Jun 01

Top 12 Furnishings to Create a Perfect Mid-Century Dining Room

Imagine this: the guests arrive, you shepherd them into the dining room. Audible gasps. Wow – it’s the perfect mid-century dining room.

“How did you do it?!”

“It looks just like MadMen!”

If you’re ready to learn how to take your mid-century modern aesthetic and apply it to your eating space, read on for your guide to the furnishings you’ll need to do it.

Mid-Century Design

Mid-Century Design is summed up as simple and elegant. The style spans from the 1930s to 1960s, first getting popular in design circles around the 1940s. Though it’s never been more in fashion than it is right now.

Mid-Century Modern is made up of clean, minimalists lines, muted colors, and fabrics with interesting textures. The organic materials and graphics patterns that define the mid-century period make even more of a design statement today.

Classic European designers had left Europe to the new world in the US. Scandinavian color, design, and textures fuse with new industrial possibilities to create stunning yet functional furnishings.

These furnishings became popular also because they were accessible – mass manufacturing and plastic injection technologies meant the middle-class had access to high design.

Top 12 Furnishings to Create a Perfect Mid-Century Dining Room

You can make a mid-century dining aesthetic using sculptural furnishings like globe lamps, metallic mirrors, tall-leg plant-stands, and pared-back furniture pieces. Let’s take a look at the key pieces for success.

1. Shale Bar Cabinet

A shale bar cabinet with full grain leather of warm wood gives you both practical storage and big mid-century design points. Fill it with dining accessories, and of course some whiskey. This impactful furnishing is really only for a dining room with space or higher ceilings, otherwise, it can leave the space feeling boxed-in or crowded.

2. Bertoia Side Chairs

Harry Bertoia showed the simple beauty that could be produced with industrial manufacturing with his Bertoia chair. It’s the product of his experiments bending metal rods into practical forms, designed between 1950 and 1951. The delicate-looking folded-metal stands and netted shell give guests a floating sensation.

These chairs are delicate and robust at once and are sure to be conversation starters at your next dinner party. They’re said to be “mainly made of air”. You can maximize their mid-century appeal by choosing strong orange cushions, or go for a more muted effect with silver or white cushions.

3. Saarinen Round Dining Table

What better way to inject a fun retro look into your dining space, than with the Saarinen round dining table. This dining table is a perfect example of how interior design marries beauty with function. It’s designer Eero Saarinen wanted to resolve the “ugly, confusing, unrestful world” under traditional dining tables.

The pedestal collection has dining, coffee, and side tables, so you can choose the best fit for your area or go the complete set. They give a minimalist, uncluttered look to any space.

4. Brandy Trolley

What mid-century dining space would be complete without a brandy trolley? If you think back to Mad Men home scenes, they model it’s design and purpose exquisitely. The piece projects a message to guests, of the importance of hosting to you.

Make sure you do your research on classic cocktails so you can complete the moment with one. You can find great brandy cocktail recipes online, or even search for a retro cocktail recipe book at your local flea market.

5. Svelto Storage Cabinet

The Svelto storage cabinet is a low and long cabinet with shifting geometric forms. It has a smooth finish reminiscent of earlier Ercol pieces. Eminently practical, storage spaces can be configured to your requirements.

It’s a stylish and practical addition to your dining room and the perfect base for a small globe lamp or modern-minimalist flower vase.

6. Eames Molded Plastic Side Chair with Dowel-Leg Base

Charles and Ray Eames created their single-shell form in 1950 in their Modern Fiberglass Chairs. Once the dangers of fiberglass became apparent, polypropylene came to be used to create the same classic, sleek design. These chairs are a salute to modernity through their celebration of new industrial possibilities.

These chairs are perfect as side chairs, dining chairs, and even armchairs. They can be fully upholstered for a more textured, relaxing feel.

Charles Eames was a big fan of designing with the needs of guests in mind. How better to accommodate the needs of your guests, than by using his dining area designs?

7. Pedestal Stool or Plant Stand

Sleek, long lines of the midcentury design period can be conveyed perfectly in a tall plant stand with tapered legs. Show off some Californian-chic with a fun cacti plant atop it.

Seek our a short pedestal stool as a base for some plant pots in room corners. Best of all, you can look for DIY projects online and make your own!

8. Sculpture Lamps

Lamps in the mid-century modern period are all about fun, globe-like statement pieces. Have a look at a local flea market or a modern design stop to find the perfect compliment to your dining area. Shop for artful design, sleek lines, something reminiscent of a sculpture.

