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84 original retro midcentury house plans — that you can still buy today

Do you want to build a midcentury modern or midcentury modest house from original plans? It is indeed possible: via the library of 84 original 1960s and 1970s house plans available at FamilyHomePlans.com aka The Garlinghouse Company. The 84 plans are in their Retro Home Plans Library here. Above: The 1,080 sq. ft. ranch house #95000 — golly — I think there were about a million of these — likely more — built back in the day. This little three-bedroom, two-bath house is about all anyone needs! Note, the company told me there is no date visible on the original plans. I think this design could date back to the 1950s.

Above: 1,565 sq. ft., three bedrooms, two baths

Above: An adorable 864 s.f., two-bedroom, one-bach vacation house. Or, just a small house!

There are a lot of vacation home plans in this retro house plan collection — probably because there is a larger market today for small vacation homes than for small full-time homes. I talked to the company about these retro house plans. They say they don’t sell a great many, because new-home-builders today want larger houses. 

Another amazing fact: Bobbie, who I talked with on the phone, says the company purchased all the original, vintage Garlinghouse house plans about 10 years ago. In fact, the official company name is The Garlinghouse Company. Garlinghouse was a biggie back in the day.  Again — it sounds like Family House Plans likely has many many more small, midcentury modest house plans in their archives — they just don’t have them listed online because Americans want their 2,700 sq. ft. houses — not 1,000 sq. ft. houses. Read more about Family House Plan’s Garlinghouse archive here.

Above: Having an open-air central courtyard is a hallmark feature of an original rancho. As in: ranch house. This house is 2,377 s.f. in size, with three bedrooms, 2.5 baths.

Above: 2,371 sq. ft., five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and an awesome front courtyard.

Above: Super cool! 1970s, probably, when we had that horrible energy crisis. This 2,139 3/2 house has a so-called ‘green roof’ — there is 12″ of soil on top of the roof — and that’s grass on top — yes, you need to mow your roof! 

Above: Howdy hudee, I got to the plans for this split level house and recognized the interior layouts. It’s the house that my mom and dad had built for our family in Vista, Calif., around 1968 or 1969. The layout is super close to what I remember and my brother agrees. Yikes, that’s a serious blast from my past! 

Heck, there are a lot of houses to show. Want to see them all:

  1. Nikki says:

    Thanks so much Pam for this fun blast from the past! The first home my husband and I bought was #9500…. still miss that little house, we were so happy there!

  2. ineffablespace says:

    One thing that may be an issue in *some locations with regard to permits is bathroom size. International Residential Code has fairly small required clearances similar to those in many houses of this era, but local codes have enlarged some of these dimensions.

    For example, many older plans have 24″ wide doors into bathrooms, and toilets on 12-15″ centers with 21″ front clearance. The on center minimum is now 15″, with 18″ required in some locales and some require 30″ doors, even though IRC is silent on that.

    I bring this up only because with the existing size of some of these houses, altering that part of the plan may require enlarging the entire footprint of the house… even for the matter of a few inches, because of adjoining areas of the plan.

    An architect friend of mine had a situation with row houses where the difference of a few inches in each house resulted in one less house that would fit on the block.

    Modern construction is often so oversized that there is extra inches to play with, but these Midcentury plans were usually very efficient in using space.

  3. DJ Sparkles says:

    Thank you for this site! I am looking for smaller house plans for when we retire (still in the future, but it’s a closer future than it used to be!) It’s so nice to see plans that A. Make Sense and B. Aren’t McMansions. Right now, I’m kinda in love with the one that has an octagon-shaped breakfast room! I also found the plan that looks like a house I drooled over in an ad in my FB mid-century ads group; I’ll have to link it.

    I’m a 60’s gal living in a 60’s house in a 60’s neighborhood. I didn’t see our house yet, but I did see others that look familiar. 🙂

  4. John J. Mackey says:

    Loving this site. I’m cutting up parts of different floor plans and laying them out to produce my ideal home.
    An apartment I grew up in in the 60s was two apartments put together, each with a living-room, 2 bedrooms, bath, and kitchen. We broke through the common wall for the kitchens, put in a doorway, recently found out the apt. was 2,000 sq. feet, (1,000 sq. feet. each) that is bigger than homes being built then. My grandmother owned the bldg. (6 apts., 5, 2br,/ 1, 1 bedroom), and parents had to pay full rent on both. An original 2 story Levitt Home on Long Island, looking at real estate sites giving square footage is maxed out at just over a thousand sq. ft. if not expanded. I’m into smaller sized ranches, space for the sake of size doesn’t impress me, with the right layout and best use of space, small can function better, besides, I don’t have six kids to house either.

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