Mid-Century Modern Architecture – A Complete Guide

As we all know, the world shifting into a more sophisticated way of being, and minimalism is connected to it. Even then, people look for inspiration from the iconic buildings of the past to derive a meeting point with the clean aesthetic of the present.

Bringing in elements of the past into the present world is reviving features like large open spaces and windows that stretch from the floor to the ceiling, emphasizing the outdoors. This is the forthcoming of mid-century architecture design, seen today in several well-known houses.

Mid-century homes now take on an updated form of aesthetics that combines elements from the past to fit in the present. In this blog, Gharpedia brings a complete guide to mid-century modern architecture, and this guide contains all the following details:

  1. What Is Mid-Century Modern Architecture?
  2. What Years Are Mid-Century Modern Home Architecture?
  3. What Defines the Mid-Century Modern House Architecture?
  4. What Are the Mid-Century Modern Architecture Characteristics?
  5. 10 Mid-Century Modern Architecture Homes to Draw Inspiration from the Mid-Century
  6. Elements to Look Out For While Designing a Mid-Century Modern Home
  7. Pros & Cons of Mid-Century Modern Architecture Designs as the Current Trend!

Let’s have a detailed look-

What is Mid-century Modern Architecture?

Mid-Century Modern Architecture
Mid-Century Modern Architecture

Clean lines, nominal decoration, softened curves, immense windows, functionality-based interior design, and open floor plans are hallmarks of mid-century modern architecture. It was a twentieth-century architectural style.

With the knowledge of mid-century modern architecture, do you want to know what modern architecture is? Go through the below link-

What Years Are Mid-Century Modern Home Architecture?

Mid-Century Modern Home Design
Mid-Century Modern Home Design

Mid-century modern residential architecture came into being after World War II. It is considered a style that is classic American, which spread between 1945 to 1969. It came into being as a design approach today, when it was not considered one back then. The interiors of such styles base their inspiration on Scandinavian and Danish modern designs.

Every era has seen new and definite architectural growth in the construction Industry.  When we talk about mid-century modern home architecture, you might like to know about the history of architectural style. 

What Defines the Mid-Century Modern House Architecture?

Mid-Century Modern House
Mid-Century Modern House

The openness in the mid-century modern architecture plans is the key element that defines mid-century modern house architecture. This would mean that the design has openings that stretch across the wall to establish a connection with nature.

That is also because Americans valued the comfort of having relatives around for a cookout or other form of entertainment on any given occasion. The smooth transition of spaces from indoors to outdoors aided with this as well.

What Are the Mid-Century Modern Architecture Characteristics?

Mid-Century Modern Home Characteristic
Mid-Century Modern Home Characteristic

Here are the mid-century modern architecture characteristics:

The elements of the mid-century home are its clean lines and geometric shapes, which create an asymmetric system of lines that work well together. The mid-century home’s interiors are simple and elegant, adhering to the modern style. 

It is classified into three groups based on these characteristics that define the general qualities of mid-century architecture.

  1. First, there’s international, where the Bauhaus movement heavily influences the designs, resulting in basic, stucco-like aesthetics.
  2. The second style is contemporary architecture, which features clean lines and large openings with natural materials like wood, brick, and stone.
  3. The third type is organic, where its local environment influences structure entirely, thereby integrating with nature.

One of these design styles might inspire you, or you might consider incorporating all three in your home. Either way, having a reference point for inspiration will help you build your own home. Thus, the following are the 10 homes listed here, along with these features of a mid-century home to take inspiration from.

10 Mid-Century Modern Architecture Homes to Draw Inspiration from the Mid-Century Era

Following are the top 10 mid-century modern architecture homes-

  1. The Louveira Apartment
  2. Home of Jessica Hansen
  3. The Glass House
  4. The Gamble House
  5. The Portsea Beach Shack
  6. House of Rudolf Schindler
  7. Kauffman House
  8. Puro Hotel, Krakow
  9. Robie House
  10. Azabu Residence

Let’s have a detailed look-

01. The Louveira Apartment

The Louveira Appartment
The Louveira Appartment

The space is designed keeping in mind the original design tone of the apartment. The space features vintage wooden furniture with a hint of colors such as teal and yellow ochre for window frames on a base color of concrete white, which helps them pop.

