The Mid-Century Modest Manifesto

“Mid-century Modest.” I coined this new term in 2009, recognizing that while there may have been 1 million “mid-century modern” homes built in postwar America, there were about 29 million “Mid-Century Modest” homes. And, while some observers today consider the vernacular mass-market postwar designs all too “kitsch” and pretty much discount “tract” houses and all they stood/stand for, I say: Let’s celebrate Mid-century Modest, too – because this era of American housing and all it encompassed were really quite fascinating and special. So, here is my “Mid-Century Modest Manifesto”:

The Mid-Century Modest Manifesto

NO QUESTION, we love Mid-Century Modern homes,
the high falutin’ designer kind.
BUT IN POSTWAR AMERICA, while we built
maybe 1 million mid-century moderns –
we built some 29 million Mid-Century Modest homes.

Mainstream. Main Street. Mass produced. Middle Class homes.
ROYAL BARRY WILLS Cape Cods at one end of the architectural spectrum.
CLIFF MAY Ranches on the other.
AND YES,  a dose of Contemporary increasingly thrown in, too.
a gazillion prosaic, vernacular melting-pot variations in between.

1,000 square feet for many years running.
“SMALL” TODAY– but to their owners starting in 1946,
they were the culmination of the American Dream.
Following years of economic Depression and WWII,
these little homes were an amazing gift.

HOW DO WE LOVE THEE, Mid-Century Modest homes?
Let us count the ways…

  • Built with love and immense gratitude.
  • Wonderful features – pastel bathrooms, fitted kitchens, livable layouts.
  • Knotty pine paneling – installed by Gramps.
  • Lots of ingenious Americana
    like Nutone exhaust fans, Hall-Mack Tow’lscopes, and Dishmasters.
  • Wallpaper and pinch pleats and pull-down kitchen lights.
  • Boomerang cabinet pulls and wagon wheel lights and braided rugs.
  • Indoor plumbing.
  • Unpretentious. Exuberant. The first taste of true material comfort
    for many millions of people.
  • Our houses have stories…
    Stories about the beginning of a new American era still playing out today.
  • Did I mention small? Yes. But small is — green.
  • Small is quite often: “enough.”

THERE IS MUCH TO APPRECIATE in our Mid-Century Modest homes.
And certainly nothing to apologize for.
GRANITE countertops? Who needs ‘em, especially when they come with
a home equity loan that stresses our family finances beyond our limits.
What silliness. What Insanity.
SHHHH! Don’t tell anyone, but our Mid-Century Modest homes,
because they are so unpretentious by today’s standards,
can be much more affordable to buy and to renovate.

RETRO RENOVATION is very much about the “Re”:
Reduce. Re-Use. Recycle. Restore. Re-Store.
Returning to the source of “The American Dream”…
And in the process, re-thinking what we want it to mean for us today.
OH YEAH, and Retro style has a happiness-quotient that is off the charts.
WE LOVE our Mid-Century Modest homes
in all their glorious simplicity and optimism,
and cherish the opportunity to safeguard their history and heritage.
That’s the: Mid-Century Modest Manifesto.

Copyright © 2009

Hey, see me talkin’ about it all on this cool video:


  1. Ann says

    hey pam! i would love to send you some pics of my house… been working on it now for four years and am finally feeling like it may be worth sharing! it’s a 1950’s beaut. i just scored a wonderful round sectional at a local estate sale and am dying to show you!


  2. says

    I just came across your blog today and I love your manifesto. I am the proud owner of a 1966 ranch style home, which my husband and I have been updating and putting our personal stamp on over the past 11 years.

    Some owners of “bigger than big” homes (because you really need 4 bathrooms just in case the entire family has to pee at the same time – lol) don’t understand that a family can live comfortably in a 1,450 square foot (that’s the size of ours) home and that it’s nice not to stretch yourself to the limit just to have a larger home. Several of my friends have recently gone into foreclosure because they thought more was better. I’m of the philosophy that what I have is “enough.”

