Mid-century modern furniture style

Forget flat packs; second hand mid-century modern furniture is solid, sturdy and can look amazing in a modern setting. Interiors writer Karen Wilson shows you how to get the look.

Mid-century modern furniture still looks fresh and funky today, it's no wonder interior designers love incorporating such pieces from the mid '30s to late '60s into their schemes.

The British Heart Foundation's nationwide network of Furniture & Electrical stores, can offer rich pickings for fans of this style. Look out for clean lines, tapered legs and solid wood such as teak, oak, walnut, beech or elm. Makers like Ercol, Eames, G Plan, Wegner and Jacobsen are all highly sought-after, but there are many copycat designs that can be snapped up for less too.

Mid-century sideboards

Sideboards are a particular favourite with lovers of mid-century modern design. Michele Birch from Merseyside has successfully incorporated her mid '60s sideboard by A.Younger into her dark and moody living room by styling it up with plants, a gold-framed mirror and lamp.

'Dark walls are a great backdrop for the rich colour of the wood,' she says. 'I always vary the size of objects - height makes things look much more grand - and I find groups of three or five are more pleasing to the eye. Don't be afraid to mix old and new together, and bring in different textures too.'

A Michelle Birch sideboard@shellbirch / Instagram

Second hand sideboards - like this £20 bargain - look equally stylish against light walls too, as lifestyle blogger Tiffany Bailey of Boho and Blush has discovered. 'I have a real eclectic mix of furniture in my lounge but they all tie-in together with metallic accents and greenery from my plants,' she says. 'I deliberately haven't put too many things on my sideboard as I wanted its shape to be shown off, so a nice vase, a stack of books with a few accessories on top and a lush, tall plant was all that was needed.'

Tiffany advises being open minded when looking for mid-century furniture. 'As long as you like the overall shape of an item, you can always change door handles and legs or paint them,' she adds. 'But try to be strict with yourself. It's very easy to fall in love with things that aren't actually going to work for the space you have.'

A Tiffany Bailey sideboardbohoandblush.com

Ercol and Beautility

Cat and Steven Findlay from Monkseaton, North Tyneside are also fans of the era, and have restored a £15 Ercol coffee table by sanding and waxing it for a matte finish, as well as a ‘50s Beautility cocktail cabinet.

A Cat Findlay coffee tableA Cat Findlay unit@cat.findlay / Instagram

'When trying to fit mid-century furniture into our home, I like to try them with different accessories that I love and already own to get the perfect look,' says Cat. 'I often bring a selection from different parts of the house and try combinations until it all works. I find that a considered combination of original mid-century accessories and more modern ones usually help to create a cohesive look.'

Retro lover Jo Pearce from Honley in West Yorkshire couldn’t believe her luck when she spotted these Ercol dining chairs for £5 each in a charity shop, as they matched her existing table perfectly.

'The main benefits of charity shop finds are that you're often getting something a bit different, there's the chance of coming across classic design at a fraction of the typical cost and you can add in more modern design to complement it,' she says. 'And of course the charity benefits too.'

Jo Pearce dining chairs@jocpearce / Instagram

Refurbished G Plan

After building a new extension, Jennifer Adam from Uddingston in Scotland visited the British Heart Foundation shop in Western Road, Glasgow, where she picked up these G Plan dining chairs.

Having attended an evening course in furniture restoration, she was able to strip, sand, wax and re-upholster the tired chairs, bringing them back to life. ‘The whole room was inspired by my Nathan sideboard and G Plan chairs,’ she explains. 'I wanted a room that was practical for my young family but showed off my key furniture pieces.'

Jennifer Adam dining chairsJennifer Adam

Start your vintage hunt at one of the British Heart Foundation's Furniture & Electrical stores nationwide.

Find your local BHF Furniture & Electrical store