Vintage modern home decor ideas go by several names: Danish modern, atomic age, mid-century modern and sometimes just MCM. Created during the years from World War II through the 1960s, vintage modern designs were cutting-edge contemporary in their day. Though the look fell out of favor during the 1980s and 1990s, the style experienced a revival at the start of the 21st century, particularly among young, urban apartment dwellers.
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Vintage modern furnishings share numerous common design elements. Wood pieces tend to have finishes in shades from blond to medium brown. The legs on tables, consoles and chairs are slender and often installed at an angle. Upholstered furniture is firm instead of plush, with long bench seats and slim track arms. Period accessories reflect the technology of the time, such as the sunburst clocks and mirrors inspired by the Sputnik satellite.
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Vintage Modern Home Decor Inspiration
Look for decorating inspiration on the screen by watching old television shows like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” or the modern-day “Mad Men” series. To explore the homes and decorating styles of vintage modern enthusiasts today, view home tours on a decorating website.
Vintage Modern Home Decor Scale
If you plan to mix vintage modern furnishings with new furniture, make sure the scales are compatible. New furniture tends toward the huge, but mid-century modern pieces are smaller and have a low-slung profile. Choose new sofas and chairs with lower-than-usual arms to make them work with vintage modern occasional tables. To use vintage modern bedside tables next to a thick pillow-topped mattress, switch from a traditional foundation to a low-profile box springs. In both cases, make sure your lamps are tall enough to provide light where you need it, even if that means mounting the lamp base on a raised platform.
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Selection of Vintage Modern Home Decor Ideas
Look for furnishings made or inspired by celebrated designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Harry Bertoia, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll. Select a few focal point pieces of good quality rather than a roomful of substandard examples. If you opt for vintage upholstery, look primarily for sturdy frames. You can have them reupholstered in period-appropriate new fabric.
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Vintage Modern Home Decor Sources
Look for vintage modern furnishings at antique shops, flea markets and thrift stores. Browse online auctions and classified listings. You might even get lucky at garage sales. Outside of major urban areas, many people still think of vintage modern as ghastly 1950s motel furniture. If you feel like making a road trip, borrow a truck and hit the small-town junk stores.