Memories of Mid-century Modern

I was recently asked if you can mimic mid-century modern in any home style. Sure, why not? Even if you don’t have a flat roof like the iconic houses built from 1945 to 1969, you can certainly mimic this architectural style, furniture, and accessories which are trending again today.

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on

As a grade school kid, I fell in love, love, LOVE with mid-century modern because my friend Jeri’s family lived in a beautiful home like this overlooking Whitman’s Pond in Weymouth. I remember the large, angular living room with wood paneling and a center fireplace which overlooked the water and all the low-height furniture just made for relaxation. As I am writing this column, I realize that this is my earliest memory of interior design.

On the exterior, you might incorporate some Breezeblocks as a privacy screen in front and a carport to the side. A nice flagstone path will also fit right in.

When possible, it would be great to celebrate both the post and beam design and the open floor plan appropriate to these historic homes. Think horizontality, simplicity, clean straight lines, and function over form.  Changes in elevation are also a must-have element in a mid-century home. Incorporate a connection to nature whenever you can: floor to ceilings windows or lots of sliding glass doors on the back and sides (privacy rules in the front of these homes), concrete or terrazzo floors, stone fireplace, an earthy color palette, and quality wood paneling as a nod to the trees.

Locate your living room to overlook the landscape. Built-in furniture and cabinets abound as do partial brick or glass walls. Choose Scandinavian design furniture with simple clean lines and limit decoration throughout. Shop for fine used furniture like this at Ramble Market in Waltham or visit Crate & Barrel or CB2 stores to purchase new.

In your kitchen, opt for flat panel wood cabinets, geometric backsplash tiles, and retro appliances. The kitchen should be integrated into the living space. Set your table with pottery and ceramic dishware which were prevalent in these homes.

For inspiration, check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s portfolio.

Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering creative solutions at reasonable rates. Learn more about her services, workshops and quilt shows at, read her blog at and follow her on Instagram @secretaryinteriordecorating. You can reach her at 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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