Mid-Century Modern Design Values: Bringing In Nature

Mid-century modern design brought many important aspects of normal life into focus, such as quality family time and entertaining. Beyond that, the influencers of the day found inspiration in the Japanese practices of connecting with nature throughout day-to-day life.

Japanese Influence

Architects and designers admired the Japanese architectural practice of sliding exterior walls to invite nature in. The thought was to substitute the rather exposing feature with expansive windows or glass walls. This satisfied potential buyer’s demands for security (from the elements and otherwise) and introduced them to something they never realized they wanted – a connection with nature. Most mid-century modern homes also featured open floor plans that allowed for views of nature throughout the home by way of these expansive windows or glass walls.

1 Mid-Century Modern Home Bringing in Nature

Beyond glass walls and oversized windows, designers sought to incorporate more natural elements into the homes of the era. Wood grain was embraced and incorporated wherever possible. Exposed wood beam ceilings were coveted, plain wood cabinetry in the kitchen was preferred and wood veneer countertops were perfectly acceptable, if not so much at present. Designers recognized that natural finishes add a sense of warmth and an inviting-feeling to a space, which helped to balance out the sometimes weather-afflicted views of the outdoors that were unavoidable due to the home’s glass exterior.

6 Eichler Atrium

Natural Materials

Bentwood and manipulated wood were particularly popular as mediums for design. The resulting furniture blended something familiar, wood as a design material, with something unique and at times unsettling, art.

2 Mid-Century Modern Kitchen with Wood Cabinets and Walls

Stone was also a common design material, showing up particularly at the fireplace, but also on some exteriors or as landscaping accents. On top of adding drama and depth of color, stones warm up so nicely after soaking up the ambient heat of a fire in the hearth, don’t they?

Natural light was highly prized in mid-century modern design. To state the obvious, the glass exterior walls let in tons of light. In addition, clerestory windows brought in extra sunlight, imitating light filtering through the trees.  We figure that the light streaming in from a full moon must be an extraordinary display to witness.

4 Stone Fireplace

Many MCM homes feature an atrium, a central room in the house exposed to the elements and mostly, if not completely, contained by glass walls. The atrium was often viewable from every room in the house, especially the common areas. The space served as a means for letting in additional natural light but also as a space for exhibiting and enjoying any aspects of nature desired, whether that be sunlight, fresh air, a water feature, sculptural rock or plants. The atrium is a room full of possibilities all leading back to a strong connection with nature.

5 Clerestory Windows

Mid-century modern designers also valued fresh very highly. Windows could often be opened in such a way as to create airflow that could substantially cool a home down during hot days. Glass walls often had a moveable component – a sliding glass door or two.

3 MCM Knoll Bentwood Lounge Chairs

Whether is it by way of bringing more natural light into the space, decorating with warm materials from nature or opening up a whole wall for fresh air, MCM homes brought owners back to their roots. If you’d like to get back in touch with nature in your own harmonious mid-century modern home, please reach out – we’re excited to help you!

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