Home Decorating 101: How to Get a Mid-Century Modern Look Without Breaking the Bank


With an incredible blend of stylish colors and captivating silhouettes, mid-century modern is one style that isn’t going anywhere. While it reached peak popularity more than five decades ago, the minimalist-yet-vintage vibe of mid-century modern has serious staying power. The timeless sleek lines, geometric angles and organic curves that are characteristic of this design style remain popular to this day and are found in homes around the world.

While you may not have the funds to snag a vintage Eames chair at an auction, there are several ways to create the mid-century modern look on a budget. Whether you want to design a mod living room or you’re looking to give your entire home a stylish update, here are a few ways to achieve a mid-century modern look without breaking the bank.

Start with a Strong Focal Piece

Every room needs a few pieces of furniture that stand out and make a big impression. By starting with these pieces, you can start creating the mid-century mod vibe without purchasing a lot of stuff. If you’re working on your living room or a den, a stylish credenza with a mid-century mod vibe is a great place to start. Look for one with a nice wood finish and beveled edges. As a bonus, a stylish credenza with plenty of drawers provides the perfect place to store all the extra clutter that could detract from the vibe you’re going for.

If you’re looking for something a bit softer as a focal piece, try a stylish mid-century modern sectional sofa. Look for one with a simple silhouette and angled legs. Go with leather or fabric upholstery in a mod color like teal or tangerine. If you prefer a more neutral sofa, white or pewter gray work well–especially when you add some pops of color in the form of stylish throw pillows. Leather accent chairs could also serve as impactful focal pieces for your home.

By starting with a few larger, basic pieces, you can set the tone for the space without replacing every single piece of furniture and décor you own. While something like a couch or credenza may be a larger investment than, say, a small end table, it makes a much larger impact without needing to purchase multiple pieces.

Invest in the Right Accent Pieces

Even an amazing mid-century modern focal piece requires a strong supporting cast. Once you’ve decided on a main piece or two to use as focal pieces, you need to start thinking about how to fill empty spaces. Vases and ceramic pieces are a good place to start when you are on a budget because they’re affordable and easy to find. Look for round, bubble-like shapes, smooth curves and bold colors that coordinate with your larger pieces.

Accent tables with wire bases, floor lamps with overarching stands and wooden-legged planters also serve as ideal accent pieces in mid-century mod homes. While you may be able to find original vintage pieces at reasonable prices, many contemporary companies also offer new pieces that work well with this design aesthetic.

Shop for Replicas

Anyone with a passion for mid-century modern styling would love to own an authentic piece from their favorite designer. In many ways, though, these pieces are like works of art, and owning them comes at a steep price. If you are unable to afford authentic pieces, the market is filled with high-quality replicas. An authentic Eames molded plastic side chair will set you back nearly $500, but you can find replicas for under $50. It may not feel the same as having your very own designer piece, but it will allow you to create the look you want without draining your bank account.

Be careful when shopping for replicas, though, as some are poorly made and won’t last long. If you choose to purchase replicas instead of authentic pieces, remember that if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. When possible, check out the item in person to determine whether it is well made, and when ordering online, make sure the company accepts returns.

Check Out Your Local Flea Markets and Thrift Stores

If you would prefer to outfit your home with authentic mid-century modern pieces but don’t have room in your budget to pay full price, spend some time browsing local flea markets and thrift stores. Secondhand furniture stores are also a good place to look for authentic pieces, especially in larger cities. While you still may have to spend a decent amount of money to purchase an authentic piece, flea markets and thrift and secondhand stores usually charge much less than retail. Buying pieces that are used but in good condition can save you a bundle while allowing you to obtain the items you truly want.

Craigslist is also a great place to find real vintage pieces at great prices. Unexpected treasures can be found at yard sales as well. When shopping for used authentic mid-century modern furniture and accessories, it may take you a while to find exactly what you are looking for, but the extra time spent will save you a lot of money on the pieces you truly want.

Don’t Overdo It

When creating a mid-century modern vibe in your home, there really is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” Unless you want your home to look like the set of Mad Men, it’s good to have a bit of restraint and avoid going floor to ceiling with your décor. In addition to creating a more appealing space, doing so also helps you save some money.

Combine vintage styling with contemporary pieces to create a space that has a mid-century modern vibe but still feels up-to-date. Remember that your home is your own, and you should decorate it in a way that suits your taste without being overwhelming. Your home should still feel like “home,” and not going overboard on your mid-century modern décor is a great way to preserve that feeling while allowing you to save on your decorating costs.

Recommended Posts: