Use big patterns to invoke the midcentury feel in your home.
Two bold patterns dominate this room, but they play nicely. A large-scale atomic square pattern is confined to the rug while a smaller, repeated boomerang pattern carries through the curtains and accent pillows. Warm tones of red and orange create just enough of a connection between the two patterns that they are just shy of overwhelming. Photo by Jim Brown.

The ’50s began the space age. It was in 1957 that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, and in 1969, the first humans walked on the moon. Naturally, interior design trends moved with the times, and atomic, space-oriented patterns became popular. Starbursts and planet-shaped graphics grew on the market, as did abstract patterns with hexagons, trapezoids and boomerangs.

When reconstructing your midcentury home, use these patterns to contribute to the MCM feel. Even if you don’t have the budget for authentic midcentury furniture, you can recreate the space age look using big patterns in your decor. Here are some ideas.

Rugs.

When it comes to decorating, we often don’t think about how the floor contributes to the look of a room. But a good rug or carpet can increase the midcentury feel exponentially. Add an area rug to your living or dining room that speaks to the dynamic atmosphere of the ’60s. Choose an abstract pattern with lots of colors, or a repeating pattern with only a few shades. The bigger the pattern, the better. Since the rug will cover a lot of ground, a small pattern will get lost in the shuffle, but a larger pattern will stick out and become a statement piece.

Fabric.

Because fabric serves so many purposes in a home, you can use it in a variety of ways to add MCM style, whether you choose a midcentury pattern for your curtains, pillows, bedding or even upholstery. If you want to keep things low key, stick with pillows. This is an easy way to add a bit of MCM design to any room—a few simple pillows on a bed, couch or hall bench will instantly recall the ’50s and ’60s. Keep in mind the size of the piece. On an accent pillow, a smaller pattern will be better because you’ll be able to see the whole pattern. If you’re covering a larger surface area with curtains, however, go with a bigger pattern that will help orchestrate the feel of the room.

Art.

Don’t just stop with textiles. Art is a great way to complement your midcentury decor. Think of pieces by artists such as Picasso and El Gato Gomez—their work is abstract with large, sweeping patterns. Frame a print of one of their famous paintings, or seek out a contemporary artist who exudes that midcentury style.