18 midcentury modern vacation homes — including a “Homarina” and a Japanese-style tea house

Homarina - a vacation house set right over the waterSnaps to Sarah for spotting this 1960s catalog of vacation houses promoting the use of Douglas Fir Plywood. It includes some pretty snappy — and in their way, hilarious — designs. “Novelty” vacation home ideas — my favorite is the Japanese tea house… but the Homarina, set right over the water… Home + Marina, get it?… is pretty great, too. Did anyone really build these, I wonder?

Vacation home for boatersHere’s another vacation home for boaters — designed for the Johnson Motors Family Boating Bureau.” It has only 275 s.f. of livable space. This makes me remember growing up in Southern California in the 1960s. My dad loved to fish, and took us fishing up at Big Bear Lake quite often. Our pickup truck had a camper shell. I think that was much more part of the lifestyle — cheap, cheerful, outdoor vacations were much more the norm. I haven’t been seriously camping in 20 years, alas. I really used to like it…

Midcentury modern tea houseInterior of midcentury modern tea houseThe two images above are both from the “tea house”. The interior is so modern, all George Nelson-like. Inside, almost all these designs have Malm style fireplaces.



Vacation bunkhouseThe two photos above: The awesome “Ranch Rambler” — with its row of small sleeping nooks all in a row, separated from the main living area by a deck. What a great concept — when you are on vacation at the lake, you don’t need big bedrooms… yet, it’s nice for everyone to have their own space. Alas, where is the kitchen?

Inside outside fireplaceNotice the inside/outside fireplace. These cowboy/cowgirl images seem kind of silly… archaic today… But I guess back in the day, out west was still, well, *Western.*

1960 vacation house

Simple yet stylish.

A frame cottageYou get your A-Frame cottages, of course. Did anyone ever have one of these? They seem pretty practical to me.

A Frame cabinThis A-frame cabin is pretty snappy, too.

Vacation house that you can expand as you have more moneyAnd this is terrific — a design for a cabin that you can expand over time. It starts as a “luxury campsite” and as you can afford it, you can expand it to include livable indoor space that ultimately presents like this:

Three stage beach cabin

So clever, those designers in the 1950s and 1960s. There is so much media these days about stylish “modern” small houses — the designs have been here for us all along!

SeeAllOurVintageCatalogsSMALLSee all 18 designs in the 1960 brochure at archive.org. Thanks, Sarah!


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  1. Christa says

    Oh, these are fabulous. My dad built a family lakeside cabin with his own hands in the 70s. Very Grizzly Adams of him. It’s still standing, though only a few steps up from camping, we all still love the place. Not quite as cool design-wise as these places, but still cool.

  2. says

    People don’t build cottages anymore. They build tremendous second homes that require landscaping and an interior designer. That’s not getting away from it all, but rather making life even more complicated! I love these simple and small designs. Comfortable, but not detracting from the real star of your vacation – the great outdoors!

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, DH and I have been *talking* about getting a snowbird place when we retire. It will be a CONDO. I do not want to have to take care of two houses.

  3. says

    At an estate sale I saw a fun book “How to Build Your Cabin or Modern Vacation Home” by Harry Walton. It was published in the 1960s and showed all kinds of fun illustrations of houses, floorplans and went through coming up with designing your own home. Too bad the photos of this book weren’t in color like these ads. They are so fun to look at!

  4. d hohn says

    A- frame reminded me of living in one in colorado mountains in 1977. rented for $65/mo. never see that again…fam of five and heated with a mod-looking fireplace…heat rose to apex and easily pushed back down with a ceiling fan …so efficient. had a loft up and 1 bedroom down.

  5. Markus Kobi says

    OMG I would love to live in some of these houses, year round would be just fine in the right location. The Ranch Rambler could even be stylized like a little hotel for your guests for fun. The Tea House would be a seaside showplace with a big jacuzzi built into that little deck off the living area. The Homarina could get very posh with an indoor/outdoor dining space and an outdoor kitchen built in under the awning.

    • Ed says

      Yes, I’m quite taken with the Ranch Rambler for a lakeside cottage. The kitchen? Oh, that’d be the stainless steel “cleaning station” by the fire pit, where you clean and fillet the day’s catch of Mahi or panfish or silver carp. Might keep a few MREs in the storage area, just in case fishing gets a bit slow.

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