Scout & Nimble

Mid-Century Modern Design Tips

One of the most popular interior design styles in history, mid-century modern (MCM) blends a subtle-yet-futuristic look with clean lines and open layouts, which come together with muted tones and pops of retro-inspired colors. Most popular in the ’50s and ’60s (hence “mid-century”), we’re seeing a revival of this look, elevating this style to a fresh, modern look.


What is MCM interior design?
Heavily influenced by the Bauhaus movement and the works of Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, MCM interior design focuses on clean lines, sleek curves and angles, simple futuristic forms, pops of retro-inspired colors and abstract art. It rose in popularity post-WWII when the need for homes drastically increased as soldiers returned home and wanted to start their families. Thanks to a shortage of wood during this era, the use of steel and other readily available materials made their way into design. There also was an explosive push toward modernizing the interior look and feel of the American home. Gone were the days of elaborate, ornate pieces—sleek and simple forms started to dominate the scene, combined with a fusion of indoor with outdoor through a mix of steel and natural materials like wood and stone.


What are the main characteristics of MCM?
Key elements of today’s take on MCM include:

  • Taking a minimalist design approach by using simple forms, including curves and geometric shapes
  • Using shiny brass and other metals, often in the form of small details
  • Mixing manmade and natural materials, mainly wood and stone
  • Combining natural hues with pops of vintage-inspired colors


How can people bring MCM into their home?
The most important thing when introducing any style into your home is balance, which is essentially the nature of MCM.

  • Find your statement piece. Choose a MCM-inspired statement and let that be the inspiration when selecting other pieces for your space.
  • Strike a balance. Truly authentic MCM pieces are versatile, blending beautifully with any style. Whether pairing MCM chairs with your modern sofa or a vintage sideboard with your dining table, you can use this style of furniture to make a unique statement, whatever your taste.
  • Incorporate elements of the style. Using minimal window treatments, incorporating simple forms and leaning into retro-inspired colors, styles or pieces are all great ways to introduce the MCM style to any space. If you are not ready to fully commit to bringing this style in with furniture, art is another excellent way to dip your foot into the
    MCM world.
  • Explore lighting options. The playful chandeliers inspired by this style are a fun and interesting way to introduce a MCM-inspired feel into your home. Bubble chandeliers are some of our favorite lighting options and can be blended in with many designs that lean modern.
  • It’s all about visual impact. Ultimately, achieving this look for your home is about creating visual impact with your selections. You can blend elements of MCM with several other styles; it’s all about intention so that you’re left with a compelling, interesting design.

Scout & Nimble is a retail site and blog that aims to make expert design accessible to all. Follow at


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