Louveira Apartment’s Interior
Louveira Apartment’s Interior

The frames were done so as to be similarly presented to the facade of the building. The interior mid-century modern architecture elements are the principle of having a simple setting that follows through on giving clean lines. The spaces flow into each other, with ample openings given to let in the outside.

02. Home of Jessica Hansen

Jessica Hansen’s Home
Jessica Hansen’s Home

The property was transformed from its original charm to today’s mid-century architecture using vintage aesthetics to fill in the gaps. Jessica Hansen sought to save aspects that had attracted her attention when she first saw the house, which was completed in 1958.

Stunning Home Furnishing
Stunning Home Furnishing

The house used to be carpeted from floor to ceiling, but she removed the wooden floors she eventually installed. The furnishings in the interiors are either hand-me-downs or vintage, making them a one-of-a-kind fruition of design that defines the place.

Beautiful Furniture
Beautiful Furniture

Pieces of furniture were renovated to complement the backdrop of the spaces, much like the house itself. Her grandmother’s dresser, for example, was white and shabby when she was given it. Hansen transformed it into a vibrant blue for her son’s room.

03. The Glass House

The Glass House
The Glass House

This house creates a contrast to mid-century modern wooden aesthetics while maintaining openness. It’s a metal box with glass lanes on all four sides that connect the internal rooms to the natural world.

Brick Floor
Brick Floor

It is one of the 14 structures created by Philip Johnson on the property, and it is based on Meis van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. It stands out because of its tremendous modernism and simplicity. A mid-century brick flooring and cylindrical structure protrude from the top, housing the fireplace and the bathroom, demonstrating the brickwork of the time.

Of course the glass house amaze us, but do you know what is the properties and characteristics of glass as building material? If not then know-

04. The Gamble House

The Gamble House
The Gamble House

The Greene brothers, who were influenced by gesamtkunstwerk, or the principle of total design, built the gamble house with meticulously made woodwork. Transition spaces that opened up to the outside were designed, as well as finely crafted furniture to enhance the space.

With the addition of a sleeping porch garden and a pond, the design was also suitable for California’s climate. The complete design has been done in wood, taking inspiration from traditional building methods giving a mid-century home feel to the space.

Interior of Gamble House
Interior of Gamble House

Natural and earthy tones complement the material used along with wood and a Japanese influence with stained glass is present as well.

05. The Portsea Beach Shack

The Portsea Beach Shack
The Portsea Beach Shack

The house was designed by Pleysier Perkins in the 1950s, it had elements of mid-century aesthetics built right in. The couple kept most of the features, reinterpreting those few that need updating to the 21st century. They wanted to open up the house to the outdoors more, bringing in the main aspect of a mid-century house. Here the furniture used includes wood in some forms and colors that are muted to set the ambiance.

Kitchen Along with Living Room
Kitchen Along with Living Room

Home to a small family, the Portsea Beach Shack was to be renovated to create more space. The aim was to better the function flow of the kitchen and the living room along with the internal flow.

06. House of Rudolf Schindler

Rudolf Schindler’s House
Rudolf Schindler’s House

Surrounded by nature and built in a simple yet unique way, this structure can be said to be the first home for a modern style. Constructed using the tilt slab technology, this proves to be an innovative move setting it apart from the period.

Schindler’s House Interior
Schindler’s House Interior

It also influenced the structures that came up decades from then. The design showcases the simple use of horizontal and vertical lines with a clean aesthetic. The Interiors have nuances of wooden features merging with the bareness of the concrete.

07. Kauffman House

Kauffman House
Kauffman House

Built in 1946, this home became a center of the mid-century architectural movement. The modernity in the structure is depicted through the use of flat roofs and the pale exteriors that are in regards to the climate. With slatted metal walls, they create a breezy outdoor-indoor experience.

Large Opening
Large Opening

The openness of the mid-century modern architecture floor plans with large openings increases the aesthetics of the house. It is also optimally oriented in the east-west direction for maximizing the sunset and sunrise views. The whole project uses earthy and light tones to merge in with the surrounding nature.

08. Puro Hotel, Krakow

Puro Hotel, Krakow
Puro Hotel, Krakow

The puro hotel opened in 2013 and features interiors with a contemporary style and a retro aesthetic. The design was inspired by the cafes that emerged between World War I & II. This is one of the best mid-century modern commercial architecture designs.

