Though there are dozens of factors that go into buying or building a home, many people envision what they hope “to do with the place” once they move in. And, while there are many decorating styles to choose from, your preferences might actually start with the architectural style of the home itself — in other words, how it’s designed — before you actually make it yours. Midcentury Modern is one architectural style that has stood the test of time — especially in Texas, where its embrace of warm-weather living is so perfectly enjoyed. So what makes it special?
A very brief history of Midcentury Modern style
Midcentury Modern architecture was born in the United States after World War II, in the mid-20th century (hence the name “midcentury”). Since then — beginning in 1945 and ending by 1970 — the style has traveled far and wide, influencing architects all over the world. The style was generally inspired by the accessibility of new technologies and materials, and the fact that people wanted to move to the suburbs. These homes offer simple lines, are engaged with nature and may have even seemed a bit futuristic for their time period. Today, though they’re often thought of as vintage, they still ring modern. These homes are found more commonly in certain parts of the country than others. (The mecca? Palm Springs, California, where Midcentury Modern’s vaulted ceilings and walls of glass make the most of the dramatically mixed landscape of desert and mountains.) Regardless of location, there are certain characteristics that make this style unique.
Top characteristics of Midcentury Modern homes
There can be many different adjectives and phrases to describe Midcentury Modern homes, but some of the most common are:
- Contradicting textures and materials
Most Midcentury Modern homes will be recognizable because they’ll have:
- An integration with nature: This is most often in the form of big windows and glass doors that let in the outside, and changes in elevation in the home that mimic natural elements around the home, such as hills or slopes.
- Angular and/or other geometric forms: This could include long rectangles and flat roofs, often contrasted with circular motifs.
- A minimalist aesthetic. Midcentury Modern homes never look too busy. They almost always include flat planes, clean lines and wide-open floor plans.
Great examples of Midcentury Modern architecture
You can visit some notable midcentury modern homes designed by famous architects, including:
- The Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, designed by Walter Gropius
- The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, designed by Philip Johnson
- The Villa Savoye in Poissy, France, designed by Le Corbusier
- The Schröder House in Utrecht, Netherlands, designed by Gerrit Rietveld
Interior features of Midcentury Modern homes
Because Midcentury Modern architecture is so much about blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living, the interiors read much like the exteriors: simple, angular elements; flat planes; and a mix of contrasting materials. The top features of Midcentury Modern homes usually include:
- Large floor-to-ceiling glass windows and glass sliding doors
- Open living spaces, sometimes with low partitions instead of walls to the ceilings
- Exposed steel or wood beams, and or/the combination of differing materials, such as brick, terrazzo or slate floors contrasted against wood walls
- Elements that bring the outdoors in, such as the same flooring inside and out
Decor elements of Midcentury Modern
There are so many ways to bring the spirit and style of Midcentury Modern design into your home — even if you don’t live in one from the 1950s or ’60s — with your furniture and decor. (This can be ideal if you live in an urban area, as the pieces tend to be minimalistic, functional and clean, giving your space a, well, more spacious feeling.) And, if you do live in a Midcentury home, by tapping into the architecture itself with your decoration, you’ll get the full Midcentury Modern experience. Consider:
- Furniture with smooth wood backs, a la the classic Eames plywood chairs
- Tapered legs on furniture, such as TV stands, credenzas and coffee tables
- Statement features with materials that stand out, such as a floor-to-ceiling fireplace made with natural stone
- Sleek lamps that dangle from the ceiling
- A statement wall with fun, graphic, colorful wallpaper
- Mirrored walls, to open up the room more
- Furnishings and accessories with linear features to coincide with the angular shapes of the home
There are reasons that Midcentury Modern style has lasted through the decades. It’s a refreshing, forward-looking way to live, in harmony with nature while at the same time being comfy, cozy and in the lap of luxury. (Cocktails by that floor-to-ceiling fireplace, for example.) The expert agents of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty almost always have great Midcentury Modern homes among their listings — and they can always show you any of the available ones in North Texas. Right this way to a very modern way to live: briggsfreeman.com.