50 Best Midcentury Home Renovations That Honor Their Roots

50 Best Midcentury Home Renovations That Honor Their Roots

By Isabel Scanlon
Saved from demolition, stripped of awkward alterations, and faithfully restored, these rehabbed homes prove how timeless midcentury design can be.

Midcentury homes—built with simple materials and designed around open, flexible spaces with a strong connection to the outdoors—are highly sought after, but often need repairs and modern updates. To point, we’ve rounded up 50 best midcentury renovations that demonstrate how these treasured homes can be adapted for today. Whether you’re searching for inspiration for your own midcentury remodel or simply a midcentury enthusiast, this guide is sure to spark some ideas.

An Austin Midcentury Welcomes a Discreet Home Office Addition

Designed to comfortably accommodate three to five employees, the 1,000-square-foot home office that Matt Fajkus Architecture has recently built beautifully complements an existing midcentury abode in Austin, Texas.

Located in the suburbs of Reykjavík, this midcentury gem was first designed in the 1960s by Guðmundur Kr. Kristinsson, one of the first postwar architects in Iceland. However, after being sold, the new homeowners determined the property was in need of a thoughtful revamp in order to be a suitable modern home for their growing family.

Having served as her birthplace and childhood home where her parents and grandparents lived, the 1953 apartment that a client asked Brazilian studio Cupertino Arquitetura to renovate was steeped in family history.

Josh and Moeka Lowman of San Francisco branding firm Goldfront reached out to Michael Hennessey Architecture to renovate the interior of their two-story, single-family residence in Diamond Heights, which was built by Eichler in 1965. Michael Hennessey explains, "We struck a balance between the positive, inherent qualities of an Eichler structure with modern improvements that enhance rather than compete with the existing building."

Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embark on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.

After being buried under layers of haphazard renovations, a 1959 Seattle ranch finally reaches its maximum potential. 

In Rancho Mirage, California, a tired 1960s house is completely transformed with new features and materials that blend midcentury charm with contemporary taste.

This 1954 post-and-beam residence in Glendale, California, has undergone a considered renovation by Levitt Halsey Design and award-winning architect David Levitt.

By removing walls, inserting new windows, and utilizing a lighter color palette, Mowery Marsh Architects give this historic home a modern, new look.

This single-family residence in Bloomfield, Michigan, known as the Treehaus, embodies the iconic style of midcentury modernism. Thanks to a thoughtful renovation, this rare dwelling has been restored to its original state of refined elegance.

When architect Nick Martin was hired to rework an art curator’s Hamptons property into a Zen-like getaway from the big city, he took an appropriately holistic view. It’s the beach house that’s got it all: green technology; passive solar design; rich materials; an expansive feeling, despite a petite half-acre corner lot; and a design concept that references its humble beginnings as an off-the-rack kit house.

Villa Engels, the home of the esteemed Belgian modernist Lucien Engels (1928–2016), was falling apart when its second owners bought it in 2013. Yet due to its heritage status, any changes they planned would have to be approved by the provincial preservation office. Engels completed the elongated, cantilevered residence in 1958, the same year he finalized the master plan for Expo ’58, the Brussels World’s Fair that famously featured the Atomium.

An architect immersed in the history of California modernism restored a nondescript Los Angeles ranch house bordering a celebrated midcentury neighborhood. 

Once immortalized by master architectural photographer Julius Shulman and currently being considered as a historic landmark in Los Angeles County, this four-bedroom, two-bath residence was built in 1954 by builder and craftsman Ken McLeod to be his personal home, and in 1964 architect Rufus Turner restored the rear after a fire damaged the living room. 

Jay and Melissa embraced the general configuration of the original house, which was a low, broad home that stretches out horizontally. While they remodeled and renovated the two wings on the sides, the blue sections are original. The cedar and stucco elements were new additions.

In the mid-'50s, modern residential architecture was suspect in the Eastern San Gabriel Valley. The Roberts family requested a ranch house, but Richard Neutra steered his clients towards his vision. Mrs. Roberts wanted a low plaster ceiling throughout the home, which Neutra refused, choosing tongue-and-groove Douglas fir boards instead. He compromised with a plaster ceiling in the living room, pictured above.

San Francisco’s modernists were faced with the issue of building within a firmly established stylistic tradition—think bay windows and gingerbread. Henry Hill’s 1947 renovation of a 1908 Victorian tucked away on an alley in historic Russian Hill provides a remarkable response to the dilemma.

The 1962 single-level home at 1027 Duncan exemplifies Eichler's typical post-and-beam construction.

When a couple fell for the charms of an early 1960s house near Melbourne, they were equally excited by its history as its possibility. And so they tasked Nest Architects with a renovation that would honor its midcentury bones without being an homage to a bygone era.

For their A. Quincy Jones house in Los Angeles, architect Bruce Norelius and his partner, Landis Green, retained and restored core elements, such as the living room’s redwood paneling and concrete-block wall.