    I enjoy coming up with space-saving solutions and really work at making the most of the rooms we have. Our home has both a living room and a family room, but we repurposed the typical “formal living room” into a media room complete with reclining sofa and big screen television. We don’t do a lot of formal entertaining so utilizing the living room as it was originally intended when it was built back in the 60’s would have been a waste of valuable space for our family.

    Anyone who’s curious to see our home, can click on my name above and you should be directed to my blog. You’ll have to search the topics to find the house photos though since my blog isn’t specifically dedicated to my house.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to perusing your blog further to find more ideas for my mid century modest home.

  3. Amy says

    Finally! A place for mid century modest homes! My little house was built in 1945 and has 972 sq ft. I am having so much fun fixing it up and truly love the affordability of the place. I live in a small town in the South and I have almost a half acre city lot. My only suggestion is that you would add a place for folks to post pictures of there little homes. Thank you for this website! I can’t wait to read all the different articles!

  4. Mary says

    I, too, own a small, wonderful home! I never ‘blow out’ the kitchen like everyone said I should do. I loved the simplicity of it. I also was able to match the paint colour of the 50’s Youngstown Kitchens sink cabinet. It was scratched, rusting in places in the interior selves, and looking dull. I repainted it, and it is now one of the interesting assets fo the kitchen! What is old ,is all now new! (something like that!) My house is on the market, and there are 3 pictures of the kitchen included in the website. I’ve attached the website if you would like to look at it. [link broken]

    I was also at a Antique/Salvage shop in Kennebunk, ME over the weekend. They too had Youngstown Kitchen cabinets they were using in their bathroom. I think I’m becoming more and more of a fan of them!

    All the best to everyone out there preserving beautiful things!

  5. says

    Thanks so much for your website and blog. I have been a faithful reader and this is the first time I have been courageous enough to comment. I grew up in a mid century modest home in Indiana (all 920 sqft) and it was grand. When I go back to visit relatives, we always have to make the pilgramage to see my old house. Several years ago I finally became a home owner and purchased a small mid century modest ranch in Florida built in the 60’s. I have been renovating one room at a time and have used many ideas and resources from your website. It truly is a labor of love. Thanks for putting into words what so many of us feel. :)

    • pam kueber says

      Hi, Jana, and thank you so much for your comment! It’s feedback like this that keeps me going :) Send me some pics of your projects some time! xoxo Pam

  6. Cimarron says

    Thank you Pam for taking up the cause! I live in the 1950’s 1,300 sq ft home my parents purchased when I was 2 yrs old. I TRY to keep it as it was, original green bathroom tiles, kitchen counters are STILL pink, etc. I made every effort to stay original. Still have original Chambers built-ins..copper/bronze (whatever it is called).
    BUT, I need some advise. WHO can replace/repair the wearing item’s working parts. I even still have the Servel refrigerator. No, they do not all work like they did, and I need advise. I don’t want to lose the originals…but they need brought up to standards of safety. Can you help me, please?

    • pam kueber says

      Cimarron, we have an FAQ on how to find local folks to help renovate appliances. Check it out.

  7. says

    Northeast Texas is chock-full of undiscovered meccas of mid-century modest homes as well as a few mid-century modern ones as well. Either way, in Texarkana, and especially in Wake Village, Texas, such homes go wholly unappreciated! Tsk, tsk, what a shame, although, estate-sale wise and boon and godsend for pickers/collectors/retro-afficionados.
    For instance, Wake Village, as a prime example, is not only peppered with mid-century modest homes, but also has a plethora of circa 1940’s homes due to the fact that it is/was a postwar community, established to house veterans, as well as employees of the government ran army ammunition plants. As a precaution, the original Wake Village (a, ahem, tacky new section has been tacked on, sigh) was planned to radiate outwards in a rose garden pattern from the town circle in order to camouflage it when viewed from the air!

    Thank you for such a wonderful site, and handy tips, faq and fyi! In addition to my own personal and business myspace pages, twitter pages, and facebook pages, I also do a facebook page for a local consignment biz with a retro corner, I realize that what you do is a labor of love, and am a fan. I’ve yet to dabble with creating my own website, but am working up the energy and guts.

