How to create a cool interior with mid-century furniture

“Oh my goodness, my mum had one just like that!”….
“It’s like walking into my auntie’s house”….
“I know folk who burnt a whole lot of these on the bonfire, that’s what they used to do”

Yep, that’s what I hear in my shop almost on a weekly basis! I sell old furniture that for some people is too much ‘like their childhood’, or is ‘too recent’ for others. But I love it. And this is why.

The wonderful Mies van der Rohe pavillion in Barcelona
http://www.themodernist.co.uk/2011/12/ludwieg-mies-van-der-rohe/
 —
Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen,
who made the famous ‘Ant’ chair

In Groningen, The Netherlands, where I am originally from, I studied Architecture History with the emphasis on the 20th century. Modernism was a big part of the course and that is most definitely where I got my passion for form and design. A lot of architects, such as Juhl, Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Jacobsen and Le Corbusier are not only responsible for revolutionary buildings, but created some of the most iconic pieces of furniture too. If you have ever visited Barcelona you might have come across the gorgeous pavillion by modernist Mies van der Rohe (pictured above). Would you believe this was built in 1929?

The Eames DSW chair

A lot of great chairs have been produced by these guys too. Who doesn’t know the famous ‘Eames chair’ from the 1950s, that is still being produced and more popular than ever? Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona chair’ is still in such high demand that there are now numerous companies around selling reproductions.

It is the attention to detail, the love for material and the belief that ‘form follows function’ rather than to adorn a piece of furniture – or building – with unnecessary decoration, that make these ‘vintage’ designs into timeless classics. Buildings are ‘light and open’ instead of dark and heavy and so are the chairs, tables and sideboards.

Danish architect Finn Juhl’s house in Copenhagen. http://www.finnjuhl.com/inspiration/inspiration-finn-juhls-house-copenhagen-2/
A Danish style sideboard combined with a Mies van der Rohe ‘Barcelona’ day bed and some bold artwork. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416041155470/

 

A 1960s tallboy that may have ended up on the bonfire if I hadn’t
rescued it, polished it up and painted the outside grey to cover
the stained top.

The key to a great looking interior with these vintage pieces though is to create a cool mix. Don’t buy a complete matching set of 1960s teak furniture or you will recreate your auntie’s house (especially if you get that orange Hornsea coffee pot out as well). Buy a good solid mid-century sideboard, hang a large bold painting or photograph above it, invest in a great new sofa from a designer shop (or get a budget one from Ikea 😉 and add old and new accessories you find on your travels to make the room truly your own. And keep it light and airy.

When you visit my little shop you will often find teak sideboards and chests of drawers, 1960s dining room sets and Scandinavian looking armchairs of at least 40 years old. Some pieces I paint when I think they look better in a different colour or are too damaged to sell as they are. Some chairs I recover to give them an updated look. But all items are chosen because I really liked them.

The word ‘vintage’ is terribly trendy at the moment and the word ‘retro’ always reminds me of brown and orange psychedelic wallpaper (and that matching Hornsea coffee set). When I select furniture for the shop I go for pieces that have a beautiful shape, are well made and would look just as good in a modern home as they did 50 or so years ago. While I can’t promise you that all pieces found at Nina’s Apartment are designed by famous architects and designers (but I do my best to hunt them down!), I do promise that they will be great examples of beautiful & classic design.

Is this 1960s dining set still reminding you of your auntie’s house?
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042566364/

 

A great looking dining room with some prime examples of mid-century modern design
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042407314/
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