Make like “Mad Men” with these swingin' styles.

Mid-Century Marvels

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: At Home Issue: May 2016
Group Free


Like a well-cut vintagesuit or a classic sheath dress, mid-century modern design goes with just about everything.

“I’ve seen mid-century modern used with so many different styles of furniture, and it always looks good,” says Ryan Durkin, co-owner of Modern Manor. “It’s so simple that you can’t mess up a room with a mid-century modern piece. It’s not overbearing, and it doesn’t try too hard.”

Durkin and other devotees of the aesthetic – which encapsulates a period of design between the 1930s and 1970s, with peak creative output in the 1950s and 1960s – praise its signature clean lines and simple, minimalist approach. 

“It also has warmth to it,” says Shawn Silberblatt,
co-owner of Modern on Melrose. “Newer contemporary furniture can be very cold; mid-century modern will use beautiful walnuts, beautiful rosewoods, and craft them... so you have warmth from the wood and the clean, modern aspect from the actual design. It creates this nice balance.” 

Modern Manor and Modern on Melrose are part of a mid-century modern colony of sorts along Seventh Avenue in Phoenix that has made the Melrose District a destination for treasure hunters. It began years ago with Phoenix Metro Retro and Retro Ranch and has been sustained by shops like the aforementioned, Zinnias at Melrose and C-MOD/HUB Modern Cooperative. 

“Most of the staff here really likes it, so that helps a lot. It’s a lot of fun,” Zinnias co-owner Michael Hardesty says. “Especially in this area, with the historic neighborhoods. A lot of people that come down here, it’s really what they’re looking for.” C-MOD owner Cynthia Black agrees. “Urban Phoenix has a younger demographic that is heavily cleaved to the look – and in those classic period, inner-city homes, nothing else will literally fit!”

Durkin says mid-century modern style is eternally popular in Phoenix, which “next to Palm Springs is the No. 2 most prominent city in the country for mid-century modern architecture,” he says. “Like a lot of other Western cities, Phoenix had one of its huge population booms in the ’50s and ’60s,” Silberblatt explains. “It was a big blank canvas for all these ’50s and ’60s architects who were trying to do some really interesting, modern things.”

And because mid-century pieces mix so seamlessly with your existing décor, you can have boss digs without living in a Ralph Haver home. 


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Modern Manor

716 W. Hazelwood St., Phoenix, 602-266-3376,

“I like the form in its simplicity,” co-owner Ryan Durkin says of mid-century designs like this Milo Baughman for James Inc. sofa ($1,500). A mix of vintage glassware ($45-$225) and modern art (inquire for pricing) bring the look together in a fresh, modern way. 


Modern on Melrose

700 W. Campbell Ave., Phoenix


Co-owner Shawn Silberblatt recommends mixing mid-century modern pieces like this reconditioned sofa (right, $795) with thoroughly modern elements like rock star paintings (inquire for pricing). “It can marry really well with other stuff.”

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4610 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix


Owner Cynthia Black says more people are incorporating mid-century design into their homes – “from a ‘taste,’ which is generally a less-is-more minimalist approach, to a ‘dose,’ that tends to be several pieces of iconic style.” The Danish table and chairs by Moller ($1,295) and teak screen have mid-century vibes despite dating from the early 1980s – a testament to the enduring influence of mid-century modern design.    


Zinnias at Melrose

724 W. Indian School Rd., Phoenix


“Work in areas,” Zinnias manager Matt Herbert advises for creating an assemblage of “smalls,” or accessories, like in the tableaux he created on this Harvey Probber dresser (part of a six-piece set, $3,500). “I’ve learned over time that it’s quality over quantity. That’s what mid-century is – it’s less is more, it optimizes space and having nice things. Buy vintage over value.” Smalls start at $15.

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