    • TerriLynn says

      In Lancaster TX, we have whole neighborhoods of early 1950’s mid century modest homes, largely untouched! They are going for dirt cheap, in the 50-70k range. I got one, not in THAT particular neighborhood, but close, for 72k and am loving it!

  8. Margaret Treadway says

    We just bought a 1969 home that has been owned by the original family/builder in Tucson AZ. I am so excited there are original drapes, original kitchen cabinets and a master bath that is to die for with walk in shower and avocado sinks and tub, with ink and green tile. I am so excited to start working on the house and restore it room by room, it just needs a little cleaning, paint and some restoration. I am so proud to be bying this home, I am so sick of this HGTV beige tile, satinless steel, granite countertop bland look. I feel in love the minute i walked in the house

  9. CJ says

    A HUGE thank you for validating my pride in my old ranch house. I am a loner in my neighborhood. Everyone else has torn out the pink tiled bathrooms and “opened up” their kitchens. I just hate it…but I did SCORE some extra metal-cased windows and a screen door:)

    Trying to sell this house was painful…all the buyers want travertine and granite. We just couldn’t do it, so we decided to stay.

    At 1800 sq ft. Our house is a bit big for us, but its old and its ours!

    • Joann Leonard says

      Stay away from the ubiquitous granite, more trouble than it’s worth I understand + it’s hard to tell when it’s dirty. Uck. When I finally did a remodel of the pink kitchen (I really loved it, but didn’t know better then), 25 years ago, the counter tile was replaced with white corian. it was not installed right and cracks have ensued, so soon I’ll be replacing it with, you guessed it, white corian. It’s a dream to keep clean and almost looks like formica.

      I have some other kitchen remodel tips that don’t involve ‘opening’ the kitchen (mine was open to begin with), or making structural changes. Fact is, it was too open. We closed off one traffic path and never regretted it.

  10. Aitch says

    I have been in heaven driving around Mid-Century Modest neighborhoods in Denver all weekend. We have a LOT of them!

    My brother-in-law enviously lives in Arapahoe Acres in Englewood CO–a historically designated MCM neighborhood — homes now going for 350k and up–
    But the MC-Modest truly has it own unique charms and beauty. I will post photos of some of my finds on he Flickr account.
    I am not a snob.
    so thank you for your wonderful blog post
    And tract housing from the 50s rocks!
    And now i will keep reading!
    Aitch CS

  11. Rose says

    It is sooo great to read this about mid-century-modest since we live in a 1950`s, 900sqft home which we bought from the orginal owners. The house is full of character with keyhole arches, a pink bathtub, and various builtins. One of the coolest features that everyone loves is the rec room in the basement. It has real wood part way up on the walls that look like logs. There is a bar and wine storage cupboard. They even left the dartboard and orginal darts. It had an old gas fireplace which we replaced for a wood one. (was worried that the house would blow up if we used it) Everyone loves to hang out in this space because it has warmth and character. I am researching on how to update my kitchen and still keep its character and that is how I discoved this sight. I love all the great ideas and am glad to realize that wanting to keep your homes style is OK.

  12. says

    My mother still lives in the house she and my father bought in 1958. They added a den with a fireplace in the 60’s to “modernize” the house. She wanted it because it was across the street from the high school were she taught. The school built in 1952 had to be torn down in 1999 because of sick building syndrome. But all the houses that surround the school are still there. Neighborhood remains the same. I think its funny how with the fancy new building came fancy attitudes that had not existed before. I remember one time my father thinking of selling our house to the school board, who would have turned it into a parking lot. I was long out of the house, but my immediate comment was, “I did know hell had frozen over.” Needless to say, he kept the house. Even today, 13 years after he has gone, she won’t think of leaving. I don’t want her to. That is what I consider home. My husband’s mother still lives in his childhood home as well. There is something about that generation that just did not move around like we have. Says a lot about them and lot about us.

  13. Terri B says

    I love this site! I am 9 months into a retro renovation for a 1952 mid-century modest house in south Louisiana. The exterior of the home is the traditional “double shotgun” style that has been found to be tried and true in the gulf coast humidity. But once the doors opened, I instantly fell in love with the mid century modern/modest interior. I knew right then that I had to have this house! I am hooked!

    I recently found this site and I have used your resources to buy my laminate countertops and trim and other things as well. Thanks so much for your inspiration!

    I live in a rural area and it seems like I am the only person in 6 parishes (counties) interested in mid-century. Most people think that I am crazy when I tell them that I am installing 1950’s metal cabinets! lol

  14. javagirl500 says

    I am thrilled to find you all. I just bought a 1951 ranch in North Miami. Modest sweet and original except for the bath. It even has its full set of clamshell awnings. Granite and stainless are sooooo boring. I look forward to finding design ideas and resources here. I won’t be a fanatic about accuracy to the period… but I want to keep the best features. People think I’m nuts but I’m going to paint the exterior a light lavender…

  15. hannah says

    Your manefesto is beautiful and made me tear up a bit. Aging baby boomer here (57). Just bought my first house in April. A 1961 Ranch in Maine. 825sf, so smaller than your 1,000 mentioned. I’d sure love to have that extra 200ft!! But our yard is twice as big as the house so lots to nurture and do.

    I have found most my MCM at flea markets, online (etsy and eBay) and antique shops and Craigslist. I looked around the house the other day and noted that everything was second hand save for a few things (fridge, washer). For years I had lived with my late mothers coffee and end tables, dishes, flateware etc. I opted to find them a new good home and have replaced it all with period furnishings. My goal is to take this little house back to it’s ‘hey day’.

    I even found locally a FULL Heywood-Wakefield bedroom set for $600 and purchased it from the original owner. Trudy was kind enough to sing the bottom of one dresser drawer for me, she bought the best first in 1948 and added pieces as time went by.

    I play ‘period’ music when I’m cleaning and cooking and nothing makes me happier than this house and all that’s in it. As a friend at work is fond of saying when you ask him how he’s doing “Livin’ the dream!”….and so I am.

    Your site is wonderful and so much fun to read.


  16. hannah says

    Oh man, it’s still a WIP (work in progress). We’ve only been in 6.5 weeks! But, I did just friend RetroRennovation on FB, I have a few albums up there of before and after pics and purchases. … [ pam edited out links as they don’t work... ]

    The kitchen and bathroom won’t get painted out until winter. :(


    • pam kueber says

      hannah, the links don’t work. if you have some time you can send me the photos directly at retrorenovation [at] gmail [dot] com

      • hannah says

        Hi Pam. I sent you two emails from my gmail account. About 6-8 pics each. Keep in mind my house is NOT sleek by any stretch of the imagination, but it IS quite ‘funky MCM-ish”. A mish-mash with intent. :)

  17. Hippychic823 says

    Just purchased my first house, its a 1928 Colonial in Southern Illinois but was “remodeled” by the previous owners in 1961. Before I looked at the house the Realtor told the kitchen “needed lots of work”. When I walked in I heard angels sing and almost fell to my knees. Aquamarine Formica countertops and Aqua metal cabinets. The most AMAZING aqua, yellow and green Sunburst-ish pattern wallpaper (HEART, HEART, HEART!!!!!!!!) and Avacado Green stove and fridge (probably more 70’s than 50’s but whatever). But the BEST part….A NAUGAHYDE UPHOLSTERED NOOK!!!!!!!!! I could NEVER replace this fun, funky, amazing kitchen with granite and stainless steel!!! Let the HGTV’ers have their “sterile operating room” looking kitchens. I HEART my “kitch” kitchen and I heart this site!!!!!!

    • hannah says

      OH YOU LUCKY GAL!!! I want to see PICTURES!!

      I love how the realtor said “the kitchen needs some work…” :)

      • Peggy says

        LOL, yea the same thing happened to me…I live on a very popular street in my town…and was w/a friend at the community center where the gal that was volunterring happened to be a realor….she asked where we were from etc…I told her I lived in town …and what house…and she goes…”oh. Yea I know that house. ….it hasnt been “updated” since it was 1952. lol

  18. Stacey says

    You are my hero! I thought I was alone in my love of the humble ranch. When I was young, I renovated a brick ranch built in ’52. That was a lot of work that frankly, I don’t think I could live through again! Now I live in a later mid-century ranch built in ’76 – only 1400 sq. feet and covered in vinyl siding, but we love it for so many reasons. I’d like to see a little love thrown to the latter-mid-century ranches as well. Anyway, I love the way this site thumbs its nose to granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, etc. I’m right there with ya.

