Let’s talk the right way to steal mid-century style ideas. Believe it or not there is actually a right way and a wrong way to find your mid mod home improvement inspiration.
Done right, you can light up your mind with great ideas and connect with mid-century homeowners who have walked the path you’re on to find out what they learned.
But done wrong, your search for ideas can lead you into overwhelm, or worse…terminal house envy.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Super-Simple Style Guide System
Today’s post is Part TWO of the Four part series on the Simple Style Guide System. I’m going to walk you through each step of focusing your style. Doing this will make EVERY choice you face while remodeling 100% easier!!
Make sure you listen to all four so that you can:
- Name your SPECIFIC Mid-Century Remodel Era and Update Style
- Steal Mid-Century Style Ideas to GREAT success!
- See why a Style Guide > than a Mood board for making your plans happen!
- And … Learn why a Style Guide will save you all the stress!
Take my easy Mid-Century Style Quiz to get start stealing the right style ideas!
Who are your mid mod besties?
The right way to find your mid mod home improvement inspiration also includes knowing whose mid century style to steal. Figuring out which great ideas will be great for YOU means finding folks who have a similar take on mid mod style and who have been in your shoes.
All great designers and artists are inspired by other people. And you can be too. To steal an idea in this context means to see something that’s done and get excited about adapting it is to be inspired not to imitate the source but to spark off of it. If you’re interested in mid-century style, then Instagram can be a great source of inspiration. Here’s how you can use it to steal mid-century style ideas from other homeowners:
Identify Your Mid-Century Heroes
Find some great folks to get inspired by. Give yourself permission to become a fan, an appreciator, a Stan.
Find one or ideally a few other mid-century homeowners who have done, in your opinion, everything right in their homes. Focus on the mid-century accounts as many as you can find that seem to be doing it just your way.
Pick a Small Suite of Mid Mod Besties
Beware of fixating on just one other person who seems to be doing it all.
Remember, you don’t know where they started out from or what their budget was, or their time availability or their skill set. It’s a little bit of a risk to concentrate too closely on one single home when you’re planning to steal mid-century style ideas.
Instead, pick a small suite of mid mod besties rather than just one. When you have more than one ideal, you’re more likely to steal and surpass and less likely to copy or to try and fail to copy.
Break Down Projects into Individual Good Choices
Break down their whole projects into a series of individual good choices.
Make a category for any part of your home you want to improve on – the kitchen, the living room, or the bathroom – then break it down into subcategories such as drawer styles, lighting details, door hardware trim, floor treatments, and more.
Save each one into a Pinterest board by subcategory or make many albums on your phone. If you want to, you can even print them and put them in a notebook or rip them out of magazines.
But we ARE talking about finding your inspo on Instagram here, so you probably want to do this digitally.
Start a Style Guide
Put together a series of style guide. Don’t worry too much about the specific products that someone else used and mentioned that they love. Jot them down if you’re ON FIRE, but don’t get too carried away right now by dreaming about exact materials.
Instead, start to pull together style guide collections of ideas for mid-century screen walls, built in banquette eating areas, cozy conversational nooks, or entry storage.
Putting together your own set of style guide detail sheets will be SO helpful now and in the long run. This is something you can do once for the first area you focus on and then lightly adapt for each and every part of your home.
Have you started already?
Stealing mid-century style ideas from other homeowners on Instagram can be a great way to get inspiration for your own home.
By identifying your mid-century heroes, breaking down their projects into individual good choices, creating a style guide, and picking a small suite of inspiration points, you can create a unique and authentic mid-century style in your own home.
Hello, to Mid Mod Fusion Fans!!
Let’s hang out for a minute. Did you know that I always score Mid Mod fusion on the Mid-century style quiz? I do! This is a great place to be because we have so many GREAT options for upgrading and updating a century home!
Mid mod fusion is all about blending the classic design elements of mid-century modern style with modern updates. It’s the best of both worlds.
You’ve got options. Feel free to swing back and forth between the two ends of the spectrum. In some cases, you might really enjoy a retro throwback design move – preserving something cute and original in the home. But you’re not trying to live in a museum. You want to live in your home. So in other cases, you can choose a more modern option.
