Tag: mid-century modern

Back At The Ranch: High End Mid-Century Modern In Woodbrook



Hot House: 5 Farview Road, Baltimore, 21212



Brick ranch-style house with siding, circa 1954. Four bedrooms, 4.5 baths over 3,544 sq. ft., with three fireplaces, hardwood floors, large screened-in porch, large master suite, open floor plan, finished basement, zoned heat, central a/c. One acre, private, landscaped lot with attached two car garage and back deck: $895,000

What: A ranch house — that late, great, all-American style that virtually defines the mid-century modern era. Appearing first in the 1930’s, by 1950 nine out of ten new houses built in America were ranch houses. It was a love affair that continued into the 1980’s, when changing fashions and higher incomes, as well as a glaring  over-supply,  relegated the ranch house to the dust bin of real estate fantasy.  This one though, is a rancher that even a post-baby boomer could love, with high-end construction that makes up for its plain design, a bright, stair-less main floor, and a practical floor plan. Much of the house is oriented toward the back, with windows overlooking the pretty and private deck and yard. Living room has a wood-burning fireplace set into an exposed stone wall. Kitchen has been updated, although not, perhaps, totally state-of-the-art. Same with the bathrooms, although the master bath is very large and luxurious, as is the adjoining master bedroom with its views of the garden, a large fireplace and walk-in closet. The nicely finished lower level (and unfinished attic) gives you a lot of extra room. Time for a ranch-revival?

Sleek Apartment In Mid-Century Masterpiece


HOT HOUSE: Apt. #503, Highfield House, 4000 North Charles Street, Baltimore 21218

Streamlined one bedroom apartment in an iconic Mid-Century Modern building. 869 square feet, with 24-hour service, underground garage with valet parking, swimming pool: $125,000

What: Your life, only more like “Mad Men.” Built in 1964, Highfield House is one of two Mies Van der Rohe buildings in Baltimore.  In its day it was a major architectural statement. And if you  stand back and look, the strong, clean, “less is more” aesthetic, and Mies’ sure, restrained hand come shining through in the design of Highfield House today. The lobby is fabulously chic, with its black leather Barcelona chairs and glass floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s one of those places, like the Apple Store, where everyone becomes more interesting just by being there. The building is well-maintained and well-served, and they’ve done their best to keep it up to date while preserving its architectural integrity. Number 503, like all the apartments in Highfield House, has a wall of windows stretching along the back, maximizing the light and vistas. There are angled walls, which keep it from feeling boxy, hardwood floors and a sweeping sense of space for a relatively small area. Galley kitchen and bathroom are fine as is, but with some work, could be really great. This elegant and contemporary setting cries out for spare, modern decorating. If you can, leave grandma’s stuff behind. On the other hand, a cocktail shaker would look right at home.

Where: In the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, about a half-mile north of Johns Hopkins University. Safe and walkable.    

Would suit: Don Draper, obviously. Emma Peel.   

Why: It’s the ultimate showcase for your Mid-Century furniture. And, it’s a very cool building, quite different from the other apartments along the Charles Street corridor, and with more luxury amenities than most. Residents are an interesting, artistic bunch.  

NB: 503 is not, by a long stretch, the best apartment in the Highfield House. The really spectacular ones are the high floor, corner three-bedrooms, and those where two apartments have been combined. In these, the feeling of light and space are awe inspiring – exactly the way the architect intended. None are for sale right now, but the right agent can get you on a waiting list. 

Mid-Century Modern’s Moment

Mid-century modern is having a moment. “Mid-century modern” means everything decorative from the mid-20th century, including furniture, decorative objects, fabric and even interior designers from that period. (Think Billy Baldwin, Dorothy Draper, Sister Parrish, David Hicks, Tony Duquette.) You know those guys were good when you see spaces they did in 1962, and you have trouble deciphering whether it’s David Hicks or David Easton. Their impact is unmatched in interior design.
Mid-century is an obsession we’ve had for the past five years, even before the “Mad Men” hysteria. But Don Draper has gotten under our skin and obsession has been upgraded to addiction. We scour the market for anything that looks like it belongs to Betty. When we decorate a room, we find it looks naked without at least a 1950’s Murano glass lamp or a black lacquered Paul McCobb chest of drawers. We spend hours on 1st Dibs salivating over Paul Laszlo light fixtures that resemble those in Roger Sterling’s office, or geometric screens that look hauntingly like the one in Pete Campbell’s apartment.
The allure and glamour of Betty and Don has re-ignited the mid-century modern movement, but many are still shy about incorporating the retro look into their home. We suggest starting small, maybe a lamp or small Danish chair. But beware! Once you add one piece, you WILL want more…and then you will discover 1st Dibs and Center 44, both amazing online sources for mid-century everything. Then you’ll watch “Mad Men” with a whole new perspective. It’s really just a weekly fix for those of us with the shameful addiction.