I’m sure you’ve heard of “mid-century modern,” but do you know how to properly distinguish this style from others? This movement is having a big moment. Thanks to its sleek lines and eco-friendly aesthetic, designers and decorators today are once again embracing the aesthetic.
The mid-century modern aesthetic formed between the 1930s and the mid-1960s. The style grew in the United States through inspiration from styles prior, such as the International style in Germany. With its embodiment of elements of functionality, minimalism, elegance, and traditional and non-traditional styles, it was a hit across the nation. Cara Greenburg, author of Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s, is credited with giving a name to the trend in the late 1980s, when there was a resurgence of interest in the style.
Mid-century modernism gave birth to many designs that you’re probably familiar with but might not know by name. The most famous example is the Eameses of the “Eames Chair” fame. This was a lounger / ottoman chair set that “revolutionized” the chair industry. The chair has replicators to this day.
The version of mid-century modernism (modern mid-century modernism?) we often see today is a little different from its true mid-century roots. Today’s movement is environmentally-friendly, promoting the use of recycled materials such as metal, glass, vinyl, and plywood.
And a key part in the furniture design that distinguishes it from other styles are “pin legs,” the thin, straight legs seen in some of the images below.
The mid-century modern style offers a clean, fun and exciting aspect to any design!
Over the past few months, we’ve worked on several different home renovations. Mid-century modern, modern traditional, eclectic, they’ve all had their own style. But one thing we’ve noticed in common is live edge wood. We’ve spotted benches, dining tables, and shelves, as well as end tables. Live edge pieces are incredibly versatile elements of a design, mixing utility and artistry; they can work just as well as statement pieces or as more subdued components of a more cohesive style.
Normal timber is surfaced on all four sides – the wider top and bottom surfaces, as well as shorter side surfaces. Live edge wood skips a step. Depending on the effect the furniture maker wants to get, only one or two of the surfaces are planed. The remaining surfaces are left in their raw, “live” state, with minimal sanding and light finishes added.
Live edge retains more of the character of the original wood. Bark from the tree, knots, irregular grain patterns, holes bored by insects or man-made materials, damage and re-growth from floods or fires, what others might consider “imperfections,” are put on full display. When incorporated into a piece of furniture, it transforms the natural characteristics of the wood into a work of art.
We’ve seen live edge pieces pop up in projects with a variety of aesthetics. The most obvious is rustic farmhouse, a style that already has an ample use of wood and wood products. We’ve also seen live edge featured in industrial and ultramodern homes and renovations. With the number of woods available – cedar, pine, oak, cypress, and more – as well as the availability of finishes, live edge pieces could potentially work in a full range of styles.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about cabinet lighting. It’s a trending technology in the interior design industry and is becoming increasingly common in requests I get from clients. Obviously, lighting cabinets makes it easier to find things in the cabinets, drawers, etc., but new inset LED lighting also takes away the need to do a light baffle. This creates a cleaner look for the client.
Interior lighting (as opposed to exterior lighting) can be broken down into three main types: task lighting, functional lighting, and accent lighting. Knowing about the different types of lighting can help you and your client make an informed decision about installation in and around their cabinets.
1) task lighting
illuminates an area where a task is performed.
could be the lighting under cabinets that runs over a food prep area or near a sink
allows someone to see what they are doing when they are doing it
2) functional lighting
allows someone to move freely through a space
this could be lighting on the ceiling that generally illuminates a room
this could also be lighting along the floor that shows furniture or changes in flooring type
most used lighting in a home
3) accent lighting
lighting that isn’t functional or task lighting
could be used to show off a piece of artwork or furniture, or in libraries to accent books
In-cabinet lighting has a wide range of uses in many different areas of the home. Of course, the kitchen is the most popular area for cabinet lighting – partially because the most cabinet space is in that area – but there are also applications in the living and dining room areas, bedrooms and bathrooms. Wood-Mode Cabinetry has some great videos on incorporating cabinet lighting in wet bars, bathrooms, and bedrooms. I myself like to incorporate them in bedroom closets, where lighting along shelves or racks makes it easier for clients to find their clothes or shoes necessary for the day.
When thinking about incorporating cabinet lighting into a project, you need to consider shadows and light reflections. Shiny cabinets or busy backsplashes can reflect a lot of light, which can detract from the overall look of the space. Also, a person standing or moving in certain areas can create shadows across workspaces. You want to get an even coverage across an entire area. Always place lighting to avoid shadows and reduce reflections. Choosing wall-washing or wall-grazing angles for your clients’ projects can help eliminate some shadows and reflections.
