Interior designers share 10 affordable ways to make your space look mid-century modern

Mid-century modern desk and chair home office black lamp plant
Mid-century modern furniture is often defined by its legs. KatarzynaBialasiewicz / iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • To affordably achieve a mid-century modern look, swap out furniture legs with hairpin or peg ones.
  • Shop for reproductions of mid-century pieces at more affordable retailers like Ikea and Target.
  • Use small accents like pillows, blankets, lights, and clocks to get the look.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Mid-century modern is one of the most beloved design aesthetics right now, but you don’t need to break the bank to achieve the look in your own home.

Geometric shapes, sleek lines, the juxtaposition of organic and synthetic materials, and an emphasis on functionality and minimal ornamentation define mid-century modern style. It gained popularity in America between the 1930s and 1960s.

The look drew inspiration from the Bauhaus design movement and the work of architects and designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and Joseph Eichler.

With the style surging in interest, Insider asked interior designers how to get that mid-century modern vibe without spending too much money.

Swap out the legs on furniture you already own

Interior designer Kristen Reyes of Sey Interiors told Insider that swapping the legs on your chairs is an easy way to achieve a mid-century modern look.

“Mid-century style is often defined by those iconic peg legs and hairpin legs,” said Reyes. “Swap the existing legs on your chairs or tables for one of those styles.”

Reyes mentioned that you can also DIY your own mid-century modern coffee table by using a salvaged piece of wood and a set of hairpin legs.

Mid-century modern furniture table legs chair legs
New legs can transform a piece of furniture. Amanda Roos Farrell/Shutterstock

Shop for dining-chair reproductions instead of actual vintage pieces

Several of the most recognizable dining chair styles from the 1950s and 1960s are available as affordable reproductions from online retailers.

“Adding an Eiffel chair or Wishbone chair to your dining area is a guaranteed way to infuse mid-century style for a relatively small investment,” said Reyes.

Dining chairs from the mid-century modern period tended to have curvy, organic backs and thin legs. Molded plastic shell seats, as seen in the iconic Eiffel chair, were especially popular.

Use small accents to complete the look

Pillows in bold geometric prints, textured glassware, and brass objects will all bring in hints of mid-century flair,” said Reyes.

Try adding a brass fruit bowl or a throw blanket in a vibrant geometric print.

Midcentury modern chair and side table
Use side tables to add flair to your space. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Add a starburst wall clock

For a dose of instant mid-century mod style, try hanging a starburst wall clock in your space.

“The starburst wall clock is an iconic accessory that packs a style punch for an affordable price,” said Reyes.

These eye-catching clocks feature brass or wooden spokes radiating out from a central timepiece.

Hang a Sputnik light

Some of the mid-century modern trend was heavily inspired by advancements in space exploration, such as the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite. The satellite inspired Sputnik lights, which usually feature light bulbs on brass rods that radiate out from a central node.

“A Sputnik light definitely fits the mid-century modern look,” said Reyes. “Try searching for them on Etsy for affordable options.”

Set up a stylish bar cart using thrift-store finds

Interior designer Jennifer Burt of Mississippi Maximalism told Insider that adding a small bar can instantly give a space that 1960s feel.

“Look to thrift stores for vintage decanters and other cocktail accessories and place them on a bar cart for a chic minibar look,” said Burt.

In lieu of a bar cart, you can also cluster your bar items on a small table or credenza.

Midcentury modern desk office records on wall plants greenery home office bookshelf
Wallpaper can be used to add mid-century modern flair to furniture, too. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Create a feature wall with vibrant wallpaper

Creating a feature wall using bold wallpaper is a simple and cheap way of injecting retro vibes into a living space.

“Abstract florals in bright reds, blues, greens, and yellow automatically scream mid-century modern,” said Burt.

Oversized palm prints and geometric patterns are also appropriate in a mid-century modern space.

Add throw pillows and blankets in the right colors

Burt told Insider that the least-expensive way to give your space a taste of mid-century is by adding throw pillows and blankets in the right colors.

“Pick pillows and blankets in a palette that incorporates the harvest-gold, burnt-orange, rust, mustard, avocado-green shades that were so popular during the 1950s and 1960s,” said Burt.

Opting for pillowcases rather than pillows with non-removable covers will give you greater design flexibility.

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A mid-century modern couch can be a statement piece in your living room. Danita Delimont/Shutterstock

Focus on buying one great feature piece

Rather than splurging on an entire room of mid-century modern furniture, invest in a single impactful piece.

“Use your money to buy one noticeable piece, like a great credenza or dresser, which will set the decor tone for the whole room,” said Burt.

If you find a secondhand piece with slightly damaged wood, Burt said they suggest painting over the marks in a bright, period-appropriate color like white or orange.

Head to more affordable stores, like Ikea and Target, that sell mid-century-inspired items

“Some of Ikea’s most well-known pieces were actually designed during the 1960s,” said Reyes.

The popular Swedish big-box store has collections like Stockholm, Gratulera, and Strandmon that can give you the mid-century modern vibe at a lower price point than premium retailers.

Reyes also told Insider that Target’s Project 62 collection is another one of her go-to sources for mid-century shopping.

“Everything in this line is inspired by the year 1962, which was the prime time of mid-century style,” she explained.