Editor's Note: What is modern anyways? Modern is a style, modern is a mindset, modern is a way of life. WMM contributing writer and style editor Melissa Fox answers that question for her family in their most recent quest for a comfortable family home. pvp
My husband and I have lived in more than five dwellings in four cities, in a classic cape cod in South Bend, IN and an historic four square in Heritage Hill and a terraced home in London on the edge of Wimbledon Common. We have also lived in a split level modern and a traditional two story family home, and are on the verge of updating a small 1940’s tudor style home.
One might think our taste in home architecture has varied greatly over time, that we had a modern phase and a craftsman phase, but I would argue that we have always been drawn to modern, that some element of each of our homes has read modern to my sense of what modern living is. For example, our first home, a traditional two-story built in the late 1970’s was stretched across the lot, had an attached garage, and large windows on the front and back of the home.
Our historic home, an overgrown four square built in 1910, had been painted entirely white on the interior by the previous owners, and so the lines of the home stood out as square and modern, in the same way the Frank Llyod Wright home a block away reads modern, though it was built in the same year. Of course our one true modern, a split level ranch, had all those elements one is looking for when shopping for a modern home, lots of glass, indoor-outdoor living, large open rooms, simple but fine detailing, exposed beams, and loads of closet space.
Across the board the element that has linked our homes in terms of style and feeling has been light, large windows and bright sunny rooms, views of the outdoors and easy access to the yard. Also decor, I hesitate to use the words interior design as I’m not a professional, but our taste in furniture and design has always leaned toward modern.
This is all to say that in West Michigan and probably in many cities around the country, where mid century homes are hard to come by, in any price range, one can love modern design and achieve that feeling of modern, without having a modern home.
Take the little tudor style home we ended up with. We were looking for a home that needed some work. Also, we weren’t looking for a big home, after moving from our large historic home to the smaller split level and even smaller terraced home in London, we have learned to live smaller and simpler, and rather enjoy it. Plus, what I loved about our place in London was how old it was and yet how modern it felt, that combination of old and new unfolds, for me anyway, into the ultimate clean and cozy kind of living. And so we were looking for that too, something bright and fresh, but something with a bit of that older house charm.
A small ranch would have worked, though those are also hard to find. So, the little tudor, with its coved ceilings and dormers and niches, fits perfectly with my vision of pulling modern design into an old house, and having it all work.
Modern living is defined as much by style as it is by function, as much by design as it is by ease, and that kind of living can be made in a fantastic mid century home as easily as it can be in a classic ranch or a little cap cod or traditional colonial.