How To Value Mid Century Modern Furniture

How To Value Mid Century Modern Furniture

See how much your piece of mid-century furniture is worth by looking out for these 9 things

How To Value Mid Century Modern Furniture

I got into buying and selling vintage furniture by chance in an effort to reduce my carbon footprint and didn’t want to buy new furniture that had been made, flat-packed and shipped from across the other side of the world.

I fell in love with mid-century modern furniture (also known as MCM) in particular not only because buying vintage furniture is better for the environment but also because of its minimal design and how well it fits with contemporary living spaces.

So if you also have an interest in this era of furniture you may be wondering how to value mid-century modern furniture?

There are a number of variables you need to consider when valuing mid-century furniture which includes the material it is made from, the overall condition of the item, how functional it is, the colour and if it is made by a well-known manufacturer.

These are just a few things to look out for and there are other factors that influence the value which we will discuss in more detail in this article.


  1. Materials
  2. Condition
  3. Construction
  4. Colour
  5. Functionality 
  6. Rarity 
  7. Brand name
  8. Where you are selling
  9. Price comparison 

1. Materials

What a piece of furniture is made of will heavily influence how much an item of mid-century modern furniture is worth

Most mid-century furniture was made from hardwoods woods such as teak, but you will also find pieces made from other types of hardwood such as rosewood and oak.

However, furniture of this era was manufactured in a number of ways which in turn influences its worth today:

Solid wood – The most expensive pieces of mid-century furniture was made from solid wood, usually teak and sometimes rosewood and oak. These were the most expensive pieces of furniture to produce and hence the most valuable today.

Wood Veneer – Furniture was made by a process of laying a thin layer of teak over cheaper woods such as plywood or MDF to give the impression of one solid piece of wood. Even though cheaper to produce and less valuable than solid wood vintage furniture, a lot of very nice veneer items were produced which have held their value.

Laminate – The least valuable mid-century modern furniture was created using laminate. Furniture made by this technique was created by playing thin pieces of synthetic material (usually plastics) made to look like wood over plywood or MDF.

2. Condition

Like any product, the condition of the furniture is another factor in how much it’s worth and what you can potentially sell it for. Mid-century modern furniture usually falls within three types of categories which will dictate its value.

Unrestored – MCM was built to last which means some items will be structurally sound and just have minor wear and tear. This in fact can add to the character, showing its age and in turn adding value

Fully Restored – Alternately some pieces may be in a bad state of repair, both structurally and cosmetically which means the item needs working on to restore it to its former glory. If done correctly it can be restored back to new and add value to it.

Upcycled – This is where you can turn a piece of furniture into something with a completely different function or painted it to look like contemporary furniture. However, you need a certain level of skill to get the finish right and bad craftsmanship can actually devalue the item if done badly.

The most valuable pieces of MCM are either unrestored, but in relatively good condition or fully restored bringing back to a new state.

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3. Construction

A true sign of quality and hence value with mid-century furniture is it the drawers of sideboards or chest of drawers, for example, have been constructed using what is known as a “dovetail” technique. This is where the manufacturers slot two pieces of wood tightly together without the use of nails or glue.

Items of furniture that have been made using glue and nails to construct the drawers on the other hand are less valuable.

4. Colour

Dark woods such as mahogany and walnut or woods painted with dark wood stain have fallen out of fashion and furniture that is lighter in colour and fits in with contemporary homes are now trending. This means the lighter the higher the demand and hence the value of it.

You can see this for example with some second hand Ercol vintage furniture where the darker mahogany furniture, such as tables and chairs in the “Colonial” collection is worth much less than lighter wood in the Ercol blonde collection.

I personally brought a dark mahogany dropleaf table for £35, sanded it backed to a lighter colour and sold it for £190.

5. Aesthetics

The most sought after pieces of vintage furniture that were made between the 1950s and ’70s, is based on Scandanavian design and are characterised by minimalism, clean lines and light colours and are the most sought after types of furniture because it fits well with contemporary homes.

Other types of furniture that were made in this period that was darker in colour and made with more ornate and elaborate features have less of a demand and are therefore worthless.

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6. Functionality 

People like furniture, not only for its aesthetics but also for its functionality and items of MCM furniture that serve a useful purpose for things like storage have a value attached to them.

Take mid-century modern sideboards for example. They are highly sought after items because they fit well into modern homes and are useful for storage and as TV stands. This also goes for chest of drawers which have a similar function.

In comparison, items of furniture such as very large wall cabinets may not be as valuable as homes now tend to be smaller, they are harder to transport and take up a lot of space.

7. Rarity 

Some lines of MCM furniture was made in small batches or have been damaged, broken and sent to landfill over the years which means there are fewer available on the open market making certain items rare. This pushes the valuer up and is worth more than items that are still widely available.

Do some research and see if you can find a lot of examples of what you are trying to value.

8. Brand names

Brand names matter and products made by certain manufacturers tend to be more valuable than copies or generic versions as they can convey a sense of quality and durability.

There are a number of manufacturers of MCM furniture between the 1950s and 1970s who were known for their craftsmanship and for making eye-catching, quality pieces of furniture, which have lasted the test of time, which you still see in contemporary homes.

Here are a few MCM brand names to look out for:

  • G-Plan
  • Ercol
  • Nathan
  • Jentique
  • Macintosh
  • Stonehill
  • Lebus
  • Stag

I recently wrote an article on 9 of the best vintage furniture brands which you might find helpful.

9. Where you are selling

Where you sell the item of furniture will influence how much it’s worth. MCM furniture tends to be cheaper on platforms that sell a range of other used products like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or eBay.

However, there are sites that are dedicated to buying and selling vintage and mid-century modern furniture and are targeted at a certain demographic. This means the value is always higher for comparable items on other sites.

Some platforms that specialise in the buying and selling of MCM furniture include online retailers such as Vinterior, 1st Dibs and Etsy.

10. Price comparison

Once you have factored in the different variables that go into determining the value of a particular piece of MCM furniture, the best way to arrive at a dollar value is to do a price comparison.

As mentioned previously sites such as Vinterior, 1st Dibs and Etsy have a wide range of vintage furniture so it’s relatively easy to see what other items are selling for. You can therefore calculate what the average market price is for what you are selling.

To give you an example here is a price range for G-plan furniture taken from Vinteror:

  • G Plan Fresco sideboard – £450 – £1045
  • G plan Astro coffee table – £275 – £600
  • G-Plan Fresco chest of drawers – £210 – £425

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Key Takeaways

To summarise the value of mid-century modern furniture is determined by the material is it made from, whether it is unrestored, restored or upcycled, who manufactured it, if there are not many examples of it on the open market, the colour and aesthetics and how functional it is as an item of furniture in a contemporary home.

The most valuable types of mid-century furniture, for example, are made from solid wood or wood veneer, are in a good unrestored state or have been restored to a high standard, are light in colour with minimal clean lines, are good for storage and is made by well-known manufacturers of its time such as G-Plan or Nathan.

Buying used mid-century furniture is not only good for the environment but it’s also timeless and is only increasing in price as it becomes more popular.