Mid-century modern (MCM) is a look that’s got staying power. The great news is that it’s easy to achieve this versatile, stylish look. By focusing on several key items with lively colors, geometric patterns, and streamlined shapes that embody the mid-century modern style, you can capture the look throughout your home. Here are some budget-friendly ways to get that hot look straight from the experts.
Upcycle your look
Interior designer and fabric specialist Nicola Croughan recommends upcycling as a great way to achieve mid-century modern style without the huge price tag.
“You needn’t spend a fortune on vintage pieces or expensive remakes. Instead, I recommend choosing cheap and simple pieces of furniture and then styling them up with mid-century touches. For example, a basic shelving unit from Ikea can have retro wood or hair pin legs attached for a more personalized and retro feel. White pieces tend to be the cheaper option, so consider fabric wraps or sanding and painting for an authentic mid-century modern look.”
Scour the internet
If you can’t pay top dollar for the mid-century modern look, take your time and shop around on various sites, checking them weekly—places like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. Even local antique dealers keep updated stock so you can see what’s out there.
Adam Watson, Head of Interior Design at Decorelo, likes to put the word out when he’s looking for something special: “If you have a particular piece, let the dealer know to look out for it, and then they can give you call once they find one. You can always go down the replica design route also if you want new and are on a budget.”
Tinne Van Loon, the Founder and Creative Director at Baladi Home, recommends that you dig a little deeper during your online searches: “Don’t just enter “mid-century modern” in the search box, go through all of the furniture listings. Multiple times I have found cheap ($150 or less) MCM pieces in absolutely beautiful condition this way. Sometimes elderly people pass away and the children don’t want the furniture because it doesn’t fit in their decor and they don’t understand the value of it, so it may simply be listed as “furniture” or “desk” with no description.”
Don’t be a label snob
When it comes to mid-century modern, brand names aren’t everything. Reyne Hirsch, a 20th century decorative arts expert, published author, and former appraiser on PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow,” confirms the value in mixing bigger names with lesser-known designers: “It doesn’t have to be a noted designer to be great. There are many companies that were creating beautiful things from the 1950s-70s that weren’t as well known and therefore cost less. Mixing lesser known makers with a few key pieces can still create a great look.”
Hit the estate sales and thrift stores
Shopping estate sales, garage sales, and even second-hand shops is another fantastic way to find some hidden mid-century gems. “Great pieces still turn up at places like this, and often at a fraction of their market value,” confirms Hirsch. “Often, homeowners are downsizing or relocating and have had their home furnishings since they were made. They see these items as outdated and don’t realize their collectability. You can find a lot of great lighting, ceramics and furniture items to decorate your home this way.”
Drew Henry, founder of Design Dudes, agrees: “Go thrifting! There are lots of stores and garage sales to check out for MCM furniture. Best part, you can refinish it to match you own look and make it fresh.”
Get creative with DIY and artistic styling
Take your upcycling further and actually create your own art for a mid-century look. Drew Henry dares you to try your hand at creating a graphic mid-century aesthetic: “One idea is to spray paint a canvass with coasters. Do one half where you arrange the coasters on top, spray over, and remove. Then paste the sprayed coasters on the other half. This will create an awesome inverse graphic look for cheap! Use fun mid-century colors like teal, orange, or pink.”
There’s no law that says you need only high-end mid-century modern pieces to get the look you want. You can find pieces with the right style at low prices in the right kind of store, according to Drew Henry: “I would recommend looking a lower price point stores who carry mid-century styled items. I would check out Wayfair, World Market, Ikea, and watch out for sales at West Elm.”
You can also aim for smaller items for accents: “Start off investing in some smaller items, like pillows and accessories,” remarks Henry. “You can find some cool things at Target and Urban Outfitters. Definitely worth taking a look.”
Get the mid-century modern look today
Are you ready for a new look in your home? Whether you’re a mid-century modern aficionado or just curious about the look, you can get this style in your place on a budget if you follow these tips. For more home style advice and furniture you can afford in any style, come speak with the Fashion Furniture team today, and don’t forget to take our quiz to find out which mid-century modern furniture piece best fits with your personality!