7 Paint Colors That Nail the Midcentury Modern Look
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7 Paint Colors That Nail the Midcentury Modern Look

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By Michele Koh Morollo
From the cheerful hues of the 1950s to the softer, earthier shades that were popular in the 1960s, these paint colors will give your home the perfect splash of midcentury magic.

Whether you gravitate towards fun citrus tones or more mellow neutrals, midcentury-modern colors can jazz up any room in your home—even if it wasn't built in the ’50s or ’60s. We've rounded up some of the most popular shades of the era that still look current today—read on for our top picks!

Golden Yellow

In this midcentury prefab, bright closet doors provide storage space and a healthy dose of color.

In this midcentury prefab, bright closet doors provide storage space and a healthy dose of color.

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Deep yellows can warm up any space. PPG Pittsburgh Paints' Wright Mustard (FLLW321) and Glidden’s Wheat Stalk (30YY 52/515) are two paint colors that complement contemporary midcentury-inspired interiors.

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Backdrop Pablo Honey Paint
Backdrop Pablo Honey Paint
Bright, cozy yellow.
Backdrop Miami Parasol Paint
Backdrop Miami Parasol Paint
Soft, warm, pale yellow.
Backdrop Tanlines Paint
Backdrop Tanlines Paint
Dark, assertive yellow.

Serene Aqua

In the late Jens Risom's family retreat in Rhode Island, a no-frills kitchen features wooden shelves that mimic the home's beams. The kitchen island is finished with an aqua-painted section.

In the late Jens Risom's family retreat in Rhode Island, a no-frills kitchen features wooden shelves that mimic the home's beams. The kitchen island is finished with an aqua-painted section.

This shade has a levity about it that works well with both muted neutrals and darker colors. Benjamin Moore’s Blue Seafoam (2056-60) is a good example of a relaxing blue paint color that works well for interior and exterior walls. 

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Backdrop Novelty Wave Paint
Backdrop Novelty Wave Paint
Warm, saturated, medium blue.
Backdrop Sicily Or Cyprus Paint
Backdrop Sicily Or Cyprus Paint
Bold, saturated blue-green.
Backdrop Saturday On Sunday Paint
Backdrop Saturday On Sunday Paint
Dark blue-gray with a hint of green undertones. Depending the light, this color can skew blue or green.

Olive Green and Wasabi

This shade works well with burnt orange, gold, or dark brown and can add extra character to foyers, lounge areas, accent walls, or children’s playrooms.

This shade works well with burnt orange, gold, or dark brown and can add extra character to foyers, lounge areas, accent walls, or children’s playrooms.

Deep, earthy greens like olive and wasabi were popular during the 1960s. Relentless Olive (SW 6425) from Sherwin Williams and Green Root (8334) from Jotun capture these shades well.

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Backdrop Saged Paint
Backdrop Saged Paint
Muted, olive-toned green.
Backdrop Drive-Thru Safari Paint
Backdrop Drive-Thru Safari Paint
Soft, warm, mid-tone green.
Backdrop Natural Habitat Paint
Backdrop Natural Habitat Paint
Fresh, light green with a hint of yellow.

Pops of Red

This rejuvenated Austin hotel celebrates midcentury design with pops of red scattered throughout.

This rejuvenated Austin hotel celebrates midcentury design with pops of red scattered throughout.

Reds are great for designers and homeowners who want to be courageous with color. In fact, Frank Lloyd Wright's favorite shade was Cherokee Red. He used it throughout his residential projects, often covering entire floors with it. 

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Backdrop Lipstick On the Mirror Paint
Backdrop Lipstick On the Mirror Paint
Bright, rich, classic red. Perfect for an accent wall or your boldest mood.
Backdrop Self-Portrait Paint
Backdrop Self-Portrait Paint
Deep, rich red-wine red.
Backdrop Negroni Paint
Backdrop Negroni Paint
Red with a hint of orange. Perfect for an accent wall or a small space.


Tangerine and Ochre

This door with space-age knobs is painted with Behr's Flaming Torch. The brass wall hanging above the landing is by C. Jeré.

This door with space-age knobs is painted with Behr's Flaming Torch. The brass wall hanging above the landing is by C. Jeré.

Tangerine and ochre were a popular choice for many midcentury architects and interior designers. Those who want to make a bold design statement will love midcentury oranges shades such as Sherwin Williams’ Carnival (SW 6892) or Orange Fruit (2011-1) by Valspar. If you’re looking for a warm and fun—but more muted—orange, try Wright Ochre (FLLW325) from PPG Pittsburgh Paints. 

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Backdrop Aperitivo Hour Paint
Backdrop Aperitivo Hour Paint
Warm, dark, peachy orange.
Kilz Bright Marigold Paint
Kilz Bright Marigold Paint
This energizing orange can create a popping fresh feeling in your home, perfect for use as an accent on bookshelves and furniture Photo Courtesy of Build.com...
Backdrop Tanlines Paint
Backdrop Tanlines Paint
Dark, assertive yellow.

Pewter Gray

In this updated 1950s Portland home, a light gray Neo sofa by Bensen harmonizes with warm wooden walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as a red-and-mustard-yellow vintage rug.

In this updated 1950s Portland home, a light gray Neo sofa by Bensen harmonizes with warm wooden walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as a red-and-mustard-yellow vintage rug.

To balance out bright reds, oranges, or yellows, try pewter grays, which can add a cooling touch to warmer color schemes. If you’re thinking of gray for your walls or ceilings, Wright Soft Grey (FLLW872) from PPG Pittsburgh Paints is a versatile option.

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Backdrop After Hours Paint
Backdrop After Hours Paint
A soft charcoal black. After Hours is a shade lighter than Dark Arts.
Kilz Motor Gray Paint
Kilz Motor Gray Paint
This solid gray adds sophistication when combined with natural lighting, perfect for use in modern style living spaces.
Backdrop No Curfew Paint
Backdrop No Curfew Paint
Perfect dark gray with mild cool undertones.

Soft and Earthy Brown

Different shades of brown can bring a calm, earthy feel to living rooms and studies.

Different shades of brown can bring a calm, earthy feel to living rooms and studies.

Warm, wood-toned shades of brown give spaces a grounded feel. Try Behr's Cocoa Shell (HDC-AC-05) or Wright Oak Bark (FLLW623) from PPG Pittsburgh Paints.

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Kilz Fawn Doe Paint
Kilz Fawn Doe Paint
This charming brown recreates the English country home style, perfect for use with antiques and decorative accents.
Backdrop Sentimental Reasons Paint
Backdrop Sentimental Reasons Paint
Warm taupe with earthy and lilac undertones.
Kilz Cobblestone Streets Paint
Kilz Cobblestone Streets Paint
This vintage brown will transport you to the boulevards of London, Paris, and Rome, perfect for use in dining rooms or master bedrooms.