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Collect ’em all: Five types of vintage mid-century modern wood decor
Mid-century modern decor is an instant warm-up for your space. Photo: Ruslan Rozanov/Pexels

Collect ’em all: Five types of vintage mid-century modern wood decor


Eighty-plus years on, collectors still salivate over mid-century tableware and decor for their balance of form and function. Here are five types that you should watch for when you're on the hunt

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Wood decor is perhaps the most timeless and versatile aesthetic for any home.

However, there are undoubtedly trends through the eras that favour wood type, colour, use and form.

Such is the case with mid-century wood styles from the 1950s through the 1970s, which include minimalist shapes featuring clean lines and functionality, as well as pieces adorned by additional decoration that still allow the natural features of the woodgrain to shine.

Colour trends in wood MCM decor

Amid a background of earthy umber and golden saffron, mid-century modern wood tableware was most often showcased in dark, rich stains that highlight the natural grain of the wood.

The result? Pieces exuding elegance, geometric precision, and sophisticated simplicity, perfectly encapsulating the ethos of the era.

A wood by any other name

Contemporary decor stylists might reach for the samanea saman, but vintage lovers will be more familiar with its other identities: saman, monkey pod, or rain tree. Saman has made its mark with its warm hues and unique texture.

Monkey pod can also sometimes be referred to as acacia — not to be mistaken for acacia pycnantha, or wattles, a flowering plant native to Australia. This misnomer can cause confusion among shoppers as the names might be used interchangeably but they are not always, in fact, the same species of wood.

Known for their durability and moisture resistance, maple and teak were other popular choices during this era. Teak especially, has been prized for its rich colour and distinctive grain patterns.

Monkey pod multi-compartment serving tray. Photo: Etsy/CordelsCurios

Baribocraft: In Canadian style

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, Baribocraft created iconic wooden bowls, trays, utensils and cutting boards of maple, birch and teak. These items were inarguably a well-recognized staple of Canadian kitchenware through the 1960s and 1970s.

The company employed skilled artisans who meticulously crafted each piece, resulting in items that were not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing.

Baribocraft's signature items included wooden salad bowls, serving trays, salt and pepper shakers, and cheese boards. Each piece bore the hallmark of expert woodworking, with smooth finishes and attention to detail.

While Baribocraft ceased production in the late 1970s due to changing consumer preferences and competition from cheaper materials such as plastic, its legacy endures.

Vintage Baribocraft items remain highly collectible, with enthusiasts scouring antique stores, online marketplaces and estate sales in search of these cherished relics of Canadian history.

Moreover, the ongoing appeal of Baribocraft speaks to a larger trend towards sustainability and appreciation for handcrafted goods. In an era dominated by mass-produced disposable items, Baribocraft serves as a reminder of the timeless allure of quality craftsmanship.

Baribocraft nut serving bowl with picks. Photo: Etsy/LucysMidcentury

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Danish decor inspiration

Dansk, a Danish manufacturer founded as Dansk International Designs in 1954, revolutionized the world of tableware with its modern designs and innovative use of materials.

Dansk's Fjord teak-and-stainless flatware featured sleek handles and ergonomic shapes, adding a touch of Scandinavian charm to mealtime gatherings.

In 1969, the iconic Dansk Teak ice bucket introduced clean lines and minimalist styling with its tall shape and curved handle, making it a versatile addition to any dining setting.

17-piece Dansk Fjord flatware set. Photo: Etsy/FloridaLuckyGirl

Wood and metal set alight

Walter von Nessen (1889-1943), a renowned American designer, made a significant impact on mid-century modern design with his innovative wood and metal combinations.

von Nessen was most active during the Machine Age and Art Deco periods, but his mixed metals had influence on the work of his later contemporaries.

Characterized by clean lines and geometric forms evocative of the atomic era, his pieces including table lamps, bookends, trays and pitchers, combined the warmth of wood with the sleekness of metal, creating a bold and striking contrast.

Today, the von Nessen pieces that pushed the boundaries of form and function in mid-century homes are now collected for their versatility and timeless elegance.

Wood and metal table lamp by Walter von Nessen. Photo: Etsy/SourcedModern

A mid-century table to set

Lane Furniture has a rich history intertwined with the evolution of mid-century modern style, particularly in its iconic table design.

Established in 1912, Lane Furniture initially gained prominence for its quality cedar chests. However, by the mid-century, Lane Furniture truly made its mark, embracing the sleek lines and organic forms characteristic of the era.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the company ventured into the production of teak tables, capitalizing on the growing popularity of Scandinavian design influences.

These tables were crafted from teak wood, which is known for its durability and rich colour. They captured mid-century modern elegance with their clean lines and minimalist aesthetics.

For collectors today, Lane Furniture's tables remain sought-after for their craftsmanship and aesthetic that transcends styles and can be incorporated into a number of modern decor sensibilities.

Vintage Lane Furniture bar cart. Photo: Etsy/VintageGrindHouse

Tips to collect mid-century modern wood decor

Looking to add a sprinkle of mid century modern tableware to your home?

Make sure your list includes:

  • Salad bowls
  • Cutting boards and cheese boards
  • Serving trays
  • Nut bowls and cracker sets
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Utensils

Remember that these pieces were plentiful and can still be found easily at thrift stores, yard sales and estate sales — though it might take a while to gather complete sets.

Baribocraft nut bowls that include picks and crackers, for example, are an extremely rare find.

For one-stop purchasing without missing pieces and to ensure the items are in the highest condition, turn to vintage sellers, Etsy and antique stores.

For more on mid-century modern style, check out our primer on all things MCM.


Krista Montelpare is a freelance writer based in Nova Scotia and the founder of vintage shop Cellary.

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