9. Minimalist Coffee Table

Your mid-century modern coffee table will be low, long and fine. Be mindful to not leave it cluttered or you’ll take away from its stunning simplicity. We suggest placing some retro coasters and a minimalist sculpture or plant pot on it, nothing more.

10. Bookcase Stand with Hairpin Legs

Hairpin legs on tables and chairs were all about showing off the possibilities of the age’s industry with new metal forms. They defy belief by seeming delicate and breakable yet being robust.

Find long hairpin legs online and remodel an existing bookcase for that DIY satisfaction and to really impress your dinner guests.

11. The Statement Clock

A mid-century modern clock is another of these functional sculptural pieces that will bring your design to life. Look for triangular pointed sun styles, that take up wall space despite the actual clock face being small and simple.

12. Mirrors

A mirror is that perfect design piece for a smaller space, allowing light and views to reflect from other areas into your dining space. Here, look for metallic sculptured pieces that sum up the age.

Modern Accessories

Why stop the look at furnishings? When you wheel out your brandy tray, you’ll want to serve guests in glassware and with cocktail shakes of the mid-century modern era.

Decorate coffee tables with flower vases or plant pots decorated with geometric designs. Serve up dinner in ceramics with bright Scandinavian colors.

Complete the Feel

You’ve got the midcentury furnishings. You’ve complimented with matching ceramics, glassware, and other accessories. What’s left?

The soundscape, of course. Load your mid-century playlist with classics like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney. The feel is relaxed, the dancing more sway than jitter.

And you? For this dinner party we need smartly ironed, clean-shaven men and women in sleek gowns from thrift stores that show off their curves.

Finger foods were a big deal in the 1960s. Serve canapes like cucumber and mayonnaise, caviar, and raw vegetables with a cream cheese dip.

Stuffed mushrooms were a crowd pleaser then and work just as well with your vegan hipster friends today. Gluten-free, vegetarian options make your guests’ life easier, and you can find a ton of recipes online.

To be a genuinely mid-century modern dinner party, the main focus of the party is booze. You’ll want to serve cocktails on arrival – consider making your own signature one for your next dinner party.

Get Inspired by Mid-Century Pop-Culture

MadMen is the perfect tv series for inspiration for your mid-century shopping list. It’s clean, streamlined and modern styles sum up the mid-century style.

For movies, check out the Fountainhead (1949), The Graduate (1967), and A Single Man (2009) as sources of inspiration.

Do It on a Budget

Buying mid-century pieces can be expensive. The good news is that the designs can be pretty easily copied without losing their authentic look. Your guests are unlikely to realize it isn’t the real thing.

As a compromise, you could splurge on a couple of authentic focus pieces, and furnish the rest with quality replicas. The wonderful thing about mid-century designs is that with even just a few pieces you flavor the whole feel of a room – so you don’t need to go overboard on every detail being authentic!

Get Mid-Century Shopping!

There you have it, the 12 mid-century dining room furnishings you’ll need to wow your dinner guests. If you’re ready to get shopping for other areas of the house too, start with an Eames lounge chair replica and go from there.

For more information on the best mid-century furniture replicas, check out the rest of our website!

A reconstruction of the 1929 German pavilion with the famous Barcelona chairs
Feb 14

The Best Barcelona Chair Replica 2018 – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

The “Barcelona Chair” is the modern chair. It first appeared at the German Pavilion of the 1929 International Exposition, held that year in Barcelona, Spain. The chair was designed by two titans of the modernist movement; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. Reich and Mies, who was once the director of architecture at the Bauhaus Design School in Germany, designed this chair to look flawless within Mies’s avant-garde buildings. The German Pavilion of 1929 became an instant icon of modernist architecture. The pavilion was constructed with sumptuous marbles, tinted glass and reflective pools. Mies’s showed the world that a design didn’t have to be ornate to be elegant. This same aesthetic was extended to the Barcelona chair. A set of these chairs were the only works of art in the pavilion save for a lone female nude sculpture by George Kolbe. They had a striking effect on viewers. Since 1929 interior designers have been using the Barcelona chair to create a similarly impressive look for their clients.

Model Price Rating
1 ArtisDecor Premium Lounge Chair and Ottoman made with Top Grain Aniline Leather $$$
2 MLF Pavilion Chair & Ottoman $$$
3 Coaster Home Furnishings Accent Chair $

This icon of Bauhaus design is still very popular today. People with good taste often pair two Barcelona chairs replicas together as a set. This is in homage to the original arrangement at the German pavilion. It’s also because this comfortable, upright chair encourages living room conversation. Its design allows for free movement of the arms and it has excellent back support. Additionally, It looks good in almost any setting. Because of its popularity, many replicas exist on the market. This makes it difficult to distinguish a good Barcelona replica chair from the riff-raff. In this guide we’ll discuss explore three different reproductions so that you can find the best Barcelona Chair Replica that will be worth your time and money. 

