Realtor.com's Lisa Johnson Mandell says that while the words mid-century modern may conjure up images of the 1950s, but there's more to mid-century modern design than just a sunken living room. The design style emerged in the mid-1940s after World War II, and lasted until the 1980s, producing many notable architects in the process, including Philip Johnson, John Lautner, Rudolph Schindler, and Richard Neutra. Mandell highlights some elements of the style:

Flat planes and geometric lines: The exterior walls are usually unembellished with round columns, elaborate porches, or bay windows. They are smooth and flat, often accented by geometrically shaped windows. In warmer climates, where snow buildup is not an issue, it’s common for roofs to be flat.

Large windows and walls of glass: The popularity of the sliding glass door and the floor-to-ceiling window originated in the Mid-Century Modern era. They were built in an effort to integrate outdoor nature with indoor living. Houses were designed with the goal being to make sure as many rooms as possible had expansive outdoor views. At the time, this was considered not only aesthetically pleasing but advantageous to one’s health as well.

Open floor plans: In earlier eras, rooms tended to be small in order to promote privacy. But the postwar era of peace and love went hand in hand with more common space. By integrating fewer walls and more open spaces into the floor plan, Mid-Century Modern style encouraged families to share space and feel more engaged with one another.

Varied elevations: Large, open, geometric spaces were broken up with a few small steps, rather than entire stories and staircases. The split-level design and the sunken living room were ways to create rooms without walls. Smooth, unadorned built-in cabinets of varying heights gave the same effect and provided storage.

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