We all know the leggy fibreglass shell chairs around a pedestal table or the slick Scandinavian teak sideboard. And then there's the classic "Womb chair" or Eames lounger in the corner lit by an angle-poise floor lamp. It's the quintessential mid-century modern look and it's a décor trend that doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
But while this era's looks remain unflaggingly popular due to its classic lines and modern aesthetic, who wants to be frozen in place forever?
"There's a shift occurring where consumers are shying away from the easily recognizable mainstream reproductions such as Knoll and Eames, and are carefully selecting 'it' pieces from more obscure designers of the era," says Lindsay Hewitt, senior designer for Carrocel Interiors, a store in Toronto that specializes in furnishings, custom design and restoration. "Although there are many gorgeous original items, more often mid-century modern furniture is being transformed."
Case in point: Carrocel's Revival Line reinvents pieces that retain elements of their era, by, for instance, taking the orange hue out of Danish teak and giving it a charcoal stain or lacquering in a pop colour.
So whether your key pieces are vintage or modern, don't be afraid to add a twist to keep it from looking too static. Here are three ways to mix up the mid-century look at home.
Add "granny chic"
Pieces don't have to be mid-century modern to work with the era. That rolled arm, floral chintz sofa you inherited from downsizing parents, for example, is the perfect foil for the Danish Modern armchairs you scored at your favourite vintage shop. "Granny chic" has a cozy appeal that will give your space a homey, lived-in feel. If chintz is too much, consider a Nadine Accent Chair with the patchwork seat from Shelter Furniture, a warehouse and showroom in Toronto that carries contemporary, transitional and mid-century modern style furniture, lighting and accessories. A cheeky take on the classic quilt, this piece mixes "Granny chic" with mid-century modern without making it feel like Grandma's attic.
Embrace "granny chic" with the Nadine Accent Chair from Shelter. (Credit: SUPPLIED)
Travel in time
Mid-century modern doesn't mean strictly 1950s either. While most experts define the period as 1948 to 1962, you don't have to start or stop with that. Mix furniture and accessories from other eras to prevent your space from looking like a film set. Or add a newer piece that's more "mid-century modern take-off than knock-off," says Bill Forberg, owner of Shelter Furniture.
Industrial pieces like a 1930s tanker desk or chrome-framed club chairs can add extra weight to your space. If you can't find original 30s pieces, look for modern interpretations to introduce a funky "steampunk" vibe. The Belair Club Chair from Shelter Furniture in brown leather with an iron-aged finish is a great example of industrial chic that will help balance out that low-slung, Don Draper sofa.
Or fast forward to the earthy 1970s with classic Woody Allen films Manhattan and Annie Hall for inspiration. Switch out your dining chairs for Thonet bentwood dining chairs or DIY a macramé wall hanging to add to your gallery wall.
Postmodern design is also making a comeback, and while originals by Ettore Sottsass or Michele De Lucchi are priced at an all-time high, you can look for lighting and accessories with strong graphics and primary colours instead. The Frost Ceiling Lamp from Shelter Furniture, in white- and orange-painted metal, is a great way to add some industrial PoMo chic. "We're showing more colour," says Mr. Forberg.
Play with glam
The mid-century period was all about democratic design, so it was rare to see exotic or luxurious materials in a typical family home. That was then, this is now: Carrocel's Ms. Hewitt is seeing luxe materials used to glam up vintage pieces.
"New materials are introduced," she says. "Marble instead of glass, brass hardware to replace original wood handles, a metal trim to the top edge of a classic Milo Baughman table, etcetera."
Adding glam touches such as a velvet sofa or brass coffee table should be done sparingly, she cautions, so the pieces have more impact.
The Dane Coffee Table from Shelter Furniture is a perfect mix of mid-century modern and glam. With its classic kidney shape with tapered legs and hammered brass accents, this cocktail-height table works well as an end table too as it's the perfect height for resting your martini after a long day on Bay Street. A classic tuxedo sofa in rich velvet, such as the Marco Sofa in navy blue velvet with rolled arms and button tufting, is another way to amp up the glam.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's and Mail's editorial department was not involved in its creation.