4 Steps for Buying a Mid-Century Dining Table Set

Modern Scandinavian kitchen and dining room

Mid-century modern furniture quickly became popular a few years ago and is still trending in terms of design. Whether the pieces are vintage or contain a contemporary design, people are still delighted by their sleek silhouettes and light woods that surround this era. We outline the four steps involved in buying a mid-century dining room table set. 

What Sparked This Trend?

This trend began as a design movement originating in America. The blueprint of this furniture is characterized by curved, clean lines, natural and man-made materials, and tapered legs. The color palette of this design is cool, using greys, teals, and dusty blues paired with mustards, olive greens, and burnt orange. Geometric prints generate a bold yet smart pattern to complete the look.

What Era Does This Furniture Come From?

Mid-century modernism stemmed from the late 1929s to the mid-1960s. Some experts narrow it down to between 1947 and 1957, but that doesn’t consider some iconic pieces outside of this time frame. The trend itself took off post-war. 

The end of World War II collided with various new ways to use wood. Manufacturers and designers used this to their advantage by creating furniture dedicated to function, visual appeal, and comfort. This new movement became fresh without appearing showy. It was streamlined and not dull looking. 

This style tapped into the optimistic moods of this era and provided an accessible method for homeowners to express this sentiment in their homes.

4 Steps to Buying Mid-Century Dining Table Sets

The steps to buying your dining table set are relatively simple. They involve locating design elements to incorporate into your space that fit well and compliment the area. You will also need to determine whether it will be a casual dining experience or a formal one.

1. Select Materials That Compliment Your Dining Area

When it comes to mid-century dining table sets, the materials available trend towards teak if it is mid-century modern. Teak is dark, rick, durable, and a sign of quality. It pairs exceptionally well with the bold colors of this era.

This wood is best-suited to contrast light-colored dining spaces or more formal areas. If you are using teak, make sure that it doesn’t make your room appear too dark. While it can create a luxurious, high-end feel, you don’t want it to make your room look too drab. 

Oak was another material used because it was durable and strong. The paler tone means it is less overbearing than teak, thus pairing better with cooler, paler shades in mid-century modern design.

Oak is a better choice to lighten up a room. It will highlight smaller rooms and make them appear brighter and airier.

If you want an even lighter finish, you can use beech. While it is often used on the frames of sofas and dining room chairs because it is strong and resistant to shock, some dining pieces still incorporate this wood. Since it is a paler shade, the use of this wood in mid-century modern design is a nod to the Scandinavian influences of this period.

2. Determine Your Style

Mid-century modern wooden dining table in modern black and white kitchen

Depending on your available space, you may be able to incorporate other pieces into your home decor. Always begin with a quality table, then chairs, followed by the rest of the furniture. 

The dining table is the most important piece in any dining space. It is where your family will eat, do homework, and entertain guests, so it is one piece that you can splurge on. You will need to consider seating and space first. If the room is larger, the table can be rectangular or really any shape. In small spaces, you may want to consider something with a square table top.

The chairs define the tone in this room. A basic plastic dining chair of this era with metal legs provides a casual appearance. For more formal dining, you may want to select upholstered wooden chairs. Make sure if you have children that the upholstery is well-protected or try to minimize the damage from spills in any way you can.

Chairs are generally determined by table size.

3. Ensure the Item Is Mid-Century Modern

Most people are familiar with mid-century modern from the television show Mad Men. If you haven’t watched the series, then you will need to know the following characteristics:

  • Simple Design. Designs for this era are not intricate, ornate, or opulent. They contain smooth textures, clean lines, and minimalistic design elements.
  • Curves. Chairs and tables of this era contain angles and curved lines rather than sharp, straight edges. The shapes include rectangles, squares, and triangles containing rounded corners. There may be tables that look like a jelly bean shape or boomerangs. The legs are always rounded, thin, and a bit tapered. 
  • Material. As mentioned, most items are teak. Modern designs use laminate and natural materials close to the color of real teak (golden brown). You can also find pieces in oak, walnut, and maple. Most tables are solid wood with wooden, plastic, upholstered, or resin seating. The legs may be metal or wooden.
  • Subtle Color Choice. If your chairs contain any upholstery, it generally is a basic solid design. It will not have any bright colors or bold prints. Shades tend to be mustard, olive green, tangerine, and walnut brown. If the chairs are upholstered with colorful patterns, they are usually a modern interpretation of the design. Additionally, plush fabrics were never used in the era. They used vinyl, leather, linen, tweed, and wool.
Mid-Century Round Dining Table Set

4. Determine Your Budget

Determining your budget can either be your first step or your last one. It depends on the individual. What you end up purchasing will usually be dependent on your budget. Here is why.

While several retailers sell mid-century modern furniture, if you are looking for vintage pieces from the 40s and 50s, you need a large budget. While they are available, the price range is in the hundreds of dollars, even for smaller items from lesser-known designers.

For more famous designers like Milo Baughman, the price for individual pieces can go into the thousands. Therefore, most people stick to a mid-century modern style rather than trying to source actual vintage pieces. A good place to start, if you are interested, is Pamono, MCM Interiors, Vinterior, and The Old Cinema.

If your budget is more modest, you can go to Article, Wayfair, and Mid Century Warehouse, which contain mid-century modern plus replicas.

Final Words

The four steps to buying a mid-century dining table set are determining materials, setting the tone of your mid-century modern dining room, ensuring your furniture is specific to the time, and determining your budget. If you follow these steps, you will create a spectacular mid-century modern look in your dining room or kitchen that your guests will be envious of.