Published on February 2, 2020

mid century modern living roomPin It
Photography by Lincoln Barbour | Design by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Lately, it seems like nothing’s cooler than once-scoffed-at accents. Gingham, not just for picnic blankets or grandma’s tablecloth, is back for another season in the spotlight. Kitschy pieces from decades past are getting a modern revamp. And as for wood paneling? This traditionally dated style is feeling more modern than ever—provided it’s used correctly, of course. 

Given the myriad of washes and number of methods it can be implemented, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing it styled all over the place. (Remember the wooden ceiling trend? It’s still going strong.) Take a look at some of our favorite examples of paneling this way of the ’70s: 

Mixed Tones

mid century modern living room Pin It
Photography by Lincoln Barbour | Design by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

This Jessica Helgerson–designed space is pretty much peak mid-century—but thanks to the varied shades of wood, it stays away from the clichés. If you’re mimicking this in your own living room, keep one wall a clean white. It breaks up the natural material and brings some light in, too. 

Built-In Furniture 

pink chairs in dining room and wood consolePin It
Photography by Sara Tramp | Design by Emily Henderson Designs

It’s the details that keep this pink dining room from feeling too sweet. A built-in wood console that blends in with the accent wall adds a natural touch, and the collection of antique artwork layers in the charm. Also, can we talk about how perfectly the table matches the cabinets? Genius. 

Unfinished Perfection

pale wood ceiling kitchen with stainlesss steel countersPin It
Photography by Henny Van Belkom

This Netherlands home pairs the unexpected touch of ceiling hardwood with an equally unexpected (but refreshing) raw timber finish, matched expertly to the kitchen cupboards for some continuity. The result feels much more like an airy artist loft than a retro A-frame. 

Washed Out

light wash wood paneling in entryPin It
Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Light-washed wood is the perfect backdrop for art in this seaside Connecticut home. The bleached look makes the space feel light and airy rather than closed off, which can happen with darker panels. 

Small Doses

wood panel dresser in hallPin It
Photography by Michael Wiltbank

Who says the style has to be relegated to walls? Test it out in a smaller (and less risky) way via your furniture. Tasting Table’s founder and CEO has the right idea with this tall and narrow dresser, which he uses in his NYC apartment to fill up an empty corner in a functional way.

Total Trifecta

mid century modern living room sputnik chandelierPin It
Courtesy of Design Within Reach

Superwide boards, a sputnik chandelier, and a cowhide rug walk into a living room—it shouldn’t work, but it somehow does. The key is keeping clutter to a minimum; with so many bold pieces, there’s already enough competition for a focal point. 

Straw, Stick, Brick

mid century modern living roomPin It
Photography by Lincoln Barbour | Design by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

This Portland home is a mid-century modern classic, complete with wood detail on the walls and ceiling that pairs up nicely with a dark brick fireplace. Take a page from its playbook and add striped pillows and a patterned rug for a cozy finishing touch. 

Matte Black 

matte black wood panel bedroomPin It
Courtesy of Farrow & Ball

The drama is real in this moody bedroom: Black square panels, iron detailing, and an antique brass lamp make for one royally bold space. It’s all down to the mixed materials and natural light, which keeps it from looking too much like a cave. 

Beautiful Backdrop

cabin with big gallery wallPin It
Courtesy of Honestly WTF

Okay, we admit this over-the-top look is not for everyone. But for someone with a love of color and an assortment of collectibles, dark wood wall makes an ideal canvas. 

See more old-school trends we still love:
Kitsch Is Trending—Here’s How to Bring This Tricky Style Home
12 Modern Ways to Decorate With Gingham
Is Art Deco the Next Mid-Century Modern?

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