Mid-Century Modern it ain't-

Home improvement Q&A, pictures and news fro Mid Century Modern Homes and Houses(NOT for Real Estate)

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JGropp
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Mid-Century Modern it ain't-

Postby JGropp » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:15 pm

Mid-Century Modern it ain't- this builder special is listed for $539,900. Designwise it lacks quite a bit- although there's plenty of space.
It's really too bad the same amount of materials weren't better employed to make a more attractive home. Our young families deserve
better. It's not only the mortgage business that's in trouble, it's the whole homebuilding scene. I'd like to see some discussion on this
by LottaLiving-ites. After all, our franchise is promoting as well as preserving good home design- especially Mid-Century Modern. Jerry

Image
Note all the so-called
"Craftsman" touches-
fake stone, tapered cols.
and the scrawny shutters.

Image
Last edited by JGropp on Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby scowsa » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:32 pm

I'd like to see some discussion on this by LottaLiving-ites


Why?
What's the point of starting a thread about homes that are obviously not, and never intended to be, not MCM.
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how far design has regressed-

Postby JGropp » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:39 pm

For one thing, to call attention to how
far home design has regressed. Jerry-

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Postby Joe » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:04 pm

building materials are cheap. builders and buyers are focused on materials and finishes, not design. it's all about "what it looks like," rather than how is functions.

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Postby JGropp » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:44 pm

Joe wrote:building materials are cheap.
builders and buyers are focused on materials
and finishes, not design. it's all about "what it
looks like," rather than how it functions.


And unfortunately, the public has been
mis-educated as to what looks good. And
the design of spec houses is usually done
by the builder who is not design focused-
as you say- which is unfortunate. Jerry-

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Postby ch » Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:24 am

Personally, I'd like to know where the current fascination with multiple gables and vast rooflines began. Never before has so much useless square footage been so coveted.

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Postby robbhouston » Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:59 am

Personally, I'd like to know where the current fascination with multiple gables and vast rooflines began. Never before has so much useless square footage been so coveted.


I think it's just another attempt to make a 3-4 bedroom home look like a sprawling mansion...

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Image

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a "Bellevue Chateau"-

Postby JGropp » Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:31 am

CH wrote:Personally, I'd like to know where the current fascination with multiple gables and vast rooflines began. Never before has so much useless square footage been so coveted.

Image


Out here, this is called a "Bellevue Chateau".
The housing downturn may make these rare-
(one hopes!) Jerry

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And another

Postby modfan » Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:57 am

misguided bit on styles I think

They install shutters (real or decorative) and put a planter or pot shelf
right under the window. Seems incorrect as if the shutters were functional and you put a pot on the shelf it would probably get knocked off or the plants in the planter box would obstruct the shutters from closing.

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Postby tomb » Sat Oct 18, 2008 4:02 am

CH wrote:Personally, I'd like to know where the current fascination with multiple gables and vast rooflines began.


I've thought about this before, and the only thing i can think of is the roofing industry must be behind promoting this "trend". Can you imagine what it will cost to re-do some of these roofs in 25-30 years? not to mention all the leaks in the valleys in these wonders thrown together in a few short days...

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It's

Postby modfan » Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:36 am

Because this is what's seen as 'Prestigious' and 'Look I've Got Money' in Vulgaria.

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I want history Now

Postby Bosa Nova » Sat Oct 18, 2008 7:41 am

It is my belief that multi-faceted roofs were intended to make new tract housing resemble older established neighborhoods where each house had been altered over a long period of time.


Each alteration or addition changed the appearance of the house from the street. The effect created unique neighborhoods from what was originally a street of identical houses.

If you look at the original photos of Levittown and compare them with photos 20 or 30 years later, I think this is what builders have been trying to replicate for the past 25 or so years.

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Postby Perks » Sat Oct 18, 2008 11:00 am

Before we go nuts on neo-traditionally styled houses, we have to bear in mind that modern architecture has never truly been "mainstream." As many truly modern homes were built during the height of modernism, there were countless times as many traditionally-styled homes being constructed at the same time.

Styles change, and the fact is that the majority of people do not care to be armchair architects. A home is not always a fashion statement.

