If I ever build a house, I’ll drop a stack of Cliff May home photos on my architect’s desk for inspiration. In southern California, May was a pioneer of building characteristics that we think of today as the hallmarks of midcentury modern ranches — clean lines, open floor plans, and an indoor-outdoor feel. So on a recent trip to Los Angeles for Andrea’s work, we spent an afternoon in Long Beach cruising May’s Rancho Estates tract neighborhood, built in 1953-54.
The Rancho homes have opaque facades and high privacy fences that reveal little about their interiors. If you’re nosy curious like I am, you can mine real estate sites such as Rancho Style for photos of light-soaked rooms, swanky pools, and lush courtyards. Although I had to imagine what modern treasures lay beyond the walls, I gleefully shot the sculptural plants, rock gardens, colorful gates, and vintage cars visible from the street. Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken by me from public property.
For nine years, our Lustron has needed curb appeal like leafy greens need ranch. Last month we worked with Plants Creative Landscapes here in Decatur to finally put some “ranch dressing” on our bland front yard.
Since the bones of our ’49 prefab are slick and boxy, we created softness with three curvy beds. Taking inspiration from all those modern landscapes I’ve been ogling on trips to Southern California, I picked a topiary pine, a blue agave, and boulders as my must-have focal points. We filled out the beds with shrubs for year-round color (wintergreen boxwood, variegated yucca, gold mop false cypress), sculptural perennials (variegated iris, autumn ferns), vivid grasses (blue fescue, dwarf acorus, silver liriope), and cascaders for the retaining wall (chartreuse creeping jenny, pink-flowered phlox). Black bark mulch makes everything pop.
It’s hard to believe Atlanta’s first Morningside residents were isolated suburbanites who rode a streetcar to work downtown. Today this charming neighborhood is a haven in the heart of the city, surrounded by shopping districts, restaurants, and condos. The typical M’side home was built in the 1920s or 30s out of red brick and stone, with Old World details like arches, leaded glass, and even towers, like this one below.
While I love those special châteaux, my heart beats faster for the rarer midcentury and new construction modern homes–sometimes barely glimpsed beyond ivy banks and mature trees–on the hilly streets branching off East Rock Springs Road. They range from humble ranchers to custom contempos worthy of Dwell. Here are 10 of my favorites spotted on yesterday’s afternoon drive. All photos were taken by me from public property.
If “professional voyeur” were a job, I’d apply. I love peering into people’s nests, so I relish web galleries like the “sneak peeks” on Design Sponge. The only thing that beats panting over interiors online is buying a ticket to do it in person! That’s just what Andrea and I did Sunday, crisscrossing the city to visit four homes on the Modern Atlanta tour. Here are my favorite design moments.
On a crisp day last week, Andrea and I took a break from our laptop pecking to explore Atlanta’s Northcrest subdivision. This modest midcentury modern neighborhood northeast of the city (zip 30340) is a feast for eyes that hunger for angular abodes and cacti gardens. Here are five homes that made me pull over and consider life in the ‘burbs.