    A few days ago I was researching ranches on the internet when I found your NYT article. That same day I also found these wonderful reports from the Historic Preservation Division of the State of Georgia:

    Scroll half way down and check out all the great info on the houses and architects under the Ranch Houses heading. Funny, I have lived in and around many of the neighborhoods in these reports – it’s like reading my life in architecture. But now I know what to call each and every style. Enjoy!

  19. says

    Hi Pam! Like you, I spend hours combing the Internet looking for MCM finds and inspiration. In fact, that’s how I came across your blog! I love it! I get so excited to find others who have a passion for all things mid-century.

    My partner and I bought a house (William Krisel) in Palm Springs last year and were lucky enough not to have to search for authentic kitchen cabinets…they are still installed. They are white formica with woodgrain formica fronts and I love them. Our kitchen also has the original terrazzo floor and an Imperial 900 double oven (in great working condition).

    Anyway, love your blog. You are an inspiration!

  20. Tracy Bristol says

    Pam, I’ve found my people! I’m 53 and have lived in my 1964 Texas ranch house for 22 years. I’ve been collecting for many years and I love my 1700 square foot house. You inspire me!

    I’m a newbie, so you may already know about the Wilsonart Wilson House in Temple, Texas. If not, enjoy!


  21. Veronika says

    I have been living in my mid century modest ranch complete with 1/2 acre of horse property in a rural part of New Mexico where the suburbs multiplied during the housing bubble. My little neighborhood did not get touched and after losing my “big house”, I came across my little ranchita built in 1955 where I can have my two horses in my back yard. I installed a Mr. Ed dutch door where the boys can stick their head into my sunken back screened in porch where my lovebirds live in the summer. I have a sunken living room and teeny tiny bedrooms and 1 bath and my gas and electric bills are all under $100 a month! I also have a woodburning stove installed in my fireplace. My little ranchita had been severly neglected, so there is lots of work to do. I recently acquired authentic 50’s pink bathroom toilet, sink and medicine cabinet. Thank god, my roommate is a plumber. I adore my little ranch, and am planting rose bushes all along the front. I am so excited about this blog and can’t wait to spend many wonderful hours devoted to retro renovation.

  22. Steve says

    I love Mid Century, the house I own is 1908 craftsman style but I was able to use a lot mid century furniture to create the look I was hoping for. I found this really cool eames chair that someone had turned into a salon chair with the foot pump to raise and lower for hair cuts. Hilarious. Some furnishings that I want were too expensive for me, I did find a couple things on ebay that I liked and a sofa on thats really nice. So even if you don’t have a mid century house, you can still fill it with your favorite things! Oh has anyone seen the new eames movie, its on netflicks on demand for free!

  23. says

    I love this blog.I live in a 1950 ranch style home and I absolutly agree with everything you say about these wonderful homes.While the trend in the past few years have been for big homes with master suites, bonus rooms and the like, these homes just don’t have the character and history as the midcentury ones do. And not to mention that they are built so well and sturdy Small like you said but very econominol and not so small that you get clostrophobic depending of course on the size of ones family.BUThey Ilove these little houses and it”s time they get reconized for being apart of amrecian history.

