Mid-century modernism brought stylish and accessible home design to the masses. The shapes and structures held practical appeal, and the manufacturing techniques were nothing short of revolutionary.
This unique design method offers affordable yet visually striking opportunitie.
Understanding the Mid-Century Modern Aesthetic
The principles of mid-century modern design were founded on the Bauhaus school of thought, emerging in the late 1930s. This fresh, new perspective on design focused on meshing architecture with nature. It thrived on the concept that design should embrace the natural world, rather than be separate from it.
Mid-century modern’s foundational concepts orbited around simplicity, utility, and a return to “honest” materials. It rejected the over-embellishment, ornamentation, and excess of years past, choosing instead to celebrate a more streamlined aesthetic.
Its manifesto of modernity fascinated the public, and its affordability made it accessible to the masses. This combination of appeal and availability helped mid-century modern design become a post-war staple in households across North America and Europe.
This focus on simplicity and unity with the natural world is still a global phenomenon, covering not only interior design but also architecture, furniture, technology, manufactured textiles, and fine art.
The Nature of Things
Although the mid-century penchant for ‘honest’ materials isn’t exclusively limited to materials found in nature, wood, leather, concrete, stone, and clay are all favorites of mid-century modern designers. Woven fabrics, wicker, and cork were also much-beloved for their effortless style, durability, and ecological integrity.
Mid-century modern home designs often featured large swaths of floor-to-ceiling glass windows, allowing homeowners to connect with the outdoors, essentially bringing the outside in. When combined with an open floor plan, interior spaces were bathed in natural light, creating a peaceful and serene environment that invites reflection and joy.
The architecture of mid-century modern also tended to feature multiple access points to the outdoors, including patios, balconies, and even rooftop access, as these rooftops were often flat. Many buildings were also integrated right into hills and valleys, as the lifestyle encouraged humans molding to nature, rather than the other ways around.
With all this focus on the natural world, a well-crafted mid-century modern home needs landscaping to match. The idea is to feel like you are living indoors and outdoors simultaneously.
The mid-century modern penchant for flat planes, clean lines, geometric shapes, and human-made materials isn’t precisely mirrored in nature. However, there are ways to reflect the Bauhausian structure without replicating it. The interior architecture combines hard lines and flat planes with the softening presence of natural elements. This nicely juxtaposes with the freer, less angular aspects of the outdoors.
Nature tends to grow wild, eclectic, and asymmetrical. However, there are individual plants that can echo your home’s sculptural interior elements. Straight lines of garden beds, for example, can mimic the flat planes of the architecture. Mix different plant types, sizes, and heights to create shape, dimension, and visual interest, defining the perimeters of your home.
As with the rest of the mid-century modern home, landscaping should reflect simplicity. This can be accomplished by choosing a more relaxed and casual approach to plant life – nothing too flashy or extravagant or that will need attentive daily care. The concept of simplified living means not having to put excessive effort into maintaining a garden, so it’s helpful to select greenery that will thrive naturally in our climate.
Color Me Neutral
Many mid-century modern homes shy away from flowers and colorful blooms, electing instead for hardy plants in greens, yellows, browns, and dark red tones. For gardens in Midwest states like Illinois and Missouri, some sturdy, low-maintenance, and suitably subtle plants include Hosta, yarrow, switchgrass, little bluestem, and certain varieties of sedum.
We Want a Shrubbery!
Low-maintenance shrubs, both tall and short, can create height, dimension, and offer some privacy, which can be much needed for homes with large windows. By putting shrubs at the edge of your property, you can show off a peek of architecture and an eyeful of stylish garden while still maintaining a sense of privacy inside. Plus, the shape of shrubbery can, if desired, be pruned to reflect the home’s geometry.
Do these landscaping suggestions speak to you? When you’re ready to get started, reach out to the design-build team at McDermott. We’ll work with you to mastermind the perfect mid-century modern landscape. Our experts bring the knowledge, you bring the vision, and together, we will create something extraordinary. Connect with us today.
Brittany received her interior design degree in 2010 and recently earned her kitchen and bathroom certifications. She sees her job as much more than just picking out pretty colors and materials – it also involves exact measurements, plenty of planning, and determining how to have a space accurately reflect the lifestyle of its occupants.