As most of the original interior had been gutted and remodeled by previous owners, the surviving design elements were just the bones, including the floor plan, facade, and most of the original framework. The owner used these structural components to heighten the indoor/outdoor quality, while also replacing frosted glass with clear, double-paned glass.

Originally designed in 1957 by SOM partner Roy O. Allen, this four-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Briarcliff Manor has been meticulously restored, while many of its original midcentury design details have been preserved and even emphasized. In fact, much of the design is reminiscent of the work of midcentury luminaries like Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe and Philip Johnson.

Designed by visionary architect Harry Gesner and updated by Griffin Enright, this breezy post-and-beam residence boasts upscale amenities.

Knob Modern, helmed by Amy Beaumont, renovated this 1964 cookie-cutter home in Tempe with an eye toward making the two-bedroom, two-bath home "stand out from the rest."  

The elegant eat-in kitchen is one of the highlights of this Connecticut renovation. It features a center island clad in Carrara marble, sleek custom cabinetry, and high-end appliances from Fisher & Paykel. There is also a skylight which floods the space with natural light.

Danish architect Jesper Pedersen reimagines a Lloyd Ruocco midcentury, putting sustainability at the forefront of the Scandinavian-inspired design.

When current homeowner Joseph Amory purchased 3322 Ocotea Street in 2014, the 1959 residence’s midcentury plan had been corrupted. Undaunted, Amory enlisted In Situ Studio to modernize the 3,400-square-foot dwelling while preserving its midcentury roots. 

In this Tasmanian midcentury, the architects gently reworked the interior layout, replacing a small sitting room and bath/laundry with a new kitchen. The kitchen's wood cabinetry "references the original timber joinery elsewhere," write the architects.

In a Portland home, Risa Boyer of Risa Boyer Architecture led a renovation that would respect the home's original aesthetic and make it easier for the homeowners to entertain.

In 1962, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architect Arthur Witthoefft won the AIA's highest honor for a home he built in the lush woods of Westchester County. Having fended off a developer's wrecking ball, Todd Goddard and Andrew Mandolene went above and beyond to make this manse mint again.

The challenge of renovating an iconic midcentury house is surely a daunting one for any architect, but apply this formula to a Richard Neutra house, and the responsibility rises exponentially. This was the situation for Los Angeles–based architect Peter Grueneisen, founder and principal of Los Angeles–based Nonzero Architecture, who inherited the task of taking on significant updates to an already-altered Neutra—the 1949 Freedman House in Pacific Palisades, California.

Midcentury completists score the ultimate catch: a 1959 post-and-beam fixer-upper in which to showcase their sprawling collection.

A dated midcentury dwelling in Santa Barbara is transformed into a bright, airy abode—perfectly suited for contemporary living.

A 1960s midcentury home in Austin was renovated by local practice Webber + Studio, with a second story added while preserving the home’s original character.

In a midcentury home in Victoria, Australia, an interior designer embraces color and a connection to the outdoors.

Built in 1956, this carefully updated 2,032-square-foot home with sweeping views of downtown L.A. is a true California dream, with three bedrooms, two baths, and light-filled living areas that seamlessly flow between indoor and outdoor spaces.

This New York City home is studded with pieces by such famous names as Knoll, Saarinen, and Risom. Deployed throughout the loft, these modern icons at once unify and separate work and life. Like the architecture, they can be read two ways: as recognizably typical office furniture or as prized home-design collectibles.

A design-minded family team with plentiful carpentry experience gives this 1967 abode a modern update while preserving its midcentury charm.

Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, with project manager and lead designer Emily Kudsen Leland at the helm, remade a Portland abode with a crisp paint palette: Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron for the cladding and Venetian Gold for the front door. Landscape design is by Lilyvilla Gardens.

This midcentury renovation literally raised the roof, increasing the interior ceiling height and allowing for the addition of clerestory windows.

Edward Ogosta Architecture renovates and extends a Californian dwelling, creating a breezy, light-filled home for a family of five.

An architectural designer and an artist harnessed the collective power of their design firm to remake a dilapidated mid-century gem into a hillside perch for their family.

This midcentury gem lays in Crestwood Hills, in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, an endangered enclave of midcentury post-and-beam houses designed by A. Quincy Jones and Whitney R. Smith.

High on the east bank of New York's Hudson River, a special midcentury home receives a stunning renovation inspired by the strength of its initial design. 

Architect Janet Bloomberg infused a midcentury kitchen with her 21st-century taste to create a whimsical yet thoughtful new space.

San Francisco–based Michael Hennessey Architecture paid homage to Eichler's affinity for open spaces by reconfiguring the living area on the upper floor and moving the kitchen to organically connect the rooms.

In Los Angeles’s Nichols Canyon, architect Dan Brunn was tasked with renovating a home rich in architectural history, but lacking in modern functionality. 

A wide view of the renovated home situates it as it sits on Austin soil. Where the gentle swoop of the driveway meets the overhanging garage, the home's patio is just visible. A light in the new kitchen window further integrates the home with the neighborhood just beyond it.

This midcentury roofline, set on top of glass clerestories on a transparent central volume, begat the building’s local nickname: Butterfly House.

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