Mid-century moderns designed for families
Louise Bolger | Sun
A mid-century home in Holmes Beach.
Most writers have an ongoing love affair with the written word and are always on the hunt for new words and phrases that seen to subliminally become part of our vocabulary. Since I'm certainly no exception, I have become fascinated with some of the not so positive vocabulary words related to the real estate problems we're having. Words like sub-prime, negative equity and strategic default, but there is a word that is not only more optimistic, but also returns us to a more relaxed historic era.
Mid-century is the term assigned to pre and post World War II developments in modern design, architecture and urban development between the years of 1933 and 1965, approximately. Mid-century is a modern design with Frank Lloyd Wright as well as the German International and Bauhaus movements given most of the credit for inventing.
If you're of a certain age you'll undoubtedly remember Danish Modern furniture and design pieces like the Egg Chair and Eames Lounge Chair as being classic examples of mid-century designs. But the real stars of mid-century modern are the homes built during this era.
Mid-century modern is characterized by simplicity of design. Walls seemingly made of glass replacing bulky support walls and open floor plans with the intention of bringing the outdoors in were typical of mid-century homes. These designs targeted the needs of the average American family particularly after World War II, creating family oriented open spaces contained within a relatively small square foot home.
The most iconic example of mid-century building is the Levittown ranch track homes, built in the early 1950s and marketed as housing for returning military members starting families after the war. But not all mid-century homes were small starter properties. There are plenty of examples around the country of large multi-level homes with floating stairways and several levels of glass walls.
Although the California Modern style is known for these architectural designs, Florida was also on the cutting edge of mid-century construction, with many mid-centuries built on the ocean on the east coast. Sarasota also has several important mid-century homes and commercial properties, as does Anna Maria Island. If you look carefully,you'll find mid-century ranch style homes tucked between some of our newer Key West properties, as well as a few mid-century motels. Many of these properties still retain their mid-century character and easy living persona.
The International and Bauhaus movements created the term "less is more" and certainly living during the mid 20th century was an exercise in less is more. More time with family and less time with work and material obsessions. Anna Maria is struggling to retain the less is more philosophy, so it's gratifying to see the original properties surviving.
If you like the TV show "Mad Men," knotty pine and cars with fins you'll love my new favorite word, mid-century.