A Beginner’s Guide To Mid-Century Modern Antiquing in Denver

Finding furniture to furnish your home can be difficult, especially with changing trends that might leave you and your home feeling outdated. However, amid the continuous emergence of new fads, there exists a timeless design style that withstands the test of time: Mid-Century Modern (MCM) Design. As Denver’s thriving antiquing and vintage scene embraces the chic functionality and timeless sensibility of the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic, it’s never been easier to find the right piece for any budget. 

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Mid-Century Modern (MCM) is characterized by clean lines, minimalism, organic shapes, functionality, bold colors and nature motifs. If you’re looking to spruce up your living or dining room and think this style might be a good fit, we recommend checking out the wide array of vintage and antique stores in the Denver area specializing in MCM design for any budget. Not only is vintage shopping sustainable and affordable, but it can be incredibly rewarding- especially when you find your “hidden gem.” Below is a “Beginner’s Guide” to Mid-Century Modern antiquing – how to identify MCM, where to shop and tips to incorporate pieces into your home. 

modmood showroom in Wheat Ridge, CO, Photo courtesy of modmood

What is MCM?

Mid-century modern is a design style that was popularized in the mid-20th century, with large-scale production from the 1940s through the 1960s in countries like the United States, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. This design style is currently enjoying a revival, with a minimalistic aesthetic, clean lines and a vintage quality that has made it popular in the “antiquing” and vintage community, and largely replicated in modern furniture production. While certain vintage designer pieces are now sold at a premium, there are still opportunities to find your hidden treasure for discounted prices. Denver has an impressive MCM scene, with several antique and vintage stores and unique spots to find your next treasure at every price point.

Where to Shop

Chances are you’ve seen MCM design in recent AD profiles, showrooms, design studios or even your friend’s house. When shopping for vintage pieces, it’s important to be acquainted with the style, material and specific pieces you’re looking for to make the process easier. And, as with thrifting (and all second-hand shopping), patience is a virtue. It’s important to enjoy the process, making the thrill of finding the perfect piece even more exciting! 

While a Google search of “Mid-century modern shops in Denver” will certainly yield a great number of results, it may be difficult to parse out the right store or marketplace for your needs.  Whether you have a tighter budget and are interested in the full antiquing experience (aka the treasure hunt) or are craving a more curated experience at a higher price point, we got you covered. 

Below is a list of great vintage and antique shops and malls in the Denver area for every budget:

modmood

Where: 4401 Zephyr St, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033

The lowdown: With a great array of modern and vintage furniture and home decor, modmood’s design studio and sprawling showroom offer one-of-a-kind pieces and a great atmosphere for shopping. With lots of color, textures, and styles, modmood’s unique curation and collection of both furniture and accessories make it a must-see for the mid-century modern vintage shopper. At a higher price point, you can expect items in great condition in a curated showroom, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for! 

Antiques Etc.

Antiques etc. in Denver

Photo courtesy of Antiques etc.

Where:5736 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80220

The lowdown: Antiques Etc. is a second-hand vintage and antique shop with three levels of vintage furniture and home goods. Open seven days a week, come in no matter when the mood strikes at their Colfax Ave location. Antiques Etc promises “hidden gems” at a great price. 

Brass Armadillo

Photo courtesy of The Brass Armadillo

Where:11301 W Interstate 70 Frontage Rd N, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033

The lowdown: The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall is located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, and houses over 600 dealers. Considered a “haven” for mid-century modern furniture enthusiasts, it offers a truly unique and thorough shopping experience, promising treasures around every corner, since 1992. 

Garage Vintage

garage vintage in Denver

Photo Courtesy of Garage Vintage

Where: 772 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204

The lowdown: Specializing in unique vintage and mid-mod decor, furniture and art, Garage Vintage is an antique store located in the Santa Fe Art District. With two sister stores, Art District Antiques and Garage Antiques – located across the street, this consortium aims to allow customers to find exactly what they’re looking for without the hassle of digging through a massive collection. Featuring a priced online catalog, it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, with a Craigslist site that you can buy directly from! 

Markets, fairs and more

A Paris Street Market, Photo by Zackery Epps

Flea markets, fairs and pop-ups are great spots to discover MCM vendors, hunt for deals and learn more about the greater vintage furniture community. Be sure to keep up with vintage markets and fairs in the area, especially in the warmer months, including A Paris Street Market and The Rocky Mountain Antique Festival in Loveland. Another great and local option is estate sales and auctions. While these are more difficult to find, you can check the local papers (online or paper) or online

Finally, it wouldn’t be a complete list without mentioning online marketplaces, like eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You can even turn on alerts for MCM inventory, using keywords such as “MCM,” “Mid-Century Modern,” “Mid Mod,” or “Vintage” to streamline (further specify) your search results and notifications. Denver is home to many MCM enthusiasts, and it’s easy to find unique pieces at affordable prices in your area. 

Identifying MCM

If you’re new to MCM and on the hunt for a “hidden gem” in more generalized antique shops, here are a few tips to identify the maker, period and material. Premium makers, especially in the United States, often stamp their creations with logos, initials or serial numbers. While these markings may be challenging to find, they can often be found on the inside of drawers. If there’s no stamp, or “marking” remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t be discouraged! 

If you’re feeling unsure about the origins of the piece you’ve found, and looking for a second opinion, “Good Lens” is a great option to scrub the internet for similar or even identical pieces. Found on the Google app, Google Lens can help you find the material, period and even maker by comparing the image to similar ones on the internet. 

To assess the quality of the piece, there are a few quick tests you can do to get a basic understanding of how the piece was made. First, pull out the drawers and look for a “dove-tail” joinery where the front panel meets the side drawer. It should be somewhat rough and look like a puzzle fitted together. While the drawer is pulled out, check the bottom to see if it’s real wood, or MDF, a common less-expensive alternative made of fiberboard. Then (if you can pull out the drawer all the way) assess the weight. It might sound obvious, but the heavier it is, the more likely it’s made of higher-end materials. 

Photo courtesy of Vecteezy.com

Tips for incorporating MCM into your home:

After you find your perfect piece, it’s time to take it home! The benefits of MCM design are its timeless quality and ability to enhance any space. So, first tip, don’t overthink it! When adding this piece to your collection remember, that this design style is intentionally eclectic, mixing patterns, materials and sensibilities. If you’re looking for the full “AD” or showroom effect, below are additional tips and tricks to fully embrace the essence of MCM.

First, build around statement pieces- whether it be the new piece you picked up or an existing piece you hope to highlight. This will give the space direction, serving as a “thesis” for the rest of the room. Next, play with color, and mix woods and patterns. Contradicting colors and materials can add interest and intrigue, and consider adding elements of the outdoors into the space, perhaps a plant, plant motif or deep greens.

The duality of outdoor/ indoor space is another trademark of the style. Steer away from “matchy-matchy” that might limit your creative direction. For lighting, think brass, exaggerated, clean lines and large and interesting bulbs. A great option here is a unique floor lamp or sconces. Remember, MCM is centered around the aesthetic of functionality, so keep it practical, which will in turn add to the aesthetic properties of the space.

With so many vintage and antique stores, Denver is a hub for all things Mid-Century Modern. Invite some friends, clear your afternoon and start treasuring hunting!