Mid-century modern decorating with orange

1961-living-room-white-orange-blue-235Rebecca and Keith seem to be gravitating toward a monochromatic palette of orange, butterscotch, gold and linen in decorating their 1961 mid-century modern living room and family room. Rebecca asked for some tips, so first up, I searched 1960 and 1961 advertisements for colors to complement orange. Rebecca, I think that adding just one substantive accent color — most obviously, a blue or green — will really make your beautiful autumnal palette really “pop.”


I do need to preface all of these photos by saying that the orange is reading very red from my scans on my monitor. Red shades are the most problematic to scan, and I don’t know how to color correct on photoshop. I’m telling you, you think that blogging will be all creative expressive glory. Really, it’s like 90% technical nonsense. I am not kidding, I have become a 90th percentile geek girl, and it is still not enough. But I diverge. The other colors are pretty close to “original”, though. I chose this photo out of interest in the fireplace… but when it comes to color accents for orange, also to showcase that medium slate/powder blue. This color looks really wonderful with orange in mid-century interiors. And hey, since your house is in Ann Arbor, Mich., you could get some M Go Blue juice going, too. Well, toned down a bit… In this photos, also notice the plant in the foreground right, in the groovy planter. Every self-respecting mid-century modern homeowner needs a tropical plant. My favorite mid-century plant is Monsterosa Deliciosa.


I know that you just tore out “atrocious” green carpeting. But, olive or avocado is another color that accents mid-century orange very beautifully.


Here’s another image where sharp colors seem to be freaking out my scanner. I sure hope it is not broken. Lord knows how you fix that. But again, you can see green — this time I’ll call it monsterosa green, it’s like a shiny tropical plant — paired with orange. The black accents provide a forceful (as opposed to milquetoast) counterpoint. And look at that powder blue piano. My goodness.


Regular readers will recognize this photo. It’s an ad for paneling. I chose it to show that blue chair…. a lovely punctuation mark in the room.


A rich jade pillow, and a navy pillow, on this orange sofa.


I noticed this ashtray in your living room, Rebecca — this blue-green jade (like the pillow above) would be a good accent color to build out in this room.


More green in this ridiculous photo … including in the recessed beer stein holder.


Orange makes you want to play the marancas — another photo showing mid-century musical instruments played at home. You also need a painting with roman horses — another favorite mid-century motif.

These are photos that I found in just three magazines from 1960 and 1961. I’ll be on the looking for more, and plan more posts on decorating with mid-century orange.

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  1. Kortney says

    Where did you find the image of the woman in living room (next to kitchen)? I’m trying to find a 60/70’s inspired image and love this one!

    Please let me know as soon as you have a moment, thanks!

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