clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 11 best midcentury modern homes of 2019

Splendid homes worth ogling

A one-bedroom midcentury modern house features an overhanging deck and yellow fiberglass siding. The desert green house blends in with the desert surroundings.
This one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home in Palm Springs hit the market this past spring for $2.5 million.
Photo by Lance Gerber

There were a slew of interior design trends that defined the 2010s, but midcentury modernism is without a doubt one of the most popular. The trend has trickled down to mass-market brands like West Elm, CB2, Target, and Amazon, and its classic appeal shows no signs of fading.

Still, a good Eames chair aside, nothing quite compares to a jaw-dropping midcentury modern building. A wealth of homes from the 1950s and 1960s hit the market in 2019, and we covered them all in our House of the Day column. From untouched time capsules to Frank Lloyd Wright originals, here are our favorites of the year.

Marcel Breuer-designed modernist masterpiece

The exterior of a modernist house. The facade is wood and the building is surrounded by trees and grass. Photo by Jeff Tryon

Marcel Breuer was a Hungarian-born architect and furniture designer that worked under Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and became famous as a champion of the modern movement. In 1949, Breuer designed a model home for an exhibition at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art that focused on modern architecture and the rise of suburban living.

A year later, an advertising executive asked Breuer to recreate the house at scale, on a secluded lot in Princeton, New Jersey. Last May, that four-bedroom, four-bath house—called the Lauck House—went up for sale. With long horizontal lines, the timber-clad home boasts a butterfly roof that dips downward to create two main zones. The property has recently been refreshed by designer Rafi Segal and architect Sara Segal, refinishing the facade with cypress siding, refurbishing the steel windows, renovating two bathrooms, and restoring cabinetry and wall paint.

Dazzling A-frame in Palm Springs

An A-frame house in Palm Springs. The house is surrounded by desert with palm trees. Photo by Kelly Peak for Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

This A-frame home was designed by architect Charles DuBois in 1958 in an effort to stand out from the architecture of other neighborhood homes. Better known as a Swiss Miss House for its chalet-inspired shape, the home is unlike the surrounding butterfly or flat-roofed houses of Vista Las Palmas that were built by Joe Dunas and the Alexander Construction Company in Palm Springs in the 1950s. DuBois envisioned a low-lying ranch home that was bifurcated by a steep, dramatic A-frame roof that rose straight from the ground.

The overhanging roofs create both a front and back shaded porch, and the double-height living area boasts a stone fireplace with floor-to-ceiling windows on either side. Other perks of the home include a gourmet kitchen, tongue-and-groove ceilings, and teak wood details. Outside, a pool, patio, and dining area make for an entertaining paradise and a pleasant view from the bedrooms and living spaces.

Rare Frank Lloyd Wright concrete home

A Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home is made of concrete bricks with a long flat roof, green grass, and a red poured concrete patio. Photo courtesy of Paula Martin Group at Keller Williams

The Toufic H. Kalil House in Manchester, New Hampshire, hit the market in September. The home is a Usonian Automatic designed in the 1950s. While Usonians were Wright’s solution to more economical homes, built with no attics and basements and with less ornamentation than some of his other designs, Usonian Automatics took this idea one step further.

Wright created a concrete masonry building system so that materials could be manufactured and sent to the owners in a kit for self-construction. Using different types of inexpensive concrete blocks, the homes proved more challenging to assemble than anticipated, and it’s estimated that only 10 or 20 Usonian Automatic houses were built. The concrete bricks are the dominating feature in every room, filtering the light and creating a striking background in the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. Other features include a sunken fireplace, panels of Philippine mahogany wood, and a red poured concrete floor with radiant heat.

Aluminum-screened midcentury near Montreal

A midcentury modern home from 1961 with an overhanging roof, aluminum screen, stonework, and bright red door. Photo by Studio Point de Vue, courtesy of Re/Max Signature M.A.B.

This home was designed in 1961 by Canadian Roger D’Astous, a prolific architect who interned with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1952 and is known for a long list of buildings in Quebec—including the twin-towered Olympic Village that housed athletes in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Designed as part of an architectural competition to attract future residents to Boucherville, the home’s gleaming aluminum-screened exterior and overhanging roof manages to look unique while also being a classic archetype of 1960s architecture.

The lower floor is a giant entrance hall and glass living room, all organized around an airy staircase in teak and aluminum. With stone floors and beamed ceilings, huge windows provide views out to the pool beyond. As you ascend the stairs, a large tree welcomes you upward towards the common spaces. Intricate railings surround the wood-clad walls, parquet flooring, and fireplace. An updated kitchen works seamlessly with period pieces and a second-floor patio provides a spot for outdoor entertaining.

A time capsule in Pennsylvania

A low-slung, one-story, midcentury house with stone accents, green trim, and long overhanging roofs. The house is surrounded by green grass, trees, and manicured bushes. Photo by John Marshall of Virtual Showings

Located about two hours northwest of Philadelphia, this three-bedroom time capsule was constructed in 1960 with gently sloping, low-slung overhanging roofs and long horizontal lines. Inside, a large stone fireplace is the focal point of the living room, and there is also clerestory windows, large floor-to-ceiling windows, and wood paneling. A light pink kitchen still boasts a lot of original features despite one or two newer appliances, and the dining room area features built-in cabinetry, parquet flooring, and more wood paneling.

But nothing makes midcentury diehards swoon quite like an original bathroom, and this home has it. A light pink and teal version features two sinks, original mirrors, seashell fixtures, and a pink tub. See the photos, this way.

