Get the Look: Mad Men’s Impeccable Mid-Century Cool

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: AMC Networks)

Recently, my parents sold my childhood home and bought a grown-up condo. Gone is the lovely, comfortable suburban dwelling that housed countless birthday parties, homework cram sessions and dance recital practices. Their new home doesn’t have to be kid proof; it can just be cool. And no show’s design has been quite so cool as Mad Men (my dad loves mid-century furniture, so it’s fairly obvious inspiration).

The set of Mad Men was notoriously well researched and designed. Honestly, it looks like Herman Miller took the place hostage and wouldn’t let it go until they agreed to have one burnt orange piece in every room. Lucky for you, because of Mad Men, basically every major retailer sells mid-century modern furniture for Joan Holloway salary prices. Thank god we can all have a place to comfortably smoke a cigarette and sip that third martini while fighting the patriarchy.

(Image credit: AMC Networks)

The right furniture really is important because it’s the most iconic. Search key designers and styles like Eames, Saarinen, Knoll, Kjærholm, Panton, Ponti, Wegner, Bertoia, and Rodrigues are all good places to start (name dropping, check). I would start with a clean, classic Knoll Sofa and pair it with sculptural accent chairs a la PK-22 armchairs. Then pull up a Saarinen style coffee table. The fun thing about mid-century modern design is it embraces natural and synthetic materials. You can couple a wood credenza next to a leather chair next to a Lucite lamp. And a graphic use of color should absolutely be incorporated.

(Image credit: AMC Networks)

A tenant of mid-century modern design is form follows function. Hide your tchotchkes, people. A sculptural pot holding a plant is fine. Framed art works. A full bar cart is encouraged. Spend your money on good quality furniture and skip purchasing additional accessories. Storage pieces are key because if we’re being honest, you’re not going to get rid of your treasures. What would you style in your Instagrams? So, look for credenzas and armoires with doors. An interesting texture or pattern on the door of a cabinet would look fabulous next to the sleek lines of your seating.

Lastly, get yourself a Don Draper to tend the bar every night at 6 o’clock. Suits are encouraged. You wouldn’t want to ruin the look, right?

Get the look

(Image credit: Anita Shriver)