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Home Building Design Through the Ages

October 24, 2019

Owning your own home has always been the very definition of the American dream. But the look of that home has varied over the years based on architectural trends, social and political movements, and technological innovation. Curious just how much it’s changed? Step on up into our virtual time machine for a look at how American homes have evolved over the past 70 years.

1950s — Suburban Ranch and Cape Cod Homes

As soldiers returned from World War II, more Americans were moving to the suburbs, where ranch-style and Cape Cod homes replaced the American Craftsman style home that was popular earlier in the century. In this prosperous time for middle-class families, 1950s homes were marked by bigger backyards, large picture windows, and garages. Although these suburban homes were more uniform and utilitarian than the opulent homes of previous decades, ’50s homes started the trend of the quintessential suburban American houses that we still associate with home today. 

1960s — Modernism and Mid-century

Thanks to the space race and new technologies on the horizon, architecture during the 1960s was all about modernism and the future. Modernist homes were especially influenced by space exploration, utilizing features such as flat roofs, columns, and geometric designs. These abstract and ornamental ideas were a “form over function” twist on previously simple and utilitarian designs. The mid-century movement was heavy on Scandinavian influence, featuring clean designs, sliding glass doors, and split-level rooms.

1970s — Rugged Naturalism

The 1970s popularized today’s open-plan living style. Living rooms were commonly designed on stepped levels, which created natural zones for different purposes. The Brady Bunch house is a perfect example with its vaulted ceilings, sunken living room, and floating staircase. Floor-to-ceiling fireplaces were also a groovy hit, especially when constructed from rough-hewed stone. 

1980s — Postmodern Opulence

Defined by postmodern architecture, the 1980s reacted against the stuffy, rule-informed modernism of previous decades. Fueled by the influx of exciting new technologies — including the first personal home computer — 1980s style was marked by a sense of lavishness of a society that was hungry for innovation. Popular home features included finished basements, cathedral ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and skylights. 

1990s — Back to Basics

After the flash of the ’80s, the ’90s were all about a return to the basics. The chaos and instability of the recession sparked the need for a serene and comfortable environment at home. Designs were all about a pared-down earthiness, with functional and traditional architecture ruling the decade, even as the McMansion craze increased home sizes during the late ’90s. Throughout the decade, wood floors and interiors were a trend, along with primary colors, knotty pine furniture, and a general distressed look in design.

2000s — Super-Sized Scale

As the new millennium began, the McMansion craze officially took hold, and these larger-than-ever homes seemed to prefer size before design or function. Even the once-modest suburban home now featured dormers, columns, master suites with dressing rooms and spa baths, infinity pools, and even multiple or extra-wide garages to accommodate various cars or SUVs. 

2010s — Smart Simplicity

The homes of our current decade strike a curious balance. On one hand, they’re dominated by smart technology. From music and lighting to heating and cooling, security, and kitchen tasks, nearly everything in our homes today can be controlled via Wi-Fi on a personal device. On the other hand, architectural and home design favors a modern simplicity, with white walls and cabinets, stainless steel, and sleek appliances to replace bulkier previous versions. Open floor plans still rule most home design today, and even tiny homes were a trend that haven’t slowed down, proving that we can love our homes no matter the size, and that quality craftsmanship and personal taste should always take priority. 

2020s — Customized Sustainability

As we prepare to enter a new decade, the specific architectural trends ahead are still anyone’s guess. Still, considering the state of innovation, it’s very likely that 3D printing will become more mainstream and be a chief way to personalize everything from home decor to full-scale home design for some. And with the weight of our current climate crisis, we can only hope that more and more homeowners will turn to solar technology and alternative sources of energy to power their homes, making the 2020s our most responsible years in home design and architecture yet. 
Love the open floor plans of the 1970s and 2010s? Hate the overdone opulence of 2000s McMansion homes? At Paradisa Homes, we’re new-home builders who want to help bring your unique vision of a dream home to life, no matter what your preferred aesthetic style. Contact us today to learn how our architects and designers can help you build the kind of place you’ll be proud to call home.