How Do I Know it’s Mid Century Modern?

When looking at your furniture, you may be asking yourself, when was this furniture made? Many people confuse the terms “vintage” and “antique,” so it is helpful to clarify the two terms.

Difference between vintage furniture and antique furniture

Vintage furniture typically ranges from the late 1950s through the early 1980s, depending on who you ask. As for antique furniture, items in this category are usually at least 100 years old. How can you tell if your furniture is vintage or mid-century modern? There is no single defining set of characteristics, but here are a few ways to tell. 


Many mid century furniture items have their original labels somewhere on the piece. For case goods like credenzas, dressers, or desks, check the inside of the top drawers or on the unfinished backsides to see if a label has been stamped. For lounge chairs or sofas, check beneath them or under the cushions for a label. Not every mid century item will have a label, however, but if your pieces do, this can help with the research process. [Related: 5 Mid Century Modern Furniture Designers You Should Know…]


A lot of mid century modern Danish furniture has a signature look. Lounge chairs and sofas are often made of teak or walnut wood and have swooping arms. Furniture from this time period is known for having clean lines and bold upholstery colors like burnt orange, red, and green. Perhaps one of the most famous styles from this period is the “atomic” style, noticeable with narrow, angled legs, retro patterned vinyl, and brightly colored accessories.


A great deal of Danish furniture made during the mid century period is going to be teak, which is usually recognizable due to its orange-yellow coloring, depending on the patina. You may also see a lot of rosewood and walnut in items like dressers, dining tables, and credenzas. Other materials that were frequently used include fiberglass and lucite. Notable designers like Eero Saarinen used fiberglass for many of his Tulip chairs.


Sometimes, all it takes is a quick Internet search to get more information on your pieces. Not sure what the item is, put a small description of it into your search bar and you’ll be surprised what comes up. A search for something like “caned back vinyl seat dining chairs” could show exactly what you were looking for.

Consult Stress Free Estates

Stress Free Estate’s sister company, Furnish Me Vintage, is the largest mid century modern furniture retailer in the country, so we know the history behind these items. Call our team to host your estate sale, do an estate buyout, or take a look at a select few pieces and know that you’re in good hands.

It’s not always easy to determine if you’ve got true mid century modern furniture in your home, especially with today’s furniture companies mimicking the designs that were produced during this period. With a few easy steps, you can be on your way to discovering whether or not you’ve got items from this time period. Call Stress Free Estates today at (727) 308-0590 if you think you’ve got items of value that you’d like to part with and we can get you started with a free consultation.

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