I have to admit, then, that I'm not so soured on today's design styles in particular (not my cup of tea, but to each his own). What does perturb me, though, is the idea that big is good, and huge is even better. This fallacious mentality has led to the destruction of countless smaller, architecturally worthy houses over the years, and this is the beast I think we need to tame in order to save what's left.
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Postby Izzy » Sun Oct 19, 2008 8:47 am

i agree with Perks. it is the sizes of these homes that is so objectionable to me. I have a few friends who live in new construction and they are not the least bit handy (at all) (not at all, believe me you don't want these two owning an older home...) so it is a good option for them. Their home is probably about 2300 sq. ft so it is not one of the larger ones though. Too bad there isn't more choice for people like them. Its not even the cul-de-sac idea i object to, it is the quality of construction.
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and

Postby modfan » Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:14 am

With the 'change' in the real estate market, I actually read that KB would be building smaller homes in particular San Bernardino County, but I guess small in now the lower 1800's-2000's sf range-good sized but not huge now we'll see if that space is used wisely.

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Postby Perks » Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:13 pm

Modfan, I'm finally starting to see a resurgence of construction in the 1200-1300 square foot starter home range. KB Home does seem to be leading the way, at least in the really depressed areas like the Antelope and Victor Valleys. I was touring a tract out in Victorville, and was amazed to see prices back in the mid-$100k ranges. What amazed me most of all was that these communities were PACKED with interested buyers.

Of course, they're still about as uninspired and poorly built as the bigger homes, but at least we're starting to see some areas bucking trend toward bigger and more bloated houses. Big homes certainly aren't going away, but as energy and transportation costs rise, I do think we're going to see fewer and fewer McMansions in favor of more sustainable urban planning and architectural design. (Heck, even Orange County is seeing a booming "urban living" market these days.)
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Indeed

Postby modfan » Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:50 am

1300 sf for 3/2 you can have a pretty decent house for that size.

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Postby N.U.Mod » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:18 am

I totally agree that this is a worthwhile discussion. Modernism is not merely an aesthetic visual style. It is an approach, a lifestyle that is as much visual as it is a "feeling". (Maybe we should have a discussion about what that feeling is? I think it is an individual thing) Anyway, I feel that the "approach" of modernism solves many of the problems that people are experiencing in today's building industry, even though the aesthetics do not appeal to everyone.

I was so excited when I got into the work of Sarah Susanka and the "Not So Big House" phenomena. Although much of her style is more craftsman than Modernism it definitely has a modernist edge and the spirit is very much in the same vein with the interior attention to detail and materials. Is anyone familiar with her work and if she has been able to make any noise in the building industry in any particular region?

I live in North Eastern Ohio now but am a transplant from the Wash Metro area - McMansion capital of the US! I think one of the things that gets to me is that it seems that no actual designers are involved in the development of these homes. The designs are developed by construction-minded as opposed to design-minded individuals. And believe it or not, I believe that many of the trends have come from the more contemporary minded consumer - open plans,"cathedral" ceilings, great room concepts. Unfortunately, there is a public perception that modern is "cold" so the McMansion is the answer to open plan in acceptable form for society. But I
would like to "high five" Perks on this bigger is not better concept. Too many times I had friends that would buy these houses with their last dime and not have a cent left to actually fill those rooms with anything. So you have this home style that employs contemporary concepts without the"coldness" that ends up feeling "cold" because it is essentially empty!

Aside from the exterior massing of these dwellings, another pitfall of building homes that are more construction-minded than design-minded is the fact that "how" we live is not a major consideration. There has to be a balance of economy and function and design. I have seen more odd rooms in these homes that are very large but because of the placement of various windows, vents and returns, outlets, thermostats, doors, light fixtures, etc. it is almost impossible to come up with a seating arrangement that makes sense.

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Postby jakabedy » Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:48 pm

N.U.Mod wrote: . . . I have seen more odd rooms in these homes that are very large but because of the placement of various windows, vents and returns, outlets, thermostats, doors, light fixtures, etc. it is almost impossible to come up with a seating arrangement that makes sense.