You also need to consider the intensity of the light. Most designers are careful to avoid lights that are too bright or too cool. Overall, we, as humans, tend to prefer warmer light. LED lights have progressed far beyond light bulbs and allow for a full range of light intensities. The warmth or coolness of the lights will depend on the cabinets used in the project, as well as the surrounding areas.
Cabinet lighting has been around for a while in a different form, but strides in technology have made them much less expensive and more eco-friendly than they used to be. With companies like Wood-Mode
building them into the cabinets, they are even becoming easier to install. Lots of trends come and go, but I envision that cabinet lighting is one that is here to stay.
If you’re remodeling a space and want to add something to draw the eye, look no further than a patterned ceiling. No, not a popcorn ceiling – thankfully, that trend has been out for a while. Patterned ceilings, created using tiles, wood, or striking wallpapers, are bringing new life to the long-neglected “fifth wall.” And, contrary to popular belief, adding pizzazz to your ceiling can make your space feel bigger and more inviting.
Want to get ahead of the curve by incorporating this trend? Think symmetrical. Anything added to the ceiling should follow the lines of the rest of the room and not detract from patterns or styles on walls or ceilings. Geometric shapes, like squares, triangles and hexagons, make it easier to line up pieces or rolls from different wallpapers, but don’t be afraid to experiment.
Wood definitely adds the wow factor, especially when arranged in a herringbone pattern like in the picture above. However, if you want to make an easier and more cost-effective addition to a room, consider a patterned wallpaper. The rooms pictured below use geometric patterns and nature-inspired motifs to create refined and even charming spaces.
A great way to get an old world or shabby chic feel in a room is by adding patterned tiles. Tin tiles are still incredibly popular, especially in homes with dropped ceilings, but you could incorporate tiles with clean lines and edges for a more modern or refined look.
Patterned ceilings can work in pretty much any palette, as long as the color is harmonious with the rest of your decorating scheme. If you want more tips specifically about incorporating color, check out our other post on ceiling colors.
The front porch is easily the most important aspect of your home’s appearance and the impression it has on the onlooker. At Ourso Designs, being natives of the south, we LOVE our front porches! There are just a few elements that make up a great front porch.
Like every interior space, exterior spaces also need a layer of lighting. General lighting is important; after all, you want to be able to see on the porch. Next, a couple sconces or a center lantern are great for accenting. Finally, task lighting is essential for highlighting important areas of the landscape, like plant arrangements, trees, or lawn fixtures.
The secondary purpose of the front porch (aside from it’s utility purpose to provide shelter) is to be inviting. Seating affirms that inviting impression. Another advantage is it gives you (and any guests) an opportunity to relax in an area of your home that lends a different view.
Also like most interior spaces, exterior spaces benefit from the addition of plants. Potted plants can act much like accessories. Like layering fabrics and patterns, its important to have plants of different shapes, sizes and textures on your porch.This will create a pleasing overall aesthetic.
Finally, color! Many add a pop of color by painting the front door an eye-catching color. Not a fan? That’s okay! There are other ways to incorporate color: in your plants’ pots, the plants themselves, and seating and seating accessories (pillows/cushions), just to start. Another option is to incorporate an outdoor rug. “Color” doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be bright; producing contrast among existing materials is just as effective as having a bright red door.
We wanted to take some time to recognize one of the greatest American architects to ever live, Frank Lloyd Wright. You might have heard of him before, but not everyone knows he was, and continues to be, one of the most important American architects.
Born in Richland, Wisconsin in 1867, and dying in 1959 at the age of 91, Wright’s fame reached its peak in the early 1920s. His Usonian homes, as well as his large public work projects, made Wright a household name.
With influences as eclectic as Beethoven and Japanese art, Wright managed to create cohesive, uniform spaces and buildings that all worked with, instead of against, the nature around them. This philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world provided the tenants for the “organic architecture” movement. Today, any building’s shape or function that mimics nature is categorized as organic.
One of Wright’s most famous residential creations is his Fallingwater house in southwestern Pennsylvania, seen above. The levels of the house juxtapose each other, creating visual interest without disturbing the surrounding nature.
Those same juxtaposed linear levels are often seen in modern design, in everything from buildings’ exterior structure to the furniture within. You are kidding yourself if you think a building with an organic shape does not catch your eye and make you want to go inside.
Wright’s legacy continues to influence modern design. He changed both the ways we live and build.