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. Rebecca Prichard says

    Dave. I prefer your teak idea, I am in love with that one! The marine site says “out of stock” now.

    Genjenn, The wallpaper made out of grass, right? I LOVE that! We had in my mom’s house. I have told Keith about it so many times and I how I would totally have it. I can’t get it anymore can I? I didn’t even think of looking for it!

    • pam kueber says

      Grasscloth still exists. I bought Seabrook. As I recall, there is a HUGE national discount wallpaper place based in Southfield, Mich. American Blinds and Wallpaper, maybe? Maybe you can go up there and look thru all their materials….Pam

  2. atomicbowler-dave says

    Rebecca, you might also try http://www.fisheriessupply.com, I ordered some from them a few weeks ago. There are a couple different importer brand names for all sorts of teak goodies (includung a teak version of the HallMack comfort unit, more or less!), the one that comes to mind is Thailand Teak. Towel bars, TP holders, magazine racks, cup holders, toothbrush holders…

    • pam kueber says

      Woah, atomicbowler-dave, you are a veritable ocean of ideas and inspiration today. P.S. Is anyone actually doing any WORK today?

  3. Rebecca Prichard says

    Thanks Pam for the wallpaper place and the pendant! Wow, much cheaper than the Rejuvenation one. I am dying over the Seabrook Grasscloth. I am on the phone now with a place in town to see if they have them there! I will definitely go to the place in Southfield!

    Dave, what is a Hallmack comfort unit? Can’t find that out. 🙂

  4. Rebecca Prichard says

    Jesus, a place for your cigarettes! Hilarious.

    I found the wallpaper place, it’s in Livonia. Awesome, and close to me. It’s still open, you never know these days. MI has had it tough for way longer than most other places.

    I wish I could get you over here to help me decide on the WHERE of the wallpaper! Now, I want the Reverb and the grasscloth.

  5. Rebecca Prichard says

    Thanks, Kathy. I just assumed it was too old school. I am so excited to have grasscloth again somedy soon, and now I won’t pull the pieces of grass OUT of it like I did when I was a child!

  6. m in minnesota says

    Re: the niche for the beer steins….reminds me of some “Mediterranean” stuff that we removed from one of the walls of our dining room…floor to ceiling of blackish brownish narrow ledges installed over heavy weight, textured vinyl ,light green wall paper….under all of which was a Large patch in the drywall that was about 2′ x 3’…….what did those previous residents do ?– Drive a car through the garage into the dining room?!…..New wallpaper to the rescue… Hey do you think the beer stein thing is like people with their wine bottle storage today?…

  7. 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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