The Mid-Century Modern Kitchen: Blending Retro Elegance with Modern Renovation
Mid-Century modern interior design is a timeless style that has captured the hearts of design enthusiasts for decades.
Over the past few years, Mid-Century modern style has surged in popularity, becoming a defining aesthetic in both contemporary and classic interior spaces, celebrated for its harmonious fusion of form and function.
Popular television shows like Mad Men and The Brady Bunch brilliantly showcase Mid-Century modern design, highlighting its signature clean lines, vibrant hues, and distinctive use of natural wood.
But the style extends beyond the realms of pop culture, emerging as a coveted aesthetic in contemporary interior design, gracing homes, hotels, and restaurants with its timeless elegance and functional simplicity.
What is Mid-Century modern?
Mid-Century modern design refers to a design movement that emerged in the mid-20th century, spanning roughly from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s. It’s characterised by its clean lines, organic forms, minimal ornamentation, and an emphasis on functionality.
Here are some key features and characteristics of Mid-Century modern design:
Clean Lines & Streamlined Forms
Unlike some ornate designs of the previous eras, Mid-Century modern emphasises linear and geometric shapes.
Organic & Geometric Shapes
Alongside the streamlined designs typical of this style, there’s a distinct focus on natural, organic forms reminiscent of shells or pebbles, as well as on precise geometric shapes. Keeping it simple in terms of shapes is key.
Integration with Nature
This design often involves large windows and open spaces to bring the outside in. Houses designed in this style often blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces.
Traditional materials like wood, are often paired with then-new materials of the time, such as metal, glass, vinyl and plywood. Nowadays, wood can be paired with ceramic tile, glass or other contrasting modern materials.
Function over Form
Mid-Century modern furniture often prioritises function and is devoid of more intricate decorative details.
While neutral colours (like beige and white) are frequently used in Mid-Century modern design, it also embraces bold, contrasting colours. Think mustards, teals, oranges, and olive greens.
The era produced some of the most iconic furniture pieces that remain popular today, from the famous Eames chair to Luciteto Saarinen tulip tables.
Graphic & Textile Design
Bold patterns, especially those that are geometric or abstract, are characteristic of this period.
The style was influenced by a variety of factors, including the Bauhaus movement, Scandinavian and Brazilian architecture, and traditional Japanese design.
Not just limited to architecture and furniture, Mid-Century modern design also found its way into everyday objects, graphic design, and fashion.
Modern kitchens are also heavily influenced by Mid-Century design, and at The Maker Designer Kitchens we are seeing more of our clients request incorporating elements of this style within their kitchen renovations. But how can one seamlessly integrate this style into their kitchen design?
How to design a Mid-Century modern inspired kitchen
In order for a kitchen to have a distinct Mid-Century modern influence, there are a few elements to be considered:
The use of warm wood tones like walnut or teak is a hallmark of this design style. Modern selections to fit this style include Polytec Florentine Walnut or Palace Teak, which is a rich warm brownish-yellow teak with a straight wood grain. The ultimate luxury wood finish would be to design your cabinetry with wood veneer which is a thin cut of real wood applied to your cabinetry.
Incorporating curves into your design can be done with curved flat panel cabinetry, benchtops, curved STECCAWOOD and curved edge cabinetry which works really on feature rangehoods or floating shelf designs.
The design’s essence lies in its minimalistic, straight lines with minimal ornamentation. Choose kitchen cabinets, countertops and furniture with sleek, straight edges and minimal or no decorative details.
Flat-panel cabinets with simple, unornamented fronts are the typical Mid-Century modern choice. However nowadays you can also use profiled cabinetry alongside other Mid-Century design elements for a modern take.
Blend functionality with aesthetic using open, floating shelves or wall-mounted units.
Go for simple brushed metal or wooden hardware.
Infuse natural elements like wood and stone throughout. Wood can be featured in cabinetry, flooring, and even ceiling beams.
Geometric splashback tiles, such as Kitkats, hexagons or mosaics, lend a bold edge and help to infuse pops of colour into the kitchen. In older kitchens of this style, stacked tile splashbacks were quite the trend. Today, achieving a similar look can be done using Kitkat tiles or mosaics.
Consider classic Mid-Century modern colours; earthy tones like olive green, mustard yellow, and burnt orange. These can be incorporated through cabinetry, walls, and accessories.
If feasible, think about integrating architectural features such as flat or slanted rooflines, expansive windows, and clerestory windows. If your home originates from the 60s, 70s, or 80s, you might already have some of these elements in place. Such features not only enhance natural lighting but also establish a harmonious blend between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Pendant lights, or sconces with minimalist and geometric designs. Lighting fixtures in materials like glass and metal can enhance the Mid-Century modern vibe.
