How To Design: Midcentury Modern Homes
Updated: May 18, 2019
This post will outline key midcentury modern design framework so readers have a compendious idea of what it takes to create a home in the midcentury style.
Photos courtesy of: realtor .com | daniel kim | jed pearson | rian morgan
This article is for you if you love Midcentury Modern style homes but you don't quite know exactly how to make your home fit the style. You've collected a thousand images of Midcentury example homes but you aren't certain what about these examples makes them so appealing.
We've researched and understand the best traits of Midcentury Modern style and have illustrated them in this post to help you find clarity in your design and create a beautiful Midcentury home!
A Look Back: honoring the past
Midcentury Modern style has had a revival comeback in a very big way by the likes of Mad Men, West Elm, Article, and more. What some experts would call the golden age of design characterized by sexy furniture, streamlined products, eye-popping graphic design, and architecture cooperating with nature, this post-war aesthetic has found a refocused popularity.
Architects like Ray and Charles Eames, Joseph Eichler, Richard Neutra, Phillip Johnson, and other modernists powered by advanced achievement of the industrial age, stripped their designs of ornamentation, found inspiration in nature and simplified details, and created an architectural movement that was centered on a sleek style. Each of these influencers had a slightly different way of achieving Midcentury Modern architectural design however, they all shared some common design facets that made their designs revolutionary and still popular today.
As mentioned above, the heart of Midcentury Modern style was all about removing ornamentation and simplifying architectural form to shift focus away from decoration and the "extras" onto the inherent beauty of materials, simplified details and form, and most importantly, the natural world. Wherever possible architects would design walls, floors, ceilings, and even glass to be large, unbroken, simple planes. Ceilings would be defined by the underside pitch of the roof and large unbroken planes of natural materials would help to give identity and warmth to spaces.
This cannot be stated enough. Glass is HUGE in Midcentury Modern design. Literally! Before the modern age architects were limited with how big glass could be, which is why windows of the past were comprised of smaller panes of glass held together by small mullions. But as the processes for creating larger panes of glass improved, so did its use in buildings. Modern architects took full advantage of this and tested the limits of glass by creating full walls of it. This accomplished two things, first it opened up enormous views of the natural surroundings for their designs while letting in a fantastic amount of natural light. Second, it instills a sense of weightlessness to the roof form and structure, creating a beautifully delicate balance of solid and void. So when you design your midcentury modern house, you'll need a lot of glass.
Many modern architects were fascinated by the combination of simple materials to create breathtaking compositions. Midcentury Modern in particular had a bent for wood grains, exposed brick, marble, stone and not to mention the beautiful metallic accents (brass, copper, etc.) and the occasional polished (or unpolished) concrete. Architects celebrated the beauty in these materials and designed for their natural form to be the decorative elements to their work.
When it comes to Midcentury Modern design, continuity is easily overlooked but paramount to the effectiveness of the design. Continuity is the carrying on of material and color from the interior through a glazed wall onto the exterior. This little trick achieves an extraordinary effect. Continuity creates a sense that there is no boundary between interior and exterior as it carries your eye effortlessly between the two realms. It leads you to believe that somehow this interior space is a part of the exterior and that the exterior is part of the interior; they are one-in-the-same. And the result of continuity is a connection with the natural world surrounding the home. Check out the photo below. It is a great example of how the two worlds (interior/exterior) are brought together through continuity. The cactus beyond the glass almost feels like it's an element within the bedroom! Extraordinary!
Residents who live in these fascinating designs often relate the feeling as though they are living in a "snow globe" as they experience their environments change around them. This connection with the natural world is a unique experience, something that highlighted and celebrated when designing a Midcentury Modern home.
Midcentury Modern has come a long way since its inception but these traits are still evoking strong emotion from those who are living in these treasures. If you're looking to build or remodel a midcentury modern home, follow these key characteristics (Minamilistic, Expansive Glass, Natural Materials, Continuity) and you'll be that much closer to living in a unique and special place.
If you're looking for additional direction to help you achieve the perfect Midcentury Modern style, our experts can help you get there! Visioneering Homes is an innovative and brand new online exterior design service that helps people just like you visualize your home's exterior design! We help you make design decisions on everything from paint colors to landscaping to help give you a roadmap for achieving the design of your dreams. And the best part of all is that you get to see what your home will look like before you lift a paintbrush!
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About the Author:
Brad is the CEO & Founder of Visioneering Homes. He is passionate about all things architecture, residential design, and providing easy access for homeowners to professional design services. Him and his wife have 3 kids and enjoy an adventurous life in the mountains of the American west. When he is not helping you make design decisions for your home, he's camping, hiking, playing basketball, visiting museums, national parks, and doing house projects with his family.