7 mid-century small living room ideas to covet now and forever

Enjoy timeless expert-approved mid-century small living room ideas

Atmospheric lounge with gray plaster walls, wooden floors, accent iron lighting, coffee table with accent table decor, and couches giving mid-century feel
(Image credit: Artem Kropovinsky, Arsight)

Charming, timeless, inherently beautiful, we're talking about mid-century small living room ideas. You've probably encountered this interior design style without even knowing it, but it's the one that had that touch of put-together coolness.

It might look effortless but it's anything but, needing balance pull it off. Our expert interior designers dive into bringing mid-century small living room ideas to life with wooden pieces, tufted furniture, and slimline, low-slung chairs.  

Achieve this unfussy, earthy, yet energizing vibe that works brilliantly as a small living room idea, with inspiration from our super seven style tips.

7 mid-century small living room ideas 

Simply put, mid-century design is cool without being overdone, and timeless without feeling dusty. Lack of square footage will not interrupt this interior design style's presence with help from our panel of experts and their recommendations.

1. Keep it simple with a gentle contrast of colors

White lounge with accent low leather chairs adjacent to couches sat over quietly patterned gray area rug

(Image credit: Created by Amy Youngblood Interiors, photography by Kortnee Kate Photography)

The mid-century modern aesthetic is eye-catching for many reasons, including its balanced color palettes. When deciding your mid-century smaller living room idea, lean into a neutral base palette, before layering shades of brown.

Interior designer Amy Youngblood says. "When designing a mid-century style living room, stick with a more neutral and light pallet. I like colors such as caramel, tan, blacks, shades or white with pops of green." 

The key is to keep it pared-back. Amy adds, "The mid-century modern era produced a lot of nature-inspired colors so keep it organic looking and simple!"

woman with brown hair smiling and leaning on brick wall is Amy Youngblood interior designer.jpg
Amy Youngblood

Amy Youngblood creates stunning interiors thoughtfully blending lifestyle and design preferences. With extensive experience in the Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio markets, as well as Northern Kentucky and beyond, Amy Youngblood Interiors continues to take the design world by storm.

2. Let artistic elements speak for themselves

Picasso print dark brown wood classic frame on white wall with curved floor lamp in front

(Image credit: @opulencepdx)

While a vintage Picasso print (such as Harlequin on horseback here) does not really need emphasis, a small mid-century modern design takeaway is its soft and unfussy approach to colorful accessories and wall decor. Notice how Harlequin stands alone, with just a dash of natural and artificial light, and that is enough to add style and elegance. 

"Vibrant throw pillows, bold area rugs, fun lighting, and eye-catching wall art can inject personality and warmth into the space without overwhelming it," explains Amy. "The key lies in striking a balance between simplicity and pops of color, creating a harmonious mid-century small living room that feels both inviting and stylish."

3. Add life with greenery

Small lounge with gray plaster walls, wooden floors, accent iron lighting, coffee table with accent table decor, and couches giving mid-century feel

(Image credit: Artem Kropovinsky, Arsight)

A biophilic element (things that connect people with nature) will make a small mid-century modern living room more lively, not to mention that greenery nearly always features in this style of space.

"Stay with neutral base colors such as soft grays or warm beiges but apply nature-infused accents," says designer Artem Kropovinsky. Think indoor plants, in architectural vases, and hang them up to enjoy adding height and green texture to your room.

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.

4. Soften with pink tones and upholstered furniture

Pink F&B painted living room with boucle sectional and shug rug underneath round wicker coffee table

(Image credit: @domandecors)

Curated pieces from Crate & Barrel, Urban Outfitters, and Ruggable (where you can find similar super soft shag carpets) come together in this Farrow & Ball pink painted room as put together by @domandecors. It shows a sweet take on mid-century design. 

The upholstered sofa combined with the sharp Sputnik lighting fixture make this small mid-century living room pretty divine, don't you think? We reckon this six-light ceiling mount Sputnik fixture with adjustable arms and dimmer capacity from Wayfair would emulate this look perfectly.

Mid-century design is not without texture, and using rugs and cozier elements is the perfect way to soften wood, and sharper-edged materials too. 

"I love to mix materials for a small mid-century living room," continues Amy. "Leather, metal, glass, acrylic, and textured fabrics all enhance and bring interest to the space."

5. Let furniture anchor the space and streamline the layout

mid century modern style small living room with green sectional topped with colorful, modern throw pillows and vintage coffee table with books in the centerjpg

Space created by @highboyla with throw pillows from @floofliving

(Image credit: @highboyla)

With the design of any minimal small space, there is no room for clutter, and the same goes for bringing a mid-century vibe to your living room. "Creating a stylish mid-century small living room involves a thoughtful approach to furniture selection and layout," says designer Jennifer Davis.

"Embracing the minimalist character of the mid-century design era, opt for a less-is-more approach when it comes to furniture. Choose functional yet interesting pieces that serve dual purposes, such as a sleek coffee table with hidden storage or console that doubles as a bar. Additionally, emphasize the importance of white space to give the illusion of openness."

These elements will help you avoid small living room layout mistakes.

White woman with long golden blonde hair wearing animal print rust colored dress in white room near window is designer Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Davis

Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs. Jennifer offers a balance of creativity and forward-thinking with a structured, organized, and detailed mentality. 

7. Give it life with geometric and colorful accents

Ochre painted room with velour chaise long, round glass coffee table and sputnik chandelier in gold

(Image credit: @domandecors)

"To strengthen the mid-century feel, use some lighting fixtures with geometric shapes," continues Artem. 

It's clear @domandecors does this beautifully in this small lounge space, which also features a linear patterned Ruggable and curvaceous forms in the couch and coffee table. 

Although the furniture, such as the olive-green sofa, is chunky, since the color and pattern aren't over the top, it doesn't overwhelm the small living room.

7. Let it take a retro twist

Gray room with retro take on mid century design featuring console, texture cream throw pillow and mustard chair

(Image credit: @mylifeinmulticolor)

We told you there were options and we love @mylifeinmulticolor's take on mid-century on this maximalist small space. 

The cloud wall mural, bright carpet, and artwork is all toned down and brought together by a charming wooden cabinet and groovy chair. It proves that sometimes going big is all you need in a small space. Jazz up a more minimal scheme with a cute addition like this bubble candle from Target  or pop art print from Etsy.

Though a neutral base is often where designers start, especially if working with a small space, adding color in this way can ignite a mid-century modern scheme beautifully. 

"Use a neutral color palette for larger furniture items and walls, allowing colorful accents to take center stage," recommends Amy. 

Go big on curves, especially with big furniture items, and be sure to contrast textures and have fun with color and lighting. Mid-century modern living room ideas are a firm favorite in small spaces that want to look cool and timeless. 

Next, take vibe elsewhere in your home, with celeb inspiration from Olivia Rodrigo's mid-century dining room.

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing!