Mid Century Bliss
If anyone were to ask what my perfect home would look like…I would tell them I’ve been dreaming my whole life about a mid-century modern home.
Back when I was first house shopping, the mid century style wasn’t commonly found in my community. Extreme weather was a deterrent for flat rooflines and glass walls with little or no insulation. A split-level ranch badly in need of restoration was the closest I could get to my dream home aesthetic. That was passed up for a cute little craftsman. Practicality won. If I could find a sleek Danish modern furniture or accessory item here and there in my travels, it satisfied my longings for a mid-century structure.
Then I moved to the west coast where neighborhoods full of mid-century homes still existed. Heaven! California is well known for the renovation of homes and hotels built in the 40s, 50s and 60s. The styling reflected a post-WWII desire for small, sleek, easy-to-maintain and easy-to-build homes.
Last weekend was the kick-off of Modernism week in Palm Springs, California. www.modernismweek.com. This is an 11-day celebration of mid century modern architecture, furniture, art, film and culture found in the desert city. Events are still taking place this weekend through Feb. 26. I drove out from Orange County and met some friends staying the weekend in at the Hideaway Inn, a very chic boutique hotel on Arenas Road. www.orbitin.com/hideaway.html. Along with blue-sky days and jaw-dropping mountain vistas we found ourselves in the heart of mid-century bliss with other modernist enthusiasts from all over the area.
The Sunmor neighborhood tour featured homes built in the late 50s and early 60s. They were known as “Alexanders” for the Alexander Construction Company who built them. Several famous architects designed the homes, among them Jack Meiselman, Wexler & Harrison and William Krisel. At the time, the south Palm Springs location was not considered very fashionable, even though every home has a front row view of the mountain range to the south! Later, celebrities moved in to claim weekend escapes in the desert. Today, these homes are highly sought after and lovingly restored. It was a delight to walk through them. We were greeted by friendly homeowners, vaulted ceilings, terrazzo floors, frosted glass doors for indoor privacy, restored kitchens and renovated baths. Almost all had views of sunny backyard retreats through banks of floor to ceiling windows. Outdoor living areas featured cooking patios, swimming pools and lounge areas under shady palms and colorful awnings.
The dozen homes showcased in this particular tour were modest in size. Floor plans were open and often incorporated living room, dining and kitchen into one area. Fireplaces warmed cool desert evenings. Narrow halls from the main living area led to private spaces, and bedrooms and baths were small. Built-in storage was often concealed by sliding doors in the hallways. Many of the homes featured white walls, which was the perfect background for vividly colored artwork.
Many homes in the area had been updated for 21st C life while retaining the classic mid-century style. Green Guys Construction, a local Palm Springs building company www.greenguys.net , takes this philosophy a step further. They strive to bring eco-friendly building practices and products into their renovation and new construction projects.
The retro modern color palette is optimistic and futuristic. Faded pastels work for both interiors and exterior color schemes. My favorite accent was a bold acid yellow found on doors and artwork. A great compliment to acid yellow is bright aqua or turquoise. Peach, pink, coral, butter yellow and sage green round out the rest of the palette. Enjoy!
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