The Best Color Palettes for Your Mid-Century Modern Home

Mid-century modern style appeals to many homeowners for its throw back, nostalgic aesthetic that celebrates sleek and simple lines. Bar carts, linoleum, banquettes and Formica counter tops support the look, but the color of these materials really sets the tone for a space.

The shades associated with this style range from kitschy 1950s brights to sophisticated 1960s neutral hues. Here are some color palettes you can incorporate to achieve a mid-century modern look in your own space.

Complementary hues

Aqua and tangerine are popular color choices that immediately cue the cheerful feel of a mid-century modern room. Solid shades of either one on chairs or pillows can easily update original pieces from the era and provide a fresh color pop, too.

Source: Chris Barrett

Source: Chris Barrett

A daring choice for wall color, aqua or tangerine also stun when accented in the back of a bookcase or backsplash of a modern kitchen or bathroom.

Citrus tones

A sea of sleek gray is beautiful, but add in some citrus tones and you can keep the mid-century spirit alive via a mix of contemporary and custom pieces. The look easily transitions from indoors to outdoors, which proves ideal for the architectural style of the period.

Citrus tones with a hint of warmth (think martini olives) can create a sophisticated yet loungy feel for a room, especially when paired with maroon or deep brown.

Neutral with a splash

Your mid-century nest will show high on style if you use a soft modern approach. Consider adding a vibrant color such as flamingo pink, chartreuse or splashy turquoise (our color list wouldn’t be complete without it) on one furniture piece to accent an otherwise neutral yet geometric backdrop.

Selecting one colorful item allows you to create an affordable focal point in your space. Metallic accents complement the look and add a touch of simplified Mad Men-style glamour.


Nothing brings out a mid-century modern home’s charm more than keeping walls white and wooden elements exposed. To maintain that backdrop while adding color, consider using the floor as your “fifth wall.” A vibrant geometric pattern can do just the trick when set underfoot, allowing you to embrace pattern and texture, too.

Source: Allison Lind

Source: Allison Lind

Black, white and natural

Make a mid-century statement by celebrating the absence of color. Wood tones effectively take center stage and create a warm glow, while black and white provide the ideal contrast to appreciate the architectural details of the space. Deep tones like black can create the illusion of strong architectural detail in an otherwise plain room, too.

What color palettes have you used for your mid-century modern space?


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