I have to confess, I’m a little bit obsessed with mid century modern design. But then, I know I’m in good company.
The distinctive style which emerged just after the first world war grew in popularity to such a degree, it went on to define 1950s America.
Design principles pioneered by architects, interior designers, product, and graphic designers produced a collective style that has subsequently been acknowledged as a “significant design movement” by museums and design critics.
While other trends have become resigned to the past, mid century modern, (a term coined by Cara Greenberg in her book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s), has seen an ever-growing resurgence in popularity that isn’t going away any time soon.
And that’s simply because it’s good design.
In architecture, mid-century modern (MCM) denotes open and informal living spaces with large full-length windows that bring nature in.
Interiors are simple if not minimalist in style. Natural textures such as wood, mix and contrast with modern materials like plywood, glass, metal, plastic, and plexiglass.
One of the most distinguishing aspects of the movement is its bold palette of rich, earthy tones that both complement and contrast plain areas of gray, black, or taupe.
Space-age inspired geometric patterns lighten the tone but are confined to accessories, drapes, rugs or throw pillows.
MCM is the perfect way to design a room. You don’t need to go all out, just choose your furniture well and add one or two elements to enhance the look if you wish.
Amazon has a wonderful selection of mid-century furniture and accessories, including the famous Vitra Eames House Bird (if you want to keep things authentic) but more affordable replicas are also available or you could always make your own.
If you’d like free printable mid century modern wall art, to complete your look, you are welcome to download some from my printable page – all my printables are free, and no sign-up is required.
Ok so let’s get started, we’ll now take a look at a selection of the best affordable mid-century modern furniture out there.
Our Guide to Best Mid-Century Modern Furniture
Click below to jump to each topic in this guide.
- The Best Mid-Century Modern Sofas
- The Best Mid-Century Modern Chairs
- The Best Mid-Century Modern Coffee Tables
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best Mid-Century Modern Sofas
There’s nothing bean bag chair slouchy about a mid-century modern sofa – they’re not designed for you to sink in to. They are, firm – but that doesn’t mean they’re not comfortable.
They’re also very supportive for your back as they encourage you to sit with a good posture.
Here are top picks.
The Engage is the perfect blend of mid century modern style with contemporary design. You can see elements of Edward Wormley’s curved sofas, though this isn’t a direct copy of any of them.
This sofa will suit all tastes. With twelve fabric color options to choose from, you can go bold with atomic red, citrus, teal or wheatgrass or choose one of the more grounded foundation colors like gray, beige or oatmeal to contrast and complement the accessories you add.
We particularly love the chunky cherrywood-finished legs and frame which provide a sturdy base for the 6-inch-high polyester upholstered cushions.
The sofa is available as a love seat, full-size sofa, or armchair ( which we’ve featured below) and ottoman.
- Wide Choice of Color Options and Sizes | Twelve fabric color options to choose from. There’s basically a color to suit every taste.
- Sturdy wooden frame | The frame and legs are particularly sturdy with a nice cherrywood-finish – in keeping with the MCM style.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Modway Engage range on Amazon.
How gorgeous is this? We are completely in love with the colored buttons on this curvy tufted sofa. It’s the perfect way to inject some color into a living room without the need for accessories.
There’s a matching armchair for this sofa or if space is limited, you could go for the smaller loveseat.
- Tufted Back with Colored Button | A great way to add color without the need for throw pillows, etc.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Modway Remark Mid-Century Modern Sofa on Amazon.
This sofa has that authentic first edition vibe going on – it certainly looks like a mint condition vintage piece from the 1950s MCM era.
It’s sophisticated and arty and either the fabric version, shown above, or the beautiful velvet option would nicely complement a Barcelona chair replica.
Though the seat cushions are attached, the back seat cushions are removable for easy cleaning and they’re reversible too.
The low-profile sofa comes in a range of sizes right up to 86.6 inches long.
- Removable Back Seat Cushions | For easy cleaning. They’re reversible too.
- Large Sofa Size | There are a few options to choose from, the largest is over 7-feet long.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Rivet Aiden Mid-Century Sofa on Amazon.
We couldn’t show you a selection of MCM sofas without a Florence Knoll inspired couch. Florence Knoll was an important American architect, interior designer, and furniture designer of the mid-century modern movement.
This, very recognizable, sofa style is a copy of or inspired by, the Knoll sofa.
The back is a little higher than our last choice which may suit some people better. It’s also a little less firm to sit on too.
