Midcentury Ranch Homes: Lots to Love!

We currently have a wonderful midcentury ranch for sale in Ormewood Park. This listing has inspired us to share some of the history of midcentury homes and why we love them!

The most iconic type of midcentury home is the ranch house. These houses proliferated in the postwar period and represented a turning point in the way American families lived. Chances are, you currently live in or have lived in a ranch house! According to the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the ranch house is the most widespread house type in the state, with more than 175,000 of these homes constructed throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

1020 Eden Avenue ExteriorRanch houses are characterized by a long, linear one-story form under a low-slung roof. They represented a break with traditional residential architecture as they are situated with the wide side of the house facing the street – largely a result the availability of inexpensive land, thus bigger lots. The layout of the ranch house focused on easy flow from one room to another, with the family room and kitchen taking center stage. No longer were bedrooms confined to a second story and the kitchen sequestered in the back of the home as a service area. The nuclear family unit became a societal ideal after the turbulence of World War II, and the ranch house reflected this ideal in its architecture and design. 

The many characteristic features of midcentury homes offer even more to love. Bold colors, atomic patterns, heart pine flooring, knotty pine cabinetry and paneling, decorative cast iron, and built-in features such as shelves and planters combine to showcase the hallmarks of space age design and technology. The level of craftsmanship and quality found in midcentury homes is difficult and sometimes impossible to replicate today. For example, have you ever noticed that the studs in an older home seem harder than in newer construction? It’s not just an impression, it’s a fact. Older houses were built with wood from older trees – compare the tree rings on an older piece of lumber with a new one, and you will see the older beam’s rings are closer together, making the wood stronger. There is a reason these houses have held up incredibly well over 50 or 60 years! 

1020 Eden Avenue Kitchen - knotty pine cabinetsThe same is true for interior components such as kitchen cabinets. Knotty pine cabinets are solid wood, made from the same strong stuff that is holding up the house – no particle board or plywood to be found. Knotty pine was durable, and survivors of the Great Depression understood its value. Aesthetically, its look hearkened back to the colonial days of America, during a time when the country was searching for a “new normal” after World War II.

1020 Eden Avenue - green bathroomWhat about those bright, colorful bathrooms, with pink tile and starburst-patterned Formica countertops? Remember that this was an era in which many Americans had only recently come out of poverty, thanks to programs such as the Works Progress Administration, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (a.k.a. the GI Bill). What better way for a family to showcase their new status than to own a home featuring all that modern science could offer – quality systems and fixtures, ample living space, and an array of color palettes never before available. The bathroom was a natural showplace as many of these families had indoor plumbing for the first time. As for why pink was such a popular color, the credit goes to First Lady Mamie Eisenhower – pink was her favorite color, and her bathroom at Gettysburg was “pink down to the cotton balls,” as Pam Keuber of Retro Renovation puts it. In fact, the distinctive pink of midcentury bathrooms was known as “First Lady Pink” or “Mamie Pink.”

Over the coming months, we’ll be posting more about the distinctive elements of a variety of house styles and types – including more about the midcentury Modern movement. The intown Atlanta neighborhoods that Red Robin Group specializes in are chock full of unique historic beauties that are a testament to particular time periods in American history. Keep checking our blog for more!

Do  you live in a midcentury home? What do you love about your house, and what are your favorite features? We would love to hear from you!

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posted: Feb 4, 2013 | No Responses

Posted by:  Amber Rhea

From January 2013-April 2014, Amber managed listing input and oversaw the listing process from start to finish. Amber's background is in web development, but her lifelong love of older buildings and neighborhoods motivated her to pursue a new career in historic preservation. She holds a Master of Heritage Preservation degree from Georgia State University. As listing manager and historic preservation specialist for Red Robin Group, she brought together her expertise in day-to-day operations, technology, and the benefits historic preservation offers to communities.

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