Dining rooms. While they’re a staple space for friends and family to gather at dinner parties or throughout the holidays, they’re often left to the wayside the rest of the year in lieu of more convenient spaces like the kitchen table or breakfast nook. Because of this, it’s common for dining rooms to be the last space in the home to furnish.
So, if you’re finally getting to that long-awaited dining room refresh in your mid-century modern home, we’re with you– and compiled 14 tips, trends, and ideas to get you started.
But first... what is mid-century modern design?
A design aesthetic that became popular in the United States during the mid-twentieth century, mid-century modern design reflected the population’s desire for functionality and simplicity. Thus, the aesthetic features smooth wood and curved, clean lines, which remains popular today because its simple, minimalist style evokes a feeling of calm in any space.
According to Pamela O’Brien, founder and principal designer at Pamela Hope Designs, mid-century modern dining rooms are a favorite with many of her team’s clients, as “the clean lines, simple home decor, and timelessness of the design aesthetic make it easy to achieve and to live with... you don’t need a lot of furnishings, just a few key pieces such as a dining set, simple chairs, and a console.”
1. Mix furniture and lighting
In the above walk-up in the Mission District of San Francisco, Emily Mackie, founder of Inspired Interiors, mixes touches of lighting and furniture to create the perfect mid-century modern dining space. “By pairing the lighting and furniture in the dining area with the neighboring living room, a successful sprinkling of mid-century modern is achieved in the space,” says Mackie.
2. Include a dash of glam
To create a vibe that’s both opulent and elegantly over-the-top, Emily Mackie likes to add a dash of glam to a space that features mid-century modern furnishings. Mackie uses out-of-scale light fixtures and furniture with mid-century modern detailing to achieve this look.
3. Use natural materials
For Kendall Ansell, there’s nothing better than utilizing natural woods in a mid-century modern dining room design. “Natural woods are incredible, especially when paired with a statement light fixture,” says Ansell, interior designer and owner of Kendall Ansell Interiors. “Your furniture and lighting is really what will portray this particular design style.”
In the dining room above, a classic wood table and wood dining chairs— all with a walnut finish— match the prominent wood trim in the space. This creates a sense of continuity between the furnishings and their surroundings.
4. Opt for a Tulip Table
In the dining room above, Emily Mackie pairs a tulip base table — a stape of mid-century design — with mid-century modern inspired dining chairs to create a design style that fits perfectly in a vintage home. These classy pieces may contrast in color, but are complementary in what they add to the space.
Round tables, such as the above tulip base table, are known for making the most of small spaces while allowing for easier conversation.
5. Add a vintage sideboard
There’s nothing quite like a vintage sideboard, credenza, or buffet to add a hint of charm to your dining room. Ksenya Malina, owner and principal of Time and Place Interiors, always makes a point to “select original pieces that make friends and family feel like the space is uniquely their own through a mix of vintage and modern pieces.” Vintage pieces, like the one above, help carry on tradition while bringing older furniture back into use for contemporary living.
Many choose to incorporate vintage pieces they’ve inherited from family members into their current space to create even more meaning. As mid-century modern style started in the mid-twentieth century, the design principles of the past often mesh well with pieces that feature elements of modern style.
6. Add black chairs
For a hint of contrast in your mid-century dining room, try adding black chairs. In the room above, Megan Pisano, owner and principal designer at Megan Pisano Design, says that “the warmth of the solid wood dining table and the ‘pop’ of black in the chairs keep the space feeling modern, but still mid-century.”
The black metal in the chandelier helps tie together the dark elements in an otherwise bright space.
7. Keep it simple
If you’re struggling to curate the perfect mid-century modern dining room, don’t stress. A simple combination of a Scandinavian-inspired table with chairs, a mid-century style light fixture, and wall art, such as in the room above, come together to create an elegant dining space. “We love how the Mid-Century vibe shines in this dining room with its clean backdrop of floor to ceiling windows and white floors and walls,” says Pamela O’Brien.
8. Mix old and new
While many think that designing a space is all about purchasing new pieces, this doesn’t have to be the case. A combination of old and new pieces work well together to combine different styles– and often, make the space more your own.
In the dining room above, Megan Dufresne, founder of MC Design, and her team “mixed antique chairs with a new table and new lighting for a fresh take on mid-century modern.” The team tied the elements together with color to create a cohesive aesthetic– a great way to bring together different styles.
9. Terrazzo flooring
According to Katherine Cohen, Associate Creative Director at FLOR, “terrazzo flooring is a huge design element for mid-century modern homes.” However, it can be expensive and difficult to implement into homes today. In the space above, Cohen’s team installed the Stone’s Throw Area Rug to “capture the Terrazzo look for all the fun without all the work,” said Cohen.
Additionally, our team loves how the wood legs of the dining chairs match the wooden ceiling panelling, creating a unified look.
10. Vary textures
According to Nikki Klugh, principal designer at Nikki Klugh Design Group, “one of the biggest characteristics of mid-century modern design is incorporating multiple textures.” This can be done through a variety of objects such as furniture, rugs, drapery, and pillows.
One of the biggest characteristics of mid-century modern design is incorporating multiple textures.
In the room above, Klugh uses a rug, upholstered chairs, an almost farmhouse-inspired dining table, and a pair of chandeliers to introduce varying textures to the space. This creates a sense of “visual weight.”
11. Chairs with tapered legs
A classic element of mid-century modern design, chairs with tapered legs give your space an elegant yet relaxed feel. In the space above, Robin DeCapua, owner of Madison Modern Home, paired dining room chairs with a walnut dining table simple tabletop decor and a cowhide rug. “We love how this room melds two distinct styles and manages to please everyone in the process,” says DeCapua.
12. Hints of gold
A classic in the mid-century modern aesthetic, you can’t go wrong by incorporating hints of gold into your dining room. Gold is often found on mid-century modern dining table and chair legs, scattered throughout this dining room and kitchen space in the form of hardware, and in mirrors or art pieces. When in doubt, add a centerpiece to your table that features hints of gold.
13. Pendant light shades
With their simple form, pendant light shades work well in any mid-century modern dining room. Ksenya Malina enjoys mid-century lighting in particular as it “lends intriguing forms and sets the mood for conversation.”
In the above dining room, the pendant light shade adds interest to the open space between the dining room table and high ceilings, while connecting with the rest of the decor with its round shape.
14. Embrace Cabana Stripes
Whether it’s curtains, linens, a headboard, or a rug, Katherine Cohen brings poolside vibes indoors using cabana stripes. “Adding cabana stripes to your space is a great way to bring minimalist patterns into the design,” says Cohen. “In the space above, find our Made You Look Area Rug reflecting this design style.”
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