Open Lobby
Open Lobby

With an open-planned lobby, the design takes into account mid-century details like murals and mosaics decoration that date back to the 1970s. Other features include wall ceramic tiles, graffiti techniques, use of natural materials, etc.

09. Robie House

Robie House
Robie House

Being one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s well-known designs, The Robie House can be viewed as the apotheosis of his prairie style. He creates a sense of journeying to the entrance of the house by creating a path that leads to it.

Mid-Century Features
Mid-Century Features

The presence of 14 stained-glass windows and 12 French doors, shielded by the balcony lining give way to the mid-century features that connect the space to the outdoors. There is an emphasis given to the horizontal plan of design with the use of brick as the main material in the facade. The interior has mid-century wooden and retro finishes as well, tying everything in a complete circle.

10. Azabu Residence

Azabu Residence
Azabu Residence

Taking inspiration from mid-century American and Brazilian modernists, the use of warm and dark wood becomes the core of the interiors here. Intending to create a cozy and warm protected family space away from the city, the architects choose materials and colors that reflect the same throughout the design.

Elegant Bedroom Design
Elegant Bedroom Design

They used Scandinavian and Japanese-inspired interiors with an American-inspired layout using simple geometric shapes.

Below are some amazing Scandinavian interior design and home decor tips, you would love to know-

Tips on the Elements to Look Out For While Designing a Mid-Century Modern Home

Mid-Century Home Elements
Mid-Century Home Elements
  1. Plan an open layout for floor plans that merges into the nature outside.
  2. Include big windows and doors with the same open and airy concept
  3. Wooden textures and natural shades are used predominantly, with a retro aesthetic coming in from time to time when it comes to mid-century modern homes.
  4. Include furnishings and mid-century modern interior architecture elements to give an elegant vintage vibe
  5. Flat roofs with aligning facade design give the homes the exterior mid-century modern architecture aesthetic.
  6. Cantilevering is also a feature that can be included in your homes.

Mid-century modern architecture designs are very popular among architects. However, there was some drawback associated with it, which led to the postmodern architecture movement. Below we have discussed the pros and cons of mid-century modern architecture.

Pros & Cons of Mid-Century Modern Architecture Designs as the Current Trend!

Mid-Century Home Aesthetic
Mid-Century Home Aesthetic

Mid-century modern architecture home spaces might be the most aesthetically pleasing ones you have ever laid eyes on, but their elements, like everything else, have their own positive and negative aspects. Blindly incorporating them in the name of achieving the style might be unwise. So, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind while heading in the direction of Mid-century home aesthetics.

Pros

  1. It is an elegant way of designing that leaves you more in touch with your past.
  2. The seamless access and closeness to nature through the large openings.
  3. Simple enough for any space to own an element of it.
  4. Clean and neater interiors reduce the clutter with other kinds of design.
  5. You can add to the traditional mid-century aesthetic by adding a pop of color and introducing it to the retro aesthetic.

 Cons

  1. With newer design styles rising, using mid-century modern design styles might seem outdated.
  2. The openness of the design might not necessarily fit into city life with no gardens or lawns to lay on.
  3. Openness to the outside creates a lack of privacy, especially when set in a busy city.
  4. The more glass you add in the name of openness to nature, the less insulated the space, which results in higher building energy consumption

At times, due to the unique pieces that go into such interiors, the maintenance costs for the same become higher than expected.

On a final note, with the slow welcoming of designs inspired by the past, mid-century homes become the go-to for a cozy and familiar home atmosphere. The attractive feature of wide-open doors that lead to the greenery beyond might seem magical as well.

With the right location and a well-thought-out design, you can have the home of your dreams by incorporating aspects from mid-century homes. Take note of what works for you and what draws you into this home, and then you can go ahead to finalize the design.

With all the knowledge of mid-century modern architecture, you might be like to know the Ancient Greek Architecture-

Ancient Greek Architecture: One of the Leading Ones

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Author Bio

Saili Sawantt – She is an Architect and Interior Designer by profession. Writing is what she treats as her passion. She has worked as an Architectural Writer, Editor, and Journalist for various design as well as digital portals, both national and international. Formerly she has also worked with Godrej Properties Limited (GPL) Design Studio, Mumbai, due to her keen interested in learning about Sustainability and Green buildings. Apart from this, she runs her blog ‘The Reader’s Express’ and is a practicing Architect & Interior Designer.

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