A midcentury modern that brings the outdoors in

A glass and timber midcentury modern home sits surrounded by green trees. The home features flat roofs, large windows, and a patio with mature landscaping. Photo by Larry Malvin, courtesy of the Frumentino Team

Located about an hour north of downtown Chicago in the suburb of Riverwoods, Illinois, this two-bedroom stunner features two dramatic circular rooms that aim to bring the outdoors in. High wood ceilings with exposed beams are complemented by windows all around, brick fireplaces ground the living and dining rooms, and an updated kitchen manages to fit the style thanks to clerestory windows and exposed shelving. A master bedroom offers more views to the forest beyond, and a unique curved master bedroom offers a soaking tub for relaxation. Outside, an in-ground pool and pool house round out the amenities.

A boxy midcentury modern in Spokane

A boxy midcentury modern style home at dusk with its interior lights on. The photo is take from a patio with lounge chairs and trees on either side. Photo by Ven Kravchenko

This three-bedroom, two-bath home in Washington was designed in 1954 by Spokane architect Warren C. Heylman in, according to the listing, the style of Frank Lloyd Wright.But Heylman is a notable architect in his own right; he designed the Spokane International Airport, the city’s downtown Parkade, and the Regional Health District. This modestly sized house—it measures 1,803 square feet—was designed and built on a similarly modest budget of just $20,000.

The home has been carefully restored to take advantage of its open floor plan, flat roof, and tall windows. Concrete floors have been replaced with new black slate tile, but new kitchen cabinets carefully copied Heylman’s original design. The home’s boxy lines, geometric windows, and expansive views out to the forest are reminiscent of Wright’s Usonian homes, but Heylman told The Spokesman Review in 2013 that this wasn’t his preferred style. “I like curves, but curves are expensive,” he said with a chuckle.

Perfectly preserved midcentury modern in Palm Springs

A one-bedroom midcentury modern house features an overhanging deck and yellow fiberglass siding. The desert green house blends in with the desert surroundings. Photo by Lance Gerber

This one-bedroom 1955 gem is straight out of a movie set. Called the Cree House and designed in 1955 by Swiss-born architect Albert Frey, the home was commissioned by prominent Palm Springs community leader Raymond Cree. But unlike many of the other stand-out buildings in the area, the flat-roofed, boxy home set into the rocky foothills was never open to the public.

This privacy earned the one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home the nickname the ‘Forgotten Frey,’ until it hit the market this past spring for $2.5 million. It features a 600-square-foot overhanging deck and distinctive yellow fiberglass siding. The 1,124-square-foot building is painted the color of desert flowers—called an encelia green—and the structure blends natural materials with industrial simplicity. A centerpiece fireplace uses native rock picked from the site, and the home includes original touches like a wall refrigerator, vintage light fixtures, and the glass shower door.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s final home sells for $1.7M at auction

A circular home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the Phoenix desert. The home features round windows, a curving wall, and shadows at sunset. Photo by Craig Root, Craig Root Imagining

The circular Norman Lykes home, Frank Lloyd Wright’s final residential design, sold at an auction in October for nearly $1.7 million. The Arizona home has been on and off the market since 2016 with an original list price of $3,600,000. The home was most recently listed at $2,985,000. Designed just before Wright’s death in 1959 for Norman and Aimee Lykes, the 3,095-square-foot home was ultimately built in 1967 by apprentice John Rattenbury.

The home is an excellent example of the architect’s late-career style—exemplified by the Guggenheim and David and Gladys Wright home—and is most notable for its curving set of concentric circles. Located on a desert plateau in Phoenix’s Palm Canyon, the building looks like a set of intricate clock gears from above.

A picture-perfect midcentury with pool in Ojai

An exterior view of a midcentury modern home with a dramatic boldly sloped diagonal beam and fireplace. Photos by Peter DaPrix

Located in Ojai, California, this three-bedroom, two-bath house was built in 1960. The home’s entrance features a bright orange door and diminutive flat roof that hides the interesting architecture within. Like other midcentury homes that reserve the large panes of glass for the private backyard areas instead of the street-facing walls, the house centers on a dramatic great room with a boldly sloped diagonal beam and fireplace.

Two glass walls face the mountains to the northeast and the room’s airiness makes the 1,600-square-foot home feel much larger. Outside, a gorgeous backyard features a pool with spa on .75 acres of beautifully landscaped yard. A pond, waterfall, and guest house round out the perks.

Usonian in planned Frank Lloyd Wright community

An angular midcentury home with overhanging roofs in the forest. Photo courtesy of Houlihan Lawrence

Tucked in Pleasantville, New York, less than an hour north of Manhattan, a 100-acre enclave boasts an impressive number of Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired organic homes. Most of the homes in the planned community were not designed by Wright himself—instead they were approved and plotted out by the iconic architect and executed by his apprentices. Called Usonia, the district is now on the National Register of Historic Places and encompasses about 46 structures, including this three-bedroom, one-bath designed by Wright engineer and designer David Henken.

The home is modest in size at just 1,856 square feet, in harmony with Wright’s philosophy to serve the middle class with comfortable, affordable homes. But the structure isn’t diminutive in stature, making a dramatic visual impact with angular overhanging roof lines that jut into the forest. Inside, floor-to-ceiling glass contrasts with exposed beams, warm wood finishes, and an expansive fireplace. In the open concept floor plan, white epoxy floors and an updated galley opens up to the dining and sofa areas for entertaining. A wraparound deck—also with angles that reach out into the trees—adds to the charm.