Curb Appeal Tips for Midcentury Modern Homes

Sometimes doing less makes more of a statement. Learn how to bring out the best in your midcentury modern home with these low-key landscaping and home maintenance tips.

Eichler Home with Bamboo Garden

When it comes to boosting the curb appeal of your midcentury modern home, less is more. The design aesthetic for this period of architecture (1945-1965) is best described as minimalist with clean lines, flat or gabled roofs, dramatic edges and large picture windows. Exteriors were typically constructed from natural stone such as unpolished marble and granite, concrete block painted white, red brick and finally redwoods. 

If you are currently residing in a MCM or a house flipper, beware that there are lots of ways to devalue the home by messing with its exterior and thereby reducing the home’s overall appeal. 

Don't Hide the Home's Architecture: “The worst possible thing you can do to a midcentury modern home’s exterior is paint over the original stone or put up vinyl siding or stucco over the wood,” said veteran real estate agent Eric Benjamin of Keller Williams Realty, Inc. in Atlanta. “And if you really want to see your curb appeal take a nosedive, replace the front door with something ornate, or tear out those great windows and stick in paned ones.” 

Enthusiasts of the period will tell you that other serious sins include cutting down the fascia and removing original down spouts and installing gutters; installing picket or wrought iron fences; covering up the carport; painting over redwood; enclosing an outdoor courtyard to create another room; destroying decorative concrete block walls. 

“If you must paint the exterior, do it in a midcentury monotone color with an accent color for the front door, something bright and strong, such as a rich yellow or turquoise,” said Benjamin. “Use some pottery that matches the accent color around the front door. Swapping the mailbox to something hip is a cheap way to announce the house as prospective buyers pull up.”

Shop Around for Accessories: Skimping on exterior accessories or buying new and shiny “off the rack” items can also diminish the return of the midcentury modern cool curb factor. Patience, grasshopper. Take your time and look around for the items that suit your home the best. Etsy, eBay, Craigslist and garage sales are great places to find reasonably priced items such as patio furniture, doors and lighting fixtures. If your town has a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, tell them what you’re looking for and chances are they’ll find it for you. 

“We get so many cool items every week that it is difficult to keep up,” Bobby Brabant of Highland Row Antiques in Atlanta told FrontDoor. “We get a lot of great midcentury wrought iron outdoor seating and even architectural pieces like sconces. You just can’t find stuff that is so well made anymore. It’s worth it to shop around.”

Great national resources include Radius Design USA and Box Design USA for mailboxes, Crestview Doors and Orco Block Company for decorative concrete blocks. 

Go Light on Landscaping: In terms of landscaping, again, think minimal; think sustainable. The midcentury modern design philosophy was to be in harmony with the outside. Thomas Porter of Everything Outdoors, a landscaping firm in Atlanta, recommends using plants indigenous to your region. 

“Here in the south I like using hearty plants such as the Nellie Stevens holly,” says Porter. “The great thing about them is you can frame them and shape the corners, which definitely complements a midcentury modern home.”

And since Atlanta is known for its azaleas, Porter says that they often use those for a pop of color, as well as pink and white dogwoods and yellow bell forsythias.

Fixing up a midcentury modern home can be a lot of fun, searching for accessories and period pieces. The exterior of the home should not be garish, however. We know it’s tempting to stick a pink flamingo or two in your front lawn. If you live in Miami, we might give you a pass.

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