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What to Look For in Today's Mid-Century Modern Home

This Sleek and Timeless Look is Making a Comeback Isn't it true what they say - what's old is new again? You have likely watched some of your favorite clothing styles over the years come...

This Sleek and Timeless Look is Making a Comeback

Isn't it true what they say - what's old is new again? You have likely watched some of your favorite clothing styles over the years come right back around, which has left you regretting your decision to ditch half of your "outdated" wardrobe.

The same is true for home design, both interior and exterior. And lately, we have watched as a classic style has come back around to fill home-décor stores and dominate new-construction projects: Mid-Century Modern.

The mid-century modern style, with its low-slung rambling homes, flat or shed roofs, open floor plans, high ceilings, lots of glass, and spare interiors, has captured the imagination of Gen Xers and Millennials. They seem to be increasingly enthralled with the style and embracing it as they build their own homes all these years later.

2-bedroom, 1-bath home plan #158-1281 reminiscent of Verne Lars Solberg-designed house 2-bedroom, 1-bath home plan #158-1281 reminiscent of Verne Lars Solberg-designed house

Why the Comeback?

The mid-century modern home construction comeback is not entirely surprising. It still feels fresh and new, especially in the hands of today's designers who bring contemporary sensibility and technology to the style.

The popularity of these homes may have increased due to the nostalgia of the kids whose parents or grandparents grew up living in or admiring these modern marvels. With many of them building their own homes now, the stories and imparted memories of these properties from the past are welcomed in their new construction projects.

Retro television programs like Mad Men have also made a huge impact on popular culture and increased interest in the function and sleek design of mid-century modern buildings and décor. Younger generations have embraced the vintage and retro feel of these well-designed homes.

The style's emphasis on blurring the line between indoors and outdoors, with its atriums, courtyards, and patios connecting interior and exterior, supports the growing interest in bringing the outdoors in and a desire to live in more environmentally-conscious ways.

Based on decades-old design, this home still feels fresh - Plan #202-1022

What Exactly Is It?

The mid-century modern home has its origins in the early century work of Frank Lloyd Wright and other architects pushing the envelope of modern design. It flourished under architects such as Walter Gropius, Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra, A. Quincy Jones, and others.

The development and real popularity of the style came about as an answer to a need. World War II had ended, couples were growing their families, and those families needed places to live. With demand skyrocketing, the intricate details that were once part of the home building process were no longer realistic for home builders.

Developers, especially Joseph Eichler, saw this need and came up with the solution of building simple yet sleek mid-century modern homes. These homes boasted large rooms, open space, modern building materials like steel and metal, and a general aesthetic that at the time seemed futuristic and incredibly modern.

But mid-century modern was about so much more than just boxy, modular design. The early mid-century modern trailblazers were about creating homes that felt like works of art. The materials most often found in mid-century modern homes complement their connections to the outdoors. Exposed beams, wood paneling, stone, expansive glass, and open courtyards are far from cookie-cutter or industrial. They are built as part of the living experience that comes with this classic style of homemaking its well-deserved comeback.

4-bedroom 2.5-bath home embraces Johnson

Mid-Century Modern Essentials

The transitional mid-century modern home can offer advantages to homeowners looking to build the perfect new construction home. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Simplicity and Cost-Effectiveness

The flat planes, most often the roof, make the design simple and may offer a simpler new construction project. The simplicity can often keep construction costs lower while appearing rich and sleek as a final product.

3-bedroom, 3.5-bath home typical of mid-century modern style

2. Abundance of Natural Light

Large windows, especially floor to ceiling, can make smaller spaces feel larger, which allows homeowners to keep square footage to a minimum. These windows bring in a significant amount of light, often making daytime electricity optional.

3. Open Floor Plans

The mid-century modern home was ahead of its time with its sprawling open floor plan. Those considering building a mid-century modern home today reject the idea of lots of small rooms with specific purposes, and these open floor plans will align with the preferences of today's homeowners when it comes time to sell.

Lots of windows in this home are a sign of mid-century design

4. Changes in Elevation

Changes in elevation throughout the home offer both function and an interesting design aesthetic. This design element allows for partial walls or cabinets of varying heights, which can create depth and interest while not sacrificing space or openness.

5. Integration with Surrounding Property

Mid-century modern homes are perfect for those who have a beautiful piece of property that they don't want a home to overpower or those who want to enjoy the beautiful view from, in, and/or around their lot. Because these homes typically have large windows and feel like they are part of the landscape, they are best on larger lots without many obstructions or other homes nearby.

Partially covered patio off the open-plan Great Room in a mid-century style home

Is Mid-Century for You?

Mid-century modern design is far from a thing of the past. If you value functional yet simple, clean lines and a home that brings the outdoors in, then this style may be a perfect choice for you. The light-filled and airy mid-century modern floor plan offers a unique living experience that combines art and nature.

So, if you're looking for a home that blends retro vibes with contemporary sensibility, consider the timeless appeal of a mid-century modern home.