Modern, Mid-Century, Art Deco? Here’s how to identify designs and incorporate them

There is a wide range of design and historical periods that influence the way we design both the interior and exterior of our homes and businesses. Like fashion, these styles tend to come and go. Terms like Art Deco and Mid-Century get thrown around a lot, but what do they actually mean and how can you implement them in your home?

If you’re confused by the different styles used in architecture and interior design, we’re here to help explain. And for those who are renovating but aren’t sure what look they want to go for, or how to get it, we’ll dispense some handy hints.


Art Deco

Glitzzy, hard angles and bold statement details like gold, steel, chrome, and natural stones such as Carrara Marble typify Art Deco. Think “The Great Gatsby”, New York skyscrapers like the Chrysler building and Animal prints.

Interestingly, the style takes its name from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in France.

After World War I, the industrial boom in America helped popularise the showy style (that is, before the great depression crashed down).

Look for sleek and edgy polished steel designs and parquetry flooring, some of the calling cards of Art Deco.

If you want to style a space or your home this way, make use of patterns like chevrons, zig zags and any that incorporate hard or harsh angles. Blend black and white natural stone tiles inlaid in a pattern like houndstooth and contrast colours where possible. Make use of silver, black, or gold, contrasted on more muted colours like cream and beige.

Use deep, dark wood furniture and you can score bonus points for mixed materials like timber and steel.




Proceeding Art Deco and World War II, Mid-Century was an antithesis of the style, prioritising a more organic look, softer finishes, and even curves. If Art Deco was brash, Mid-Century was funky. It made use of a mix of materials and colours that complemented, rather than contrasted.

With the suburbanisation of cities and a building boom, architects and designers looked for softer and lighter materials to create simpler more homely spaces and need to produce products on a large scale.

You’ll notice the style in a home if there’s an abundance of light timber, orange tones and exposed brick.

If you’re wanting to incorporate Mid-Century into your home, use a natural stone like Travertine and lighter coloured timber like Teak. Mix up the colour palette with a broader range of primary colours and a blend of shades.



Usually associated with minimalism, modernist interior design goes a little deeper than just Marie-Kondo-ing your possessions. It’s all about calm and cleanliness, featuring monochromatic colour palettes, with one colour or shade dominating the interiors.

Think all white or all black, with lots of straight lines or on the contrary, curved lines. Modernist designs tend to make use of dark honed natural stone, concrete look tiles or polished white surfaces.

You can pick a modernist interior immediately by the lack of clutter, cavernous spaces and a stark palette.

If you’re wanting to incorporate modernism and minimalism, it’s usually singular in its approach to palette, motifs and the overall design so stick to a colour and commit to an overall look and feel.

Try something more understated like Superlative white stone or the large format Lithos Carbon porcelain tiles and soften spaces with more organic materials and features like soft throws and plush carpets. Think about the climate you live in and consider that when selecting the materials to work with, as the geo-thermal properties of materials differ and modernist homes can be quite tough in winter if not designed, or insulated properly.



You can get expert advice and view our product range at Signorino, 484 Church St, Richmond, or for more information phone us on (03) 9427 9100.