The modern home has made a comeback of sorts — more than
60 years past its heyday in the 1950s.
Design authorities nationwide have recently touted the popularity of
midcentury modern design and architecture, and closer to home, local
experts echo the resurgence.
Here three industry pros — architect Justin Racinowski, owner of Justin
Racinowski Arch-itecture; Sharon Celek Kevil, director of sales and
product development at design-build firm Scátháin; and Russ Waters, a
designer with Wisconsin Kitchen Mart — offer their ideas for those who
want to follow the trend.
Racinowski says midcentury modern design, like its postmodern and
contemporary cousins, has similarly calming characteristics.
“One of the major things I love about midcentury modern design is that
it gets rid of all the clutter and ornamentation,” Racinowski says. The
style, he adds, was a responsive backlash to the Industrial Revolution’s
Kevil likes how midcentury blends with other styles, such as
Scandinavian design. “There’s an emphasis on clean lines, glass and
natural light,” she says. “Concrete, cinderblock, brick, stone, glass,
wood — it’s really about letting (the) materials be themselves.”
Waters says that classic feel for kitchens means curve elements — be it
walls, cabinetry or countertops. “Simple, sleek lines are emphasized,”
he says. “You won’t see corbels or brackets. Lighting is recessed
Racinowski says to also pay attention to the exterior. For those who
live in or are contemplating buying a midcentury modern home —
especially a ranch-style home — consider a metal roof that has lasting
power, and create an interior-exterior extension of materials, adding a
natural wood, stone or concrete wall.
major rule, all three of our experts note, is to not force modern
elements into a decidedly different style home. Accents of the style
work well, even if it’s just to pay homage to this fascinating era of
design and architecture.
“Don’t take it too seriously,” Racinowski says. “Don’t be afraid to be
funky. This lends itself
to a contemporary lifestyle, so don’t be afraid to make those changes to
the lifestyle you already have.”
10 Ways to Introduce
Midcentury Modern Elements:
1. Include furniture with retro lines from Scandinavian design
manufacturers — or explore resale shops and online sources.
2. Look for versatile side tables topped in wood or marble.
3. Consider furnishing textures like wool and leather as well as sleek,
4. Include brightly hued pillows and throws (heavy on the layers!) and
wall art. For wall art colors, stick to turquoise, yellow and red.
5. Create an accent wall with a bright retro color, stained or painted
plywood, brick veneer or stacked stone.
6. Dress up a fireplace wall or hearth with stacked stone.
7. Where possible, expand windows to bring in more light, further
emphasizing the space and furnishings.
8. Use chrome fixtures and hardware in bathrooms and kitchens.
9. Keep 21st-century kitchen technology, but mix in today’s improved
versions of Formica counters and vinyl floors.
10. Declutter your
environment by paring down framed pictures and tchotchkes that populate
tables, shelves and other areas. The idea is to have the eye purely
focus on each space.