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What do mid-century modern homes look like in Australia?

Mid-century modern is an American design movement that began in the 1940s and reached the height of its popularity in 1969.

What do mid-century modern homes look like in Australia?

Juliet Taylor


November 4th, 2022

What is mid century modern style?

Mid-Century modern is a design movement that began during in America during the post-war period. The style was characterized by simplicity, functionality and innovation. Mid century modern designers sought new heights using the technologies and industrialism that evolved during the Second World War.

This period of the 20th century marked a turning point for production practices, with designers utilizing new production technology to mass produce household items and consumables for the first time. As such, mid-century modern design came to represent the individualist ideals of an optimistic post-war society – a time where possibilities were endless.  


Mid century modern design is a reflection of the era in which it evolved. Simplicity, functionality, and clean lines are all paragons of mid century modern design philosophy. This was directly related to the post-war search for structure and order as the world began a slow march back towards normal life. You can recognise a mid century modern building by its large windows, classic shapes, muted curves, lack of ornamentation, and focus on the combination of indoor/outdoor spaces.

Of course, mid century modern style was not limited only to architecture. The mid century modern movement expanded across many different fields including furniture, graphic design, interior design and architecture combined. Much like the earlier Art Deco movement, mid century modernism was a collective of new age thinking, experiences and ideas.

Mid century modernism took Australia by storm in the late 20th century. It is one of the few architectural movements that has been truly embraced by the Australian populous. Mid Century modernism is still alive and thriving today – especially for home renovations.

Famous mid-century modern architects

The period of mid century modern architecture was pioneered by a few key players. Some of the most prominent figures in 20th century architecture include:

1. Richard Neutre

2. Eero Saarinen

3. Arne Jacobsen

4. Greta Magnusson

5. Robin Boyd

6. Harry Seidler

7. Hugh Buhrich

Mid century modern houses are still very popular today. Australia is home to some of the best examples of mid century modern architecture in the world. From functional homes to grand iconography such as the harbour bridge, mid century modern design has been laying its fingerprints over the Australian landscape for decades. Here are some of the best examples of midcentury modern houses in the world – both historic and contemporary.

Mid century modernist homes: the best interior and exterior design plans for a mid-century modern building

6. Sustainable design on NSW South Coast

white midcentury modern home design

This beautiful coastal home was transformed from a featureless brick house into a perfect example of mid century modern design by Blanchfield Architects.

white midcentury modern home design

Wanting a home that fell in line with its surroundings, homeowner Madeline Blanchfield completely redesigned her residence to better reflect the mid century modern style. This also allowed her to experiment with a more eco friendly design.

5. Dowell Residence in Seattle, Washington

mid century modern design interior scandinavian japanese design

The Dowell residence was completed by world-renowned architect Paul Kirk in 1953 and has since been hailed as one of Seattle’s most impressive homes. This spectacular home embraces a number of Mid Century Modern design principles.

mid century modern design interior scandinavian japanese design

The space is based around a two-level open atrium full of crisp lines and defined spaces. Natural finishes and materials abound, with the cedar walls and large windows blurring the line between inside and outside. Kirk also included influences from Japanese design, a style which pairs beautifully with the Mid Century Modern style.

4. Johnson Residence in Los Angeles, California

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

Dakota Johnson skyrocketed onto the Hollywood scene after staring in hit movie Fifty Shades of Grey. Her unique home in LA is a perfect example of the way that Mid Century Modern spaces try to combine the indoors an outdoors. The entire living room wall is a series of floor-to ceiling windows and doors which open directly onto a lap pool. The home was originally built by architect Carl Maston and was later renovated – at Johnson’s behest – by the design firm Pierce & Ward.

3. Cowan Home in St Kilda Melbourne

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

This single storey house was remodelled by Bower Architecture & Interiors alongside LBA Construction Group with a close sensitivity to the original structure and design ideas.

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

The renovation included clearing more living and storage space, adding playful finishes and textures, and experimenting with eccentric artwork to accentuate the neutral palette.

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

This home has a touch of whimsy reminiscent of the slightly earlier art deco style, though presented in a firmly Mid Century Modern frame.

2. Rohrshiem and Gallant residence in the Adelaide Hills

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

This 1960s home takes a more traditional look at the mid-century modern style. Homeowners Rohrshiem and Gallant have had light renovations done to refresh the interior, but the home remains largely and structurally unchanged from its initial design.

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

Work done includes a palette refresh, new spotted-gum floorboards and refurnishing with mid-century modern pieces. The place was updated to fall more in line with modern technology and to ensure its longevity. The windows were replaced with contemporary glazing for better insulation, but the skeleton of its modernist design remains firmly in place.

1. Beach home in Flinders, Victoria

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

This home has undergone a complete transformation from what seemed a very bizarre original purchase. When Bec and Marcus Dentry purchased the home, their first renovation was to remove all of the carpets – including carpet in the bathroom.

mid century modern house mansion design ideas

They then gave the home a full face lift before turning their attention to the outdoor spaces. The family kept as many of the original 1950s design elements intact as they could, such as the arched door and windows. The home is now a beach oasis for a family of outdoorsy surfers – a paragon of the inside-out mid-century modern design philosophy.

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