Mid-Century Modern Design Inspiration

I’m not sure I’ve told you yet about my true obsession (besides organizing, of course). I am totally, completely, over-the-top obsessed with mid-century modern (MCM) design. This quote sounds like a mission statement for simple and functional living and certainly speaks to me. It could almost be a motto to live by.

“If it is not useful or necessary, free yourself from imagining that you need to make it. If it is useful and necessary, free yourself from imagining that you need to enhance it by adding what is not an integral part of its usefulness or necessity. And finally: If it is both useful and necessary and you can recognize and eliminate what is not essential, then go ahead and make it as beautifully as you can.”

Source Unknown

Here are a few things that have sparked my interest in MCM over the years that you might want to check out.

The Ultimate Mid-Century Modern Magazine

Every quarter, the only magazine I subscribe to, my beloved Atomic Ranch, fuels my obsession with mid-century modern design. I’m willing to bet that many of you didn’t even know there was a magazine dedicated to ‘mid-century marvels’ as they refer to them. The magazine features everything – houses, furniture, accessories, lighting, pillows and more.

A Mid-Century Modern Client Design Project

One of my first design projects was a 1950’s themed den. It was while I was doing the research for this project that I discovered my obsession and Atomic Ranch magazine.

1950s themed den with red leather sofa, red curtains, a red and chrome bar stool with a silver ottoman sitting on a black and white checkered carpet - the perfect example of a mid-century modern design
My Clients’ 1950’s Themed Den

I dream of designing a 1950’s inspired kitchen one of these days. Oh my, it would be such fun to search online for things like “Atomic Doodle” wallpaper, lighting by Caravan Pacific, or George Nelson clocks.

Palm Springs

I fulfilled my ultimate mid-century dream by travelling to Palm Springs and staying at The Orbit In. Before going, I poured over the pages of Atomic Ranch magazine, reading every detail about the architects and designers from the 1950s who inspired generations of people with a love of clean, simple, functional design. Here are a few photos from that trip.

Albert Frey House 1963
Donald Wexler House 1955
El Rancho Vista Estates 1960

Where to Buy Mid-Century Near You

Some very lucky collectors have found original pieces on Craigslist and Freecycle and at local thrift shops and restored them to their original glory. Speaking of shopping for MCM finds, there is one fabulous source in Halifax, a shop aptly named Retrospekt. They source and collect furniture from far and wide and refurbish it for MCM lovers right here in Halifax.

Retrospekt has gorgeous teak and walnut sideboards, dressers and dining tables, upholstered furniture pieces, lamps, bowls, clocks and more. Over the years, they’ve sold items by famous 1950s furniture designers such as Eames, George Nelson, Olsen, Kai Kristiansen, Herman Miller, Vodder, and many more. I’m sure you can find a similar shop in your hometown or close by.

Original MCM Bar Cabinet at Retrospekt
(so functional!)

Many of today’s manufacturers have copied these timeless designs. Check out Herman Miller, inmod, Zuo Modern, and dwell, to name a few. We are not alone, MCM lovers!

Learn more about another source of inspiration from the same era and how it influenced a playroom design project.

In the comments, tell me about your latest mid-century finds. I would love to know what you have collected!

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