What Does a Mid Century Modern Home Look Like?

Originating in Europe and glamorised in America, Modernism discovered a renewed significance in the suburbs of Australia. An era known for its architectural innovation and an emphasis on functionality, the mid-20th century ushered in a distinctive style of Australian housing.

In the 1950s through to the 1970s, Australian architects were inspired by postwar California, where architects translated an emphasis on lifestyle and a desire to connect with the outdoors into residential housing. This translated into a new style of home known as ‘Mid Century Modern’ and became an era known for its architectural innovation. These mid century homes carry a unique aesthetic that seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor spaces, guided by the principles of simplicity, functionality, and connection with nature.

Mid-century homes are typically characterised by their clean lines, simple design, and innovative use of materials. Here are some common features:

  • An open floor plan that maximises usable space and fosters social interaction
  • Large windows and floor to ceiling glass to facilitate natural light, a focus on bringing nature indoors
  • A single-storey structure, often with a low-pitched or flat roof
  • Minimalist design with simple decorative elements
  • A simple geometric design
  • Use of then-new materials, such as plywood, steel, and plastic, as well as traditional ones like wood and stone
  • Built-in furniture, like bookcases and benches, which emphasise functionality and clean design
  • Organic shapes and earthy colours, reflecting the strong connection with nature

Many of these characteristics are now recognised as quintessential elements of Australian homes, a testament of the positive influence in design that these homes had. Mid-century homes are architectural gems spread across Australia, offering a glimpse into a period of architectural renaissance. Homeowners and architects have put significant efforts into preserving these homes' original aesthetics, ensuring their distinct charm continues to inspire future generations. At the same time, many of these homes have been sensitively updated with modern conveniences to enhance comfort and meet contemporary living standards. In particular, kitchens and bathrooms are often remodelled to improve functionality while staying true to the original spirit of the mid-century design.

The leading figures of the Mid Century Modernist movement are certainly worth mentioning, particularly the architects Harry Seidler, Robin Boyd, and Hugh Buhrich. Their innovative designs now hold a revered place on the heritage-list status. Any conversation about mid-century homes in Perth would be incomplete without acknowledging Iwan Iwanoff. His iconic designs, typically styled in the mid-century or brutalist fashion, are a common sight around Perth, particularly in the Floreat area.

If you're after a home that marries simplicity with style, and innovation with nature, a mid century home could be your perfect match. The enduring allure of mid century design continues to captivate homeowners and architecture aficionados alike, making these homes cherished icons of Australia's architectural landscape.

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