Mid-Century Modern *Everything* Is Out — Here’s How to Mix It Up

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WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on February 12, 2022

To call mid-century modern design a “trend” is somewhat off-base. The iconic style represents a prolific period in the design industry that continues to influence the field to this day. From Marcel Breuer’s Wassily and Cesca chairs to the Saarinen tulip dining table and Noguchi’s ubiquitous lantern lights, so many timeless pieces were created during the original MCM boom. It’s one of those iconic styles that has touched nearly every design trend in its wake.

But, we’d argue that mid-century modern everything — particularly the mid-2010s breed — is feeling a bit tired. We’re talking full-on Mad Men set: the expected ensemble of walnut and acorn everywhere, only tapered legs, knoll-style sofas, mustard yellow accent chairs, and dozens of houseplants. Let us clarify: it’s not the look itself that feels overdone, but the application of it. In our current contrast-obsessed design world, going all-in on any one look feels… well, a bit dated.

With that, we invite you to refresh your MCM look for 2022 – and beyond. Havenly designer Kelsey Fischer shares her pro tips for a more curated, and original, take on mid-century elements:

Tip 1: Mix different shapes & silhouettes

mid-century modern trend alternatives
Design by Sarah Jones

To steer clear of the movie set look, avoid buying matchy-matchy MCM furniture with the same finish, material, leg shape, silhouette, and color scheme. Instead, mix and match different shapes in a single space. For example, pair a sharp mid-century modern-style sofa and accent chairs with a contemporary marble coffee table, rounded side tables, and a texture-rich wool rug. It’s a more chic and original twist on the scene.

Tip 2: Embrace unexpected color pops

mid-century modern trend
Design by Shelby Girard

The traditional mid-century color palette leans dark and neutral with plenty of brown, black, burnt orange, olive green, and mustard yellow. But rather than limiting yourself to this deeply retro palette, throw out the rule book and weave in unexpected pops of color like bubblegum pink, sky blue, and poppy red to your cognac and saffron base. Now your MCM-inspired living room is turning heads.

Tip 3: Let your favorite MCM piece shine

mid-century modern trend
Design by Brady Burke

Whether it’s a vintage Noguchi light fixture or an authentic Wassily chair you miraculously found on Facebook Marketplace, let your favorite mid-century modern piece shine. Treat it like the gem it is, and don’t make it compete with a slew of other mid-century modern pieces, vintage or new. Part of creating an elevated MCM style is letting those rare period pieces take center stage, and keeping it simple elsewhere. 

Tip 4: Mix different design styles

Mid-century modern trend

Rather than going all-in on the mid-century modern look and limiting yourself to one specific era, pair MCM pieces with your second (or even third) favorite design style. From coastal and contemporary to glam and farmhouse, each look has room for some mid-mod flair! As always, the magic is in the contrast — we love the idea of Hans Wegner wishbone chairs and glass dining table paired with a more industrial chandelier and boho accents for a more eclectic take.

Tip 5: Lean into MCM lighting

Mid-century modern trend

From the Arco floor lamp and Artichoke pendant to the now-ubiquitous Serge Mouille-style fixtures, mid-century modern lighting was and still is absolute fire, for lack of a better term. If you want to add some MCM flair to your space without going overboard, we recommend starting here — you can find originals on re-sale sites like 1stDibs and Chairish as well as endless modern reproductions at nearly every major retailer.

Need help honing your mid-century modern look for 2022? Our designers are standing by — check out our design packages to get started.

Words by Kelsey Clark