Feel free to mix original or vintage design elements (and furniture) with modern reproductions. For example, the IKEA kitchen cabinet rebuild with semi handmade covers or another semi-custom door/drawer front is almost always a great answer.
Watch out for losing too much of your mid-century character. It’s essential to avoid slipping into the trends of today that tie back to the wrong moment in history. So much of what’s on HGTV right now, and also consequently, in big box stores and supply houses pulls from the cottage era, the 1930s.
So, I want you to avoid the following like your home’s style depends on it.
No to Subway Tile
You can use subway-shaped tiles if you orient them in a grid pattern where all of the grout lines line up. But don’t use that alternating sort of traditional brick style subway pattern. It’s going to make your house look like an HGTV special.
Avoid shaker cabinets.
It’s fussy and simple in the wrong kind of way. You’re looking for slab front cabinet doors in almost every case.
NO to painting your woodwork or painting your brick.
Don’t do it.
Beware of gray.
And I say this as a woman who has painted both the inside and the outside of her house gray. Two things to bear in mind here:
Only paint surfaces that can be repainted.
If you go too heavy with the gray, you’re going to end up looking like you’ve tipped over into modern mid-century and you’ve given up on mid mod fusion.
No brushed nickel.
Brushed Nickel is a material of the 1990s and early 2000s. It has no place in a mid-century house. If you want a silver-colored metal, go for shiny or choose a rose gold or an aged bronze that suits our mid mod fusion hearts. But definitely avoid anything in your house that’s made from brushed nickel.
Clarify your style and make it clear to your team
It’s essential to note that people who love mid mod fusion are particularly at risk if they’re working with a team of builders and suppliers who don’t share any mid-century appreciation with them. That’s because it can naturally just take you too far away from your start point based on their default thinking. You might choose a mix of original mid-century furniture pieces and modern built-ins to pick up on their stain colors and some details. But watch out for the details that creep in based on the assumptions of your team.
OK! Go forth and a create a great fusion home!
In Today’s Episode You’ll Hear:
- How find the right places to steal mid-century style ideas.
- Why having more style idols is better than having one.
- Six style trends to avoid to keep that mid mod flavor.
Listen Now On
Resources to Steal Mid-Century Style Ideas
- Take the Style Quiz!
- Check out @thejennyjames.
- @1957housedownsouth is a whole different take on mid mod fusion. Sorry, I said the date of their instagram handle wrong in the podcast!!
- One of my fav’s is @theyellowdoorhouse.
- Learn how to get ready to remodel in 2023 by watching my FREE Masterclass, “How to Plan an MCM Remodel to Fit Your Life(…and Budget)”, ON DEMAND.
More Episodes Devoted to your Style Guide
- Episode 103: Know This before Updating an MCM Home
- Episode 207: Use Pinterest (the right way) to plan your MCM remodel
- Episode 605: Turn Scrolling MCM Instagram into a Remodeling Action Plan
- Episode 804: Remodel Planning Spreadsheets for your MCM Home Update
- Episode 902: I Want to Update My Mid-Century Home. Where do I Start?
- Episode 908: How Do I Pick a Mid Century Faucet? (Or any other finish material for my remodel?)
- Episode 1002: The Style Guide You Need to Keep Your Remodel On Track
- Plus the next two episodes … stay tuned!
And you can always…
- Join us in the Facebook Community for Mid Mod Remodel
- Find me on Instagram:@midmodmidwest
- Find the podcast on Instagram: @midmodremodelpodcast
Read the Full Episode Transcript
There is actually a right way and a wrong way to find your mid mod Home Improvement inspiration my friend. Done right, you can light up your mind with great ideas and even reach out to other mid century homeowners who have just walked the path you’re on to find out what they learned. But done the wrong way, your search for ideas can lead you into overwhelm, or terminal house envy. Asked me how I know.
So today let’s talk about the right way to find to steal mid-century style ideas. Hi there. Welcome back to mid mod remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes helping you match your mid century home to your modern life. I’m your host Della Hansmann, architect and mid century ranch enthusiast. You’re listening to Episode 1202.
