All About Mid-Century Architecture

Here at Modern Mailbox, we make specially designed mailboxes and light switch/outlet covers that flawlessly fit in with a home that features mid-century modern design. But what does that mean? Well, in the middle of the 20th century — pretty much from the end of WWII through the mid-1970s or so — America saw a huge surge of architectural design, furniture design, and interior design that was influenced by the European modern movement. Designers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolph Schindler, & Richard Neutra were highly influential.

This design style they created — now generally called mid-century modern — is not a single, uniform look. Instead, it is a blanket style epitomized by specific stylistic choices. When many people think of mid-century modern design, they think only of mid-century design features like Danish furniture, wood paneling, geometric patterns, and atomic starbursts. Even our products fit into these ideals.

But mid-century design is about more than the finishing touches; it actually begins with a few characteristic architectural elements. Today, we wanted to help you understand these architectural elements so that you can find or design a home that perfectly fits your stylistic design choices. Below, we’ll take a look at 4 key elements of mid-century modern architecture.

1. Large Windows

Oversized windows, sliding glass doors, and expansive glass panes are a staple in mid-century architecture. You’ll also find wide banks of shorter windows along rooflines. These windows serve a two-fold purpose. First, it allows a large amount of natural light to enter the building because the light can enter from almost any angle. Second, it helps integrate your indoor life with the outdoor world by expanding your view.

2. Flat Geometric Planes

In any mid-century modern house design, you’ll find many regular geometric lines that some people have found too severe for their tastes. These large, flat planes are used to create a wide range of angular details and are often combined in ways that result in asymmetrical profiles. To maintain the desired look, many of these homes also feature flat roofs that require extra care to keep them free of debris buildup.

3. Small, Frequent Changes in Elevation

One of the most obvious architectural elements you’ll find inside a mid-century style home are small, frequent changes in elevation. It’s incredibly common in these homes to have rooms that are a step or two higher or lower than the areas around them, creating a split-level living space. The designers and architects that work in this style will also use elements like partial walls and cabinets of varying heights to add depth and interest to the space.

4. Integration With and Appreciation for Nature

Large banks of windows isn’t the end of the mid-century love of the outdoors. Most homes designed in this style feature a variety of outdoor views, yes. But the homes also traditionally have several access points that lead to the outdoors. This is done in an attempt to encourage healthy living and an appreciation for nature. Some even feature natural elements like atriums.

When brought together, these design elements characterize the very essence of mid-century architecture. In order to complete the retro, mid-century look, however, you’ll want to add some of the design elements we discussed earlier like a Modern Mailbox or bold, geometric patterns. As you complete your look, you’ll find that the natural flow, wide open spaces, and organic design elements are perfectly fitted together to make you feel at home as soon as you step in the door.

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