Shopping Guide: How to Put Together an Affordable Mid-Century Modern Patio

by Tracy Leigh Morgan
CB2 Ixtapa Chair
Source: CB2

Who loves a good deal?! Yep, me too! Whether you're setting up your patio for the first time this summer, or just giving it a little zhuzh for the season, it's always more fun when you find affordable goodies and killer seasonal sales - more summer for your buck, so to speak. For this shopping guide, I've put together a soft, summer-y version of Mid-Century Modern. Not too edgy, but with the right amount of clean lines and angles - and at an affordable price.       

 

I love a good design influence, so I always start with a look or a vibe I'm trying to achieve (in this case, MCM!). Starting with an idea helps me plan my color palette, as well as the elements I'll need. It's a good idea to plan ahead, as it'll save you from shopping those precious summer minutes away!

This patio look will work in almost any environment. It shares a neutral color palette with a blend of a few colors, grounded with natural wood and black accents. By keeping the palette neutral and the furnishings classic, you can play around with new colors and textures year after year, while keeping the basic furnishings.

And, we're not staying strictly MCM in style, either. Consider this an updated-for-2018 version of MCM, with all the right vibes. Purists can say what they want but THIS is the today-feeling patio that I want to sip cocktails on.

I've included high, low, sale, and affordable selections here (prices are likely to change, of course)...and even a few vintage finds! Overall, I think a little restraint with colors and a style "direction" helps the blend feel pulled together and still casual, instead of edging towards a mix-matchy retro garage sale vibe. Okay, let's go!


Furniture

Midcentury Modern Vibe: Patio Furniture

1. A bit of an investment (but on holy-moly sale right now), West Elm's coffee table is a serious MCM nod to get the party started: Mosaic Tiled Outdoor Coffee Table; Regularly $469, now $281

2. This petite dining table from IKEA is perfect for morning coffee and happy hour sips: LÄCKÖ table; Regularly $39

3. Another MCM wink here with CB2's updated take on the rope-strung, South American styles of the past: Ixtapa Grey Lounge Chair; Regularly $259, now $199

4. Even if you don't have a full conversation set yet, just toss one of these poufs into the mix and everyone will feel right at home: Project 62™ Ikat Dot Outdoor Pouf; Regularly $49.99

Add some great weather-resistant pillows to give an extra pop of color, if you'd like.

Underfoot

Midcentury Modern Vibe: RugsUSA.com Trans Ocean Ravella Outdoor Rug

These muted colors act almost as a neutral base for the "room" and would look fab with weather-resistant jute or sisal-look rugs layered on.

5. RugsUSA.com is actually one of my favorite decorating "tricks." There's almost always a sale going on and they have just about any style you can think up. This sassy outdoor stunner comes in a variety of shapes and sizes: Trans Ocean Ravella Ombre in Aqua, 3.5' x 5.5'; Currently on sale for $147


On the Table

Midcentury Modern Patio Vibe: Tabletop

6. I love enamelware over plastic for outdoor use. Somehow plastic never feels like it stands up to the abuse, or looks as stylish: Hearth & Hand with Magnolia™ Enamel Dinner Plate; Regularly $4.99 ea

7. All purpose, BPA-free & dishwasher safe, this is the kind of plastic you want. Pour the piña coladas, please!: Williams-Sonoma Domaine Shatterproof Outdoor Goblets; Regularly $9.95, now $7.96

8. Basic and pretty; another situation where real trumps plastic every time: H&M Home 4-pc matte black forks; Regularly $12.99

9. A cute modern touch that brings the graphic element of MCM to the table. Literally: IKEA HEMMASTADD paper napkins 30 pack; Regularly $1.99


Decor Accents

Midcentury Modern Patio Vibe: Decor

Now, you can spend a gazillion bucks bringing in the final touches. Decorating, styling, accessorizing...whatever you want to call it, this is where things get exciting. Let's start with the patio necessities: plants & light.

10. I can't get over how slick this pendant is, and how seamlessly it would work with MCM, modern farmhouse, Scandi, and just about any style you can think up. Plus...it's solar!: Black Cap Solar LED Outdoor Pendant; Regularly $49.99; sale $34.99

11.  Hairpin legs - classic MCM. While these aren't down & dirty cheap, they are another foundational style element and worth the moolah. This one comes in 3 different sizes, too: 9" White Ceramic Planter with Stand; Regularly $29.99

12. Another MCM-goes-modern twist: Dark Turquoise Ceramic Planter With Wood Stand; Regularly $24.99

13. The reflective gold insides of these cheap candle holders are perfect for extending the summer evenings, and no one will ever know if you're burning citronella tea lights!: H&M Home Small Metal Tea Light Holder in charcoal gray; Regularly $2.99 


A Little Something Extra

Midcentury Modern Patio Vibe: Vintage & Other Extras

With any decor project, I like to bring a little soul into the room by way of vintage additions or just a pinch of good fun.

14. These affordable bowls, platters, pitchers and dinnerware are everywhere so keep your eyes peeled at thrift stores and vintage shops. Or, search Etsy & Ebay for "melamine" or "melmac" for indestructible outdoor goodies. Vintage Boonton melamine divided bowl; Regularly $12

15. Pier 1 brings the pool silliness here, with a perfect mid-century vintage feel: Peacock Pool Float; Regularly $89.95, now $67.46

16. Great little side tables and stools help round out the look: Vintage Midcentury Modern Tripod Serving/Side Table; Regularly $52.50


Affordable Summer Midcentury Modern Patio Shopping Guide
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Now you'll have a perfect start to your summery twist on the Mid-Century Modern patio. Let me know in the comments if you've found other budget-friendly or packed-with-style items this season!    