Exactly. Some friends just built a home with 2,000+ square feet, 3/2, 2-car garage. Garden home on a slab on a cul-de-sac lot. I remain shocked at the lack of thought put into the interior arrangement of the rooms. The two spare bedrooms are tiny, but usable, even though one has a corner chopped off to allow for a hallway. There is a "room" adjacent to the dining room -- sort of the walk-through area toward the family room/kitchen/dining nook in the back of the house -- for which I see no practical use. It is about 15' x 8', and open to the walk-through area on one long side. They actually have a second dining room table in there. I'm thinking it could be built out with bookshelves and desk area, but who wants all that exposed as folks walk through your home?

Every time DH and I go over there we are happy for our friends, because they love the house (they came from a 3-story center-hall colonial). But we are never happier than when we get back to our own wood and glass box in the woods.
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Postby Izzy » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:16 am

This whole mortgage/economy mess is such a sad and complicated mess.
Reality is hitting home for people in my own family who live in one of these "Bellevue Chataus" (they actually live in Bellevue)
Yet they are still driving around in their Escalade and heating 4000 sq ft because at the moment they have no way out from under it. The fact that their in real estate makes it all the worse.
It is my hope that it forces everyone to "reduce, reuse, recycle"
Reduce, minimize, edit their stuff, sell off, reuse old homes and buildings and see the beauty in doing so. I know its not a new concept but its one that many in these homes have really yet to grasp.
Knock em down, use the scraps to build smaller, more useabe space. Space that feeds the soul and doesnt eat it!
In my family alone, this 70yearold plus husband and wife are already set on selling, downsizing, moving to a small town and buying a small home where they can live out their lives without the sickening pressures of escalades, burberry scarves, having the most christmas lights up....
It will be a hard road to the bottom but i think at the bottom is where we can find a new beginning that truly is green and not just the next celebrity hype.
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Postby Perks » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:21 am

wsobchak wrote:...the majority of the housing inventory built in the last eight years CAN NEVER BE SOLD AGAIN.

Anything will sell, at the right price. But it will nonetheless a long time before ghost-town tracts like this one will be completed and occupied.

My own belief is that many--though certainly not all--buyers were every bit as culpable (read: greedy) as the mortgage brokers, banks, local/state/federal governments/regulators, et al., in the latest real estate frenzy.

Today's new homes are very heavily market-researched so that the homes will sell most quickly and to avoid developers taking unnecessary and potentially costly risks. Sure, not everyone likes vanilla, but vanilla's going to sell faster than other flavors. So, builders have a pretty keen grasp on what the "average" new home buyer will be interested in. (As an aside, if anyone ever gets a chance to be on a homebuilder's focus group, it's a rather fascinating experience.)

As far as the ballooning of house sizes, that sort of thing has been going on for decades. But the acceleration definitely took an upswing as a result of consumerism and government policies (Robert Samuelson wrote a pretty good article on this in the Washington Post a few years ago). Certainly this trend can't continue forever, and historically, economic downturns have put the brakes on this upswing, as confirmed by the Wall Street Journal as early as September 2007, barely a few months after the market ground to a halt. (I can dig out the annual statistics if any other die-hard nerds want to know.)

Much like the U.S. auto industry, eventually the housing industry will need to do some soul-searching about whether big, clunky houses are ideal, and like most major bouts of trouble for the automakers, it will be a result of economic instability and energy costs.

It is also worth pointing out an average-sized (2400-square foot) new house is still going to be more energy-efficient than my much smaller (1350-square foot), 52-year old house...although we have to factor in how much unnecessary land, material, and energy expenditure is involved in building a single-family detached home of that size. Imagine how much greener we would be if people actually realized how much difference a few very small sacrifices actually make.

But I'm still not getting rid of my Hemi. :wink:
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Postby eggMCMuffin » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:37 am

Well said with regard to pricing-- all of the houses on the market, no matter how ugly, oversized, or inneficient, will eventually sell for a price the market will bear.

Anecdotally, I've recently noticed an uptick in the marketing of older (late 90's early 00's) large SUVs to lower income buyers, typically including the use of low price "specials" and special terms for those with distressed credit. Now that the vehicles are no longer in vogue, you start to see the dealerships unload them on consumers who need an inexpensive vehicle and aren't in a position to be picky with regard to aesthetics and long-term costs.

