21OAK may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The ultimate guide to mid-century modern patio furniture

Today, more than ever, the mid-century modern look is everywhere. So much so, saying that mid-century modern has made a comeback would be an understatement. This unique style is known for juxtaposing sleek lines with organic shapes, using new materials and approaches to reimagine traditional pieces.

The look is futuristic without a total departure from the past. It is certainly an exciting design and can create a beautiful oasis in your outside living space. Keep reading and let us take a deep dive into the most striking mid-century modern patio furniture available now. 

Mid-century modern: What is it?

Like any era of design, mid-century modern evolved. There was a fusion of geometric shapes and straight lines, but the style didn’t fully take form until the 1940s. At the time, America was all about embracing the future. Space exploration, nuclear physics, molecular chemistry, and a growing interest in science fiction played a major part in the development of this futuristic style.

Pop culture and current events weren’t the only factors impacting mid-century modern design’s development. Materials played a huge role, too. Plywood, metal, glass, vinyl, plexiglass, and Lucite all made their appearance in furnishings of this era. Unlike how plastic is used to resemble wood or other materials today, in mid-century modern pieces, it was used for its own abilities.

To sum it up, the most distinguishing features of mid-century modern include:

  • It is understated
  • Forms are organic and geometric 
  • Functionality is paramount 
  • Outside influences are key
outdoor patio furniture ideas

Designing your outdoor oasis

Your backyard patio may have incredible potential, and filling it with the right pieces can be challenging. A mid-century modern design can bring an elegant, high-end look to any space. The great thing about mid-century modern is the vastness of options. It is a style that anyone can find furniture they love. Focus on your space. Larger spaces can accommodate for more seating and more signature pieces. A smaller space can benefit from the sleek, clean curves and ultimately make a patio feel larger. 

Chairs, couches, and cushions

Chairs and couches, and the cushions that accompany them, are perfect if you’re looking for that comfy outdoor space. Luckily, in today’s world, shopping is a breeze with hundreds of online stores that can help you choose the perfect piece. Mid-century modern chairs and couches come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. If you’re looking for a vibrant, modern feel, look into bright reds and blues with more neutral-colored cushions. Cushions can soften up the sharp edges and make a space feel more inviting. Wood-framed chairs and couches, however, look stunning with perfectly rectangular cushions. The design is modern with a hint of the past. 


Wooden patio furniture is sturdy, long-lasting, and often feels the most like having real furniture outside. It can also be expensive. Dense-grained tropical hardwood, such as teak, can resist warping and swelling, which is important. You can also opt for cheaper wood and throw on a cover for protection. Other popular woods used in mid-century modern furniture are cedar, pine, and eucalyptus. Just know that wood furniture often requires staining and oil to maintain its original appearance. With a little bit of care, your outdoor wooden pieces will stay fresh and new-looking for years to come.


Is wood not your style? Because of the higher price tags of wooden outdoor furniture, metal is becoming an increasingly popular choice. Aluminum furniture is lightweight, durable, and doesn’t require much maintenance. Steel is a heavier option, but both usually need to be coated with a protective finish known as powder coating. The good thing about metal outdoor furniture is there are a lot of options at all price points. It can add a sleek, industrial look to your space. Soften up steel chairs and couch frames with bright cushions.


Plastic furniture may have a reputation for being flimsy, but new technology proves that it can be a great material for outdoor furniture. High-density polyethylene plastic furniture can be incredibly durable. Some benefits are that it doesn’t require painting or sealing and can be designed to look like almost anything. Plastic is easy to wipe down and won’t peel like other products. Plastic can be a great, affordable choice for someone who wants easy maintenance without sacrificing a beautiful, modern look.


If your dream weekend involves a couch and some sun, look no further than an outdoor sofa. Usually, they are made of a blend of wood or powder-coated steel with fabric cushions. Mid-century modern outdoor couches offer an incredible level of style without sacrificing comfort. Certain treated fabrics mean that these comfy couches can hang outside all day, all year.

modern metal patio furniture
Lifestyle Travel Photo/Shutterstock

Can’t decide? Have it all

The beautiful thing about mid-century modern is its ability to blend materials that would otherwise not go together. Matching steel-framed chairs next to a gorgeous wooden table and some brightly colored cushions can provide you with an industrial, woodsy feel. Or you could choose to bring together clean, white chairs made of plastic and soft cushions to make sitting a pleasure. Whatever you may decide, always follow your style. Mid-century modern will give you all the options you could want and help you in the creation of your perfect outdoor space.

Editors' Recommendations