It’s well-made with a sturdy hardwood frame and solid beech wood legs. It comes either as a full-size sofa, or a love-seat and there is also a matching armchair.
- Higher Back | Many MCM sofas tend to have low profiles. This style has a back that is a little higher than most in the style.
- Sturdy Hardwood Frame | With solid beech wood legs.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Rivet Cove Mid-Century Modern Tufted Sofa on Amazon.
MCM sofas tend to be structured in form. The curvy appearance being part of the frame’s design, rather than anything to do with the cushioning itself.
If you want a sofa that has softer cushions but is still in keeping with the midcentury modern look, this is the sofa you should choose.
- Solid Hardwood Frame | With the on-trend tapered wood legs.
- Removable and Reversible Back Cushions | Made from 85% polyester and 15% acrylic.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Stone & Beam Hillman Mid-Century Sounds fa on Amazon.
The Best Mid-Century Modern Chairs
A great interior design trick is to add an accent chair – but one that isn’t just the armchair that matches the couch. There are a few exceptions. The Modway Remark with its colored buttons is one – a contrasting style with this sofa could risk giving you a jumbled look.
Generally speaking, however, to really make a statement, you should change things up a bit. This is your opportunity to give your room its personality, and if you’re brave enough, to add a bright splash of color too.
Another good reason to mix things up is that you can easily overemphasize a design. For example, imagine a perfectly lovely but, quite boxily designed, sofa. Add in a matching chair and the whole room would start to look a little …well, boxy.
By adding a contrasting accent chair you can soften the look and you’ll be taking a leaf out of the best interior designers’ handbook.
This is the armchair that matches our top sofa pick. Though generally speaking, you should choose a different accent chair to your sofa, this one would work well as a set.
The reason being it’s has a simple, soft curvy design that isn’t boxy or out there in any way. That means the overall look isn’t something that will overpower your room.
And for a different style of sofa, this would make a great accent chair.
- Wide Choice of Color Options and Sizes | Again, this chair comes in a choice of twelve different fabric color options. There’s basically a color to suit every taste and it’s the perfect way to contrast a gray sofa with a splash of color.
- Sturdy wooden frame | The frame and legs are particularly sturdy with a nice cherrywood-finish – in keeping with the MCM style.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Modway Engage Mid-Century Modern Accent Arm on Amazon.
You might be forgiven for thinking this a just modern-day take on the MCM style. It has a Scandinavian vibe mixed with mid-century modern design.
Although not an exact replica of the classic 1956 Hans J Wegner Lounge chair for Getama (GE-270), it is very close to the original design.
Scandinavian mid-century modern was an important and parallel design movement that overlapped MCM in many ways. While some designs of the period were definitely one style and not the other, vintage Scandinavian MCM collectibles command a much higher price tag than non-MCM Scandinavian pieces alone.
This chair is most definitely Scandinavian Mid Century Modern.
It’s available in either the soft velvety green you see here or a gorgeous shade of velvet pale blue. It has a rubberwood frame with a dark brown finish.
- Based on a 1950s Design | Though the chair is not original, it is based on an actual 1950s design.
- Sturdy Wooden Frame | It has a well-made rubberwood frame with a dark brown finish.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Zenvida Mid Century Modern Accent Armchair on Amazon.
This replica of the famous 1950s Z chair is another prime example of Scandinavian MCM design. The Z chair is attributed to the somewhat mysterious designer, Poul Jensen (there is virtually no information about him). The chair, however, remains as iconic as it ever was.
The Rocket’s Z-style frame is crafted from solid rubberwood and the fabric is a vibrant mix of texture and color that, in the version above, gives the chair an overall orangy hew.
Though there is a matching sofa, I think this one is all the better for being showcased alone.
Click to check the current price and other color options for the Rocket – Mid Century Modern Accent Lounge Arm Chair on Amazon.
This soft curvy accent chair is a great way to complement a boxy sofa. It’s both arty and informal in style, and it’s one of the few MCM chairs that doesn’t have arms.
Click to check the current price for the Amazon Brand – Rivet Farr Lotus Accent Chair on Amazon.
This channel-tufted high-quality Pu leather lounge chair is reminiscent of the 1956 Hans J Wegner Lounge chair for Getama (GE-270).
It ticks all the right boxes combining a structured solid (walnut-stained) wood frame with the soft contours of the overstuffed, natural leather (look) cushioning.
It’s the perfect combination of form and function.
Click to check the current price for the Fat June Tristan Accent Chair on Amazon.
