Mid-Century Modern Design: the George Clooney of Interior Design?

The design of this space was in part inspired by the living room in Jenni’s former home, which also had a lot of wood accents, white couches, and a central fireplace. “I love that everything is centered around the big fireplace,” she says. “It has a great feeling and makes you want to curl up on the couch and hang out all day and into the evening.”

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

Whether you are a fan of Mid-Century Modern design and decor or not, it remains a hugely popular design style with consumers for good reason. I’m a design fan who is not married to one particular style and personally admire the style’s minimalism and how it can be softened with more feminine and comfy elements to feel fresh. I’m not crazy about every Mid-Century Modern interior out there, especially not the austere ones that take themselves too seriously and lack any hint of a sense of humor. It has to have soul. But you have to admit Mid-Century Modern design is: great for small spaces and apartments, functional, unfussy, clean-lined, easy to find, affordable, and a look that blends with many other styles.

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Need proof of how it is friendly with other design styles and can blend with 18th Century antiques? Look at how Pamela Pierce pairs a MCM Saarinen table with pretty and non-Mid-century modern decor:

Breathtaking French Country living room with arched French doors, rustic shutters, antique French limestone fireplace, white furniture, and dining area with Saarinen table and rush woven chairs. Design by Pamela Pierce.

Saarinen table in Pamela Pierce’s home via Veranda.

She’s a genius. BTW. Here’s the Saarinen table topped with marble if you must have it!

Saarinen Round Dining Table

42″ Saarinen Round Dining Table: FIND HERE

Last month, I thrifted the perfect Saarinen table with a fiberglass top for a design project I worked on in Clearwater, FL. Man-a-live, I wanted to bring that baby home for myself! After cleaning it up and crossing my fingers it would fit through the kitchen doorway of a condo, we even set the table for a Swedish pancake feast! The homeowners wanted to incorporate (and mix!) their existing French Country chairs so we did. The signs of wear gracing the table top’s edge do not bother us, and we have no plans to touch it up. Here’s a shot of our candlelit feast:

Saarinen table set with green, white, and red tablescape elements in a Paris inspired dining room by Hello Lovely Studio.

My fabulous Saarinen table find for a Paris-inspired design project! Hello Lovely Studio

Here’s a replica if you need a brand new one:

Saarinen style round tulip dining table

Saarinen style Round Dining Table: FIND HERE

Mid-Century Modern style emerged in the mid-1930’s to the mid-1960’s, and a 2016 article in the NY Times quipped: “A snarky Tumblr that lampooned the ubiquity of Noguchi coffee tables couldn’t kill it. A brief flirtation with 19th Century Victoriana didn’t usurp it. Midcentury is the decorating style that won’t die.” How about you? Do you want MCM to die?

BRAT PITT in Meet Joe Black. #bradpitt

Brad Pitt sittin’ pretty.

Not everyone is happy about MCM’s apparent immortality. One of my favorite bloggers was  bemoaning the trend on her blog the other day for its lack of prettiness. She is not alone. Co.Design has called Mid-Century Modern the pumpkin latte of interior design (ha!). But I’m not surprised the MCM trend endures. Can we truly call it a trend anymore? While it may lack pretty factor, it is abundantly rich with handsome masculinity. I mean Brad Pitt may be prettier, but George Clooney? Handsome von handsome and with his years of earned wisdom, more attractive than ever.

Maybe Mid-Century Modern is the George Clooney of interior design.

Grant Mendolson Cordelia 's new lover George Clooney lookalike And takes her for fabulous dinner

Hello, Handsome!

MCM is not ornamental, glitzy or frou frou, and if you think about trends in American culture, its appeal parallels a longing for more authenticity, less fluff, and less stuff. Paring down and living with less is likely not going away soon. Apartment Therapy compares Mid-Century Modern design to a style of denim: “It’s more like the skinny jeans of interior design: attractive, versatile and with a staying power perplexing to tastemakers and retailers everywhere.” 

Who were the famous designers of this style? To name a few: Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames (and Ray Eames), Alexander Giarard, Eileen Gray, Arne Jacobsen, Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson, Verner Panton, Jens Risom, Eero Ssarinen, and Edward Wormley.

