Look across the vast landscape that is the American housing market and one thing becomes quite clear: Americans are obsessed with mid-century modern design. From furniture to color palettes and décor to exterior design, homes that boast plenty of mid-century modern features do not last long. They sell quickly and for very good money.
According to cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, the demand for mid-century modern homes in Utah has been booming. Some of the most prolific home sales on the Wasatch Front in 2019 featured mid-century modern structures nestled in cozy neighborhoods in the foothills. But it is not just Salt Lake City. Mid-century modern is a hit in Seattle, Los Angeles, and many other parts of the country. The question is, why?
Perhaps it is nostalgia. Maybe it’s the fact that mid-century modern lines up nicely with the minimalist mindset. Perhaps it is just the fact that people are tired of looking at cookie-cutter McMansions, capes, and ranches. They hunger for something completely out of the ordinary. It is probably no coincidence that your typical mid-century modern home would also be considered a luxury home.
The Marks of Mid-Century Modern
Mid-century modern is a very distinct style that hearkens back to the middle of the 20th century. Just when the design style first emerged is a matter of debate. Some say it goes back as far as the 1930s while other say it did not come into its own until the late 1940s and early 50s. Almost everyone agrees that mid-century modern ended with the 60s.
Regardless of when it emerged, there are a number of distinguishing marks of a mid-century modern home:
- Function comes first; form follows
- Lines are sleek and uncluttered; geometric forms are appreciated
- Both traditional and non-traditional materials are used
- Contrasting materials are often used to oppose each other
- Decor and accoutrements are kept to a minimum.
One of the most striking aspects of mid-century modern, at least from the curb, is the emphasis on straight lines. Many a mid-century modern home looks as though it started out as a box or a triangle and was then added to along the way. Many have roofs that are either completely flat or only slightly angled backward so that the front presentation of the house still looks flat.
Mid-century modern sometimes does include rounded walls or combinations of curves that do not allow the eye to find a corner. When employed, rounded elements are distinct and separate so as to create juxtaposition and contrast.
A Delightful Surprise
Finally, mid-century modern architecture is almost always a delightful surprise to the eyes. Think of color palettes, for example. Back in the 1950s and 60s, bold colors were welcomed and encouraged. Orange, lemon, and olive green were all the rage. Designers weren’t even afraid to use black and white as contrasting colors in exceptionally large spaces. Color was all about making a statement.
Materials were also surprising. Designers relied on a fair amount of wood combined with modern materials like Plexiglas, vinyl, and stainless steel. They were all thrown together in an eclectic mix that made the mid-century modern experience anything but staid and stuffy.
Today’s mid-century modern relies heavily on state-of-the-art materials designed to accurately mimic the materials of the 50s and 60s. Thus, the same look is achieved while being able to use the materials that are both more sustainable and more durable.
If you can afford a luxury home and you are all about modern, the mid-century modern design might be right up your alley. So go ahead and feed your obsession. Embrace the mid-century modern designer within. You’ll be happy you did.