Get the Look: Mid-Century Modern Meets Tribal

Mid-century modern pieces serve as a sort of wild card in interior design. The style has been labeled as “timeless” due to the simple, clean lines and structure found in MCM furniture, décor and architecture. Mid-century modern seems to be a favorite style to mix in with many other styles. It is common to observe mix-matching styles across interior design projects. One particular style that blends well with MCM is tribal. It’s a simple mix with big impact.

So, how do you achieve this design aesthetic? Try some or all of the tips below and you’ll be well on your way to some serious interior design street cred.

1. Layer Your Textiles with Textures
Tribal design is all about the combination of exciting patterns and rich textures. For an eye-popping effect, try layering a textile with a texture. Go all out by literally layering a colorfully patterned rug on top of a jute rug for a dramatic effect. You can also achieve this effect in more subtle ways such as with natural fiber place mats and tribal print dishes or a vibrant throw blanket in a woven basket. The possibilities are endless.

1 Tribal Meets Mid-Century Modern - Layer textures and textiles

2. Put Some Dramatic Drapery on Display
Go for broke with some energetic drapes in a tribal pattern. The look is even more exciting when you can go to near-ceiling height. Be sure to pick a pattern with at least 1 color that is close that in other pieces or décor in the room. Take it a step further with some thoughtful layering and swap out your blinds for roman shades in a natural fiber.

2 Warm Tribal meets MCM - try dramatic print drapery

3. Go with Tribal for Your “Wow” Piece
As we all know, mid-century modern style is fabulous, but grand MCM pieces or art are often way, way outside of the budget. When designing your space try using a tribal piece to really kick it off. Whether it’s a big, bold print rug, amazing drapes, big-framed art or a fabulous installation, go with tribal for the best, most cost-effective impact.

If you’re feeling creative, buy a bunch of tribal-inspired bead necklaces and create some art out of them. You could even hang them in an interesting way like in the Ace Hotel lobby in Palm Springs.

3 Ace Hotel lobby Palm Springs Tribal meets mid-century modern interior design - make the statement piece tribal

4. Pick a Color and Live It Up
It’s time to put your favorite color on display. Be proud and loud with your hue of choice and paint an accent wall with it, get some throw pillows or blankets in the color, heck, reupholster your couch in the color. Pick a few big impact places as well as a handful of smaller items to show off the special shade.

It doesn’t have to be a perfect match across the board, however. Slight differences in the color will make the effect look more like a sophisticated collection and less like a teenage obsession.

4 Tribal meets Modern - eclectic-living-room - choose a color and go all out

5. Deeper Colors Are Fine Too
Most of these examples feature bright, vibrant coloring, which we understand may scare someone interested in blending tribal and MCM pieces but not so much in a sitting room resembling an Eric Carle book.

Fortunately for those of you who would prefer darker hues there is hope! You can certainly achieve a tribal-meets-modern look with deeper colors. Pick a pop of color for one wall, think rich plum or deep maroon, and select textiles with subtle coloring in a tribal pattern. Mix dark colors with light muted warm colors such as beige, cream and tan. Incorporate reflective surfaces or accents for your “pop.”


Now you’re ready to become the expert in mixing tribal with modern that you were always meant to be. Interested in finding that perfect MCM abode to go with your new interior design skills? Get in touch today to find the mid-century modern home of your dreams.

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