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!

See all 18 designs in the 1960 brochure via the MBJ Collection in the Building Technology Heritage Library . Thanks, Sarah!

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. Bert Meadows says:

    Hi All, does anyone have or know where I can find the architectural plans for the last cabin, the luxury campsite or the three stage beach cabin.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Bert, I don’t know why, but the link to the catalog had broken — I added it back. Check the end of the story.

  4. John says:

    I believe my sailing club, Lake Washington Sailing Club, in West Sacramento, CA used the three-stage beach house plans for its clubhouse that was built in 1962. The clubhouse is still standing.
    Here is a link to a picture of it:

    1. Bert says:

      Hi John,
      I email emailed your Sailing Club with no response. Maybe they’re closed. Thank you just the same for your effort to help. If you ever get a chance to ask them if the club help me with the plans, that would greatly be appreciated.
      Stay safe and be well!

      1. John says:

        Bert, I’m pretty sure the club doesn’t have the plans any more. I’ve asked around and only a couple people even knew anything about the history of the building. Sorry we can’t help you. If you live near Sacramento you’re welcome to come take a look.

Leave a Reply

Commenting: Information

All comments are moderated, generally within 24 hours. By using this website you are agreeing to the site's >> Terms of Service, << which include commenting policies, and our >> Privacy Notice. << Before participating, read them in full.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.