Mid-Century Modern Living Room Elements--In One Picture

Mid Century Modern Living Room
Mid Century Modern Living Room. Licensed Under Creative Commons / Flickr: Sam Howzit

If you want to remodel your home in the style of mid-century modern (MCM), incorporating the following elements will take you a long way towards your goal.

The quintessential MCM-style living room from the early to mid-Sixties period would have included some of these things:

Vaulted Ceiling With Exposed Beams

The prototypical MCM low-vaulted ceiling had exposed natural wood beams. For the mid-century Jet Agers, a feeling of openness–of soaring to the sky–was always emphasized.

Wood Panel Accent Wall

The accent wall in the center of the room is paneled in dark, rich walnut. For your home, you'll want to panel sections of the room, not the entire room. And go for real veneer wood panels rather than cheap panels.

Horse Sculptures

Depictions of horses were a feature in 1960s homes. Look no further than The Brady Bunch set and its famous prancing faux Tang Dynasty horse sculpture. In this living room, you will count no less than six horses.

Danish Modern Chairs and Coffee Table

Danish Modern furniture pieces found in common MCM homes on the whole were not expensive Drexel Declaration sideboards, coffee tables, and chairs. They were knock-off Danish Modern pieces purchased from local department stores.

Two-Tier Coffee Table

The prototypical Fifties and Sixties double-level coffee table is found today at many antique stores or on eBay.

Linoleum Floor

In the Sixties, the linoleum industry was heavily promoting the "durability" and "beauty" of linoleum floors all throughout the home.

So, even though MCM homes are frequently depicted in movies as being heavily shagged, MCM homes in most of the United States often had hard floor coverings, like linoleum or vinyl.

Sunburst Clock

Sunburst clocks are so Sixties-looking that you risk going over the top by putting one in your living room.

Remnants of the Past Era

Hugely important, yet rarely found in MCM installations. Except for homes of the wealthy few, most homes had mixed-era decor. In this image you see: the 1940s radio still hanging around in the corner; twee items on the curio shelf; overly sweet floral wallpaper.  

Sconce Lights

Cone-shaped metal sconce lights, as well as metal cone pole lights, were a staple in MCM homes.


Encyclopedia salesmen roamed North American in the mid 20th century, convincing millions of parents that their children wouldn't be able to compete with classmates if they didn't have a full set of 26 World Book Encyclopedias.

Picture Source

This is not a true period living room but a stage set of sorts:  the Tune-In Lounge, one of the many themed restaurants at Walt Disney World. While sipping your blue electric lemonade, you can watch authentic black-and-white clips of Mickey Mouse (what else?) and Leave It To Beaver on the oh-so-period TV sets.