Your Guide To Designing The Best Mid-Century Modern Kitchen

May 29, 2020
Your Guide To Designing The Best Mid-Century Modern Kitchen

The Mid-Century Modern style originated in the 1930s and was so popular that it became a staple of most interior designs up until 1960s. It’s characterized by its ergonomic and super functional aspects. It’s very minimal but also warm and cozy. While the Mid-Century Modern style was mostly interpreted in the form of trendy furniture, it’s translation in interior designs was also quite appreciated.

The sheer popularity and timelessness of this style has survived to this day and many homeowners adore the classic warm-yet-modern looks that it delivers. However, the Mid-Century Modern look is best articulated in kitchens and there are a number of ways that you can do so. If you’re as inspired by this style as us, here are a few tips you can use to remodel your own kitchen in the Mid-Century Modern style:

Knowing the main characteristics of this style

Here are all the characteristic of the Mid-Century Modern style that you need to know if you want to emulate it in your homes.

  • Emphasizing functionality: This style was mostly sponsored by the German architects who came to America during the war. So, the Bauhaus ideology is a major component of the Mid-Century Modern kitchen look. There is a definite emphasis on functionality, so that’s definitely something that you need to focus on.
  • Clean lines: The Mid-Century Modern kitchen is characterized by clean lines and simplicity. There are no complicated shapes or styling emulated in such spaces. They are known for their neatness, elegance and grace. 
  • Simple geometry: Mid-Century Modern kitchens are all about emulating simple geometry. This includes the expressive use of lines and basic shapes such as squares and rectangles. These basic geometric interventions helps complement the clean lines and makes the kitchen feel less boring. Using simple geometry also adds more visual diversity to the space so that it doesn’t end up feeling drab at all. Just remember to use it in adequate amounts. Too much geometry may end up taking away the elegance of the Mid-Century Modern style.
  • Spacious circulation areas: As far as planning and layout is concerned, a Mid-Century Modern kitchen must always feature spacious circulation areas. This is easy to accomplish if you stick with the function-over-form mantra. Remember: 4’ of aisle space is the bare minimum. You need a little more than that if you want to design spacious circulation spaces. It’s best if you invest in large windows as well because an abundance of natural light will help make even the bare minimum of space feel spacious, sophisticated, and absolutely charming. It will create the illusion of more space.
  • Minimal ornamentation: While accentuation is always a must in Mid-Century Modern kitchen interiors, it’s best to go with minimal ornamentation to keep up with the theme. This style is all about maintaining a minimalist look while delivering wholesomeness. The best way to accent is to use teal colored backsplash, metal light fixtures, small planters, stylish bar stools, a dry arrangement in a simple vase, etc. Just choose things that make a bold statement without overwhelming the rest of the space.
  • Mixing and matching materials: One of the major things that set Mid-Century Modern kitchens apart is the mixing and matching of traditional and non-traditional materials. This style is quite popular for featuring a seamless blend of these two elements. For example, the use of wood throughout the space is extensive, but it is complemented and balanced by subtle concrete, metal, and glass textures. This type of material palette enhances the clean design and minimal aesthetic two-fold.
  • Color selection: As the Mid-Century Modern style is basically an extension of radical modernism and Bauhaus, the color scheme of such kitchens is kept very understated and achromatic. Black and white hues are always the main focus. They’re interspersed with grey and brown highlights. Bold wooden and metal accents keep the space from feeling too drab and boring. The complete effect of this color-material combination never fails to please the eye while complementing the minimal aesthetic.

What type of backsplash to choose for your Mid-Century Modern kitchen?

Backsplashes spruce up the cabinetry and provide a cleanable surface in case of any cooking stains and mishaps. They also have an aesthetic function and that includes accentuating the theme. If you’re wondering just what type of a backsplash will look the best in a Mid-Century Modern kitchen interior, then here are a few fail-safe options that always work:

  • Simple herringbone style: Recreating the herringbone style with subway tiles will make an excellent backsplash for your Mid-Century Modern kitchen interior. It will evoke simple geometry while providing a nice visual pattern that will keep the eye moving throughout the space. It’s definitely something that can make even the simplest of spaces feel dynamic.
  • Teal retro tiles: Teal color is the only exception to brightness that the Mid-Century Modern kitchen interior ever makes. There is no other color that is used quite so vividly and lovingly as this. However, moderation is key and the only way to artistically emulate this hue is through the backsplash. In retrospect, you can use any tile medium you want – be it mosaics, square tiles, shell/scale tiles, or anything else.
  • Peranaken tiles: While pattern is very rarely used in the Mid-Century Modern kitchen aesthetic, Peranaken tiles are a surefire exception. Their unique visuals are perfect for complementing this straight-laced interior design theme. However, using them in moderation is a must, which is why the backsplash is the perfect way to emulate them. It limits the use of the tiles to classic accentuation while complementing the simple sophistication of this style.
  • Concrete textured backsplash: If you really want to ramp up the understated elegance of your Mid-Century Modern kitchen, then going for sophisticated concrete textures in the backsplash is a good way. This material would complement the clean aesthetic of this style with its artistically rough pattern.
  • Geometric patterns: Simple black and white tiles with geometric patterns are an excellent backsplash choice for a Mid-Century Modern kitchen. Do remember that the geometry does not have to be overwhelmingly obvious. Just simple shapes that interconnect from one tile to the next will suffice. This will help mediate the simplicity of the overall kitchen ambiance with some quick visual diversity.
  • Subway tiles: Basic subway tiles are a great option for a Mid-Century Modern kitchen backsplash. They’re simple but also statement-worthy. They’ve got that understated accentuation vibe that can never be truly emulated with simple tiles. Overall, they’re an excellent option for sprucing up such a kitchen design theme.
  • Plain white tiles: Plain white tiles can evoke a retro vibe when used as a backsplash. However, this particular backsplash design/finish is not used as much because it feels old-fashioned for something as modern and timeless as the Mid-Century Modern kitchen interior. It’s best to keep this option as the last resort.

