Get the Look: Mid-Century Modern Meets Zen

If you’re desperate for some peace and calm at home, don’t kick the kids out just yet. May we recommend a Mid-Century Modern meets Zen interior design makeover for your space? MCM design provides the perfect base for other aesthetics. As part of our ongoing series, we’ve covered many styles you can mix in with great success, including Contemporary, Craftsman, Traditional, Tribal, Southwest and now Zen.

Mid-Century Modern design has roots in the Japanese concept and practice of Zen. After WWII, America’s design community became enthralled with the idea of Zen and the Japanese consideration for incorporating nature in home design.

With that insight, you can be confident that MCM does indeed pair well with Zen design aesthetic. Now for our tips on how to become a MCM-Zen master:

1. Choose Natural Finish Wood

Mid-Century Modern furniture, particularly Scandinavian design, incorporates lots of natural finish wood. To get the Mid-Century Modern meets Zen look, go with the grain. Mix your wood tones or match them up, there are no rules.

Choose natural finish wood for Mid-Century Modern meets Zen style

Wood ornaments, such as sculptures or decorative serving items, can also be incorporated to get the look. Although Japanese style might bring lacquered pieces to mind, stick with clear-coat wood furniture to maintain a natural warmth. If you have wood floors, let them shine!

2. Try Minimalism

The concept of simplicity is at the core of Zen practice. Applying the concept to interior design you find minimalism, the reduction of objects or accents to the bare necessities. This means eliminating all clutter in your space and paring down the décor in each room.

Try Minimalism with Mid-Century Modern

We’re not advocating a purge, however. Put your precious belongings into storage out of sight, for safekeeping. You can even rotate your décor in and out of storage for a fresh look. There are some hacks if you don’t want to yank everything off the walls and shelves. Group décor items in threes to eliminate the appearance of a collection. If you can’t bring yourself to replace the gallery wall in your living room with a single piece of art, try painting all the frames the same neutral color.

Whenever possible let the personality of the building act as the décor in a room. For example, if you’ve got a beautiful brick fireplace, let it be the art piece. Consider moving furniture around, or even out of the space, to expose special architectural features of your home.

3.Pick Low Profile Furniture

Low profile pieces instantly evoke Japanese style. To get the look, search for short coffee tables, couches and chairs. As an added benefit, you won’t have to vacuum as much since the height of the furniture is directly proportional to your responsibility for keeping the floor underneath clean.

Pick low profile furniture to incorporate Zen into Mid-Century Modern

One of the easiest items to incorporate is a platform bed. Platform beds make a huge impact as a result of being extremely minimal. There are many other perks to a low profile bed. For instance, falling into bed becomes even easier. Additionally, having a low profile bed means there is no need for a box spring, which can save you some money.

4. Use Neutrals

Neutral colors can be used to create a calm environment. Swap out artwork with bold colors for pieces with more muted tones. Retire colorful bedding and replace with solid colors such as grey or beige. Warm neutrals, such as caramels and browns are fine as well for your Mid-Century Modern meets Zen space. An extra tip is to try to create a balance between darker and lighter neutrals. Lean towards lighter tones to achieve an airy, clean feel in the space.

Use warm neutrals to mix Mid-Century Modern with Zen Style

5. Bring In Other Natural Elements

Mixing Zen design style with MCM presents many opportunities to introduce natural elements into your home, even beyond the natural wood grain of your furniture or flooring. If you really want some color in your space, consider adding in some indoor plants. Choose anything small, tall or in between – height doesn’t matter, nor does texture or leaf color. Pick out a neutral container, make sure the plant will have enough indirect light and you are all set. Don’t forget to water regularly.


Speaking of water, if you can include a water feature, even just a small desktop water bubbler, in the room, you’ll be adding extra Zen to the ambiance of the room.

Bring in other natural elements to create a fusion between Mid-Century Modern and Zen Aesthetics


Another Japanese-inspired way to bring nature into your space is to incorporate large rocks. Think rock garden, but without all the sand. For example, if you have a non-operational fireplace, consider placing some mini-boulders inside. Or, pick a corner and add some large, sculptural rocks. Go for drama. Always lift with your knees.


Hopefully these tips will get your creativity flowing. If you’ve got a Mid-Century Modern meets Zen style tip of your own, feel free to share it in a comment below. Looking for your own Modern Zen space? Get in touch today!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.