Open Plan Layout
Mid-Century modern design often favors open-concept layouts that flow seamlessly into adjacent living or dining areas. Consider removing walls or creating open passageways to achieve this open and airy feel.
Select dining tables and chairs that feature iconic Mid-Century modern designs.
Why an open plan design works in a Mid-Century modern kitchen
An open plan kitchen design fosters seamless flow and connectivity between living zones for effortless interaction and movement. It is typical of Mid-Century modern interior spaces.
In the design phase of a Mid-Century modern kitchen renovation; distinct zones will be defined within the space, including the kitchen, dining, and living areas. Functional kitchen islands are favoured as central focal points to not only distinguish the kitchen area but also provide additional storage, preparation and seating space.
Additionally, you can consider employing a peninsula, a popular zoning element from old Mid-Century designs, to further separate different areas within the open space.
A kitchen peninsula is a design element in kitchens that’s similar to an island but is connected to a main wall or the main cabinetry. While an island is free-standing in the middle of the room, a peninsula has one end attached and stands out, usually providing additional counter space, storage, and sometimes seating. It’s an effective way to add worktop and storage space without fully closing off the kitchen from adjoining spaces, making it particularly useful in open-plan designs or smaller kitchens where an island might not fit.
Peninsulas can serve multiple functions, from providing extra prep space to housing cooktops, sinks, or breakfast bars. They can act as a natural division between the kitchen and adjacent living spaces, making them great for homes that want to maintain an open feel but also define distinct zones within the open space.
How to add a distinctive Mid-Century modern feel to your kitchen through material choice
Selecting warm natural materials such as wood cabinetry for your kitchen island are key to creating a Mid-Century modern aesthetic in your kitchen. Modern material selections like Polytec STECCAWOOD and their stylish fluted glass cabinets add a distinct retro feel. When looking to inject some colour we just love Polytec Topiary as it stands out in it’s own right but also blends beautifully with a wide range of wooden selections.
Style spotlight - Duncraig renovation
Our recently completed Duncraig kitchen renovation embodies Mid-Century modern design through and through. Polytec Florentine Walnut cabinets along with Polytec STECCAWOOD battens on the island and wall panels harmonise wonderfully with the pre-existing wooden panels on the ceiling, skirting, and wall capping.
Using natural wood elements is a signature characteristic of Mid-Century modern kitchens. Polytec Florentine offers a contemporary and vibrant wood colour selection for this style of kitchen. It is coupled with Verdelho cabinetry which adds a splash of colour; this is further accentuated when the appliance cupboard is opened, unveiling Polytec’s Topiary green.
Curved ‘Archive’ wooden cabinetry handles from Kethy have been used to incorporate wooden accents into the design and bring a retro edge.
This kitchen design fuses clean lines, geometric shapes, and retro colours, while ensuring functionality with ample storage.
Overall, this kitchen is a beautiful Mid-Century design that honours the authentic architectural features of the Duncraig residence, while crafting a modern interpretation of this beloved kitchen style.
To read about our Duncraig project in more detail, read our full write up here.
Creating your own Mid-Century modern kitchen with TMDK
A Mid-Century modern kitchen is where timeless style meets practicality. At TMDK, our experienced designers know the ins and outs of classic Mid-Century modern design, and are here to provide expert advice on how these elements can be seamlessly woven into your kitchen makeover or build.
At The Maker Designer Kitchens, every kitchen we design and build is bespoke, crafted locally, ensuring impeccable quality and longevity. Our design team stays at the forefront of evolving Mid-Century modern trends, ensuring your kitchen remains not only aesthetically beautiful, but timeless.
By working with us to create your Mid-Century modern kitchen, you’ll get to enjoy the charm of a design that’s not only timeless, but built to last the test of time. Interested in exploring other styles? Discover more on our kitchen styles page.
We invite you to check out our Perth showroom to see our range of spectacular kitchen designs. It’s a great place to get ideas and get inspired for your own kitchen renovation project. Our friendly interior design team will be there to chat about your project and help you get a handle on the renovation process with The Maker Designer Kitchens.
Our doors are open Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 4pm, and Saturday, 9am – 1pm. Come find us at 12 Dyer Road, Bassendean or click here for directions. If you’d rather get in touch from the comfort of your home, give us a call at 9270 0000 or click the button below to connect with us online.
Book a design consultation with us to begin crafting your dream Mid-Century modern kitchen.