Jim Sherril home in North Carolina
The wooded landscape offers a unique background for this MCM home, as palm trees are the more popular option. An original Jim Sherrill mahogany sculpture was restored and set in front of the property, alluding to the home’s interior style. Photo by Bret Gum.

When people think about designing a home, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely the interior. Some forget that the home’s exterior is just as crucial to a midcentury modern style. It’s the first thing guests see when they visit, and it’s their first clue as to what they will encounter inside. Consider these curb appeal ideas when designing, choosing or renovating your MCM home.

Desert White Ice crushed marble in Palm Springs
With bright turquoise walls and a “desert white ice” crushed marble landscape, the only thing that could make this Hugh Kaptur house more MCM is the vintage numbers that line the front wall. Palm trees and cacti surround the home, contributing to its desert feel. Photo by Bret Gum.
Painted brick home in North Carolina
The original brick was painted a cool blue at this MCM estate. The vibrant orange door is flanked by wooden planks and large glass windows. Photo by Bret Gum.

Paint

It’s incredible what a coat of paint can do to transform the exterior of a home. Common outdoor wall colors include dark gray and bright white with bright color accents. The most popular and simple places to add a color accent on a mid-mod home are the front door and plant pots, while a unique place to add color is the garage. Vibrant orange, blue, red and turquoise are often seen to add a retro vibe to the exterior.

Xeriscape at Chase Langford's house
This modernist home features geometric patterns and harsh lines, softened by the xeriscape of bright green plant life. Photo by Jim Brown.
Japanese sedge ornamental grass in front of home
Bright blue windows flank the front door of this MCM home, breaking up the dark exterior and adding a retro touch. The new garage has a paneled aluminum garage door with cedar planks for more color and texture. Japanese Sedge ornamental grass lines the pathway on a bed of rocks. Photo by Jim Brown.

Plant life

If you want the mid-mod look, you will need some plants to add texture and life to your setting—but not just any plants. There are certain plant groups that fit well with the modern aesthetic: succulents, cacti, ornamental grasses, Yucca and New Zealand Flax are all great options. Make sure that whatever plants you choose can thrive in your climate and chosen landscape. Planting in a linear fashion to line a walkway or wall are is a prevalent display.

Brentwood home
Redwood siding and a four-layer flat roof make for a clean, angular exterior. Separate au pair quarters attach to the carport. Cement plaques are outlined in grass, adding some texture to the expansive driveway. Photo by Jim Brown.
Wendell Lovett home
This Lovett home is one of 40 MCM homes in the Hilltop community in Seattle. Glass walls allow passersby to view some of the home’s interior, mixing interior furnishings with the exterior aesthetic. Bright blues and reds are painted on the walls and door to bring color to the dark structure. Photo by Jim Brown.

Myriad Materials

MCM style encourages the mixing of different materials to make up the structure of the house. Some houses include concrete, wood, glass, brick, stone or a combination. For example, glass can form a window or entire walls, depending on your preference. When integrating multiple materials, be sure to create straight lines and geometric patterns for an MCM look.

Palmer Krisel home
This home combines a desert landscape with grass, splitting the house into two aesthetics and exemplifying the mixing of different landscape materials. Photo by Bret Gum.
Avanti garage door
Stone balls accent the front lawn, bringing smooth texture to the busy brick exterior. The newly anodized aluminum Avanti garage door is teal, working with the lime-colored door to being vibrant hues into the yard. Photo by Jim Brown.
colorful tract home
This tract home depicts low-slung roof—one of the more popular roof designs for midcentury modern style. Flat sides are low to the ground and the roof overhangs the structure. Some orange plant-life complements the orange door, and ornamental grass bushes line the walkway to the house. Photo by Jim Brown.

Landscape

Like the structural materials, mid mod style gets funky with its linear landscape designs. A patch of grass will dominate the yard, while a dirt pathway displays some plant-life, and another set of plants will be lined with rocks or sand for a half desert look. Some suggested landscape materials include rocks, dirt, sand, grass, concrete and gravel. These are perfect for your plant life as well as your aesthetic outlook.

William Krisel Butterfly Roof
This home is an example of Krisel’s extended butterfly roof. Circular stones make a path to the front door of the tract home, surrounded by a flat landscape of grass. Photo by Bret Gum.
Irwin Stein home
This Irwin Stein-built residence features a folded-plate roof design. The structure is a mix of glass, stone and wood. Photo by Jim Brown.

Roofline

One of the most iconic and recognizable features of a midcentury home is the roof. While other roofs are tall with multiple layers and slopes, the MCM roof is almost always flat. Some other designs include a low-slung roof, where two panels will form an obtuse triangle with the house, and a butterfly roof, which is an inverted low-slung design. Of course, other designs can get more complicated and flashy, but most of them have harsh lines and remain geometric in shape.