My point is that I expect to see a similar trend with regard to some of the large cheaply constructed homes on the market over the next few years-- particularly in cases where big tracts of them were built far from city centers with the thinking that the infrastructure required for a real community would sort-of "show up" once everyone moved in. You'll know the trend away from pricing based on size is starting when you call your realtor to talk about a proper valuation for your home, and they can muster a better measure than some half-hearted attempt at averaging the "comps" to get a "price per square foot".

As buyer/sellers, I think many of us have experienced what a sham this pricing method has becvome over the last few years... Hopefully soon, the downturn will cause some more logical measures of value to gain popularity and legitimacy among the real estate community*. It would be high time.


*to be clear, I'm referring to the "community" in an aggregate sense here. There are agents and brokers who get it, and I would never want to be perceived as painting everyone in an industry with one unfavorable brush-- that's never fair.
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really liked

Postby JGropp » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:54 am

I really liked the preceding piece- especially-
"You are born modern, you do not become so".
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Postby eggMCMuffin » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:23 am

Thanks-- that last bit is a Jean Baudrillard quote...
You are born modern, you do not become so.

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Postby HappyBunny » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:53 pm

And perhaps with McMansions going out of vogue, those of us who do not live in one can find furniture that is of a scale that will fit into a small house or apartment, without buying something old (which is cool, of course!). But the ridiculously sized couches and chairs dont fit in a normally-sized house! The gross distortion of scale also spread to the furniture industry, as normal-sized chairs and couches were lost in such vast spaces.

People have bought the whole idea of *needing* more "prestigious" and "exclusive" homes for years. When I moved to Southern California from Cleveland 10 years ago, I was shocked at the gated community concept--this does not exist everywhere! The whole idea of walling oneself off from the riffraff was so repugnant to me. And of course the houses were hideous monstrosities that just screamed *Look at how important I am! Look how much money I have! You want to be me!*

I love whoever called it "Vulgaria" [snicker]

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Postby DFWmidmodfan » Sat Dec 27, 2008 8:31 am

Perks wrote:
wsobchak wrote:Much like the U.S. auto industry, eventually the housing industry will need to do some soul-searching about whether big, clunky houses are ideal, and like most major bouts of trouble for the automakers, it will be a result of economic instability and energy costs.

It is also worth pointing out an average-sized (2400-square foot) new house is still going to be more energy-efficient than my much smaller (1350-square foot), 52-year old house...although we have to factor in how much unnecessary land, material, and energy expenditure is involved in building a single-family detached home of that size. Imagine how much greener we would be if people actually realized how much difference a few very small sacrifices actually make.


One of my interests, in addition to MCM architecture, is studying how existing houses (of whatever architectural style) interact with their environment, be it the interior or exterior, and how this relates to energy consumption and human comfort. The reality is that there is no free thermodynamic lunch; the more real estate one encloses using average construction methods, the more energy will be needed to keep that real estate comfortable, fresh, clean, and lit.

My own MCM house, a single story structure built in 1959, was not the most energy efficient structure when we bought it last year. We've added insulation and radiant barrier, and have attempted to make the ceiling adjoining the attic much more airtight than it was upon move-in. We've seen modest improvements in comfort and energy costs, but the two original single pane aluminum frame sliding glass doors leak like a sieve, and the rather large glass area in the living room present a rather large heat sink for our furnace to overcome. Nevertheless, our furnace does not run all out on the coldest days, and on the hottest days, the a/c still cycles, and maintains target temperature and humidity levels.

Through all this I've learned about heat transfer and air movement inside and outside of a dwelling. I imagine once we install more energy efficient patio doors our own comfort levels in those rooms will ratchet upward significantly. Looking at the average two story McMansion built in our area, I can only imagine the thermodynamics going on there, such as stack effect, large areas of unshaded glazing exposed either to high solar gain in summer or buffeted by the coldest winds of winter, etc. The increased ceiling height requirement in these homes not only aggravate the two examples given, but also increase the surface area of the structure available for heat transfer, along with increasing interior cubic foot volume of air that must be sufficiently exchanged to overcome the heat gain or loss through the structure, requiring larger HVAC equipment for the task.

The increased size of a McMansion's interior volume not only require greater heating and cooling needs, but increased demand for lighting. The most difficult aspect of lighting an interior naturally via windows is to get sufficient light deeper into the interior, as it tends to concentrate around the point of entry (window) and fall off the further one is away from the source. What I see in many McMansion styles is an increased amount of glazing throughout not only the length, but the height of a wall, which brings light in from a higher source. This may help light the deeper interior regions of the house, but at a heat transfer cost. Glazing is the weakest link in a wall's ability to resist heat transfer. The more glazing, the less ability the wall has to buffer extremes in temperature on either side of it.

