How to master the mid-century look

Have you been coveting a Don Draper-esque house since Mad Men first aired?

There’s a fine line between a house befitting a suave 60s marketing exec and one out of The Brady Bunch. If you strike the right balance though, you’ll hit the eternally popular mid-century styling.

Encompassing from roughly the 1930s to late 1960s, mid-century styling emerged in a post-war design world. Over the years, it transformed to focus on sleek forms that function, a mix of organic and handcrafted materials, and contrasting textures and colours.

It’s probably a style you associate with your parents or grandparents’ homes growing up. So, how do you incorporate mid-century styling into your home without making it look like your grandma was your interior designer?

Mid-century living room

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Don’t be afraid of colour

Neutrals have been in for years but mid-century styling embraces pops of colour and bold patterns. If you’re feeling brave, a patterned wallpaper will create a statement. For less of a commitment though, use furnishings in shades of orange, mustard, blue or olive green.

Collect art

There are a number of artists and styles that sprung from this period, from Pollock and Hockney to pop art and contemporary sculpture. If, like most of us, you can’t afford an original Warhol, purchase reproductions from museum shops, buy prints online or even frame old movie posters and printed scarves.

Mid-century office area

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Buy furniture that lasts

Mid-century design celebrates craftmanship and practical design, so your big pieces should last for years. If you can, find authentic pieces from a local manufacturer. Decorate these minimally with plants, framed pictures, hand-blown glass and ceramics. 

Getting the look for less

Start by planning out exactly what elements of mid-century styling you’d like to incorporate in your home. Set a budget that is reasonable to work within and try upcycling wherever you can. Updating your existing home décor is a cost-effective way to bring some of the main elements of mid-century styling into your house.

Mid-century lounge room

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Consider reupholstering or revarnishing furniture you already own. Hang your favourite movie poster above a sideboard or go for a woven rug with a geometric pattern. Painting an existing lamp to add a pop of colour to your bedside table can work well too.

Try mixing pieces of different heights, so if you have a low coffee table, add a tall arc lamp as a contrast. You don’t need to go on a shopping spree to feel like Don Draper – just look for items that are easy to swap out.

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