How to Decorate With Mid Century Modern Art

Are you looking to add new life to your current space or start fresh somewhere new? Decorating can be time and energy consuming, especially if you have a theme in mind but need help to follow through.

Mid century modern style is a long-standing art trend that can sometimes be tricky to achieve, but it becomes instantly more attainable through the use of art as a decorating medium.

What Is Mid Century Modern Art?

Mid century modern art is a type of art that became popular in America during the mid-1900s. Architecture, furniture, and home decor also followed this movement, which features geometric shapes, minimalism, and abstract shapes and figures.

This type of art can include bright colors or a bold or neutral color palette and remains popular today as the mid century movement continues to garner admiration around the world. It’s been cemented as a timeless classic and is not going anywhere anytime soon!

A group of four related photos arranged together on a wall.

How to Decorate With Mid Century Modern Art

Mid century modern decor tends to lend itself to simplicity and function, but it certainly isn’t dull. Try out these tips to expertly adorn your space with mid century modern art for a chic but livable look.

Make It a Focal Point

Consider making your favorite piece the focal point of the room, whether it’s a living space, dining room, bedroom, or transitional areas like a hallway or foyer. A particularly elaborate piece of wall art will naturally become the center of attention and spark lively conversation—just hang it somewhere it can easily be admired.

Consider the Scale

We’re not just talking about the size of the piece of art here. You must also consider the relative sizes of the elements in the piece. Think about where you’ll place the painting and what kind of perspective you will have when you view it.

A painting full of large-scale subjects is great for art that will be viewed from a distance. A mix of large and small or a collection of small elements in a piece is great for art that will be viewed up close, encouraging the viewer’s eyes to wander all over the canvas to take in all of the details.

Create Excitement

Maybe you’re really interested in a mid century look, but you’re stuck with some not-so-mid century furniture. Perhaps the room is sparsely decorated and looking bland, but you want to spice it up and create a more sophisticated vibe.

Adding a painting or two can go a long way to achieving the desired result! No need to start from scratch.

Use It to Bring Balance to Tricky Spots Around the Home

Do you ever find yourself staring at a spot for a while and thinking, something should go here, but what? Art is the answer.

We all have those awkward spots that are difficult to decorate. An empty stretch of wall between a window and a door, a colorless, narrow hallway, the place between the buffet and the china cabinet in a formal dining room—all areas that can’t easily be furnished.

This is where mid century modern art comes in! Use art as a tool to create continuity with the rest of your home’s mid century modern decor. 

Try Displaying Your Art in Groups of Multiples

This tip is great for those situations when you take a liking to more than one design and can’t decide which one to choose. Just get them both!

Hanging two or more similar (but not identical) paintings or prints in a group can enhance the room's look. Try it in spaces where you need to add interest above something, centered over a vintage ’60s credenza, or on the wall nearest the record player.

An artist working on a project.

Go the Custom Route

If you find it hard to scout the exact right piece—you know, the one that really speaks to you and promises to play nice with all your other mid century modern decor—consider commissioning a custom, one-of-a-kind piece.

Collaborating with an artist on a color palette and theme is a great way to get exactly what you’re looking for, with the added bonus of knowing that no one else will have the same one.

Frames Are Important

The frame you decide to use with your mid century pieces can make or break the overall look that you’re trying to achieve. The first question you should ask yourself is: frame or no frame?

From there, decide the type. Are you going to pick a thin, minimalist frame or a thicker, more ornate one? What color will it be? What material will it be made of?

These are all factors to consider when deciding what kind of frame you will use to hang your art. A more elaborate frame may distract viewers from the piece itself, and certain antique styles may look dated or amiss. The right frame (or no frame at all) can completely change the look of your mid century art.

Use Art to Guide Your Decor Decisions

Consider using your favorite piece as the inspiration for your interior design. Play off the color palette and subject matter when selecting your paint samples and furniture. Centering the room around the painting or print will ensure you end up with a well-curated space.

Curate Your Own Mid Century Modern Art Collection

One of the most enjoyable parts of decorating with mid century modern art is getting to hand-pick the pieces you use and grow your collection! You can search for a painting with a purpose in mind or fall in love with one and find its purpose later.
The hunt is part of the fun, especially now that you can source pieces for your collection online. Discover your next mid century modern art obsession and get to decorating!

November 11, 2022 — Ishita Banerjee