Upcycled and DIY Mid-Century Modern Decor

Upcycled and DIY Mid-Century Modern Decor

Mid-century modern decor, with its clean lines and atomic symbols, is as popular as ever in today’s homes. Reproductions and modern-made versions inspired by MCM styles fill trendy home decor stores. As authentic pieces get harder and harder to find causing prices to surge, many of us are taking an upcycled or DIY spin on things using items found at thrift stores. So, if you’d like a little mid-century inspiration before your next thrifting run, then you’ve come to the right place.

Mid-Century Modern Planters

mcm style plant stands

Image credit: House of Hawthornes.

House plants and mid-century modern decor go hand-in-hand. Which is probably why there is so much greenery associated with modern boho decor. To add a touch of style to your decorative plants, how about adding some of these DIY mid-century style plant stands? Talk about elevating one’s decor…

Geometric Wall Decor

mid-century modern wall decor from thrift store finds

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A collage picture frame in the right design can almost look like Brutalist-style mid-century modern wall decor. At least, that’s what this one looked like to me when I spotted it at the thrift store. It just needed a little upcycling TLC to make it shine- but not too shabby for a $2 thrifted frame that was originally purchased from Walmart (based on the tag), eh?

Starburst Wall Clock

how to make a starburst wall clock

Image credit: Reality Daydream.

Starburst wall clocks are a quintessential staple of mid-century modern decor. But finding an affordable one that still looks fabulous can be a bit of a challenge. So, while you wait for the perfect one to cross your path, you can DIY your own version in the meantime- and it looks fantastic, to boot.

Groovy Colors in Mid-Century Modern Decor

metal nesting tables that have been painted

Image credit: Interior Frugalista.

A trio of vintage metal nesting tables from the thrift store is perfect for this MCM-style makeover. While the original coat of white paint was perfectly fine (albeit, rusted), giving them a splashy makeover turns them into a mid-century treasure.

Is it just me or do these tables harken memories of those classic Howard Johnson motels?

MCM-Style Canisters

Retro canisters for mid century modern kitchen decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

I think we can all agree that mid-century modern fonts are a complete delight, yes? Which means that adding them via stencils or decals is a great way to DIY some retro decor. Especially if they started as mismatched misfits from the thrift store, like these canisters did

Retro Record Table

refurbishing a vintage record player table

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

Kids today may call them “vinyl” but I still call them “records”- anyone else? Either way, a vintage record player table from the thrift store might need a spruce after a few decades of use. And in this case, a nice wooden top amplifies the look without losing the retro style.

Touch of Gold

key bowl for the entryway

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A touch of gold hardware on a piece of walnut furniture is classic mid-century modern, wouldn’t you say? So, I like to take that look and apply it on a smaller scale to my upcycle projects. Which is precisely what I did with a gorgeous wooden bowl that just needed a little TLC and a dab of atomic star decor.

MCM Furniture Flips

diy mid century modern nightstand

Image credit: Organized Clutter.

A plain piece of non-descript furniture from the thrift store might not be from the 50s-60s-70s. But if it has a touch of mid-century modern flair (like this two-tier nightstand did), then an MCM-style makeover is a great fit for it. As well as a massive improvement, if you ask me.

Bottles as Mid-Century Modern Decor

mid-century modern vase from a glass bottle

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Swung vases and Empoli genie bottles are classic elements in mid-century modern decor. And while I’ve treated myself to a couple of genuine pieces, they are p-r-i-c-e-y. So, I shored up my collection with an upcycled vase that came straight from our recycle bin.

Retro Reupholstery

reupholstering a mid-century modern chair

Image credit: House of Hawthornes.

If you find an MCM-style chair at the thrift store or a yard sale, there’s a good chance that it may need to be reupholstered. It’s just part of the lifecycle of padded furniture. Thankfully- and as shown here- it’s not an insurmountable project, even if you don’t have a lot of experience with it.

Mid-Century Modern Wall Art

upcycling a picture frame with spoonflower wallpaper

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

One of the quickest ways to upcycle thrift store art is to simply cover up the cheap (or even damaged) artwork. And wallpaper samples are a budget-friendly way to do just that. These mid-century style wallpaper samples were even the peel-and-stick kind, so it was incredibly easy to upgrade this thrift store frame into fabulous wall art for our eclectic home.

MCM Legs

three legged side table

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

When it comes to mid-century furniture, sometimes it’s all about the legs. Hairpin, tapered, angled, and in this case, boomerang. So, of course, when this three-legged table needed fixing up, it needed a corresponding makeover with atomic starburst vibes.

Coasters Inspired by Barware

making a set of coasters for our mid century modern living room

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Mid-century modern barware- especially drinking glasses- is a big deal in the world of MCM furnishings. So, why not decorate a set of plain thrift store coasters to match? With colors and designs this spectacular, it’s easy to see why these glasses are so desirable.

Updating a Sewing Machine Table

mid-century modern sewing table

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

If you thrift long enough, eventually you’ll find that a lot of sewing machine tables end up at thrift stores. And while most of them aren’t nearly this stylish, every now and then, a mid-century modern version one shows up. And they are so easy to upcycle into an accent table for your home– no sewing required!

Clock Makeover for Mid-Century Modern Decor

repurposed farmhouse clock as mid century modern decor

Image credit: Beyond the Picket Fence.

This colorful, mod-style clock certainly didn’t start out looking this way! It had more of a faux-French farmhouse style originally, but a color block makeover and a few atomic stars gave it a whole new look. And a vast improvement over it’s previous style…

Mid-Century Modern Cats

mid century makeover on wooden cigar boxes

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

As a cat person in general, I am very much biased towards all the retro-style cats that appear in mid-century modern decor. From clocks to wall hangings to figurines, atomic-style cats are everywhere! And now, thanks to some stencils, they appear on some non-descript cigar boxes thanks to this kitschy thrift store flip.

Geometric Lamps

diy geometric lamp

Image credit: Interior Frugalista.

Mid-century modern lamps came in all sorts of sizes and interesting shapes. Some of them looked like oversized genie bottles, some of them came with over-the-top large shades. And some of them sported interesting geometric shapes for visual interest. In this particular case, though? Some unusual vases came together (literally) to form this MCM-inspired lamp.

DIY Mid-Century Modern Decor

mid century eclectic decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

If you’re a fan of this retro style of home decor, I hope you’ve found some inspiration ideas with these projects. There are lots of ways to infuse your home with mid-century modern decor– both with authentic pieces and a little upcycling or DIY. Sometimes, all you need is the right idea to spark your creative fuse…

Craft on!


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mcm decor ideas and projects

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.

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