  24. Marjie says

    Thank you Pam for establishing this blog and validating all the owners of smaller (but solid) Mid century homes.We live in a ’58 storybook ranch in MN on the edge of a McMansion development,in a very nice school district.This little house has weathered numerous tornado seasons;only needing one roof replacement for hail damage( in 20+ yrs) while those large houses across the way seem to require repeated roof replacement.Almost a sign of Spring, when you see all the OSB sprinkled out on the rooftops like dandelions on a lawn.I confess we’re not purists w/ regard to maintaining our home (which hadn’t been cared for in decades w/ minimal,idiotic repair work), but our repairs have been solid and subtle to the neighborhood even though we haven’t sought out vintage products.I ‘d like to share our current project.Having lived w/ the original kitchen for the last 23 years complete w/ gold splatter formica,we are opening up the 85 sq ft corridor kitchen (also w/ stairwell) into part of the dining area of our L shaped living room.I suppose that’s considered a no-no to many people, but we aren’t building out w/ an addition-only making the existing footage more usable.The original kitchen door(pocket door) was only 29 inches wide-it will now be 40″ +/- ( we are making “aging in place” adaptations to the home) & the pocket door wall to the dining area was removed so that replacing large appliances won’t be such a challenge to fit into the space or to the pocketbook(since we won’t be forced to pay thru the nose for a counter depth frig.) I’m looking forward to finally having an “eat in” kitchen albeit only counter seating (sorry, Pam, not quite enough space for table & chairs). But a traditional(art deco style) oval table w/ chairs will be in the adjacent front area…The changes have created a mid century flow in the space and a functional 140+ sq ft kitchen is on it’s way.Code required additional lighting(thankfully);moderate retro flavor fixtures are going in (6 white flush mounts in the prep area , 2 pendants w/ cake cover shaped globes for the eating counter, 1 cake cover chandelier for the dining table).We’re using marmoleum on the floor in a light grey & drab beige checkerboard w/ accent tiles in dark slate.The cabinets are mid-tone wood – a rift cut oak w/ slab doors and European/box construction (I am thrilled).We put the old cabinets on the curb for free,installed a new low e window in the kitchen and one in the front room.Since the walls opened up for new plumbing and electrical, new insulation went in – I used to just keep the butter out by that north wall of the kitchen and it would stay solid all winter!….So, far the subfloor is in and next week the lower cabinets get installed..We did hire professionals for this but after saving and investing our own sweat equity for 23 years on the rest of the house , I felt the kitchen warranted professionals since it involved ADA changes….Thanks again Pam….Best of luck to you

  25. Jessica says

    Just about to purchase a cute little 1949 house. Just CANNOT find a flooring for the kitchen. Everything in Sacramento is so Tuscan, I think even the people of Tuscany would be sick of this trend.
    Any ideas? I want happy and cute, I love yellow and white checks, but cannot afford Marmoleum. Why do they make so much black and white checks but no other colors?
    The cabinets are white, countertops charcoal laminate. I just want my yellow and white floor, but at this point would settle for anything upbeat, maybe blue? All the Armstrong vinyl looks so gross in the stores, haven’t even seen the Cushion Step in Sacramento yet. Come on flooring people, we don’t just want Tuscan!

    • pam kueber says

      See my Kitchens/Flooring category for all my research. How about Armstrong VCT floor tiles in white and yellow? Also See Reader Kitchens button at top of the homepage for lots of ideas.

  26. says

    Hi – I enjoy your site very much. I am a real estate agent in Denver’s northwestern suburbs. I plan to use the term you coined in a blog post (maybe several), and will credit you. I plan to copy the entire first paragraph of this post. Is that OK?

  27. RoB says


    My partner & I just found a ‘relic’ of mid century that has come on the market. It’s has great bones, 1500 sq. feet and could ‘shine’ with the right renovation and improvement. Built in 61, it’s pretty clear the owners didn’t ‘get it’ and have not preserved this property well. If our offer’s accepted we want to dive right in to renovation mode.
    We’re located in West Palm Beach, FL. We are fishing for reno specialists referrals. If over the years you have head of a strong reno contractor in SoFla that specializes in MCM architecture we would great ly appreciate your feedback.

    Thank you!

    West Palm Beach, FL.

  28. Katrina high says

    I have been researching some 1950s furniture that belonged to my parents and come up empty. I love the stuff and suspect that it may be pretty rare it was produced by Sears and Roebuck it’s called ranch mode it’s solid oak but with the lines of mid century, and is decorated with leather strips and solid brass nailhead on the drawer handles. My family had a whole hues full of the stuff.

