Post-war housing: See 35 small starter homes from the 40s & 50s

Post-war housing - 35 small starter home plans of the 1940s and 1950s

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America’s post-war housing boom was no small thing — millions of new homes were built in the decade following the end of World War II.

Many of these were small starter homes that were inexpensive, practical, and could be constructed quickly. To that end, there were lots of catalogs produced offering floorplans for sale, and many companies got into the prefabricated (“prefab”) home business to meet the increased demand.

Here, see a collection of these little suburban houses — each one under 1000 square feet.

1-story western-style small starter home (1948)

Horizontal frame siding, brick, and shiplap all contribute to the interesting appearance of this one-story Western-type home.

The blue roof and yellow entrance door very effectively set off the ever-popular white exterior. The picture window and the two side windows in the large living room provide plenty of sunlight and ventilation.

In Plan 1, without basement, the garage is somewhat longer than in Plan 2, allowing additional storage space without increasing overall dimensions.

Old 40s post-war small starter home designs from 1948 (1)

1-story small ’40s home plan (1948)

There is a lot of living comfort in this well planned small home. The exterior is unusually attractive — the interior arrangement both practical and convenient. The large view window and porch are pleasing features.

Old 40s post-war small starter home designs from 1948 (2)

The Ball garden-view starter home (1949)

We call it a “garden” view home because the living room is at the rear and overlooks the garden. The old and the new are admirably combined in this modern adaptation of a conventionally planned home.

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Vintage 40s post-war small starter homes from 1949 (1)

The Beck post-WWII small starter home (1949)

THE unusual arrangement and design of this modern brick veneer home makes it equally attractive from the wide or the narrow dimension, and it can be faced either way on the lot.

The large living room, the efficient kitchen with its dining space and other innovations make it seem to be a larger home than it actually is. The plan provides for a full basement.

Vintage 40s post-war starter home designs from 1949 (2)

The Barden vintage small starter home (1949)

THE large T-shaped living room with its natural fireplace and picture window would certainly seem to hold little in common with the parlor of its colonial forebear.

Efficient planning has successfully combined an exterior which is basically colonial and a floor plan that brings the owner every modern convenience.

The dining space in the living room makes a dining room unnecessary, and gives this four-room house the efficiency of five rooms.

Vintage 40s post-war starter home designs from 1949 (3)

The Bosworth ’40s small home design (1949)

THE modern pleasing hip roof is featured in this bungalow design and another very attractive and eye compelling item is the massive chimney.

This is the outlet for the natural fireplace in the living room, and its location is such that it dominates the living area yet does not break up the ample wall space.

Note the ventilator which is also provided under the picture window. The breezeway which is shown in the floor plan adds considerably to the spaciousness of the house, but it may be eliminated if a smaller width is desired for a narrow lot.

The exterior wall is of frame construction with double course wood shingles.

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Vintage 40s post-war starter home designs from 1949 (5)

Small starter homes from the ’40s: The Benton plan (1949)

Vintage 40s post-war starter home designs from 1949 (6)

Small ’50s home with sunlight and ventilation (1950)

This appealing small home is a typical Western bungalow of four large rooms with a dining space provided in the kitchen area. The central hall makes all rooms easily accessible.

The large picture window in the living room is an important feature. All bedrooms have cross ventilation. A basement is provided.

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Vintage 50s small starter home plans from 1950 (1)

A small home with charm & economy combined

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (2)

A petite modern bungalow from the ’50s

The dining space shown in the leg of the “L” shaped living room obviates the necessity for a dining room, providing five room efficiency.

Although basically Colonial in architecture, the modern notes such as the corner windows and the large picture window emphasize its up-to-the-minute “personality.”

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (3)

Modern starter home design with traditional charm

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (4)

Cape Cod-style small starter home: Room to grow

This is a typical Early American type home, having many Cape Cod characteristics. Two front dormers will provide light for at least two large bedrooms in the attic if added later.

The first floor has a large kitchen with dining space, a large living room and two bedrooms. The exterior construction is of shingles or shakes.

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (6)

Small starter homes from 1950: Ranch house with 895 square feet

This four-room home with its attached garage has the low, wide, sweeping lines that are associated with ranch house architecture. The large living room has a natural fireplace, and dining space is provided in the kitchen.

Plan 1 includes a basement, while plan 2 calls for a utility room instead. There are windows in abundance. . . in every room in the house.

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (7)

Typical Western starter house layout and plan

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Vintage 50s small starter homes from 1950 (8)

Small house with a projecting front wing & breezeway

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (9)

Small starter homes from the ’50s: Modern design

This is a very modern small home which proudly proclaims its Colonial heritage as well.

The large living room has a bay window and window seat, a natural fireplace with wood-box and bookshelves built at one side.

Note that ample closet facilities are provided and that both bedrooms accommodate twin beds. All the latest appointments are to be found in the kitchen with its glazed bay dining space.

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (10)

Small vintage Colonial-style small home post-WWII

This is truly a modern Colonial. The home itself is relatively small, but the breezeway and connecting garage accentuate the width of the building.

The large kitchen affords a dining space and there is plenty of room upstairs for two more bedrooms if this should be desirable at a later date.

Note the abundance of closet space and the linen closet in the hall. The exterior of this home is a pleasing arrangement of wood siding and shingles. A full basement is provided.

