Mid-century modern is a design movement that dates back to the period between the 1940s and the early '70s which has in more recent years seen a resurgence, with many interior designers and homeowners turning to this retro decor style. Known for its understated approach to design, mid-century modern comprises clean lines, angular furniture, and retro-inspired colors.
Thanks to the overall understated aesthetic that mid-century modern creates, it's a design style that remains timeless, making it a popular look for bathroom ideas that need to maintain their appeal for many years.
'Mid-century modern design is characterized by its beautiful blend of functionality and aesthetics,' says Yousef Mansuri, Director of Design at C.P. Hart. 'Given that the primary focus of a bathroom is its functionality, it is unsurprising that the mid-century design style is a very popular choice.'
7 mid-century modern bathroom ideas
But what's the best way to create a mid-century modern decor in the bathroom? We spoke to interior designers to get their ideas, with seven different core midcentury design features rounded up below to give you some ideas to incorporate this sophisticated interior design trend.
'In a well-designed midcentury bathroom, you’ll find a harmonious blend of sleek minimal lines and dynamic detailing,' explains David Thompson, founder of Assembledge+. 'Highlighting craftsmanship and natural materials, this style is both classic and versatile. It combines the allure of the contemporary while maintaining the charms of tradition, making it a timeless design choice.'
1. Consider retro-inspired colors
While mid-century rooms typically feature a fairly understated range of colors with hues that link to the natural world forming the backdrop of a room, they also often include deep, rich hues associated with the retro revival trend.
'When opting for bathroom colors, warm neutrals like beige and brown paired with bold accent colors are reminiscent of mid-century. Consider the use of vibrant hues such as teal, mustard, or burnt orange in tiles, paint, or accessories for a pop of color that adds character to the bathroom.' says Niko Rasides, Design Director at Nicholas Anthony.
2. Incorporate natural materials
A core part of mid-century design is about incorporating natural materials, most commonly wood such as teak or oak. These natural solid woods have a rich, warm-toned color to them which adds warmth to the room and is key to achieving a mid-century modern style bathroom.
'Embracing natural materials such as wood and stone is a key aspect of mid-century design and can add authenticity to your bathroom space,' explains Niko Rasides. 'You can look to introduce natural wood elements through cabinets, bathroom shelving, or even a wooden vanity, with the warmth of wood can provide a touch of organic beauty to the bathroom.'
As another way to incorporate natural wood into the bathroom, designer Luis Carmona, founder of VERDE Interior Design suggests: 'The use of wood beams in the ceiling or wooden slats as space dividers will add much-needed warmth and softness to a space that is often considered cold.'
Luis Carmona is the owner and lead designer at VERDE Interior Design. With almost two decades of experience in the creative space (interior design, advertising, and marketing), Carmona gets to blend his many passions into one design studio, offering services to commercial and residential clients in both Houston and Dallas.
3. Create clean lines with fixtures
'For fixtures, choose those that reflect the mid-century style, such as angular-shaped sinks, tubs, and faucets,' advises Niko Rasides. 'It's advisable to avoid excessive ornamentation and opt for fixtures with clean lines and minimalistic design, allowing the simplicity of the pieces to speak for themselves.'
Luis Carmona agrees that it's important to keep fixtures understated in mid-century design: 'Use a vanity, bathtub, and hardware with a more simplistic design to keep them from appearing too traditional.'
When it comes to choosing the best color for hardware in a mid-century modern bathroom, Sophie Schofield, Head of Design at Ribble Valley Bathrooms recommends adding warmth with either gold or brass: 'As the style is quite minimal and clean, you can add warmth with timeless finishes on taps, shower heads and even the bathtub itself such as with gold and brass. For shower areas, the combination of gold hardware with white marble and its grey streaks is an excellent choice.'
4. Add interest with mirrors
Adding a retro-inspired mirror to your mid-century bathroom is a great way to add decorative interest and unite the mid=century style. Opting to decorate with mirrors that are large in size can also create a more open feel to the room, as David Thompson explains: 'Layer mirrors and glass to help expand the space, creating a more open and bright ambiance.'
5. Maximize natural light
Having ample amounts of natural light is another core feature of mid-century design. You will often see mid-century homes with large, floor-to-ceiling doors or windows that bring a sense of the outdoors into the home and create a tranquil and relaxed feeling. This is no less true for mid-century bathrooms, where skylights can be used to maximize as much natural light as possible. 'Invite natural light in by incorporating windows or skylights,' agrees David Thompson.
'If you are doing construction in the space, keep the windows low and paneless and any nooks and archways linear,' adds Luis Carmona.
6. Add an element of playfulness
'Look for opportunities to be playful – experiment with geometric tiles, a pop of vibrant color, or intriguing textures on vanities and wall surfaces,' says David Thompson. There are lots of ways you can add vibrant retro details to complete the mid-century look, but tile trends can be a great way to achieve this.
'Don't be afraid to use colored and textured tiles to add character and depth to the space while still keeping the midcentury vibes,' says Luis Carmona. 'Consider a terracotta tile with a matte finish to give the space some earth tones and texture, helping to balance the slick surfaces from the countertops, bathtub, and shower glass.'
When choosing the shapes of your bathroom tile ideas, interior designer Samantha Stathis Lynch of Samantha Ware Designs recommends stacked squares for a mid=century look: 'For the walls, square-colored tiles such as a zellige or handmade ceramic in a stacked configuration manage to look contemporary yet still feel very much in line with the mid-century aesthetic.'
7. Opt for geometric light fixtures
'Bathroom lighting is where you can add some additional personality and character to the space,' says Luis Carmona. 'A lot of mid-century lighting uses circular patterns, curved designs, and a more robust light shade which will help balance out the linear design of the bathroom.'
While the overall look of mid-century is minimal, you can opt for a layered approach with lighting, as Luis explains: 'Don't be afraid to layer the lighting in the space. Use sconces for the vanity, a flush mount light for the center of the bathroom, and some adjustable recessed lighting for the wet areas, specifically your shower and bathtub.'
Mid-century is an incredibly timeless design style that places a large focus on functionality, making it an excellent choice for the bathroom. If you're feeling inspired by the understated and sophisticated look of this popular trend, we've rounded up the best mid-century modern living room ideas to help you achieve this look elsewhere in the home.
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Emily Moorman is a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, working across a range of topics spanning interiors, celebrity and emerging trends. With a background in the fashion industry, Emily is well-versed in the world of design and trend cycles. Her undergraduate degree was in Fashion Communication and Promotion which she studied at Norwich University of The Arts, specialising in writing and digital communications.
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