Design ideas often make comebacks. In fact, it’s a more common occurrence than finding truly original designs. Many modern décor are derivative of an older style. In the last decade, we’ve seen a resurgence of a particular 1950s interior design style—the midcentury. We believe this resurgence happened in conjunction with the minimalist movement given that midcentury modern is often characterized by subtlety and soft lines. If you want to create the ultimate 1950s living room, these are the 10 things that you absolutely must have.
1. Modern wallpaper
The 1950s is a notorious time for wallpapers, but we’ve actually seen some incredible examples from that time. Take this yellow wallpaper from this room. It’s a great example of what light colors can do to brighten up a space. Your goal in choosing midcentury wallpapers is to find light and soft colors with geometric designs. You don’t have to go dramatic on this one. You want to remain subtle while still having some kind of personality. We love the yellow wallpaper, but light greens are subtle blues also work very well.
2. Low couch
Furniture in the 1950s all stood on a low height. This applies to midcentury couches as well. If you’re looking for a modern take, there are plenty of couches that follow midcentury lines but with more modern colors. Look for a couch that has short legs and sit low on the ground. Lines are often straight and clean, and the overall look should be sharp and pointed. You can outfit the couch with one or two throw pillows, but make sure they’re not the fluffy kind.
This furniture piece is as timeless as the midcentury style. A 1950s living room will not be complete without a proper credenza. Just like a 50s couch, credenzas stand low on the ground. Credenzas back then worked like sideboards. They often held picture frames and other decorative items. They also often times held small televisions, and you can definitely use a credenza for that purpose today.
4. Arm chair
Instead of a bulky Lazy Boy, use a 1950s armchair for a second place of seating in your living room. Midcentury armchairs are sleek and often complement the couch. They are most often made out of wood. Look for armchairs with wooden armrests for an even cleaner and authentic look. Make sure the cushions match the couch or at least be very close—in both style and color. Adding an armchair in one corner of your living room will balance out the space and offer your eyes another focal point in addition to the couch.
5. Bar Cart
Nothing else says 1950s than a well stocked bar cart. But before you start shopping for bottles, make sure you have a proper cart first. An authentic midcentury bar cart will likely be made out of wood, but you can really take this functional item whichever direction you choose. The goal is to choose a bar cart that has straight lines and edges. Try to stay away from mirrored surfaces as much as you can. And if you’re going with metal surfaces, try to keep it within gold or brass. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your bar cart with stuff. Instead, choose one or two significant pieces along with all the other necessities.
6. Coffee table
Much like the other big furniture pieces, you want your 1950s couch to be low on the ground. A midcentury coffee table is likely to be made out of some type of wood. Try to match the wood color of your coffee table to that of the rest of the furnishings. You can also go round or go rectangular on this one. A round coffee table will give the corners in your midcentury living room a welcomed break, while a rectangular coffee table will complement the rest of a 1950s room. Either way you go, stick to your personal preference and you can never go wrong.
7. Mod curtains
With everything else being subtle in a 1950s living room, one thing you can really go wild on is your curtains or drapes. To complete a midcentury look, bring in some mod curtains to add vibrancy and personality. You can find curtains that complement your wallpaper or couch, or you can get similar tones. Mod-style curtains typically have geometric or floral designs. Have fun with this one and don’t hold back. Curtains add so much dimension to a room, and they’re oftentimes so underwhelming.
You can get really creative with the kind of midcentury lamp you get for your living room. For the purpose of having an authentic 1950s room, look for a pillar lamp that has a drum shade. You can go with various base materials, but wood is always a solid option. You’ll want to have a table lamp as well as a standing lamp, and make sure you use soft light bulbs instead of day light bulbs. A 1950s living room should evoke warmth rather than brightness.
9. Large plant
That empty corner can only be filled by one thing: a plant. Many 1950s living rooms are outfitted with a large leaf plant like a fiddle leaf plant. Fiddle leaf figs have gained popularity over the years, but they have been popular in other decades as well. Large plants add a bit of softness and freshness to what would be an otherwise stiff room.
1950s living room walls almost always have frames on them. You can display art or display photos. You can have one large frame on a wall or have an entire arrangement. In order to keep things more midcentury modern than anything, try to look for frames that are at least in the same color scheme. This will guarantee that you follow the 1950s style without being overly outdated.