If you read this blog, you’ll know Hello Lovely favors timeless and tranquil interior design and especially how those qualities are interpreted in French Country, Belgian, Scandinavian, and shabby chic decor. But there’s plenty of room for simple, lovely design, including MCM. If you haven’t noticed, we’re crushing on Leanne Ford and her way with Mid-Century Modern goodness (and her signature WHITE!). She injects personality, warmth, and quirk into her designs incorporating Mid-Century Modern pieces. In fact, if you want your Pinterest account to BLOW UP with repins and follows, JUST PIN THIS LEANNE FORD IMAGE and watch it happen.

Inside Interior Designer Leanne Ford's Renovated Pennsylvania Schoolhouse | GQ

Leanne Ford’s Renovated Schoolhouse Bathroom!

Today we’ll tour two MCM spaces lightened up with white, light, and softness. It’s a flavor of Mid-Century Modern Design I might characterize as: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation. The interiors were designed with help from The Studio at One King’s Lane and include designer Jenni Kayne’s living room and actress/activist Sophia Bush’s guest cottage.

Meet me at the finish line and let me know your sentiments about Mid-century Modern design!

It might seem counterintuitive, but darkening the cottage’s beams highlighted the lightness of the redone space.

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

Charlotte Rug, Ivory/Black

Charlotte Rug: FIND HERE

Serene home decor: in e living room, the burl-wood console and mismatched Thonet ottomans bring a lot of texture and character. Notice the designers did not use a matching pair of stools. It helps you remember that nothing is perfect!

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

I have a crush on this lamp!!!

Alabaster Orb Table Lamp, White/Stone

Alabaster Orb Lamp: FIND HERE

Serene home decor with Mid-Century Modern style. The gray sofa's chenille fabric underscores the cozy feeling here. The most comfortable, soft, snuggly fabric is like lying on a blanket, Sophia says. #midcenturymodern #sophiabush #hometour

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

Berber Handloomed & French Linen Pillow

French Linen Pillow: FIND HERE

Serene living room decor with Mid-century Modern design style in Jenni Kayne's California home. #midcenturymodern #serene #livingroomdecor

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

Dwell Cone Floor Lamp, Bronze/Brass

Dwell Cone Floor Lamp: FIND HERE

African Woven Mud Cloth Pillow

African Woven Mud Cloth Pillow: FIND HERE

Serene living room decor in a gorgeous Mid-century Modern interior by Jenni Kayne. A comfy white linen sofa pairs with ruggedly handsome leather Midcentury chairs, white walls, and modern lamps. #midcentury #livingroom #serene #organic

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

"Twisted In Time" - Art Print by Leslie Le Coq in beautiful frame options and a variety of sizes.

Framed Art Print of Tree: FIND HERE

The clean lines of the wall became especially striking once the fireplace's interior was painted a fireproof black and the mirror and the Bertoia chair were added. #midcenturymodern #blackandwhite #interiordesign #decor

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

William Pharmacy Floor Lamp, Bronze

Pharmacy Floor Lamp: FIND HERE

Like the glass cabinet, a translucent magazine holder keeps reading material visible and a part of the overall warm, relaxed aesthetic.

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

The price tag on this modern magazine rack may rack yer frackin brain…

17" Versa Magazine Rack

Acrylic Magazine Rack: FIND HERE

Stunning Midcentury modern leather arm chair in serene living room with white walls and natural Mid-century Modern elements. Design by Jenni Kayne. #midcentury #modern #organic #serene #livingroom

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

Serene living room decor in this Mid-century Modern California home with design by Jenni Kayne. Natural textures, neutral colors, art, and handmade objects, and those elements are all represented in the new living room. This vignette with its sheepskin-topped wooden bench, fiddle-leaf fig tree, and original art incorporates all her favorite things. #midcentury #modern #sheepskin #livingroomdecor #rusticdecor #serene

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

Natural Sheepskin Rug

Natural Sheepskin Rug: FIND HERE

Mid-century Modern design style expressed with an eclectic art gallery wall in the dining room of a cottage guest house by Sophia Bush. #gallerywall #midcentury #modern #walldecor

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

17" Seagrass Round Pouf, Natural

Seagrass Round Pouf: FIND HERE

The lack of a rug plays up the wicker-and-chrome dining chairs, which Alex calls “such standouts.”

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

Serene decor in a Mid-century Modern interior by Jenni Kayne. A gallery wall of thoughtfully placed framed art hangs above a warm and rustic bench.

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

"Gentle Embrace" - Art Print by Ilana Greenberg in beautiful frame options and a variety of sizes.

Framed ‘Gentle Embrace’ Art Print: FIND HERE

Dining room with warm and serene Mid-century Modern design style. Vintage Hoffmann dining chairs are so classic and chic. I love them, Alex says. Juxtaposed with the French barn table, they bring more texture and character to the space, without a ton of color. #diningroom #midcenturymodern #serene #homedecor #whitedecor

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

"Composed" - Art Print by Amelie Conger in beautiful frame options and a variety of sizes.

Framed Art Print ‘Composed’: FIND HERE

To achieve a calm and chic atmosphere, Alex tells us, layers of white and tan were the way to go. Popping those shades with modern abstract art in black and white pulled it all together. #midcenturymodern #homedecor #blackandwhite #paneling #modernart

Mid-Century Modern Design: A Clean, Serene, and Natural Interpretation

"llama" - Art Print by Baumbirdy in beautiful frame options and a variety of sizes.

Llama Framed Art Print: FIND HERE

Any thoughts on Mid-Century Modern design’s enduring appeal, Saarinen tables, or Clooney?

If you’re a fan of Jenni Kayne’s organic, natural, minimal modern style, find more here.

Drew from Property Brothers fame recently renovated a 1920’s Hollywood home and placed quite a few affordable Mid-Century Modern decor pieces in it, get the full scoop here.

Peace to you right where you are.




  1. Mary
    April 11, 2018 / 9:25 pm

    I love MCM. I think it blends well with every other design style. The only issue I have with it is some of the chairs sit to low for me.
    My daughter & I both love finding new pieces.

    • michele
      April 11, 2018 / 10:18 pm

      Really good point. I don’t understand some of the proportions of low living. It has to be comfortable first, right!?!

  2. Tracy
    April 12, 2018 / 9:32 am

    I’ve been crushing on GC all my life. Once my husband told me (before Amal) “Well, if you ever get a chance to marry him I think you should.” Lol
    As far as MCM, my motto is..never say never!!

    • michele
      April 12, 2018 / 11:01 am

      Ha! Great motto and winning way to simply let reality be reality. Peace to you, Mrs. Clooney. 🙂

  3. April 12, 2018 / 2:45 pm

    Loved this post dear Michele!!

    • michele
      April 12, 2018 / 3:11 pm

      Love hearing from you, lovely Greet! Peace to you. xox

  4. Joanna
    April 12, 2018 / 8:42 pm

    Mid century modern took a renewal a couple of years ago. We started to see it everywhere on social media. I must admit, it’s not my taste in furnishings. However, George Clooney… another story.

    • michele
      April 12, 2018 / 10:17 pm

      Yes. I wonder if once we started seeing its saturation, a lot of folks needed a breather from it and that breather just has not yet arrived! I think I should compare every design style to a handsome actor and get creative with the metaphors. 🙂 Peace to you, Joanna.

  5. Rhonda
    April 13, 2018 / 5:29 pm

    I’ve not been a fan of MCM, however, the blending of MCM with other designs is growing on me. Perfect example is Leanne Ford.

    Thanks for the Behr paint info. I’m in a small town, no Benjamin Moore, but a Home Depot! Now, as for my thoughts on Clooney, I think more than a few hearts broke when he said “I do.” We can dream…happy weekend!

    • michele
      April 13, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      Hahaha. I hear you. I’m a French Country girl, but I love the mix. Isn’t that a bonus that it’s on the shelf!?! Have a lovely weekend, Mrs. Clooney. 🙂

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