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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sentimental Sunday - Homes in Mid Century Modern

Mid Century Modern

Mid-Century modern is an architectural, interior, product and graphic design that generally describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965. -Wikepedia

I've always enjoyed different periods of American homes and interior decorating. I would love to have the money to have a house in all the different styles I'm fascinated with and decorate them to that period of style. One is the mid century modern. I did a Google image search and found a lot of photos of the style referred to as "mid century modern". I tried to pick photographs that showed all the rooms in a house with this style... kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living and dining room. I also looked for actual magazine photos from that time period so you could see the authenticity.

The following features are considered key elements of the original ranch house style, although not all ranch houses (aka "rambler house") contain all of them. (Wikipedia)

Single story
Long, low roofline
Asymmetrical rectangular, L-shaped, or U-shaped design
Simple, open floor plans
Living areas separate from the bedroom(s) area
Attached garage
Sliding glass doors opening onto a patio
Large windows, often decorated with shutters
Vaulted ceilings with exposed beams
Exteriors of stucco, brick and wood and glass
Large overhanging eaves (extra deep eaves)
Cross-gabled, side-gabled or hip roof
Simple and/or rustic interior and exterior trim
aluminum windows (usually replaced), popular in the 1950s and 1960s

The raised ranch is a two story house, i.e. the foundation serves as an additional floor, often called a split level, a modification of the dominant one story design. The common result is a two-story version of a ranch-style house. The "Colonial Ranch" of the Midwest and East Coast is one such noted variant, adding American Colonial features to the facade of the California ranch house. Ranch homes of the 1940s and 1950s are typically more deliberately rustic in nature than those of the 1960s and 1970s, with features such as dovecotes, Swiss board edging on trim, and generally western and even fantasy trim styling. - Wikipedia

I found some photos of the "atomic ranch" which was an architectural style for homes. Atomic Ranch celebrates midcentury houses—from 1940s ranch tracts to 1960s architect-designed modernist homes.

Atomic Ranch

I also tried to get photos from each of the decades... 1930's, 1940's, 1950's and 1960's modern. Remember that what we see we don't think it's so modern because we are used to these styles. But for their times, it was considered drastic changes from traditional to the new modern. It was like our nation was going through a teenage stage of rebelling against traditional. Anything that was different, considered avant garde, became the style. And our scientific leaps in technology and knowledge really affected our building and decorating styles. Space travel was a big fascination. So the shapes, graphics, materials, etc represented this fascination. For instance the amoeba shape was popular because we had microscopes that could see these shapes.

We had the new ability of having walls of glass. A glazier is a construction tradesperson who selects, cuts, installs, replaces, and removes residential, commercial, and artistic glass. A glazier now had the technology to make large windows and the ability to transport and install these walls of glass. We had all types of new colors in furniture, appliances, carpets, ceramic tile. The chemistry of dyes, the technology to add that color to laminate (in kitchen countertops), linoleum, enamel (on appliances), textiles and carpets was cutting edge. Concrete was being used in new ways as they experimented with this technology. Plastics were being developed and experimented with to make new products for the home. The technology, science and space discoveries stirred the imaginations of the entire population and thus books (Science fiction), magazines (Popular Science), magazine articles, comic books, movies became popular and influenced our tastes.

Notice the wall of tiny tile in gray, white and black. And the vinyl floor squares in that classic white, black and turquoise.

It seems like the wraparound couch suites were popular some with the couches and corner tables and others, just the wraparound couch.

I love the space age lampshades on the lamps.

Notice the bark cloth curtains. Perfect for this living room. This is actually a 2007 living room but decorated with the early 1950's modern. They did a wonderful job keeping everything authentic.

Many of the innovations in homes and furniture of the time, were not only just for the exciting new look but also attempts to make things more efficient. For instance, builtin features. I once went to see a home that was for sale and it was a 1950's brick ranch. They had a whole wall of brick in the den off the kitchen. That brick wall had a fireplace but also a niche for the black and white TV (yes, the house still had the original TV) and a builtin grill so you could grill your burgers in the living room while watching TV or entertaining. Anyway, as you look through these pictures see if you can find some of these kind of innovations. Even today we are fascinated with furniture that not only looks good but has specific purpose and especially if it can do more than one thing such as an entertainment center that has a bookshelf too or a recliner that also includes a table at hand and a compartment for remote controls.

