From Pinterest pins to period film sets, mid-century modern décor is as popular today as it was almost 100 years ago.
But the question is: how can you bring this iconic pared-back look into your home – without it looking old-fashioned? It’s easier than you might think. Just get the basics right, starting with your sofa.
Join us as we count down our five favourite mid-century furniture styles, below, for your nostalgic dose of design inspiration.
While many chairs are declared ‘fit for royalty’, the Barcelona chair has a stronger claim than most.
Crafted for the King and Queen of Spain in 1929 by Ludwig van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, this tilted chair does away with any embellishments. In its place is a strikingly simple scissor frame that was far ahead of its time.
A true icon of peak sophistication, it’s no wonder the Barcelona chair caught the eye of James Bond and even Bruce Wayne in the past – two men who know a thing or two about style.
Channelling Chesterfield vibes, but with a modern twist, the Mayor sofa serves a heavy dose of superiority - something which suits home offices and formal front rooms majestically.
Made famous by Danish duo Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen in 1939, the Mayor sofa has a strong solid oak frame with a comfortable seating area of three loose cushions – so far, so simple. The fascinating flourish comes via the two rows of ornate buttons that draw a seamless double line from armrest to armrest, giving the sofa a comfy, almost cocoon-like look.
The result is a sofa that’s both formal and inviting, one that could sit confidently in any style of décor. Plumbs can even bring this versatile look to your old sofa, up-styling it with the signature double-button lines that made the Mayor sofa so popular.
Inspired by the classic English Club chair, the Eames Lounge Chair has luxuriated at the top of the style ranks for more than 60 years.
Not only does it hold a permanent place in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, but the chair has also cameoed in five James Bond films –the very embodiment of sleek sophistication.
As well as earning serious style points, this work of art is also a symbol of comfort in the interior design world. The design combines a curved plywood shell with leather seating, fixed at a slight recline. This means that when you settle in for a boxset binge, the Eames Lounge Chair is there to hold you snugly in place. Who said afternoon snoozes were for couch potatoes?
Another design from the near-limitless creativity of Arne Jacobsen, the Swan Sofa exudes elegance with its soft and shapely outline.
The first model was exclusively made for Copenhagen’s SAS Royal Hotel in 1958, before becoming a household must-have in the 60s. Resting on a metal base, the flowing three-dimensional shape contains no straight lines, drawing comparisons with (surprise, surprise) a swan.
Lean into the laidback luxury of the Swan Sofa with colourful upholstery fabrics or opt for a leather-clad iteration for those stately study vibes.
Sometimes sofas take themselves too seriously. Enter: the Marshmallow sofa. Funky and with a colourful fruit pastille seating display, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a concept sofa.
Comprised of a metal frame beneath multiple round discs of covered ‘marshmallow’ foam, this good-humoured sofa points a playful finger at fusty Victorian-era designs.
We have Irvine Harper to thank for this whimsical design, considered by many to be the most iconic of all modernist sofas. And with a look that still brings a smile to sitters, big and small, we’re inclined to agree.
Of course, these sofa designs are emblematic of the mid-century décor – but that doesn’t mean your living room has to be. With Plumbs’ reupholstery service, you can mix and match looks across different eras and styles to create your own modern rendition of décors gone by. Start customising today by browsing our huge collection of upholstery fabrics.
Sophie is a great granddaughter of the founders of the business - so fabrics and furniture are almost part of her DNA! Her interests include home interiors and upcycling, and her favourite show to watch after work is The Repair Shop. Some of the topics she covers on the Plumbs blog include sofa reupholstery and furniture protection.
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