Decor in Mad Men Style: Mid-Century Modern on TV

Mad Men isn’t just one of the best TV shows of our generation, it is also, arguably, the most effortlessly seductive program on television – and the one that has placed the Mid-Century Modern style firmly in the mainstream.

Step inside the Mad Men world, and you immediately find yourself surrounded with covetable Mid-Century Modern interior design: The Drapers’ padded velvet tufted headboard or Roger Sterling’s olive green, deep buttoned couch have triggered renewed, widespread interest for vintage styles. The office is smooth, structured, and clean-lined; the Drapers’ home is lavish and kept immaculate. Even the smallest of accessories –an ice bucket, a desk stapler, or a retro phone – are flawlessly styled in an MCM way. The softened color palette is timelessly chic: burnt oranges, teal blues, and olive greens set against walnuts, caramel golds, deep leathers, and plaid wallpaper.

Mad Men
Andy Orin: screengrab from Mad Men on blu-ray (CC BY 2.0)

The decorating style ranges from the prim and proper look to a glam power look all the way to a sleek modern design aesthetic. Some of these elements are achieved trough a wide use of plush and luxe fabrics like crushed velvet and plush tufting on a headboard. Production designer Dan Bishop was the man behind the ground-up spaces. He was also the one that converted existing spaces into incredible Mid-Century Modern interiors. On the other hand, Claudette Didul, the set decorator, handled all the other details that brought the spaces closer together with the audience.

So, do you want know how to bring the best of Mad Men’s interior design in your own place ? Think of bold beautiful colors, unique shapes and patterns mixed with soft and luxurious textures. The walls could be a stark white paint or a bright floral wallpaper; the space filled with large pieces like a sofa that can easily sit 6-8 people and is comfortable without being puffy. Those same pieces should have slim legs and square corners. Mad Men style is bold, beautiful and as unique as the characters in the show. To achieve an assured result we suggest using these 5 retro-inspired elements:

1.Walnut desk

Furniture is the most important element when it comes to giving a mid-century modern appearance to a room. The majority of Mad Men takes place at the offices of Sterling Cooper Price, where modern office furniture acts as the perfect backdrop for all the scandals and secrets that go on behind closed doors. To achieve that look, opt for darker wooden furniture such as rosewood or walnut and pieces designed by classic and modern designers such as Charles and Ray Eames.

2.Abstract painting

Art is also a major element when it comes to Mid-Century Modern design, and has always been highlighted in “Mad Men”. There was even a scenario around a painting by Mark Rothko, famous for his abstract expressionist work. Modern painting is therefore an essential addition to any space aiming for the mid century modern style.

3.Record player

Having a record player and a large collection of vinyl gives the space a mid-century modern touch that no other device can provide. Place a disc on the turntable and listen to the warm sound that comes out of it, you’ll instantly feel like you traveled 60 years back in time.

4.Eames pillow cover

The work of American designers Charles and Ray Eames is prevalent in both the furniture and patterned fabrics of the Mad Men set. Bring a Mid-Century Modern look with the bold graphics of Eames pillow covers in their iconic small dot pattern.

5.Exotic Plants

Finally, don’t forget about some greenery. To complete your mid-century modern look, adorn your space with exotic plants like succulents. The most iconic is the so-called Snake plant; however, an Aloe Vera, Rubber Tree, or even a Fiddle Leaf Fig will also do very well.

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