In this magazine picture, notice the tables with the builtin lamps?

This wraparound couch includes builtin side tables.

Look at this magazine photo carefully. Do you see how the house was built around a central pier and the bottom floor is the boat house? Unique but not practical.

In this sunken living room you have a wall of builtins. This is suppose to be the focal point so they included everything you could think of in this one wall. Look carefully. There is a TV with magazine racks on either side of the TV. There is also a builtin radio and reel to reel tapeplayer. A piano or organ, as well as, drawers and cabinets to store music.

This builtin couch includes tables that have a radio and turntable.

The amoeba shaped coffee table and chair are perfect examples of the science technology look.

Using color on appliances led to all sorts of colors from pink and blue pastels to the later gold, avocado and burnt orange of the 1970's

Large lamps and unusual shaped lampshades were stylish. Some of these huge lamps are hideous but most were interesting.

Notice the space age pendant light fixtures?

I found the large mobile hanging from the ceiling interesting.

The planter, chair, ashtray on tripod and the front door are indicative of mid century modern.

The starburst clocks were popular accessories.

These kitchen cabinets are modular metal cabinets in a fantastic coral orange. It goes very well with the turquoise vintage laminate countertops.

More of the huge lamps.

This mid century modern Barbie room had it all.

More of the modular metal cabinetry.

When I was looking at houses, I came across one that had cabinets similar to these. The upper cabinets here are tilted and have sliding doors.

Vinyl couches were thought to last longer and be easier to clean. Unfortunately you tended to "stick" to them when you were wearing shorts or the miniskirts of the 1960's and they were hot. But they did last forever as long as they didn't get punctured or split.

Walls of glass. The turquoise kitchen has 2 sides that are glass so that it feels as though you were cooking in an outdoor kitchen.


In this magazine picture there are several things to notice. The opaque glass sliding cabinet doors, again angled down or tilted. The row of tiny drawers. The pink pickled wood panelling. Stan and I lived in a house that was completely panelled in tongue and groove panelling. It was throughout the house. But each room had been "pickled" in different colors. The house was built in 1964 so it would have been during this mid centery modern era. Also notice the pink refrigerator and the red telephone. And the door the mother is going through is a folding door which was a new concept.

This bathroom is pretty hideous . But the original tile work is wonderful. If your ceramic tile is still in this good of a shape, I wouldn't change it either. It's really a lovely purple. But the silver, pink and purple metallic wallpaper doesn't seem to match it and the awful mustard yellow definitely ruins it. That's just my taste. Anyway, besides the wonderful tile, notice the builtin flower pot? And the room divider with the atoms, er I mean balls? Very neat. Another house I went through when I was looking to buy, had built in flower boxes between the large soaking bathtub and the large picture window.

Low couches seemed to be the new standard. I find it difficult to get up from a couch or chair that is too low to the ground but that didn't seem to bother the furniture designers.

I love the turquoise telephone. Heck I love the bed and nightstand too!

This kitchen and breakfast area seem to be caught in a time warp. Notice the refrigerator is still the original refrigerator? I LOVE the room divider. And the vinyl covered seats in the breakfast nook are probably original too.

This 1930's "modern" bathroom is gorgeous. Notice the round mirrors? That's the rage now.

My parents had a similar couch when I was little but it was a brown color.


joelhunn said...

Wow! What a gorgeous collection. Thank you so much for taking the time to share!

Tony said...

I agree. This is one heck of a collection. I've been on the hunt for anything MCM since we purchased one late last year. How did I miss this? Seems like I'm on the hunt for info/items almost daily.

Anyway... Thanks for this superb read and I hope it keeps growing.

Jerry Touchton said...

Wow! This is one masterful compendium of midcentury modern decor and architecture. When I was in junior high school back in about 1961-62, boys took woodshop, girls home economics. For my woodshop project I built a coffee table kidney shaped. I'm sure I was influenced by then current style. My mom thought it hideous, but she was of a prior generation!

Cindy said...

Fantastic! I really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I appreciate this collection you've shared. I am currently settling into my midcentury home and three pictures in particular gave me inspiration. Thank you for posting!

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