Five Ways to Make the Perfect Mid-Century Home

The Mid-Century Modern home is one of today’s hottest trends.  Sleek, angular, and sophisticated features make for the perfect opportunity to utilize our industry’s most current sustainable materials in a modern space.  With a heavy emphasis on color, large glass windows, and modern fixtures, the Mid-Century Home is the perfect blend of form and function.

Portland and Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Century Modern Entry WayPortland is home to many Mid-Century Modern and Ranch homes.  Our city experienced a population boom in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This boom expanded our city limits as new neighborhoods and subdivisions were built in order to accommodate this growing population.  Today, these MCM homes are very popular in Portland Real Estate.  With limited inventory and a tight market, a remodel is always a great option to incorporate a desired design/architecture style.

I reached out to one of Portland’s top remodeling pros, to answer some key questions about remodeling a MCM home. Below Soren Clark of Clarkbuilt, Inc. graciously offers some insightful and informative answers to our top questions.

Defining Mid-CenturyPortland Mid-Century Modern Homes

What qualifies a home as Mid-Century Modern?  Houses that were built following the second world war in the middle of the 20th century would be qualified as mid century. Mid century modern houses, and MCM design in general, are specifically distinct with their modern design characteristics.  

What are some key characteristics?  MCM houses are characterized by simple clean lines with minimal detailing in the construction of them.  Single level, shallow roof lines, open floorplans, minimal casings, flat doors and cabinetry are all examples of MCM house characteristics.  Many of the midcentury homes I have encountered have some more unique woods for the interior casings, relative to the pre WWII homes; mahogany, gumwood, alder to name a few.

 Can any home be adapted to the Mid-Century Modern style?  I believe that most houses are distinct in their characteristics and would find it difficult to truly adapt pre WWII to mid century style.  Craftsman, Victorian, Colonial all have very different construction and styling to their interior and exteriors.  Certain rooms within these could be stylized MCM but I believe these original characteristics should be honored and respected.  I could envision a modern addition to an older home that could be tasteful but I do not believe that would adapt the entire home to the MCM style  Post WWII construction is much more forgiving in being able to adapt to this. 

Considerations & Adaptations

Mid-Century Modern Bathroom

What are some considerations for a home owner before remodeling their Mid-Century Modern home?  As with any home remodel, you want to design a space to be as functional as possible for your personal use.  Each individual has unique wants and needs for their personal use of space(s) and this should be thoroughly thought out.  Our experiences with mid century homes has been the wants of additional bathrooms and opening the spaces up that have tighter kitchens, dining and living rooms.  The original woods and casings within these homes can be unique and difficult to match and should be considered as well.

How does Millwork contribute to the overall design of a Mid-Century Modern?  For the most part the millwork for the interior casings is generally pretty minimal.  Small profiled (sqaured and clamshell) baseboards and casings are typical.  You can often find some unique built-ins and cabinet units that add appeal to the interior design of the spaces.  We are seeing a resurgence of partition slatted walls and paneling that seem to have been a theme with mid century modern design.

A Big Impact on a Small Budget

What are some small projects that can make a big impact on a tight budget, for someone looking for the Mid-Century Modern design? Bright Colors and built-in DetailCabinet hardware and lighting are always inexpensive ways to change a space on a tight budget.  Custom built-ins, slat partition walls, glass blocks, and other furnishing are other elements that may be able to incorporate a mid century feel to a space.

*Clarkbuilt, Inc is a full service construction company specializing in early 20th century residential remodeling and carpentry.  Their award-winning remodeling work has been featured in Gray Magazine, Oregon Home, and 1859: Oregon’s Magazine.  They are members of National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the Oregon Remodeler’s Association (ORA), and a top client to McCoy Millwork.

Where Do I Start?

There are many ways to incorporate a mid-century modern feel. Even if your home’s architectural style doesn’t necessarily meet the criteria there are solutions.  Curated furniture and wall art, light fixtures, and the use of color are just a few ways ways to introduce that mid-century flair.  For the exterior of the home, a brightly painted door, modern house number, and sleek landscaping are other ways to achieve this look.   Finally, whether you are looking for a full house remodel, or just some minor aesthetic upgrades, our sales team at McCoy Millwork is here to point you in the right direction.

2 Responses to “Five Ways to Make the Perfect Mid-Century Home”

  1. Steve says:

    I have a 1957 MCM house here in Oregon. The living room has paneled walls that had been painted. There is 1/4 round at the top of the panel where it meets the ceiling. Is there some other molding I could use instead of the 1/4 round that would look better, but still be in the MCM aesthetic?
    Thanks for the help


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