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Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (11)

Simplified Colonial: Vintage ’50s small home plan

This five-room brick home has many unusual features to recommend it. The large living room has a natural fireplace at one end with a built-in wood box.

The dinette is immediately adjacent to the kitchen, and is actually a part of the living room although it is unobtrusively set off in a complete bay of its own.

The simplification of its Colonial exterior definitely follows the modern trend. A full basement is provided.

Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (12)

Vintage small starter homes from the ’50s

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Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (13)

Vintage ’50s home plan with roof styles uniquely combined

The combination of gable and hip roof construction contribute toward the appeal of this pleasing one-story home.

A dining space is provided in the kitchen. The attached garage is an integral part of the construction of the main building which is mainly brick, with some vertical siding employed for contrast.

The dining alcove in the living room and the corner windows are important features as well as the bookshelves beside the natural fireplace.

Vintage 50s small starter homes from 1950 (14)

Cute small starter house from the ’50s

Traditionally Colonial with many modern appointments, this is a complete five-room home. It is designed for economy in construction without sacrifice of beauty or taste.

The dinette has a large picture window and built-in china shelves. The width of this home makes it ideal for construction on a comparatively narrow lot. A full basement is provided.

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Vintage 50s small starter home designs from 1950 (15)

Modified Cape Cod vintage small home design

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Vintage 50s small starter home plans from 1950 (16)

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Post-war housing Start living in a thrift home (1950)

Retro ’50s home design with individuality outside & in

The attached garage gives this modern home the appearance of extreme width frequently associated with Western or ranch house construction.

This is actually a five-room home, for the dinette may be considered as independent of the living room area, and the open arch makes each room appear larger than it actually is.

The living room has a natural fireplace and a built-in wood box. Although basically a brick home, the vertical wood siding adds interest and contrast.

Vintage 50s small starter homes from 1950 (17)

Vintage Garlinghouse Sunshine Home (1950)

A lovely little cottage with an excellent arrangement of 5 rooms. bath, closets and a large utility room.

The Colonial entrance is exceptionally attractive, and the very large windows insure light and air rooms. If a basement is desired, the stairs may go down from the utility room.

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Vintage fifties Garlinghouse Sunshine Homes - Small houses from 1950 (1)

Small, low house design from the fifties

A beautiful home of simple lines and with a low pitched roof. The large living room with its fireplace and bookshelves is especially cozy and inviting.

The large closets and excellent room arrangement will be appreciated by the housewife.

Vintage fifties Garlinghouse Sunshine Homes - Small houses from 1950 (2)

The Acole vintage home plan (1950)

Designed in a modern attractive manner with large view window, fully equipped kitchen and all household conveniences.

A comfortable home for a man and wife. Also consider its use as a guest home. Planned for the addition of a future bedroom to each plan.

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Vintage fifties small homes from 1950 (1)

The Atoll fifties-era home with a versatile plan

The floor plan of this modern four-room home is unusually versatile. Just off the kitchen, there is a large dining room which may be readily converted to a bedroom because there is also a large snack space in the kitchen.

The vestibule with guest closet and the natural fireplace in the living room are also important features. The large bedroom will easily accommodate twin beds. Note, as well, the built-in towel and linen cabinets in the bath.

Vintage fifties small starter home plans from 1950 (2)

The Azure vintage home design (1950)

This home, although not large, is immeasurably spacious. It contains three bedrooms, one of which is sufficiently large enough to accommodate twin beds.

Plan 1 has a dining area just off the living room that very effectively eliminates the necessity of a room set aside for that purpose. In plan 2, this dining space is incorporated at one end of the kitchen.

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Vintage fifties small home plans from 1950 (3)

The Appeal: One basic floor plan with eight attractive exteriors

Vintage fifties small starter home plans from 1950 (4)


The Bryant post-WWII small starter home (1949)

The plan is basically of four rooms with a large living room to accommodate a dining area, if desired. Bath and kitchen plumbing is adjacent for economy.

All rooms are accessible from the central hall and one can pass from the kitchen to the bath or bedrooms without going through the living room.

A stair is provided to the second floor which permits expansion in that the attic can be later developed into two bedrooms when required. Plans are available only with basement.

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Low-cost small midcentury home plans from 1952 (2)

The Bingham colonial modern home design (1952)

A GLANCE at the exterior and floor plan of this home quickly indicates the modern design and efficiency that went into its planning, yet it has retained the traditional colonial charm which is its heritage.

Two plans are available. Plan 1 wills basement, Plan 2 without basement but with a large. step-saving utility room.

The large picture window and natural fireplace in the living room create an unusually attractive and spacious effect.

Low-cost small midcentury home plans from 1952 (3)

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Comments on this story

3 Responses

  1. Found a 1949 steel home. Walls, roof, structural all steel. Existing plan does not match any by “Lustron of Ohio”.
    I can not find where Sears or Wards did steel homes. Any thoughts?

  2. This type of home architecture is making a comeback in “over-55” communities designed to attract seniors looking for small, low maintenance, single-story houses. They’re great for a single person or a couple, but beyond that they get cramped… which is why many houses of the 1940’s/50s vintage have heavy modifications and expansions.

  3. I agree with Brian above; the original houses have been altered too much. These house are perfect for seniors and also for anyone wanting a smaller home instead of the two level homes that seem to be more common in my area.
    I would love to see similar styles built in a community for seniors and may consider one myself in the near future.

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