Post Modern Housing

Homes from Modern Era Defined a Generation

When you hear the term Modern, you usually think in terms of the present, right? And, logically, you’d assume Post Modern represents something beyond the present – which means the future, wouldn’t you? Well, in the sometimes wacky world of real estate, you occasionally need to think illogically.

As far as residential real estate is concerned, the terms Modern, Post Modern and Postwar Modern are often used to define periods defining — among other things — homes with certain architectural styling. However, depending on your source of information, these terms represent blurred time frames with boundaries overlapping each other.

Generally speaking, the Modern period of housing style denotes a period in American history beginning in about 1930 and continuing until the late 1970s, roughly. As for Postwar Modern, this refers to a time period dating from about 1947 up to 1973, more or less.

Homes considered to contain a “Modern” architectural style began to take shape in about 1930, and the trend really picked up steam after the end of World War II. That’s when thousands of returning American servicemen were returning to their native soil, with plans to start raising families and enter the housing market.

An overall feeling of confidence and optimism was sweeping the country. After all, many of them had to endure unspeakable tragedy in often-deplorable conditions in foreign lands, which bore no resemblance to their own nation. So, after surviving the horrors of war and defeating a formidable enemy, nothing seemed impossible to accomplish. In many ways it was the best of times. Likewise, the euphoria of victory spilled over into the arena of housing.

And, although there existed a shortage of housing at the time, there was an atmosphere of commitment to breaking away from tradition. That translated into, not only replenishing the dwindled housing inventory, but also, deviating from home style traditions of the past. As the economy started cranking into full domestic gear, prosperity also took over. Thus, the shortage of housing started to disappear, and the style of home referred to as Post Modern or Postwar Modern appeared on the real estate scene.

Common home features from the Modern era:

  • Large windows – especially picture windows
  •  Gabled roofs
  • Flat or low-pitched roofs
  • Sparse adornment – inside and out
  • Bold, imaginative color patterns – strong primary colors, as well as chartreuse, ocher, and frosted pastel hues were often used.
  • Clean lines.
  • Openness to outdoors is often conveyed.
  • A welcoming feeling pervades, via open common areas.
  • Innovative and progressive in design.
  • Floor plans displaying the living room, dining room, and kitchen all in one open space.
  • Modern (for that time) building materials, such as vinyl, moulded plastic, plywood, and even chrome are commonplace.
  • Focus on organic and ergonomic elements – softly-rounded asymmetrical furniture prevalent inside the home.

Many homebuyers are rediscovering the appeal of Postwar Modern homes. They feel they exude classic styling and features which never really go out of style. So, if this style really grabs you, you may be interested in knowing that the Seattle area has one of the highest concentration of homes — falling within the Modern era — in the nation.


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