The end of World War II caused a major increase in American optimism that led the burgeoning middle class to turn their attention to homeowner ship and nesting. From roughly 1933 through 1965, an aesthetic coined “mid-century modern” dominated American architectural, interior and product design. Now recognized as a significant design movement, the influences of this time period can still be seen in many homes spanning the country. In fact, there are several famous mid-century modern homes in the United States that feature style and design elements that are still utilized in modern homes. Adorned with mid-century modern recliners and tufted sofas, here are a few of the most famous mid-century modern homes in the U.S.
Eames House, Case Study House No. 8: Built by Charles and Ray Eames in 1949 in Pacific Palisades, California, the Eames House, Case Study House No. 8 consists of two rectangular volumes constructed from steel structures and glass windows. Carefully merged into the sloping site on which it sits, the house is as much about placement as design. Currently, it is reserved for self-guided exterior tours only, but the inside once served as a repository for the creations and collections of Charles and Ray Eames.
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Glass House : Located in New Canaan, Connecticut, Glass House was constructed in 1949 by Philip Johnson. The structure was influenced by Mies van der Rohe’s Farns worth House but was completed two years earlier. It was the first of several structures that Johnson designed and constructed on his estate in New Canaan. For those who would like to explore this unabashedly modern home, individual, group and private tours are available.
Gropius House: Walter Gropius, the founder of Germany’s influential Bauhaus School, built Gropius House in 1937 after emigrating to the United States. While teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he designed and built Gropius House in the nearby city of Lincoln. With white surfaces and ribbon windows, the house has a Bauhaus aesthetic, but a lot of regional influences can also be seen. See the property for yourself on a self-guided tour.
Lovell Beach House: Designed for Philip Lovell by Rudolph M. Schindler in 1926, the Lovell Beach House is located in Newport Beach, California. It was the third residence that Schindler designed for Lovell, and it was built to withstand seismic activity. In fact, it survived an earthquake that occurred just five years after the building was completed. The house was raised on five structural columns to give it ocean views over neighboring buildings. Unfortunately for those who would like to see the views (and the home) for themselves, only rare visits are scheduled.
Falling water: You can’t talk about mid-century modern architects without mentioning Frank Lloyd Wright and his most famous creation, Falling water. Located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, the house was built on top of a series of cascading waterfalls in Western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains. The home features a cantilevered design because the river’s bank was not large enough to support Wright’s typical foundation, and while beautiful, the location posed a number of architectural challenges. The original owners of the home, the Kaufmann family, used the property as a weekend home until 1963 when they donated it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Today, the home is open to the public as a museum. Remarkably, Falling water is still outfitted with much of its original mid-century modern furniture.
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Stahl House: Construction on the Stahl House in Los Angeles, California was completed in 1959, and the home has been referred to as the quintessential Los Angeles residence. It is one of the city’s most iconic homes and provides stunning views of the city skyline. Constructed primarily from glass and steel, the common areas cantilever outward from the Hollywood Hills while the bedrooms are in a separate wing for privacy. Stahl House was declared a Historic-Cultural Landmark of the City of Los Angeles in 1999, and today, it is open for tours and special events.
Cohen House: Travel to Sarasota, Florida, and you will discover a treasure trove of modernist architecture. One of the area’s most famous mid-century modern homes is Cohen House. Designed by Paul Rudolph, this structure was specifically designed to be suitable for Florida’s climate. It features lots of patios, sliding doors and deep roof overhangs to provide adequate air circulation and provide stunning views. For a time, the property was in a state of disrepair, but it has since been restored based on Rudolph’s original blueprints and photographs.
Kaufmann House: The same Kaufmann family who commissioned Falling water also wanted a home in a warm location to enjoy during the winter months. To get the job done, they turned to architect Richard Neutra, who in turn designed and built Kaufmann House in sunny Palm Springs, California. Completed in 1947, the home features wings that extend from a central hub to form a pinwheel shape and is constructed from glass, steel and Utah stone. Unfortunately, the property is not open to public tours, but it is regarded as one of the most significant structures of its time.
Chemosphere: Located in Los Angeles, the Chemosphere was designed by John Lautner in 1960. Once called “the most modern home built in the world” by the Encyclopedia Britannica, it is well-known for its unique octagonal shape. The building is situated on the San Fernando Valley side of the Hollywood Hills and is perched on a concrete pole. In addition to enabling the home to be built on a 45-degree slope, the pole, which is attached to a concrete pedestal, has allowed the residence to survive heavy rains and earthquakes. It was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2004.
Image Source: Google Image
Conclusion: Mid-century modern architecture embraced light, simplicity and minimalism. Many of today’s homes still include features that can be directly attributed to the modernist movement that took place in the middle of the 20th century. While some of the homes listed above are still private residences, many have been converted into museums–complete with original furniture and accents. Whether you have the opportunity to explore one for yourself or have to settle for admiring them from afar, these homes permanently altered the worlds of architecture and design.