Thanks to the style’s skyrocketing popularity, the act of procuring Mid-Century Modern furniture has become part sport, part art. Scouring the web; combing through secondhand shops; frequenting flea markets — it’s all part of the game to locate MCM’s heavy hitters. (Think Arne Jacobsen, George Nelson, and the Eameses.) Although no one can deny the thrill of the hunt, it shouldn’t take crisscrossing the earth to snag a good find. That’s why we rounded up some places to find Mid-Century Modern furnishings below. Makes search your search as sleek and smooth as the furniture itself!

Related Read: Design 101: Mid-Century Modern

In this Mid-Century Modern home, KitchenLab Interiors used a open cabinet, mid-century modern style dining chairs, and a square mid-century modern style table.
Design by KitchenLab Interiors / Photo by Michael Kaskel

What is Mid-Century Modern Style Furniture?

While many styles pack on the embellishments (we’re looking at you Rococo!), Mid-Century Modern strips back. Simplification forced designers of the era were to contend with fundamental questions about form and function — how do you create an austere piece that doesn’t drift into banality? These musings merged with the philosophies of the post-war era, resulting in furniture that was comfortable, lightweight, and attainable.

Clean, curved lines, tapered legs, and organic shapes define Mid-Century Modernism. With the host of new materials that arrived after WWII, including plywood, fiberglass, and plastic, designers were able to experiment like never before. Despite these state-of-the-art additions, Mid-Century Modern furniture still used natural materials. Furnishings from the era frequently incorporate mixed material structure — teak with fiberglass, slate with chrome! Space Age and Pop Art influence, led to MCM furniture adopting bright, single-tone hues.

In this mid-century modern living room with a vintage fireplace, Martin Young Design used a rocking leather chair, a shaded floor lamp, and a mid-century modern side table.
Design by Martin Young Design / Photo by Matthew Millman

Turn to the OGs

To find prime Mid-Century pieces, go direct to the source. Manufacturers like Knoll and Herman Miller were manufacturing pioneers and they still dominate the market today. With iconic pieces like Mies Van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair, Eero Saarinen’s tulip table, and the Herman Miller Aeron chair in their arsenal, these companies’ pedigrees are no question. While these iconic designs can be pricey, if you’re searching for an authentic classic, why not splurge?

Eleven Interiors used a Eero Saarinen tulip table and wooden mid-century modern chairs in this mid-century dining room. In the background is a mid-century modern console.
Design by Eleven Interiors / Photo by Sabrina Cole Quinn

Explore Big Box Retailers

Aiming for that sleek, Mid-Century Modern look, but don’t necessarily need an original piece? Luckily for you, contemporary brands also sell plenty of MCM-inspired furnishings (and for a fraction of the price!). West Elm, for instance, boasts a variety of Mid-Century style seating, casegoods, and decor. Similarly, CB2 — Crate and Barrel’s more modern sister brand — also sells mixed material chairs and desks sans drawers (in typical MCM fashion). Hailing from one of the pioneering sites of Mid-Century Modernism, Scandinavia’s IKEA is also a good place to find pieces.

To achieve this Houston mid-century modern home, Jamie Bush + Co. used a red velvet sectional, a mid-century modern side table and coffee table, and a wall of collected art pieces.
Design by Jamie Bush + Co. / Photo by Roger Davies

Consult Online Marketplaces

e-commerce sites like ebay, Craigslist, Offerup, and Facebook Marketplace often carry mid-century gems. These online marketplaces allow you to set your location parameters to sort only local dealers’ inventory. Of course, consumer-to-consumer online shopping comes with caveats. Beware of scams that either don’t deliver the promised product or simply pocket payment. A couple ways to protect yourself; document everything (details about the item, serial numbers, etc.) and always arrange for a tracking number, if shipping. Also, never pay for an item in advance and only use the platform’s official channels, cash, or online payment systems like PayPal. Pro tip: For PayPal, never select friends and family payment option. This invalidates your ability to get a refund!

In this mid-century bungalow, SH Interiors used a glass coffee table, green barrel chairs, and a mid-century modern console to complete the room.
Design by SH Interiors / Photo by Stephanie Wiley Photography

Google Search Smartly

Say all you want about the internet, but outfitted with the right search terms, Google can rival a veteran hound dog. To unlock vintage gems, use words from the mid-century era. For example, search for “sideboards,” “buffets,” or “hutches” instead of “dresser.” “Consoles,” “rocking chairs,” and “lounge chairs” are also mainstays of the style that are worth Googling, Binging, Yahooing… you get the idea.

Consider yourself an old-school, IRL shopper? While connecting face-to-face with purveyors is amazing, also consider websites (like Chairish!), which offer generous return policies and ample protections. Plus, it’s easier to compare prices online. When you’ve set your sights on a piece, search the web for the same item to see if the one you’re considering. Here at Chairish, we have the Chairish Pink Book which allows you to browse sold versions of the item you’re interested in.

Mansfield + O'Neil used a round mid-century modern dining table and green mid-century dining chairs in this al fresco dining room.
Photo courtesy of Mansfield + O’Neil

Go On a Treasure Hunt

In truth, there’s nothing like the excitement of finding a prize piece at an antique store or flea market. Not only is shopping in-person a great way to connect with local vendors, but you can also serendipitously score treasures that might not available on the net. Although antique stores are amazingly curated and vetted, find more affordable options at thrift stores and estate and garage sales. Also, never shy away from negotiating price!

Shop Mid-Century Modern Furniture >>

Lead image: Design by Annie Santulli Designs / Photo by Robert Brantely Photography


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August 19, 2022

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