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Say you’re a huge fan of mid-century modern design and you’ve decided to update your house in that style. Where can you find furniture in the Washington area to fit your needs?
That’s the question I asked—hypothetically, in this case—last week. And what I found is that there are essentially two categories of modern furniture available around here: new or used.
On the former side is U Street’s Millennium Decorative Arts , one of the best-known local sources for a variety of mid-century modern pieces. I dropped in last Friday (the store is only open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) and chatted with co-owner Jeff McGroder about what he had in stock.
The store’s merchandise changes weekly and the collection that day wasn’t particularly outstanding, explained McGroder. Still, he had some interesting items for sale, like a seven-foot-long Danish teak credenza ($1500), a set of two purple-upholstered Adrian Pearsall throne-style chairs ($850 for the pair), a round teak dining room table ($1525), a 1950s-era floor lamp with three fiberglass shades ($539), and a three-arm Sonneman lamp from around 1970 with chrome globes ($395).
Millennium isn’t the only secondhand store selling mid-century modern furniture in the area. In the District alone, there’s also Cantilever Modern, which operates by appointment only, as well as stores like Miss Pixie’s and Good Wood that don’t necessarily specialize in mid-century design but tend to carry pieces on a regular basis.
Interestingly, McGroder said that although his store has been selling mid-century modern furniture for two decades, there hasn’t been much of a spike in demand over the past few years—despite the style’s huge popularity boom. He attributed that lack of growth to the increased availability of brand-new modern furniture on the market.
He had a good point. Room and Board , located just a couple of blocks away on 14th Street, has four floors of beautiful, well-crafted furniture, much of it based directly or indirectly on mid-century design. Unsurprisingly, the prices are correspondingly high. They’ve got a luscious Eames lounge chair in leather ($2,159) and a flat, cushioned leather day bed based on a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe design ($3,299).
Indeed, Room and Board isn’t the only source for new mid-century sofas, chairs, and tables. Design Within Reach features a wide variety of items based on classic mid-century shapes, and even Crate and Barrel has a (slightly more affordable) mid-century modern line. And really, given the style’s popularity, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Target is preparing to roll out its own mid-century modern line.
Let us know the sources we’ve missed. There are probably a lot of them, especially outside of the District.
Related: Enter our ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest
Amanda Abrams is a freelance writer and one of four judges for this year’s Washington Post ‘Mad Men’ Look Contest.