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Along with “Mid-Century Modern” there was a surprisingly wide variety of homes that were simply “Mid-Century” – each with unique design attributes that demonstrated new thinking around housing. Aesthetically divergent, they share a commonality: their genesis was the result of the prosperity, population, and zest for progress that followed the conclusion of World War II. 


Minimum Traditional

Minimum Traditional Home

At first glance, Mid-Century Minimum Traditional homes’ roots are clearly in the early 20th century – simple cottages with few decorative elements beyond multi-paned windows, brick or horizontal lap siding, and shutters. However, these houses, which first appeared in 1947, introduced concepts like open floor plans and minimalist interiors, driven by their relatively small size. The most well-known example of this kind of housing is Levittown, 17,000 detached houses on Long Island, New York.

“We are not builders,” said its developer, William Levitt. “We are manufacturers.” That sentiment established something of a guide for home design and building thereafter: that everyone deserved access to a sturdy, decent home of one’s own, however small and simple, without reference to class distinctions and outmoded formalities.

Usonian Homes

The brainchild of the father of mid-century design, Frank Lloyd Wright, conceived Usonian homes as pared-down, highly functional, and simple homes for “the people,” rather than the wealthy upper class he usually served.


They are typically small, one-story, and without a garage, basement, or attic, usually L-shaped to cradle a garden or terrace on small, inexpensive lots. They feature the same reverence for native materials and nature as his larger homes, as well as flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs, abundant natural light, and an emphasis on privacy, which is particularly key. “Privacy” was a luxury that only the very well-off could afford in crowded cities. So, Wright’s homes, including the Usonians, are all but closed off on the front, or public side, while the rear of the house, and the private spaces it contains, are widely open to the outdoors.

Lustron Homes

Lustron houses are a unique and innovative type of fabricated home produced by the Lustron Corporation in Columbus, Ohio. Like the Minimum Traditional, they were created to address the postwar housing shortage and the demand for affordable, durable, and easily constructed homes for returning veterans and their families.


What makes them unusual is that they were constructed of steel panels coated with porcelain, which made them durable, low maintenance, and resistant to fire, rot, and termites. They came in a limited choice of colors, including blue, yellow, green, and pink. Though innovative, they did not achieve widespread popularity or commercial success. Production stopped in 1950 and only a few thousand were ever built. In fact, only around 1500 still exist today. However, they are now cherished by homeowners and architectural enthusiasts as a fascinating and distinctive – if short-lived – era in American housing design.

Ranch Homes

Ranch homes exploded in popularity in the 1960s. They are long and low, with shallow-pitched roofs that often extend over wide eaves that emphasize their horizontality and their integration with their natural surroundings.

Rambler Ranch

They are also versatile. Many share one essential element with Minimum Traditional, Usonian, and Lustron homes – they started out small. However, the style can be easily adapted to become what is essentially a single-story mansion; large, expansive, and rambling with a great deal of square footage. In fact, they were known as “Ramblers” before the term Ranch Home became the common term for them.

Split Level Ranch

The Split-Level Ranch is a close cousin. They feature multilevel designs, usually with a main level that contains an entry, living room, dining area, and kitchen, with the upper housing bedrooms and bathrooms, and the lower a family room, perhaps another bedroom or two, and often access to the garage, which is itself part of the house. Both styles feature modest exteriors, with simple lines, minimal ornamentation, and a focus on functionality and practicality.

Eichler and Alexander Homes

Found mostly in California, Eichler homes were created to provide stylish, affordable homes for middle-class families. They utilized prefabricated construction techniques and standardized components, which helped reduce construction costs and make them more accessible to a wider range of buyers.


Features of Eichler homes include exposed post and beam ceilings, cork or terrazzo flooring, and central atriums, along with outdoor patios, courtyards, and gardens that fully connect the house and landscape. Blurring interior and exterior spaces was easily achieved in warm, dry California. They were often built as part of larger planned communities or subdivisions, and the harmony of design throughout those areas created a sense of community and connection, which was also achieved through publicly accessible green spaces, pedestrian pathways, and communal amenities such as parks, swimming pools, and community centers.


Conceptually related to Eichler Homes, Alexander homes in Palm Springs feature distinctive butterfly or slanted roof lines, with exaggerated gables. The Alexander Construction Company was also known for innovative construction techniques, which allowed for the rapid and efficient assembly of prefabricated components on-site. Like Eichler Homes, this helped lower building costs and accelerated construction time, which increased availability and lowered costs.

Space Age Homes

Mid-Century modern reaches something of an apex with Space Age houses. Influenced by the futuristic and technological advancements of the mid-20th century, particularly the Space Age era that began with the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and continued through the 1960s, these homes embraced the era’s optimism, innovation, and fascination with space exploration.

Space Age

Overall, mid-century Space Age houses are celebrated for their bold and forward-thinking design, as well as their reflection on the cultural and technological advancements of the time. While relatively rare, Space Age houses continue to capture the imagination of architects, designers, and enthusiasts today.

A Shared Legacy

Mid-Century homes, despite their diverse architectural styles and designs, share several common characteristics that reflect the cultural and societal shifts of the post-World War II era. They emerged during a period of unprecedented prosperity, population growth, technological advancement, and innovations in housing design and construction.

Whether it’s the sleek simplicity of “classic” Mid-Century modern, the affordability and efficiency of minimum traditional houses, or the fantastical design of Space Age residences, these homes all embody the ideals of progress, accessibility, and modern living. From open floor plans and integration with nature to a focus on simplicity and functionality, Mid-Century homes serve as symbols of a transformative era in American architecture that is still widely embraced and celebrated today.

Throughout the Kansas City metro, you can find a variety of striking mid-century modern homes, if you know where to look! Whether buying, selling, or remodeling one of these architectural gems, talk to Ashley Kendrick, KC’s best resource for all things mid-century modern! Click here to send her a message online!