Know This before Updating an MCM Home

4 min read We aren’t the same people our parents and grandparents were, so we might need to tweak their houses to make sure they work as well for us as they did for their original owners.

Before updating an MCM home, you want to know what has changed in the generations that have passed since those mid-century ranches were constructed.

We aren’t the same people our parents and grandparents were, so we need to tweak their homes a bit to make them facilitate a modern lifestyle.

I hope this episode inspires you to think about updating an MCM home as a holistic project that reaches back to the past, plans for the future and suits the way you want to live right now.

In today’s episode you’ll hear …

  • What some of my Mid Mod Instagram community has done to upgrade their mid mod homes. [02:31]
  • Some people are more interested in preserving their mid-century homes and others want to update them. Learn more about where you fall on the preservation – update spectrum by taking the Mid-Century Style Quiz to find your personal style! [04:50]
  • Kitchens! [06:21]
  • Garages and mudrooms [10:00]
  • Bathrooms [12:01]
  • The secret weapon of a midwestern MCM home … the unfinished basement. [13:44]
  • Common hazards of older homes: Asbestos, Lead and older wiring [16:08]
  • General building technology has also improved. Consider upgrading your windows and improving your insulation any time you are doing other work on an MCM home [17:39]

Listen now on ON:

Apple | Spotify | Stitcher

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Updating an MCM home

Focus on what really matters to you and you’ll end up with a home you love, and avoid having to later regret remuddling errors made to your house.

This is a concept I’ll return to again and again. With the right planning and forethought, you can navigate the complexities of a mid-century remodel and end up with a home that retains its original character and charm, but is freshly tailored to the way you live

As MCM homeowners we CAN accomplish this on our own. You can plan the whole thing yourself, if you’re willing to invest the time, energy, research, and self education. But you don’t have to do it alone. I created the Mid-Century Solutions Package to get you set on the right track with your mid mod remodel. Check it out if you’re planning to update!

Are you restoring or updating an MCM home?

Sometimes you’ll end up making changes that are exactly what the original homeowner would have done had they had the idea or budget. Or, you could choose to make yourself into an amateur preservationist, and try to restore the house to its exact original glory. Other people are going to choose to put a 2019 spin on their home and just go from there.

You decide!

quote: your home is for you.  you make the call on how much to preserve and how much to change when updating an MCM home

It really helps to have a strong internal sense of your own style.

To help you clarify your vision, I put together this style quiz. Take it, and figure out where you fall on the midmod remodel spectrum. Are you in it for the mid century or the modern? The vintage or the revamp?

So … What’s changed since the MCM homes were built?

In 1950, there was a huge housing crisis. People were naming their babies Doug and Susan. Only 30% of women worked outside the home, and women did 92% of all cooking.

Fast forward to today, 2019. People are naming their kids, Aiden and Anna, and we are again experiencing a big housing crisis, but at this point 62% of women work outside the home, and women cover only 67% of the cooking.

So … that brings us to the kitchen …

The Mid-century vs the Modern Kitchen

One of the biggest points of conflict in a mid-century home lived in by a modern family is the kitchen.

The classic ranch kitchen is a command center for one person – mom – who multitasks through the day from that space.

In a classic mid-century kitchen, almost all of the work surfaces are going to face a wall, maybe a window. They face away from the room, which is fine if you’re working alone in a space. But when you’re working with someone else, and you turn your back to them in order to cut on a cutting board or stir something on the stove – that’s actually a very unfriendly attitude.

quote image: The way we use our kitchens has really changed.

The way we use our kitchens has really changed.

Cooking requires less time now. But we’ve turned our kitchens into a social hub. They need to hold more people – more cooks -at one time. They also need to be a hangout spot.

In a modern, multiple cook kitchen, you want to have some work surface where you can face another person or face the room. That means a peninsula or an island.

Other areas that may need updating in an MCM house

Garages, basements and bathrooms, oh my!

Building Technology has Improved

Watch out for common hazards like asbestos tile or lead paint on the walls. And look for opportunities to improve your insulation and air seal when you are updating an MCM home in other ways.

Understand why they built it that way before Updating an MCM home

The big takeaway here is: life has changed in the intervening five, six or seven decades since your mid-century ranch was planned and built. That means making some changes to your home is not just okay but necessary. The secret to a great mid mod remodel is to be well informed about the history of your house, understand why it is the way it is, and then make your choices with a long view in mind.

Check out the Mid-Century Style Quiz!

Have you taken it yet? What did you score?