What to Look For:

A Barcelona Chair Replica Buyer’s Guide

The Knoll Barcelona chair

Pictured: The Knoll Barcelona® chair

The Knoll Company obtained the rights from Mies to manufacture the “original” Barcelona chair. With the original having a price tag of over $5500, it’s understandable that some may want to purchase a good replica that doesn’t break the bank. You can find replica chairs at a variety of prices ranging from budget options for good chairs made in China to about slight higher quality Barcelona chair replicas made in Italy. There are a variety of factors, besides labor cost, that determines the price.

  • Upholstery – One price-determining factor is the material used to upholster the chair. The seat of the Knoll original is made from 40 individual leather panels. These are hand welted and hand tufted. Some of the best replicas are also made from 40 panels as well. While not all replicas are made with these hand-added touches, the best ones are made with quality materials. When choosing a replica, make sure the back and underside of the seats are made with the same leather as the front of the seat. Some manufacturers cut costs by backing the chair with fabric or a lesser quality leather. Different kinds of leathers get used in the production of replicas. Knoll uses registered trademark spinneybeck® leather. Look for a high quality leather such as full-grain or top-grain aniline in a reproduction.
  • Upholstery Straps – The cushions of this chair sit on a latticework cradle of leather straps. Cheap reproductions use either a lower quality leather, or may not have a lattice work frame at all. If the chair is going for true to the original detail, it should have exactly 17 straps (8 on the back and 9 on the bottom), dyed the same color as the seat leather.
  • Cushions – The buttons and piping of the Barcelona chair contribute to its modern look. There is no visible stitching which makes the chair look smooth and seamless. The original chair is filled with urethane foam and polyester fiberfill. This makes the chair very soft and comfy. Bad experiences with replica Barcelona chairs is often the result of them not being as comfortable as the Knoll. This is because the manufacturer used a cheaper quality, stiff foam. Though it may look stiff, this chair is meant to be sat on comfortably. It is beautiful but it’s not intended to be decorative or “just for looks”. However, the cheaper replicas are just that.
  • Frame – The welding of the metal frame is another factor. The curvy X frame is one of the chair’s most appealing aspects. This is also where cheap knockoffs cut the most corners. One way to tell is to look at the X joint. The design of the original joint is very light and the two bars join together seamlessly. Lesser quality replicas often look chunky at the joint. The frame of the Knoll original is made of solid 12mm stainless steel. The frames of cheaper chairs might be hollow or be made from a lesser-quality stainless steel or chrome. The mirror finish is buffed by hand. Good replicas, though not always buffed by hand, should have a mirror finish. Be sure that the frame is made from stainless steel. This metal is easier to maintain and looks more natural. Some cheaper versions use chrome. The joints should be seamless with no visible welding or screws. The chair should not move, as it is not a rocking chair or a recliner.

 

The Best Barcelona Chair Replica

ArtisDecor Premium Lounge Chair and Ottoman made with Top Grain Aniline Leather

This barcelona chair replica is the best of the best. The closest product on the market, with the highest quality, real leather, and exact dimensions.

Artis Décor premium lounge chair

This Barcelona Chair replica has some of the same hand-crafted features as the original but for a fraction of the price. Features in common with the Knoll chair include leather seats fashioned from 40 individual panels, hand stitching and tufting and leather straps dyed to match the seat leather. It’s made with top-grain aniline leather which is high quality but not the absolute best available on the market. The panels are sewn together using a lockstitch stitching in

This Barcelona Chair replica has some of the same hand-crafted features as the original but for a fraction of the price. Features in common with the Knoll chair include leather seats fashioned from 40 individual panels, hand stitching and tufting and leather straps dyed to match the seat leather. It’s made with top-grain aniline leather which is high quality but not the absolute best available on the market. The panels are sewn together using a lockstitch stitching in braided thread, which contributes to lasting durability. The seats are stuffed with very comfortable visco elastic (memory) foam. The straps are riveted to frame. The frame itself is made from 12mm solid core stainless steel, so it’s as sturdy as the original. The frame is also hand buffed. The chair comes in four colors; black, brown, red and white. This chair is very similar to the original in many ways, however, it sits more upright and some of the materials are different. The X joint is very similar to original.