Quick reminder, this is part two of four in our mid century style guide series. If you missed last week’s episode, go check it out. We went all in on identifying your mid century style along two different lines. First, how much you want to perfectly preserve and versus how much you want to update your home when you plan your home improvement projects. And when are you thinking about when you think mid century modern?
Both of those questions deserve an answer. And it doesn’t have to take too long. Just get it done. I also had a special shout out last week to my mid century vintage lovers. If that’s you, and you want to keep your house looking as much like a cute little time capsule as possible, then we had words for you. And today we’re going to be doing the same with a little pep talk for those people who score mid mod fusion on my mid century style quiz.
Speaking of which, the resource this week is still the style quiz. Why? Because I want you to go take it. And if you already took it a couple of years ago, good on you. But I’ll be giving you something extra. I’m going to follow up by email with everyone who has ever taken the style quiz and give you a few extra folks to follow specifically for you. So keep an eye on your inbox for more resources calibrated to your style of remodeling whether it is preserving the vintage charm or updating to a modern mid century look.
As always, you’ll find that and the show notes with links to other references I make plus the transcript of the episode at my website made mad dash midwest.com/ 1202. Also remember, it is a perfect time to sign up for the weekend workshop coming in mid-April on style guides. It’s going to be great. I will show you the entire simple style guide system from start to finish. The same way I teach it to my ready to remodel students. And you can follow along and make your own in real time.
So someone once said, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” It might have been Pablo Picasso. It might also have been Igor Stravinsky. Faulkner once said something similar. And Steve Jobs definitely said it. But here’s the thing. What is the difference? What does it mean to copy an idea or to steal it?
Copying means a one to one duplicate, maybe a downgrade? It’s plagiarism. And it’s not cool. But all great designers and artists are inspired by other people. And you can be too. To steal an idea in this context means to see something that’s done and get excited about adapting it is to be inspired not to imitate the source but to spark off of it.
So how do you set about to steal mid-century style ideas? Find some great folks to get inspired by. Today, I want to give you permission to get a little obsessed to become a fan, an appreciator, a Stan. And if you needed one, this is your permission slip to find one or ideally a few other mid century homeowners who have done in your opinion, everything right in their homes.
Now next week, I’m going to talk to you about how to correctly use a style guide material sheet to protect yourself from the pitfall of house envy or feeling like you can’t have the nice things you see on the internet. Because I promise you, you can. But stay tuned for that.
Today I’m going to talk to you about how it’s okay to stake out a couple of other mid century homeowners who have done a great job on their house and documented the heck out of it for the internet. Take them up as your inspiration and follow in their footsteps. Up to a point I did this myself. Although I would recommend that you do it a little more differently than I do.
Generally when I fall in love with someone’s mid century Instagram account, I’m thinking about whether their style would work for any of my clients. They don’t have to be doing it just exactly the way I would. They just have to be doing it in a way that feels honest and authentic and complete. For you, however, focus on the mid century accounts as many as you can find that seem to be doing it just your way.
Now this came up recently in a ready to remodel Office Hours called I was talking about distilling your personal mid century style and I asked spontaneously if the other people on the call had a favorite example of someone that they hold up their perfect mid century Instagram account. I’ll be honest, I was a little surprised by how quickly they all answered. And then I wasn’t. Because each of the persons or couples favorite Instagram accounts was perfect for their tastes based on everything else I already knew about them.
One person called out the Jenny James a great choice. Another claimed 1957 house down south. Also a fantastic house quite a different approach. Still another one mentioned the one I just spotted on my own insta, the yellow door house. Again, a fantastic approach to updating a mid century home quite distinct from the other two.
When I thought about it a little more, I realized they just been doing their homework, and it was brilliant. It’s so helpful to see other people doing their remodels right. And I often find a homeowners Instagram account to be a little more approachable than a blog they keep or particularly a magazine feature, which only talks about the finished product and only a little bit about the journey along the way. Instagram accounts will sometimes be a little more real with the possibilities show their work a bit more.
I do have a caveat. Beware of fixating on just one other person who seems to be doing it all. Remember, you don’t know where they started out from or what their budget was, or their time availability or their skill set. It’s a little bit of a risk to concentrate too closely on one single home when you’re planning to steal mid-century style ideas. Instead, I recommend you pick a small suite of inspiration points rather than just one. When you have more than one ideal, you’re more likely to steal and surpass and less likely to copy or to try and fail to copy.
