which also includes our Designer of the Week series.

What exactly is mid-century modernism?

We’ve answered this question before, but we are ready to go back to some of the core tenets of that time period in order to give you some advice on getting into the style. Mid-century modernism extends from early modernism (1920s and 30s) into the postwar economic boom experienced by the United States and Europe (1950s and 60s).

Wikipedia puts the start of the period somewhere along 1933, and its definitive end somewhere along 1965. While mid-century furniture was being created, many of its designers experimented with various cultures, traditions, and new technological techniques, and the needs of the common people were shifting rapidly, which ushered in a new age of interior design with many different elements inside it.

So, which styles were developed in this time period?

When we talk about a style of interior design, we are usually talking about a specific way of decorating one’s home or space. A style of furniture, on the other hand, is a different thing: this refers to a particular way of making and designing furniture. The two can (and should) coexist to give the customer the living experience that they desire.

Mid-century modernism is considered both an interior design style, and a style of furniture altogether. However, mid-century modernism as a kind of furniture is a prevalent concept.

Most people buy mid-century modern furniture to fulfill their idea of a particular style, and not the other way around. Let’s look at some examples of styles that go along great with mid-century modern furniture, as well as being a part of the period’s development.


You might have heard of this one. We have covered minimalism in previous articles, but the core idea is this: less is more, as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe would put it.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly where minimalist tendencies were brought to America, but we have a pretty clear idea of where it all started, and it might have to do with Asian traditions. Japanese and Korean interior design, for example, does have a thing for minimalism.

Minimalism might be the style of furniture that is most consistently associated with mid-century modernism. The idea of using sleek lines and big, iconic furniture items as centerpieces does help to avoid over decorating a particular space.


This is what you might find in certain areas like flats, smaller apartments, and hipster coffee shops. The Industrial style favors metals and exposed brick work on the walls, as well as a little more cluttered space with additional décor, hanging lightbulbs, etcetera.

Industrial has a long way to go when it comes to becoming a central style, even though it has had quite a renaissance thanks to today’s ‘hipster’ culture, which also favors minimalism. Mid-century modern furniture, lighting, and décor does help the Industrial style to thrive, adding a much-needed aesthetic bump to its usually distressed and disorganized look.

This is not to say that Industrial is a bad style to pursue when decorating. When we talk about the style being disorganized, we’re talking about it being a little more free when it comes to putting things on a given room. The décor is often very rustic but also classical, and you can find many things like Chesterfield type sofas, which we also have at Manhattan Home Design.


Alright, this is definitely the one that most people will come across when talking specifically about mid-century modern furniture. Most of the designs that we use today have inherited a long portion of the Scandinavian tradition of furniture and cabinet making, and there is a historical reason for that.

We have covered the topic extensively, and checking out previous articles might be better than just reading these short paragraphs, but to summarize: Scandinavia was big time player in the global furniture market decades before mid-century modernism was a thing.

In fact, combine their tradition with Bauhaus manufacturing techniques and developments, export many of its best designers to America, and boom, you get the mid-century modern period. So, if you’re looking to give your house the ‘hygge’ treatment, mid-century modern furniture can greatly help you accomplish that.

Urban Modern

Mid-century modern furniture was undoubtedly made for living on the city, even though some of its most iconic items where mostly advertised for people living on the suburbs, like the Eames Lounge chair and ottoman. The Urban Modern style has to do with quick furnishings and ready-made interior design schemes, affordable furniture, and similar things.

This is why mid-century modern furniture, with its Scandinavian past, which allowed it to become both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional and flexible, is perfect for small urban interior design plans.

One has only to turn to the big cheap furniture retailers like IKEA, which is actually a Scandinavian-owned company. Urban Modern lives in the tiny DSW Eames plastic chairs and sleek sectionals like our Puget gray. It might be one of the key interior design schemes you should look up when furnishing a studio or 2-bedroom apartment.