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A Quick Start Guide For the Soft-Core Minimalist

by Tracy Leigh Morgan

Simple desk, minimalist workspace

It's tempting to think of minimalism as a "must do" trend. There's been so much chatter online, in books, and on podcasts about it lately - it's seemingly on everyone's mind. Minimalism is getting maximum exposure! For those new to the concept, it's also all too easy to peek at any of that material and feel immediately overwhelmed.         

 Ironically, it's that overwhelming feeling that is usually what starts people down this path AND is the leading cause of falling right back off.

So, let's approach this differently. Instead of worrying about what minimalism means "out there," or feeling like we need to adapt an all-or-nothing mentality to get on board, let's try just dipping a toe in and testing the waters. Feels good, right?  

Minimalist inspiration
Photo: Tracy Leigh Morgan

First, surround yourself with the vibe.

Enjoy some time learning a bit about what minimalism really represents and looks like in real life. It's not solely about stark, sleek interiors or capsule wardrobes. No one's ever accused me of living a minimalist lifestyle, but there is something in the vibe itself that speaks to me: it's about keeping things essential. (Between you and me, that's the word I tend do use when I'm trying on aspects of minimalism, like one might try on a new outfit.)

Scan the blogs, get lost in the gorgeous books, check out a few pins, and maybe listen to a podcast or TedTalk. Gather up your ideas about what minimalism could look like in your life, and see what the common themes are. Feel where this hits you - what pain point does this research bring up? Forget what everyone's saying you should do.

What are the one or two things in your life that could use a simpler, more essential approach and how would that make your life better?

Next, pick ONE thing.

Yep, this is where you already start practicing what you’re going to preach. Instead of trying to boil the ocean of lifestyle areas that need tweaking, identify the one thing that will 1) impact your life in a meaningful way, and 2) give you a quick win. There's nothing like momentum and success to keep us on the path when trying to make a shift.

Is your pain point a cramped closet, cluttered desk, chaotic mealtime, or an over-scheduled calendar, perhaps? Then, start right there. Don't fall into the trap that minimalism is an on and off switch; you can use the dimmer.

Simplify your closet with a capsule wardrobe.
Photo: All About Space/Shutterstock

So, if your closet has lost its mind and you've not worn half that stuff for eons, then envision what a capsule wardrobe might look like, and start putting together a "draft" version for yourself. Apply a little Marie Kondo, and strip out the things that don't bring you joy or inspiration. And get real if things are damaged, out of size, or otherwise unwearable now. You're living now, so prioritize the things that support your life today.


Meal planning & batch cooking can simplify mealtimes
Photo: Stephanie A. Meyer/Project Vibrancy Meals

Give technology a good, hard, side-eye squinty look. 

Tech can be your best friend or your kryptonite as you approach minimalism. Use it for good, friends.

Try these ideas:

  • Go as paperless as you can. It's 2018, let's do this.
  • Take breaks from social media & the relentless news cycle. The stress of keeping up often fuels the behaviors that got us into the maximalist, over-spending, stuff-collecting groove to begin with.

  • Lean on apps & digital services that can make your life easier. Struggling with mealtime decisions or spending too much money on take out? It's not a sign of defeat to pay someone else to do the meal planning; subscription services like Project Vibrancy Meals (pictured above) can do the heavy lifting for you. Or if money management is one of your Achilles-level pain points, apps like You Need A Budget can be a game changer.

  • Learn about minimalism, essentialism, and other related practices on podcasts and blogs online. The Minimalists is one of my favorites.

    Bonus points: Try a challenge! Most of the minimalist & simple living blogs offer jump-starts by way of simple challenges. Just remember to keep yours focused on your ONE thing and don't overdo it.

Create a stylish entry way "landing zone" to make your new routine easier.
Photo: Lucia Coppola/Shutterstock

Adopt a new mini-routine that supports your "one thing."

The most effective behavior changes happen when they become almost mindless, like turning on the coffee pot each morning or grabbing your keys before you walk out the door. Once you have your minimalist goal in mind, create a little routine around it that connects the behaviors to the change itself.

So, for instance, if clutter is your bug, start by creating a landing zone for keys, bags, mail, and other papers & detritus that come in the door with you. Make it your new habit to empty your pockets, dig the receipts out of your wallet, drop the change into a jar, leave the keys in a pretty bowl with your sunglasses, and plug in your phone to charge. Boom. You're on your way to a behavioral baby step that's directly connected to the everydayness of walking through the door.


Finally, reflect on what's working...and what's not.

I love a pen-to-paper journal for this, but use whatever format you prefer. There is little point in pushing for a change when it's not meeting your needs, or is only meeting them part-way. As with most "lifestyle" practices or approaches, it's always best to be honest with yourself and take the parts that work, and leave the rest in the dust. There are no martyrs in minimalism...that just wouldn't be essential or necessary, would it?

As an example, I love my Kindle. I use it each and every day and have since Kindle 1.0 was a thing. But, deep in my heart, I also love books...the smell, the feel of paper, the weight, and certainly the look of them on my bookshelf. So a book-free life is not for me. But I've adopted a new mentality towards how I buy books and what I keep around so that it works for my approach.


Quick start guide to soft-core minimalism
Share these ideas on Pinterest! 

At the end of the day, trust yourself to learn the basics, practice a bit, and then tweak what you’ve got to make it work for you. Start simple, get the small win, and keep on easing in.

Looking for more minimalist inspiration? Check out this streamlined home, owned by a very organized couple.

Minimalist House Tour

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