  29. Elisha says

    Hi Pam. Not sure if I’m doing this correctly. I am not technology savvy
    at all. So pls bare with me. I have been following your blog for almost
    a month now. I grew up in a mid century modest home. I currently live
    in a mid century modest home. Both are so so close to would you
    describe as mcm homes…small brick ranch homes built in 50’s and
    60’s. Things like wagon wheel lights…knotty line walls…pink tile bathrooms…the list goes on. Also the stories behind my home I grew
    up in I carry wonderful memories with me, and when I got married
    and moved into my home now…is dead on the nail with what I read on
    this blog. Think I will stop now…don’t want to write a book…but much
    more I would love to share! let me just see if you get this before I
    continue…lol!! I have lots I want to share and lots I want to be a part
    of on this blog. If you get this message will you pls let me know…thank
    you so much. By the way I live 50 mi. South of Atlanta Ga.

  30. Maureen Bajeyt says

    I’ve been searching for the name of my home style. There are tons of them built in Southern California, but I just discovered what it is through looking at pictures on this site. It is a Cape Cod “ranch” style home. Wow, that’s a mouthful for a 999 square foot house! I threw in “ranch” style because it’s always associated with California,and the main living area of the house is one big L-shape. I grew up in a true ranch style home near Palm Springs. I never knew Cape Cod style went beyond New England! I guess I learn something new every day!

  31. Tracy says

    Wow, I just found this blog, but I love it already! The Manifesto alone just about brought me to tears. Mid-century modest homes aren’t unique to the U.S.; the Canadian prairies are covered with them. However, they are often poo-poohed in favour of new two storey, front attached garage homes that are sprawling in the suburbs of many Canadian cities. I always thought my 1956 bungalow had a lot of character (it hasn’t been changed much) – steel kitchen cupboards, blue tub, sink and 13 litre toilet. I’m so happy to find a blog where these homes are appreciated. Thank you!

  32. chris says

    Midcentury Modest is something I actually use to define my little cinderblock home in Sacramento, California built in 1950. Not an Eichler by any stretch, no expansive window walls, no cantilevered roof, Shulman would have laughed if he was asked to photograph it. But for me, it is a slice of heaven. Modest, but squarely Midcentury. The trick for me has been not to dress it up in period (or “period-like”) accessories that reach too high. I think a George Nelson bubble pendant light fixture would be a bit overachieving for this house. Maybe a smaller knockoff would be more appropriate. Boomerang drawer pulls? Sure…fits right in. Anyhow, I really appreciate your nod to these solid, and solidly-built smaller homes and what they really represent in terms of who they were constructed for and why. Thanks and keep those articles coming. I am still waiting for the book-sized publication on this less showy stepchild of the MCM ethos.

  33. Edward Howard says

    Hi Pam,
    Thanks for writing your inspiring MC Modest Manifesto.
    You really nailed it. Words like, “Unpretentious. Exuberant. The first taste of true material comfort for many millions of people.” My parent’s generation would certainly tell us of the hardships of the Great Depression, followed by the War effort and the War itself. Theat 1000 Sq feet of MC Modest or Modern was more than enough! It was their McMansion.
    But there is one nugget that describes the legacy of it all: “The beginning of a new American era”

  34. Marlis Wilcox says

    Fascinating look through the kitchens of my childhood!..AND, to pursue the reason I selected this website, my slant-mount kitchen sink console has faucets which have finally given up. I ran through your images of 1950’s kitchens and #95 appears to be the twin of mine. Console still in good shape, I am needing the back panel and fixtures for TWO! I am sure Dad bought them about 1951, likely from Sears… one for the down, one for upstairs. How – where do I go? Have searched all over!! Thanks, Marlis

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Marlis, see our Kitchen Help / Faucets category. You might have the American brand — you can also look this up in the Search box. Not sure if it’s still available but per my memory, Locke Plumbing was the source. Again – check our categories. Good luck.

  35. Deborah says

    I have one of these houses! Very Modest at 923 square feet, but pretty much all original structurally with solid oak floors and woodframed windows. It was what we could afford to buy at the time and we raised five kids with three bedrooms and one bath.

