Mid-century modern is easily the most popular decorating style of the moment, and it’s easy to see why. Our grandparents’ generation certainly had it figured out when it came to interior decor—sleek lines, a good use of space and color, and fun, fresh artwork. But when you live in a small box-y looking apartment with no character, how do you incorporate all of the mid-century style that you love? Here are some ideas for turning any drab apartment into the Mad Men-inspired space of your dreams.
1. Use Your White Walls to Your Advantage
One of the biggest complaints about living in an apartment is that you don’t often get the chance to paint your walls, unless you have a very forgiving landlord. Luckily with mid-century modern style, the furniture and artwork take center stage, making white walls the perfect palette to work with. Brighten up your space by choosing bold colors for your furniture, pillows, linens, and what you hang on your walls. Your white walls will create the perfect, subtle background for your mid-century modern style place.
2. Choose Two or Three Statement Pieces
While you may want to have a mid-century modern look in your apartment, you don’t want it to look like you live in an antique store. Carefully choosing two or three statement pieces that tie the look together will go a long way in making your place look styled without going overboard. Mid-century furniture is all about sleek lines, and embracing real wood (and even mixing and matching different stains of wood). Incorporate pieces like a colorful blue velvet sofa or a circular dining table with tapered legs. Don’t be afraid to get creative and bold with your choices. Mixing them in with modern or even bohemian looking furniture will give you a nice, eclectic looking space.
3. Shop at Antique Stores
In order to achieve any kind of style in a home, accessories are a must. A really unique and interesting place is all about the small details. To avoid looking like a page out of the West Elm catalog, go to your local thrift or antique store to find whimsical and fun accessories that will complete the look of your home. Shop for things like candlestick holders, glassware, and even artwork. You really never know what you can find—from an old eye test from a local optometrist’s office to globes from a local school—so have fun exploring and decorating your home with all of your unique finds.
4. Shop Mid-century Modern Collections at Furniture Stores
If shopping at a secondhand store isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of furniture stores that have caught on to the mid-century trend in design. Target’s Foremost collection gives you sleek, clean lines on your furniture without having to hunt for hours in antique stores or trying to outbid competitors on eBay—and all at a pretty affordable price. IKEA also has their Stockholm collection, which is an affordable mid-century group of pieces that give you that old look in a brand new package.
5. Add a Bar Cart
One of the hallmarks of mid-century style is always having a cocktail at the ready. Consider adding a bar cart into your living room, complete with your favorite spirits, vintage highball glasses, and a reliable shaker so that you can be ready for a drink after work or impromptu visits from friends or family. Luckily, bar carts are all the rage right now and are available at affordable retailers like Target or IKEA.
6. Put Up Bold, Temporary Wallpaper
Love it or hate it, wallpaper was very much a huge part of mid-century style. With bold patterns and colorful palettes, wallpaper was a great way to transform the look of a room. Though many renters and homeowners have an aversion to it, others are starting to embrace this vintage trend by incorporating wallpaper with bold geometric shapes or soft floral patterns.
Luckily, as a renter, you’re usually prevented from making any permanent changes to your apartment and can therefore experiment with temporary wallpaper. There are tons of online shops popping up with decently affordable wallpaper that you can buy by the square foot. Try covering the walls in a half bath or guest bedroom to give your apartment an unexpected pop of color and style.
7. Create a Modern Conversation Pit
One peculiar (and endearing) feature of some very stylish mid-century homes was the conversation pit. The conversation pit was more or less a couch built into the floor where party guests would gather and have—you guessed it—conversations. Though you can’t physically build a conversation pit into your apartment, you can take the principles of the conversation pit and incorporate them into how you arrange your furniture. Instead of automatically pointing your furniture at the flat screen television, position furniture to encourage conversation with your family or your guests. Not only will arranging your furniture in this way lead to more interaction with you and your guests, but it’s also a space saver for a small apartment.