Minimalism and other Mid Century Modern components

Why is that minimalism seems to play well in other MCM components?

Mid Century Modern landscapes seem simple. So, why is that minimalism seems to play so well in other MCM components but so many times, when it comes to landscaping, instead of “spartan” and “clean” it comes off as barren and bleak? Simple doesn’t have to be boring and with a little imagination, the same principles that apply to the rest of your MCM home can be used to transform your desert wasteland into a Mid Century Modern Landscape oasis.
Here are a few iconic elements from Mid Century designers of the past and present that you can incorporate into your home’s landscaping to bring it into the twenty-first century without discarding its historic roots.

Straighten your walkways

While curves can definitely play a part, especially as an echo to the house’s architecture, Mid Century design is about cutting away the clutter and exposing simplicity. I like meandering paths as much as the next guy, but if your winding walkways are distracting, rather than harmonizing with the house, it may be time to consider a change.

  • Straight doesn’t have to mean boring. Many Mid Century Modern landscapes are broken up with a system of interconnecting paths, which each lead to an interesting destination. Take a cue from your house, even angles can be incorporated.

  • Experiment with width as well. Just like the thickness of a line on canvas, or in the design of a structure, can change everything, wider or narrower sidewalks and drives can completely alter a landscape.

  • Add color, or texture for some variety. Sticking with your limited pallet, so as not to relinquish sophistication, experiment with coloring your concrete walkways, or adding bands of grass, or gravel, in between sections.


Plants can be sculptural

Strong sculptural shapes are a big part of the attraction of Mid Century Design, especially as contrasting elements. Why limit this to the structure or “art”? Organic forms, or “softscape” elements can add drama and lend their shapes as well.

  • Large, asymmetrical trees and plants can create just the right counterpoint to hard geometry. Choose your plants for compatibility as well as look. Native, or region friendly species typically mean less maintenance.

  • Repetitive elements can be echoed with softscape. Tall windows, or columns can appear hard. Pair them with a softer plant form that echoes their placement or pattern to reinforce the design, while providing added interest.

  • Layering soft scape does not have to mean fields of flowers. By playing with varying heights, plant elements can help to direct the eye to architecture and provide framing, or contrast when properly placed.

Incorporate the elements

Fountains and ponds have been a traditional element in landscaping and architecture since ancient times. In Mid Century Modern landscapes, water, wind and fire can all be incorporated to great effect.

  • Water can be still and calming, as in the case of reflecting pools, or it can provide a sense of motion in streams, waterfalls and fountains. Use it to complement the architecture by reinforcing the overall feel, or providing a contrast.

  • Fire adds drama wherever we find it. Modern technologies make this easier than ever. From custom fire pits, to gas light fixtures, to gas jets that bubble up out of your water elements, adding fire creates a landscape that is unforgettable.

  • Wind can be a bit ethereal and hard to incorporate. Choose plants that show its movement, or add sculptures that move with the breeze to add motion and incorporate your landscape into the environment that surrounds it.

Whatever you choose, don’t let anyone’s rules restrict you from trying things you like. Staying true to the spirit of Mid Century Modern design, experiment with your landscape. Keep elements you like and discard those you don’t. There is a difference between imitating someone else’s design and being inspired.

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