By Design

Mid-century furniture complements many styles

by Patricia M. Cove
Posted 11/23/23

Interior design is about layout, balance, color, proportion and style.

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By Design

Mid-century furniture complements many styles


Interior design is about layout, balance, color, proportion and style. As you look at images of interiors over time, you can pinpoint a decade by the print on the walls, the layout of the room, or the style of the furnishings. 

Currently, interiors are exhibiting an eclectic look that incorporates a mix of styles, which can be quite successful, as long as the proportions are in order. Fewer and fewer homes consider a more purist approach, selecting instead a blend of clean-lined, contemporary upholstery pieces, in conjunction with more traditional case goods. This blend, if executed properly, results in a much more up-to-date space, exhibiting both a modern and traditional style. 

In a recent article entitled, “ The style that won’t die”, it became obvious how easy it would be to create that avant-garde interior. The style to which the article referred was mid-century modern. So, I couldn’t help but wonder why this particular style continues to be a sought after addition in its purest form, or even as an accent to the most traditional interiors.

The style known as “mid-century modern” first appeared as a trend in the 1940s, and came roaring back in the late 1990s as a welcome respite from the overly fussy, cabbage rose-laden, overstuffed styles of the ’80s. Its clean lines and modest proportions became a welcome respite, and architects especially gravitated toward its scale, affordability, high quality and functional composition.

Furniture companies like Herman Miller and Knoll teamed up with prominent architects and acquired the rights to manufacture custom pieces like the Eames chair, designed by Charles Eames, the Barcelona chair, designed by Mies Van Der Rohe, and the Tulip chair designed by Eero Saarinen. These manufacturers gave everyday individuals the chance to create an entire space, or to incorporate just one exclusive design that could give any room that shot of panache. And who would not want to work in an office designed in the coveted “ Mad Men” style? 

Furnishings in the mid-century modern style, with their universal appeal and their affordable price point, make a suitable addition to even the most traditional of spaces, or teamed with sleek leather-covered upholstery can create one uniform design and a very ‘modern’ statement. 

If you decide to take the plunge, rest assured, your room will not be “trendy”, as these furniture pieces have stood the test of time, and remain one of the most enduring, polished and sophisticated directions in design.

Patricia Cove is the Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill, and can be reached at