Classic cabinet combo for cabinet & countertop finishes

There’s nothing much to really look through when selecting the cabinet finishes for your Mid-Century Modern kitchen interior. White and wood seems to be the running theme that is used in most such spaces. This is not only because the white and wood combo sticks to the basic characteristics of the Mid-Century Modern style, but also because it’s absolutely iconic and looks the best in almost any kind of a setting.

Always remember: simplicity is the key. So even when you can design a lot of distinct cabinet facades with the wood and white combo, sticking with the basics can help you emulate this aesthetic much better.

As for the countertop finishes, wood and white applies here as well. Any stone surface with a gorgeous creamy white aesthetic is a good option. But it only works if the base cabinets are finished in wood.

Alternately, if your lower cabinets have been finished in white, you can complement them with a wooden countertop. Butcher block surfaces always look quite fascination in such settings. They’re excellent for ramping up the drama while providing great textural contrast within the space.

What type of design accents look best?

Lastly, it’s time to look at all the major design accents that can be featured in a Mid-Century Modern kitchen interior. Having even a few of them can drastically uplift the whole ambiance of your space. Let’s take a look at the most popular once and how you can use them in a Mid-Century Modern kitchen:

  • Plain roller or roman blinds over windows: Of course large kitchen windows require complementary window treatments, and mini-curtains or drapes are a big no-no in the Mid-Century Modern kitchen aesthetic. Instead, you need to invest in either stylish plain roller blinds that fit the ambiance or cozy roman blinds in khaki or beige that emulate a bit of texture within the ambiance. Your choice ultimately depends on whether you want to go for a full-on sleek look or if you want to emulate a bit of hominess within the kitchen ambiance. 
  • Aluminum framed partitions: Aluminum framed windows and partitions are another great way to introduce a bit of accentuation in Mid-Century Modern kitchen interiors. You can have a lot of fun with this design element as aluminum frames are available in quite a few powder-coated finishes. However, black is the best finish that you can select for your aluminum framed doors, windows, and other partitions. Note that this design element looks best when it is used in large spaces and open floor plans.
  • Textured countertops: The Mid-Century Modern kitchen aesthetic is very clean, minimal, and sophisticated, which is why it requires a bit of texture intervention to feel truly wholesome. As mentioned before, you can go for either wood or stone textured countertops to get the best effect. In case of stone, it’s best if you stick to white oriented surfaces such as anthracite-marble, white engineered quartz, white granite, etc. to keep the space in touch with the Mid-Century Modern theme.
  • Midcentury style bar stools: Bar stools are important parts of the Mid-Century Modern kitchen aesthetic. You need to find ones that suit this theme. Fortunately, there are a number of Mid-Century Modern style bar stool readily available in the market. If you’re looking for something that’s delicate and light, then the Wishbone Counter Stool is a good choice. If you’re looking for something that’s a little stylistic, then the Norman Counter Stool with its shell-shaped back is a great option. The Bertoia Counter Stool is an awesome choice if you’re searching for some metal accents and cool material contrasts to feature in your Mid-Century Modern kitchens.
  • Statement light fixtures: If there’s one design element that never fails to gorgeously accentuate a Mid-Century Modern kitchen, it’s a statement light fixture. Now, there are a number of ways that you can introduce one in your spaces. The challenge is to find one that complements white contrasting the Mid-Century Modern style theme and its inherent cleanliness. Fortunately, there are a number of light fixtures that you can find in this genre. From trendy pendant light fixtures to gorgeous multi-armed chandeliers, there’s a lot that you can choose from. 
  • Brass fixtures & hardware: Cabinet door knobs and drawer handles along with sink fixtures provide an awesome accentuation opportunity. You can choose gorgeous brass finished handles and knobs to highlight these small elements. They’ll pop and ramp up the visual dynamic of your kitchens. As for the sink fixtures, you can either go for the classy matt black finish that has become popular these days or stick with the casual brushed nickel finish that’s always a classic.
  • Minimalist appliances: There is no place of bulky ad old-school appliances in a sleek Mid-Century Modern kitchen. Simple ceramic or induction hobs with minimalist hoods are a good choice. Built-in fridges and ovens are also an important part of such kitchen interiors.

So, this is an extensive guide on how you can design yourself a gorgeous Mid-Century Modern kitchen. It’s all about following the basics of the style and emulating the right materials, colors, and accent pieces. Once you're done in the kitchen, you can relax on the sofa and read a magazine lying on top of your mid century modern coffee table. We hope that this guide helps you create the best possible space that you absolutely can!