The Artis Decor Barcelona Chair Replica

The Artis Decor Barcelona Chair Replica

Reviews for this chair are overwhelmingly positive. The leather quality of the seats is particularly impressive. The leather is smooth and buttery feeling. The cushions have a thick and sumptuous, like luxury car seating. The straps match the seat color perfectly and are sturdily riveted to the frame. Artis Décor is known for its excellent customer service, which is friendly and responsive. This is good to know, seeing as the company doesn’t have a store front. Barcelona chair replicas arrive quickly with FedEx (not Amazon delivery). Chairs come in one piece, so there’s no assembly needed. The chairs also come expertly packed so no damage is sustained during delivery.

The Artis Decor Barcelona Chair Replica

The chair does have a few cons. The manufacturer did take some cost cutting measures. One of these is that the back and sides of the chair are made with faux leather vinyl. The feet of the chair come wrapped in plastic tips. These are intended to avoid it scratching the floor though they look a bit cheap. If you don’t like them, however, then at least they are removable.

 

A Close Second

MLF Pavilion Chair & Ottoman

This barcelona chair replica offers good mix of value and quality.. Offering 100% leather and no vinyl, it’s a great alternative.

 

MLF pavilion chair rear view

The MLF Pavilion Chair has several factors in common with the Knoll original and the Artis Décor chair. One of these is the use of 40 individual leather panels. These, as well as the high quality piping and buttons, are made from top-grain Italian leather. The cowhide straps are riveted to frame and the seat and back buckle onto the frame with leather straps and snaps. The X frame comes in one piece and requires no assembly. This frame is made of polished stainless steel. The X joint is also quite similar to the original. It’s smooth and seamless.

Pictured: MLF pavilion chair front view

A big advantage that the MLF chair has over the Artis chair is that it’s made of 100% leather, even on the back and bottom of the seat. There’s no vinyl or other lesser quality fabric used in the manufacture. There are a few disadvantages. One of these is that the quality of stainless steel is questionable. The product description just says “superior grade stainless steel”. The seller claims that the width is between 10 and 12 mm. The color matching capabilities of the manufacturers aren’t as good as Artis. This can be seen in the slightly different shades of the light brown seat and ottoman colors. The seller stated that the reason was because they use two different kinds of leather. The straps are not as thick as the original.

Reviews for this chair are very positive. The seller is very responsive to customers and answers questions accurately. Buyers were happy with the leather quality of the chair and though it was very comfortable. There were very few negative reviews. The complaints tended to be about packaging and damage to the product rather than the chair itself.

This chair is for you if you’re a stickler for leather.  This is an excellent quality chair for the price.

Barcelona on a Budget

Coaster Home Furnishings Accent Chair

This Barcelona chair replica is a great budget choice. However, if you can opt for the higher quality, we highly recommend it.

Coaster accent chair front view

When discussing the Coaster Home Furnishings Accent Chair, one must keep in mind that this is a budget Barcelona chair replica. It has very little in common with the Knoll original or the much higher quality Artis or MLF replicas. This is a reproduction Barcelona chair. The biggest difference is that the seat of this chair is not made from leather. The product description does not specify which fabric was used but it’s some kind of faux leather, probably vinyl or pleather. The straps are elastic and there are 5 of them on the back. However, some chairs come with no straps on the back, as can be seen in this photo. There are no buttons or piping on this chair and the stitches are visible. The X frame is more squat and sits lower to the ground than the other chairs on this list. It’s about three inches shorter than the Knoll. The joint has a chunky bowtie shape in the middle, which doesn’t look as nice as the other replicas. The feet come with plastic tips on them. The product description does not state if these are removable. Another important thing to consider is that this chair does not come with an ottoman. The chair comes in two colors, black and white.

oaster accent chair front view

There are some redeeming aspects of this chair, however, as reviews were very positive. The chair has a good, sturdy frame. It’s also impressively sized and quite spacious. Though it does sit lower, it is a lot bigger than the original. (30 X 35.8X 32 as opposed to Knoll’s 30 X 29.5 X 30.25) That said, the happy customers probably took the price into account and mitigated their expectations. That’s because this chair’s number one flaw is its use of cheap materials. The material doesn’t look or feel like leather. It feels like plastic. If the chair does have straps, they don’t hold the cushions in place very well.

Overall the chair was a good deal for the purchase price but don’t expect much from it. Though it is comfortable enough to sit on, you may want to but this one if you’re decorating a hallway or waiting room on a budget. Otherwise go with one of the other two barcelona chair replicas.