    After browsing this website, I no longer feel like my house is the poor cousin to my friends’ newer, bigger and fancier homes.

    I have a friend who just bought a huge 1800 sq foot MC Modern that is completely ungutted with original light fixtures even. She loves it and I will point her to this website.

  36. Peter Gillis says

    I have just retired and am investing in 1950-1970’s homes in need of saving. I have experience as a general contractor. My son an electrician and my sister an architect.
    No matter what I am going to save homes.
    Your web site is a great connection.

  37. Lillibridge says

    I recently purchased a charming house of 987 square feet built in 1950 that I wish for more than anything to restore to it’s mid-century modest glory. The kitchen was almost left completely preserved with the original appliances (SCORE). The kitchen resembles a diner with black laminate counters, white cabinets and red diner table set. However, the living room is another story. I am struggling to understand what the decor was (i.e. sofa, coffee table, light fixtures, etc.) is for mid-century modest. Everything I find is MCM and seems like an odd fit for a house that has knotty pine walls for every interior and exterior surface. Yes. even the bathroom! Where can I find more details to help me furnish and decorate the living room?

  38. Linda says

    So nice to read about someone who appreciates style with liveability and a small footprint, the way life used to be and still should be! You go girl!!!

  39. hideeho says

    We bought our mid-century modest in 2005. I think it has the original 42″ GE range and I just love it as well as the kitchen. Thankfully, the cabinets are original. The counter tops are Formica. For 10 yrs I have been pushed to “up-grade” my kitchen. Its so nice to know there are others out there with the same passion. Thank you so much for all the wonderful info on the blog and web page.
    I just love chrome! :) My GE range is gleaming with chrome.
    I love our 960 square foot home. It’s cozy. :)

  40. Renee says

    We bought our 1959 ranch 11 years ago. I knew it was ‘meant to be’ because it was built the same year I was born. While we have toyed with the idea of ‘opening it up’, and redoing the kitchen and bath per today’s trends, we have thankfully not done so – reluctant to borrow so much money. After a tour of period homes in our area over the weekend, a light bulb went off. The best homes were the ones restored to their original charm. While my home is ‘newer’ it is still period- with salmon and root beer bathroom colors, ledge rock fireplace, Armstrong linoleum kitchen floors, and push button range top. And thoughtfully built with doors between living spaces to mitigate noise (and optimize heating/cooling efficiency). As empty nesters no downsizing required for us – 1500 sq feet is more than ample – and on one floor. I am thrilled to have found your website and can’t wait to start researching for restoration needs. Awesome!

    • pam kueber says

      Welcome! Yes, just think of all the money you’ve saved! Beware modern marketeers whose job is it to dissatisfy you with what you have and buy what they are selling — only to have the cycle repeat, insanely, ever onward!

  41. Julie says

    Mid-century is not so modest in price at the moment. It’s having a moment and the demand far exceeds the supply in my community. I’m about to pay significantly more than has ever been paid for a house in my neighborhood to get a hold of one of these treasures. Not too happy about the price, but LOVE LOVE LOVE the house. It’s stunning! What’s a soon-to be-poor Mid-century geek supposed to do? Why spend more money to cover my three 10×12 foot bedroom windows glass walls. Let the money pit games begin!!! I’m new to your site and love all the info. It’s great to have a source for all things Mid-century!

  42. KC Bencs says

    My husband and I just purchased our dream retirement home in paradise……It’s about 3000 sq ft single story plus 1000 of a sun room overlooking a private lake….built in 1949 on 17 acres with a fabulous setting of 30 oak trees now at a soaring 60-70 ft….
    The home is original plaster walls and ceiling and has had damage from bursting pipes…..No one had lived in it since owner moved 12 years ago……I am grateful to find your blog because I want to restore this beautiful to its former glory. I started with the roof which should be completed in a few days and so far the response is that the new roof looks very vintage… a diamond copper clip…..exactly whAt I was going for!
    Monday the new casement windows are coming to replace a poor replacement job……so excited…..from there it will be slow moving on the kitchen and concrete floors waiting on my contractor….but that is good so that I can do research……

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