Okay, so step one is identify your mid-century heroes. Where are you going to steal mid-century style ideas. Step two is to break down their whole projects into a series of individual good choices. This is where it can really help you to put together a series of style guide sheets. For any part of your home you want to improve on the kitchen in the living room or bathroom, make a category, then break that down into subcategories.
Drawer styles, lighting details, door hardware trim, floor treatments, you name it, save each one into a Pinterest board by sub subcategory or make many albums on your phone. Open up a Canva doc and make a collection of images together with annotation text. If you want to. You can even print them and put them in a notebook or rip them out of magazines. But we’re talking about Instagram here, so probably want to do this digitally.
It can help to note down the specific products that someone else used and mentioned that they love. But don’t get too carried away right now by dreaming about exact materials. Again, watch out for copying. You’re planning to steal mid-century style ideas, not copy them. So putting together your own set of style guide detail sheets will be so helpful now and in the long run. This is something I do for each and every one of our masterplan clients.
I’ll use the example of an eat in space in the kitchen. We talk to our clients about various ways to create a casual Hangout or eating space inside their kitchens if possible, or nearby, if not sitting on an island or a peninsula is one modern approach. Another that I love to add into a mid century remodel that has enough space is a built in bench Ideally an L shaped bench sometimes a booth.
It makes a space where you can sit on a patted comfortable surface and make eye contact with a cook or if you’re the cook yourself, you can sit down and take a load off while keeping an eye on the amount of steam coming out of something on simmer. The way we present our masterplan clients with their designs is that for the workshop meeting, we prepare two separate documents.
One is the solutions package that’s full of alternates of plans and prospective sketches of their actual home and how we propose to change it. And the second document is a style guide jammed with example photos, inspiration, images, standard design recommendations, and a custom material guide.
When I recommend a built in banquette, a dining area in the kitchen to a client, I usually show them a sketch or two of how it would look in their own home, at least one of our kitchen schemes and the matching prospective sketches of that.
But I also have a sheet or two that will show up in their style guide document. With photo examples of how a built in bench works and other mid century home upgrades or vintage original mid century homes. We often recommend a bench that appears to float a wall mounted unit.
This is a great idea in homes where square footage is limited because you can get to see a little bit of the floor extending underneath the bench which makes any small area feel larger. It’s also necessary if you install a bench over baseboard radiators.
In other cases where they need more storage capacity. So then you can think about a bench that is built right over pullout drawers. It works nicely actually to use the same kind of drawers you use for the kitchen cabinets, a two foot deep base cabinet.
Now, you might think if you were thinking critically, that a two foot deep bench is pretty uncomfortable to sit on, we want a chair to be no more than 18 inches deep. But that actually gives you a nice amount of space to tip out an angled bench back. Because it’s also not very comfortable to sit up at a right angle with your back to the wall.
So this allows us room to create a nice gentle back slope with room for cushions and padding and still plenty of storage underneath. We’ll show people different examples, different types of built in floating or storage benches from different projects in different homes.
So where will you start? I bet you already have a favorite mid century Instagram account or two at the top of your list where you can start to steal mid-century style ideas. But what I recommend you do is spend a little more time curating your choices. Focus on the projects where the homeowner is doing things as close as possible to the way you would. A close match for you Remodeling style and the mid century moment or era you have identified in the last week’s episode.
If your most commonly viewed accounts don’t line up, go find a few that do. Remember, go take the mid century style quiz and I will follow up afterwards with an additional list of some of my favorite mid century Instagram homeowner accounts for each remodeling type to follow.
Now, if you’re remodeling style is right down the middle between preserving the vintage and updating to a more modern style. If you hit mid mod fusion, then let’s step aside and chat for a minute. Here are my words of wisdom, especially for you friend, and they come from the heart because this is my own personal style type, even though I work with clients on either end of the spectrum.
For we who love mid century fusion, mid mod fusion, you’ll find yourself waffling between the two ends of the spectrum. In some cases, you might really enjoy a retro throwback design move, but you’re not trying to live in a museum. You want to live in your home. So in other cases, you choose a more modern option. Often, we’re going to opt for reproductions. For you, the IKEA kitchen cabinet rebuild with semi handmade covers or another semi-custom drawer front is almost always the right answer.