Along with the Barcelona chair, we’ll be looking at next, perhaps the most famous and recognizable mid-century modern chair is the Eames chair and ottoman. This is an exceptionally high-quality replica of the Eames chair which was officially titled Eames Lounge (670) and Ottoman (671).
Designed in 1956, the original chair and ottoman now reside in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
If you like this style of chair you should hop over to my replica Eames chair guide for a more detailed look at the design.
Or click to check the current price and other color options for the Mid Century Plywood Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Urban Furnishing.
Another great icon of MCM furniture design is the Barcelona chair.
Designed in 1929, it’s one of the earliest pieces of the MCM era and its designer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was one of the pioneering architects who helped define the movement.
I have this chair or rather this replica chair. I love the cool contemporary look, and being a bit of a geek, I love the heritage behind a chair that was originally designed in 1929.
The Barcelona replica chair featured above was our top pick in our Barcelona chair replica review. If you like the design of this chair, hop over to our review of the best replicas.
Or click to check the current price and other color options for the eMod – Modern Pavilion Barcelona Chair Replica on Amazon.
The Best Mid-Century Modern Coffee Tables
Adding a mid-century modern coffee, or side table is an easy way to accentuate the theme. Let’s take a look at some designs which are typical of the mid-century modern style.
Designed in 1944 by the Japanese designer Isamu Noguchi, the iconic Noguchi coffee table, of which this is an excellent replica, consists of just three parts: a curved triangular glass top and two interlocking wood pieces for the base.
This mid-century modern replica is made from tempered glass and has a solid wood frame.
You can choose from a range of stained finishes to match with your MCM splayed wooden, sofa or accent chair legs. Color options include dark walnut, walnut, cherry, wood (light) or black.
This curvy egg-shaped coffee table is typical of the organic shapes that are so prominent in MCM design.
It’s simple, elegant and minimalist, and there are no sharp corners to take your shins out when you walk past.
It’s made from rubberwood, which is a medium-density tropical hardwood with a walnut stain.
Click to check the current price for the Christopher Knight Home Caspar Walnut Wood Coffee Table on Amazon.
A much more à la mode version of a nest of tables is this set of two occasional tables. They work, well grouped together to make a coffee table and the great thing about them is that they can be separated and moved easily if you have company.
The smaller of the two nestles neatly under the larger one, and if you need more table surface you can easily pull it out a little – a bit like a draw.
The rounded corners are great for softening a boxy couch and the light color will lighten a darker room.
Click to check the current price for the Safavieh Home Collection Olida on Amazon.
And lastly, how about this simple, elegant mid-century modern hairpin legged coffee table set?
Today hairpin legs are bang-on-trend, but they actually date back to 1941.
They were commonly used in mid-century design. The mix of natural wood with modern industrial materials was one of the founding principles behind the movement.
These tables are not fully nestable, but that said, they would look aesthetically less pleasing if they were.
Click to check the current price for the WE Furniture Mid Century Modern Hairpin Coffee Table Set on Amazon.
Frequently Asked Questions
What period does mid century modern cover?
Mid-century modern was an important design movement, pioneered by architects, product and graphic designers, as well as interior designers.
The style evolved during the first half of the 1930s and it continued into the early 1960s. It reached its height of popularity during the 1950s.
Why do people love mid-century modern style so much?
Mid-century modern (MCM) design is based on good design principles.
In architecture, it creates open living spaces with large full-length windows that bring the outside in.
Mid-century modern interiors blend and contrast natural materials and textures, such as wood, with industrial materials like glass, plywood, metal, plastic, and plexiglass.
Blocks of foundation colors like gray, black, or neutral, complement and contrasted a bold palette of earthy tones.
Accents of space-age inspired geometric patterns lighten the tone and add creativity – giving the overall look a cool, chic appeal.
What is the color palette of mid-century modern design?
Mid-century modern design has a bold but earthy color palette with some bright colors here and there.
Dark gray is a typical foundation color, which mixes with, and contrasts, bold colors like chartreuse, teal, burnt orange, brick red, terracotta or cream.
Other combinations including light teal and brown, or mustard and blue also work well together.
Is Scandinavian furniture mid-century modern?
Scandinavian mid-century modern design ran concurrently with the mid-century modern design movement.
The two movements overlapped considerably. Some, although not all, Scandinavian designers of the period designed furniture that would most definitely be considered mid-century modern furniture.
The two styles are very similar, though the Scandinavian color palette is lighter with more white, pale pink, pale blue, and black to a lesser degree.
For more inspiration and mid century modern interior design ideas, hop over to our reading room.