Compass Greater NY, LLC
Ann Marie Damashek, GRI, CBR, SRES, Compass Greater NY, LLCPhone: (917) 623-0624
Email: [email protected]

Recognizing Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern Design Styles

by Ann Marie Damashek, GRI, CBR, SRES 11/21/2021

"art deco metal wall panel" by Dean Hochman licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mid-century modern and art deco are popular design styles that are sometimes mistaken for the same thing. While the two styles share some similarities, there are some key differences both in concept and execution. Both styles feature differing materials, colors and patterns in both architecture and furniture.

Some might call art deco a “dressed up” version of mid-century modern. Art deco is glamorous, sophisticated and bold where mid-century modern is more streamlined, minimalist and purely functional. Art deco follows a lot of the same basic concepts like geometric shapes and high contrast but embellished with intricate motif inspired by technology rather than the natural world. Where mid-century modern is approachable and welcoming, art deco emulates an ideal sophistication and advancement.

All of that said, there are some more specific ways to spot the differences between the two styles. Here are the three key design elements to compare:


New and unexpected materials were a key aspect of the mid-century modern style when it began. Plastic, laminates and plexiglass were some examples of materials commonly used to create smooth, sleek shapes. Stucco and glass remain staples of exterior mid-century modern design. A lot of surfaces lack special finishing, making them look and feel clean and practical. Mid-century modern design uses materials that are practical and accessible to all.

As for art deco, the materials create a sense of exclusivity and glamour. Polished stone, stainless steel, gold and chrome are all common in furniture and art. Mirror finishes on metallic surfaces and glossy lacquers on wood add a characteristic flashiness. Exteriors use polished natural stone and concrete often paired with metallic ornamentation. Art deco may not always be expensive, but it often looks expensive because of the richness of the finishes and materials. Art deco uses the latest and greatest and perfectly pristine materials to create a sense of luxury and sophistication.

Colors and Patterns

Mid-century modern includes a wide variety of colors and patterns, but the brightest and boldest are typically reserved for accent pieces. Interiors feature more neutral color palettes with exciting pops of color or bold pattern. Art deco uses bold and dramatic colors like red, yellow and blue with metallic shades. A heavy use of black, especially paired with metallic gold or steel, is far more common to see in art deco than in mid-century modern.

In terms of patterns, both styles share a love for organic-inspired shapes and motif. While mid-century modern uses strong lines and angles in shaping furniture and architecture, art deco uses them everywhere. There is a wide variety of geometric shapes and other more abstract imagery like chevrons and sunbursts. Line repetition is also a staple of art deco both in furniture and other embellishments. Overall, you might find that mid-century modern makes use of fewer but bigger shapes while art deco focuses more on repetition of tiny shapes.

Like so many other design styles, both art deco and mid-century modern draw their inspiration from a specific era and place in human history. This also means both contain elements of other design styles and art movements from the past and present. In addition to all the above, you can often differentiate the two by considering the different ways in which each style combines multiple contrasting sources of inspiration.

About the Author

Ann Marie Damashek, GRI, CBR, SRES

Ann Marie Damashek has always been a natural at helping people prepare their homes for sale. She started out with a successful business selling goods for people on eBay. "Nine times out of ten they were hiring me because they were down-sizing,” Ann Marie says. "So I decided to get my license. I said, ‘Might as well sell their house too.’” The transition was a smooth one and for nine years she’s had a thriving full-time real estate business that allows her to marry her entrepreneurial spirit with her passion for helping others. With an office in Larchmont, New York, she serves all of Lower Westchester County, with her primary market in the Sound Shore region. The majority of her business is "sphere of influence” with former clients referring her to friends and family. A gifted communicator, Ann Marie quickly builds trust and rapport with her clients by being both thoughtful and responsive; she understands that during the purchase or sale of a home, a quick response time is crucial. "I am very accessible,” Ann Marie says. "I always make time for my clients. They can call me, text me, email me up until 10 o’clock at night and I will respond. I’m available on weekends. I get back to people very promptly. I’m very customer service-oriented.” Her clients appreciate her professionalism, passion and enthusiasm and as a result her repeat and referral rate continues to grow each year. While selling real estate is serious business, Ann Marie knows that at times humor and a moment of levity can be a relief to clients. While she has a laidback and easygoing personality, she can be assertive when needed on her clients’ behalf. She loves being of service to them, and the continually changing nature of the work keeps her engaged and fulfilled. "It’s never boring,” Ann Marie enthuses. "Every day is different. That’s probably what I like most about it. But I also enjoy helping people sell or buy and educating them about the process. I love helping them achieve their goals.” This ethic of service has resulted in well-deserved recognition. Ann Marie has received the Westchester Magazine Five Star Real Estate Agent Rating four years running, in 2015 and 2016 she was the #1 agent in her office, and she’s a Zillow 5-Star Premier Agent. To keep in touch with former clients, Ann Marie sends cards to mark special occasions or reaches out via email. To market her listings, Ann Marie uses Multiple Listing Services (MLS), as well as, a service that allows both agents and their clients access to MLS data. She also uses a Facebook business page and ads to boost new listings or promote upcoming open houses. "That drives a tremendous amount of traffic,” Ann Marie says. She also uses the most popular real estate websites such as Zillow and Trulia. A strong believer in giving back, Ann Marie sits on the Board of Trustees of her church and is involved in a variety of social justice projects. She’s affiliated with Furniture Sharehouse, a furniture bank for Westchester County, which collects and distributes gently used furniture free of charge to those in need. "I love it on so many levels because as a realtor, it’s helps my sellers downsize through charitable donations. I like the environmental aspect of it as well. And it helps people who truly need things.” She’s also involved in Impact 100, a women’s philanthropic giving organization. In her free time, Ann Marie enjoys gardening, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. For the future, Ann Marie wants to continue expanding her business and developing her brand, and she someday hopes to grow a strong team. But her main goal is to stay in the real estate business, helping her clients to achieve their dreams.