But you want to watch out for losing too much of your mid century flavor. And you especially want to watch out for slipping into the trends of today that tie back to the wrong moment in history. So much of what’s on HGTV right now, and also consequently, in big box stores and supply houses pulls from the cottage era, the 1930s. So I want you to avoid following that like your homestyle depends on it.
For the mid mod fusion folks out here. Here’s our list of do not dues, no to subway tile, you can use subway shaped tiles, if you orient them in a grid pattern where all of the grout lines line up. But don’t use that alternating sort of traditional brick style subway pattern. It’s going to make your house look like an HGTV special. It will try to be looking like a 1930s cottage, and it won’t.
Please avoid shaker cabinets. This is a detail that does not line up with mid century style. It’s fussy. And it’s sort of simple and fancy in the wrong kind of way. You’re looking for slab fronts in almost every case.
Please avoid painting your woodwork and painting your brick. This is going to be an easy temptation to make a place feel fresh and make sure it’s not tipping too much to the vintage of the preservationist style. But it nearly always goes wrong. And I don’t want you to end up regretting this.
Also, especially beware of gray. And I say this as a woman who has painted both the inside and the outside of her house gray. Only paint surfaces that can be repainted. And if you go too heavy with the gray, you’re going to end up looking like you’ve tipped over into modern mid century and you’ve given up on mid mod fusion.
Finally, this is for everyone and for all the marbles. No brushed nickel. Brushed Nickel is a material of the 1990s and early 2000s. It has no place in a mid century house. If you want a silver colored metal, go for shiny or do something that suits our mid mod fusion hearts choose a rose gold or an aged bronze. But definitely avoid anything in your house that’s made from brushed nickel.
Here’s the other thing. We people who love mid mod fusion are particularly at risk if we’re working with a team of builders and suppliers who don’t share any midcentury appreciation with us. That’s because it has a result of naturally just taking us too far away from our start point based on their default thinking. You might choose a mix of original mid century furniture pieces and modern built ins to pick up on their stain colors and some details. But watch out for the details that creep in based on the assumptions of your team.
Again, you don’t have to have a single original midcentury item in your house, and you can still have a lovely mid mod flavor by picking up the materiality, the colors, the wood stains and grains of some of those original choices as long as you avoid the subway tile the shaker cabinets and painting your brick gray.
Definitely have a look when you’re house hunting at the untouched Time Capsule houses because that’s an opportunity for people like us to make surgical intentional changes rather than having to start from scratch.
But if you find yourself with a flip, you can carefully tune it back by re-replacing the doors, re-replacing the trim and sort of undoing some of those thoughtless choices made in the past.
All right for everybody. Let’s recap this episode’s lesson. Basically, I want you on the hunt not for ideas to copy but for places to steal mid-century style ideas and then adapt them for your own home.
It can help to choose one or better several other mid century homeowners who have made choices you like to upgrade their homes. Don’t worry about making your house look just like theirs. That almost never works. Unless you move in next door to someone and an Eichler or tract house development and then do yours up to match theirs precisely. That would be super creepy by the way, or the subject of a good horror movie. I don’t know. I don’t watch a lot of horror.
The point is, once you’ve started to find inspiration, start to pull it apart, dissect it for the great component ideas and document in a way that you’ll be able to track down later. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it doesn’t have to work. Send me by the way, an Instagram DM with your favorite midcentury homeowner account listed, and I’ll feature them in a story or go ahead and send me two or three or four.
Once again, you’ll find the show notes and mid mile dash midwest.com/ 1202. Grab the links I mentioned and see an outline of what we’ve just covered. Plus sign up for the style guide clinic while the early bird price lasts and get excited for next week on the podcast, when I’ll be singing some songs for people who want to modernize their mid century home without sterilizing it.
And I’ll have advice for all of you on how you can use your style guide materials sheet to make that happen for your home on your budget. The same method works regardless of your preservation style, so don’t panic. This episode is for everyone. See you next week and send me your mid century style inspirations. Where are you going to steal your mid century style ideas from?