MidCentury Style on a budget

We’ve seen a resurgence of mid-century style in the past few years, thanks to era-specific shows like AMC’s Mad Men. Since its airing, dd-new-apartmentviewers have had a chance to see how appealing mid-century design really was. Nowadays, you’re hard pressed to find a bar cart for under $300. You can thank Don Draper for that.

While the design movement is picking up, it is still highly possible to decorate a mid-century modern room without breaking the bank. It’s all about choosing the right furniture and focal points. I’ve listed some tricks on how to decorate on a budget and still get the authentic, clean look that we all love.

Flea Market Focal Finds

Since mid-century modern is all about “less is more”, finding a focal point for a room can cost you well under $40. If your room budget is less than $200, plan on spending $20-$50 on your focal point.

Depending on where you want the focus of the room to be, you could find a pendant, piece of art, or even a media console. Vintage media consoles are great flea market buys since most consumers store their music on their computers. When there’s less of a demand, you can probably score a great deal.

One of the biggest tips that I can give you when shopping secondhand is to avoid any gentrified parts of town. Avoid antique stores and similar novelty stores. Stick to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and any garage sales you can find.

Wall Art

Finding vintage wall art should be relatively easy and budget-friendly. You can find some fun frames from a resale shop and then choose some art prints. You can even opt for paper that’s covered in a color block pattern. Whatever type of frame you buy, be sure to paint it white. That way, the art pops.

Since art installations are a big trend in mid-century design, try to build one yourself using leftover salvage material. Many home improvement stores sell scrap metal and wood at a discount; with some craftiness and a few paint samples, you could turn some trash into modern art.

Bar Carts

Bar carts were widely popular in the 1950’s. Even if you only use it for entertaining, it can be a fun conversation-starter when you host parties. These are quickly coming back in style-even a modern one can run you a few hundred dollars.

I found this project from IkeaHackers.net that uses 3 side tables from Ikea ($8 each) to build a small bar cart. With some extra ingenuity, you can install wheels on the bottom as well.

Do It Yourself

Since Mad Men has been gaining so much popularity over the past few years, many people are striving to recreate the design elements. While much can be done on a budget, you’ll have to get creative when it comes to the unique lighting features of the era. When in doubt, just look up some decorating tips for the style you desire.

Create a sunburst mirror, or a mid-century style clock. Apartmenttherapy.com has a good tutorial for creating a mid-century inspired “burst” clock for about $30.


Marie Ortiz wears many hats; she is a mother, wife, design enthusiast, and blogger. She loves spending time with her girls and is always working on new ways for them to develop and learn. She likes to share all of her discoveries along the way. When she is not perusing the Internet for craft-spiration, you can find her at the local farmers’ market. You can check her out at www.DIYMother.org.

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