Many McMansions, as well as MCM's, pierce their ceilings with recessed "can" lights, which unless they are the airtight "IC" model, leak air into the attic like crazy, aggravating what is known as "stack effect", the natural tendency for air to rise in a structure due to becoming less dense when it is heated. Any air that exhausts into the attic from the house through ceiling penetrations must be made up from lower regions...and there are typically many gaps in even current day building envelope construction methods for this to occur.

I could go on and on...each house is a case by case basis regarding the amount of energy it consumes and what level of comfort it can attain for its occupants. Nevertheless on an averaging scale I'd say a modestly built MCM with thermal improvements can be positioned to outperform a recently built McMansion that is as-is...there may be some MCM's as-is that can already do it, being they're smaller by volume and do not have excessive glazing to solid wall ratios. I would further state that for future housing constructions, a house of modern design, modestly sized and adapted to perform optimally for its climate, would outright smoke a McMansion on many fronts, be they energy efficiency, comfort, architectural delight, satisfaction of ownership, etc.
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Postby Perks » Fri Jan 30, 2009 6:47 pm

In Recession, Home Builders Reduce Square Footage

Source: USA TODAY
Publication date: January 9, 2009
By Wendy Koch

The American dream is shrinking. For the first time in at least a decade, builders are substantially reducing the size of new houses.

"We're trending toward smaller homes," says Gopal Ahluwalia, director of research for the National Association of Home Builders. He says growth in the average size of new single-family homes, which went from 1,750 square feet in 1978 to 2,479 in 2007, is starting to reverse.

His analysis of Census data shows that homes started in the third quarter of 2008 averaged 2,438 square feet, down from 2,629 square feet in the second quarter. Ahluwalia, who began the quarterly analysis in 1999, says there have been slight dips before, but the latest drop was much steeper and is likely to hold even after the economy recovers.

In a survey of builders this month, his group found that 89% are building or planning smaller homes than they had been.

Kermit Baker, chief economist of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), also sees the shift toward smaller houses. He says it was obvious with high-end buyers even before the economic downturn and he expects it to continue with them.

In a survey last April, the AIA found twice as many architects reporting a size decline rather than an increase. In 2006, the reverse was true.

"Affordability is a major problem," Ahluwalia says, and building smaller usually means cheaper. Also, he says, people are realizing as household size shrinks that they don't need big homes.

Baker says there is less incentive to buy a bigger, more expensive home as the economy weakens, home prices fall and energy costs remain a concern. He says people are less likely to see a home as a good investment.

Even high-end buyers, Baker says, are showing more interest in smaller, better-crafted homes.

"People don't want to be wasteful," says JD Callander of Weichert Realtors. She says they are concerned about utility costs and cleaning requirements.

Clients used to like the status of a big home, she says, but "those days are gone."

(c) Copyright 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
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Postby 5280mod » Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:06 pm

Jerry, I think you're preaching to the choir.

The spirit of Lotta Livin' is not to bash the obvious architectural atrocities out there. That's like shooting fish in a barrel...and, gosh, it goes against the "Pleasantville" credo we try to uphold.
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The spirit of Lotta Livin'-

Postby JGropp » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:00 am

5280mod wrote:Jerry, I think you're preaching to the choir.

The spirit of Lotta Livin' is not to bash the obvious architectural
atrocities out there. That's like shooting fish in a barrel...and,
gosh, it goes against the "Pleasantville" credo we try to uphold.


As for me, "The spirit of Lotta Livin'" should be to try to improve
things.
Too many of our houses are mindless non-designs. Jerry

Jerry Gropp Architect AIA PS


7620 SE 72nd St., Mercer Isl. WA

98040 (206)612-7367

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JGropp2@AOL.com

WebSite:

http://jgropp2.googlepages.com/alterationsanadditions

KevinEP
Modern Master
Posts: 162
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:40 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

I gotta say...

Postby KevinEP » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:45 am

they get a lot worse than the original Craftsman Revival example.


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