How the Retro Homes of Mad Men Inspired New Designs
The 2007 debut of hit American period drama TV series Mad Men, with its finger on the pulse of modernism, inspired a new generation of loyal followers seeking the equally sweet and glamorous modernist style in the workplace and at home.
Mad Men’s retro homes mix both the vintage and new to capture the essence of an era dominated by clean-lined furnishings, warm tones and luxurious materials. Fans inspired by the trend-setting show put the same 50s and 60s style back in the spotlight.
Even after the series ended, enthusiastic mid-century revival continued to inspire interior spaces. Modern homes featured large glass windows, natural exterior materials, open design concepts and indoor-outdoor living spaces—all to mimic Mad Men’s passion for modernism.
But first, the back story
Four words describe the timeless trend: clean, minimalist, abstract, simple. The mid-century modern look—rooted in notions of functionality, elegance and simplicity—deviated from previous eras of realism, romanticism and renaissance beliefs.
The idea of a “machine house” where “form follows function” emphasized a home’s practical and functional nature over aesthetic or ornate elements. Purpose should dictate the design, as reflected in Mad Men-inspired retro homes featuring materials such as metals, glass, vinyl and plywood.
History lesson aside, let’s explore how Mad Men’s modernist style made its way into our homes and offices.
The signature Don Draper/Roger Sterling office
Mad Men’s influence on modern décor began in the offices of none other than Don Draper and Roger Sterling.
Take the Knoll Barcelona Chair, for example. This icon of the modern movement—one of the most recognized objects of the last century—exudes a simple elegance that epitomizes Mies van der Rohe’s most famous maxim: “less is more.”
The backbone of the Mad Men-inspired office—stylish with a neutral palette—introduces pops of color accents in rooms dominated by shades of cream and tan.
Imagine a teal glass bowl resting on a wooden coffee table or a sofa with tapered legs alongside vintage Italian glassware. These gentle nods to mid-century décor capture the signature Draper/Sterling style.
Mad Men-inspired modern style in the kitchen
Bold, elegant and impressionable, the Mad Men-inspired kitchen hinges on light and open spaces, clean white lines and minimalist design. Together, the key elements of retro homes unite and pull the room together with little to no decorations or embellishments.
Imagine subtle beauty, from flat panel cabinets and bar stools featuring straight lines, sharp angles and bold accent colors to furniture quilted with geometric patterns to floor-to-ceiling windows that welcome outdoor views and natural sunlight.
The Don and Betty Draper-inspired living room
A Don and Betty Draper-inspired living room might feature a floating, angled staircase with metal railings, spherical and eye-catching light fixtures, upholstered chairs in lattice print and modernist style-defining large glass windows.
Geometric patterns that blend earthly tones with modern flair stand out among signature Draper-inspired elements of retro homes from Dunbar Japanese-influenced sofas to silk dupioni drapes to classic Drexel end tables.
Dining room décor inspired by Pete and Trudy Campbell
A youthful vibe radiates across the Campbell-inspired dining room. Dining room chairs with eye-catching pointy edges capture the essence of mid-century inspired angles, shapes and curvature. And modern artwork and collectibles enhance the décor.
A built-in room divider separating living and dining areas completes the Campbell dining room. For a contemporary take on room dividing, white lacquer and walnut wooden screens bring the modern Campbell-inspired dining room to life.
Retro-style kitchen and bathroom walls and floors
Mad Men inspired all types of tile for all corners of retro homes, from kitchen backsplashes to bathroom tubs to fireplace surround in the living room.
Subway tiles, especially in a vertical layout, create a timeless beauty that uniquely captures the style of the twenty-first-century. Subway tile is trendy, stylish, versatile, long-lasting, easy to clean and perfect for the retro-style kitchen or bathroom.
Black and white tile on contrasting granite also channels the 1960s design period. Groovy granite creates a polished, sleek and contemporary vibe while mosaic tiles deliver a sophisticated charm.
Marble walls and floors—the perfect base for antique 1950s furnishings—create a contemporary feel with midcentury modern appeal that makes a stylish addition to any 50s-inspired foyer entryway floor.
Ready to build your dream kitchen, bathroom or living space inspired by the retro homes of Mad Men? Reach out to NDA Kitchens today.