Timeless Blend

How vintage and contemporary modern furnishings come together for an inspirational mix of warmth and style
Timeless Blend
Timeless Blend
Two scenes above seamlessly bring together vintage and contemporary modern furnishings. The top living room, from interior designer Jay Jeffers, features four vintage pieces blended with several unusual contemporary creations (end table, lamp, sculptures, hoop accessory) from the Coup D'Etat gallery in San Francisco.
Timeless Blend
This Eichler living room was furnished by Bay Area staging company Redux Stage Co., whose head, Camila Baum, routinely incorporates vintage and new to bring her scenes to life.

When it comes to furnishing your mid-century modern home, all bets are off. There are no rules that say all the furniture in your home needs to come from the 1950s and '60s.

In fact, embracing contrasting periods, and blending period with contemporary furnishings, can give your home a level of beauty and interest that having everything from one period cannot.

"New and old go together really well," says Julian Goldklang, owner of Mid Century Mobler, a vintage furniture shop and online retailer based in Berkeley. "When everything in a space is vintage, it can start to look dated—unless you are going for that 1950s catalog look, which is 100-percent period. When you mix new [contemporary] productions with vintage, you are bringing warmth into a space."

Some of the most inspiring residential spaces combine an old (vintage) and new (contemporary) aesthetic that give a sense of being assembled over time.

"Unless you are doing a home restoration and would like to keep a total connection to that mid-century modern era, it can be more interesting and original to blend contemporary, exotic, and MCM furnishings," says interior designer Lucile Glessner of Lucile Glessner Design. "​Color and texture were important design elements in the late '50s and can be reproduced in many different ways."

Glessner says a home should represent its occupants, their needs, interests, and experiences. The furnishings should be sized for the space, sparse, and stylishly on point, as well as functional.

"Having a few MCM vintage or reproduction pieces is a good idea as their simple lines fit well in a mid-century home," she says, "but some contemporary clean and sophisticated lines from Europe or Asia ​can also be perfect and add some originality and color."

There are no hard-and-fast rules for how much vintage, whether represented by original or reproduction pieces, or how much contemporary furniture should be used.

"There are purists who only collect vintage furniture, others who like new, fresh design, and most who combine both vintage and new," says interior designer Severine Secret of Go2 Design Studio based on San Jose. "There is no formula. It has to work for the person who is going to live with it, not the designer to dictate."

A large piece, like a sofa, could be contemporary and mixed with a ​vintage coffee table and lounge chairs. The kitchen cabinetry could be contemporary from Italy and the bar stools, chairs, and lighting fixtures vintage MCM. "I would look for some interesting and beautiful vintage furniture items to complete the look," Glessner says.