What You Should Know Before Buying A Mid-Century Modern Home

There's a reason why millennials love them so much.

Home showcase mid-century modern open plan living room
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With its sleek, distinctive architecture, mid-century modern homes give you a feeling of wonder and awe that a traditionally styled home cannot manage to simulate. Often depicted as a work of art that’s tucked away in a serene area with sky-high windows illuminated by a plethora of paper shade lamps and natural sunlight, mid-century modern homes channel a strong fantasy for those seeking a look that focuses on minimalism, simplicity, and individuality. The process of purchasing one such home is much more involved than a typical home purchase, and without the right resources could turn into a money-guzzling and time-sucking investment. So before you delve into a owning one of these homes, it’s best to know a few key tips that will help you navigate that purchase.

Know which designers you like.

If you're truly looking to spend the rest of your life in a mid-century modern home, the best place to start is recognizing which designers and architects strike a chord with your personal taste and vision. (A few names to know: Richard Neutra, Philip Johnson, Pierre Koenig, Ray and Charles Eames, and Frank Lloyd Wright, just to name a few.) Certain designers and architects have only made homes in specific areas, which means you'll have to ask yourself honestly: Are you willing to relocate?

Know the neighborhood.

Any design enthusiast that browses Zillow, Trulia, and the other popular home search sites knows that the market is full of mid-century modern homes. They may not be in your desired geographic area, but they’re scattered across the country and oftentimes are reasonably priced. However, for those who are willing to move, please do be aware: Many of these homes are located in areas where their downtown location is not nearly as exciting as yours. The home may be in tip-top shape and suitable for you, but a quick Google search of the town should justify whether or not you’d be able to have the social life you desire and need outside of your home.

Know how long the space has been occupied or vacant.

When it comes to mid-century modern homes, the overall condition can be a total toss up. While many homes have had lovely owners who have maintained the space year after year, there are still countless amounts of mid-century modern homes that have been vacant and left to suffer. The condition is more often than not reflected in the price. However, it is always best to know as much as you can about previous ownership and how they maintained not only the integrity of the space, but the condition at large.

Hollin Hills - Alexandria, VA
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Common adjustments that are made across mid-century modern homes include remodeled bathrooms and kitchens. Original tile gets replaced due to cracking, counters get a face lift, cabinets get swapped, and the list goes on. Sometimes these adjustments get made with true MCM replacements, and other times not so much. Find out how the home has been updated and modified.

Know what you want in a home and don’t settle.

It is very easy to settle for less than you want when looking for a new home, especially when dealing with a real estate market that fluctuates in inventory season after season. If you add in the fact that you’re looking for a specialty home, it becomes significantly harder. It may be common sense to remind yourself to not settle for less, but when you’re a true mid-century modern aficionado, you won’t want to cut corners to get exactly what you want. If you’re holding out for a mid-century modern home that hosts a classic carport feature with a stunning slanted roof—or a even a mid-century modern home that boasts original breeze blocks on the exterior—slow your roll and just wait for the right home. The experience and overall enjoyment factor will be worth it. Living in a mid-century modern home is not just a thing you do–you’re a part of the home’s story; you are a contributor to its history and legacy.

philip johnson glass house
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Know your experts.

Browsing the web for advice on mid-century modern homes is a great place to start when seeking out initial research. However, when the real hunt begins for a new home, connect with a professional or a business that is well-rounded in the knowledge and history of mid-century modern homes in your area. Houzz provides exceptional lists of professionals in your neck of the woods, and inviting them along as a consultant to your potential purchase provides added peace of mind when you decide to put an offer on the table. Reach out, get connected, and be informed. You want to make sure that the mid-century modern home that you have your eye on is the best fit for you.

Collectively, the most important note to keep in mind is that buying a mid-century modern home should be a fun and thrilling journey. Take it slow, find your dream home, and love the process.


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