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What goes around comes around. None of this could be more true than America’s returned fascination with mid-century modern design. Popularized by AMC’s TV show “Mad Men,” the functionality and sleek aesthetics of 1950s and 60s architecture and design are enjoying a resurgence.

A Little Mid-Century History

Following World War II, America experienced a boom in growth and innovation. Rather than seeking to reinvent home styles of previous years, architects were building sleek homes and experimenting with new shapes and materials. The development of post-and-beam construction allowed for exterior walls of glass and open floor plans.

Is My House a Mid-Century Modern (or Contemporary)-Style Home?

Although many homes combine a mixture of architecture styles, there are few defining features of a true mid-century modern or contemporary home:

  • low, over-sized flat roofs
  • open-beamed ceilings
  • open floor plans
  • extensive, large windows and/or exterior glass walls
  • simple, clean lines

Examples of Mid-Century Moderns:

775 N Mission Rd, Palm Springs CA (below)
For sale: $2,495,000

For sale: $2,495,000

This mountain oasis was built in 1952 and sits on 1.23 acres in a prime real estate section of Old Las Palmas. The compound boasts a main house and two guest casitas totaling five bedrooms and six baths. The home features many mid-century design elements such as a glass museum-like entrance, stainless fireplace with stone surround and flagstone floors throughout.

16509 35th Ave NE, Lake Forest Park WA (below)
For sale: $649,000

Built in 1966, this mid-century modern turnkey is a gem. True to contemporary style, the home features a sweep of windows throughout, opening up the interior space and bringing the outdoors in with breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains. The 2,730-square-foot residence has four bedrooms, two baths and boasts natural water features and hilltop privacy.

2903 Wade Ave, Austin TX (below)
For sale: $1,545,00

Built in 1964, the 4,049-square foot home was completely updated and remodeled before it was listed for sale in Austin. The home’s open floor plan has four bedrooms, each with private en-suite bathrooms and views of the private backyard and pool. Walls of glass and poured terrazzo flooring add to the contemporary vibe.

266 Pine Hollow Ln, Houston TX (below)
For sale: $1,450,000

Prominent Houston architect Preston Bolton designed several modern homes throughout the Houston area, including his personal residence in Greater Uptown, which was finished in 1971. True to contemporary architecture of the time period and much of Bolton’s work, the home features a flat roof, open floor plan and high ceilings. The house was listed for sale in Houston prior to his recent death.

25 Via Delizia, Hillsborough CA (below)
For sale: $1,899,000

Another feature of mid-century modern design is an embrace of the outdoors. This Hillsborough home for sale invites the outdoors in with walls of glass that look out over a tranquil garden with pond. The 4-bedroom, 4.5 bath home sits on over half an acre with views out to the bay and surrounding hills.

2244 N 72nd Pl, Scottsdale AZ
For sale: $284,000

Ralph Haver was a well-known Phoenix architect whose work was characterized by his modest and modern spaces. This Scottsdale home for sale is typical of Haver and of mid-century modern design — with a low-pitch roof, beamed front courtyard entry, vaulted ceilings and expansive windows. The home has been renovated with green features like dual-flush toilets, Low-e windows, and high-efficiency appliances.

80 Carly Rd, Woodstock NY (below)
For sale: $749,200

A signature example of modern design, this Woodstock home for sale was built atop five acres and it is located only a few minutes outside of city limits. The 3-bedroom, 3-bath residence integrates the surrounding landscape with stone exteriors, a cedar shake roof, wrap-around decks and walls of windows angled to bring the water views even closer.

901 Airole Way, Los Angeles CA (below)
For sale: $29,000,000

At $29 million, this Bel-Air home for sale is the priciest on the list. Like most mid-century modern designs, the home features high ceilings and walls of glass, but it’s the prime location on a private cul-de-sac that makes the home as pricey as it is. Designed by modern architect A. Quincy Jones in 1965, the 4-bedroom, 6.5-bath home has a whopping 8,500-square feet of living space, a private vineyard and overlooks 300 degree views from downtown to the ocean.

About the Author

Camille writes about housing trends for the Zillow Blog.

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