If you’re buying a 1950s house, already live in one, or just want to see how new suburban homes were designed back in the rock ‘n’ roll and Leave it to Beaver era, this is the stuff for you!
From coast to coast, millions of quintessentially American houses like those shown below were built during the 1950s… and many of them are still the places we call home.
This collection of more than a hundred ’50s house plans and vintage home designs from the middle of the 20th century includes all the classic styles — among them ranch houses (also called ramblers), split level homes, two-story residences, contemporary houses, mid-century modern, prefabricated (prefab) residences — and combinations thereof. Take a look!
Click on any image to see a larger version of that page, including a color view of the completed home, ’50s house plans, and details about each house — including the number of rooms and home size.
On ’50s house plans and homebuilding in the mid-fifties (from 1955)
The many homes of individuality presented in this book reflect the best ideas of most recent modern and popular developments in design and planning. Exterior concepts extend from the latest contemporary types to the more conservative traditional types planned in a modern manner — the latter yet enjoying the same marked popularity prevalent for many years.
In today’s wonderful new home designs, architects present prospective homeowners with marvelous opportunities for “tailor-made” selection. Never before have you had such wide choice of beautiful, distinctive home styles… efficient, unusual floor plans… attractive exterior treatments… new ideas and multi-purpose materials for interiors. Never before have you had such opportunity to select the home plan that is exactly suited to your family’s needs and desires, your family’s mode of living.
Architects, building material and equipment manufacturers, lumber dealers, builders and contractors have teamed up to bring you homes that offer comforts, conveniences, economy of maintenance, enduring beauty and value that were undreamed of a few years ago.
Features that border on the luxurious are now standard in many homes of moderate cost– space-saving built-ins… folding partitions that quickly make two rooms out of one, and vice versa… air conditioning… multi-use rooms… window arrangements that bring nature’s own mural, the changing outdoor scene, right into your home… and dozens of other features that add immeasurably to home enjoyment.
Economical and liveable mid-century homes
Livability and construction economy are the two basic qualities demonstrated in every home shown here. These prerequisites are incorporated in the original design — where they obviously have to start — but each plan is checked and rechecked on these two points before it is selected for publication.
Homes shown in these pages have been tested in actual construction, and have proved their popularity with the home-building and home-buying public.
This is the way the total operation works to refine and test a new home plan: First, a development builder erects a pilot model or a group of homes to the new plan. In a highly competitive area, the new home must represent extraordinary value in both price and design or it will not sell. Costs are carefully watched, all along the line, and by experts. After completion comes the irrefutable test of popularity: does it produce cash-on-the-line sales?
These ’50s house plans were all carefully checked by architects
Then, if necessary, the plan is altered to eliminate weak features or add even more desirable ones, and necessary changes made to conform to nationwide building practices, normal F.H.A. requirements and the like, and sets of stock plans are offered for sale to readers of national magazines and other plan books. A careful check on its popularity leads the way to further improvements and new designs.
Livability is the common denominator of all these homes. This includes, over-all, designs for many different ways of family life; attractive appearance; comfort and convenience; efficient work areas for today’s servantless homes; provisions for outdoor living, and plenty of properly located storage space. These things are readily visible in the plans.
To provide greater flexibility for various family needs — and for changing patterns of family life over the years — almost every home includes one room designed and located to serve more than one purpose. Most frequently this is a small, “extra” bedroom with a folding bed concealed in a cabinet, to provide sleeping accommodations while leaving maximum possible area free for such uses as a den, sewing room, children’s playroom, second living room or home office.
One of the more surprising early results of the continuing “popularity poll” which lies behind all these designs was the overwhelming preference for a vestibule or foyer at the front door. This provision is carefully included in most of these plans, with some sort of partition device providing the desired privacy in homes where space does not permit complete separation.
Fifties homes designed to include wanted features
Another most-wanted feature — shelter against the weather at front and rear entrances — has been incorporated in a wide variety of ways in most of the plans.
Kitchens have been accorded the thoughtful planning that is essential for a workable, livable house. The three most-used items — range, sink and refrigerator — are grouped within maximum efficient distances as worked out by home economists. Work and storage areas are always adequate, and frequently generous, in proportion to size of house and family. And always space is set aside for serving snacks or informal meals, a “must” for most families.
Kitchens must be pleasant as well as efficient, in view of the hours the average housewife spends there — and the view is fine. There is always good window space to bring some of the rest of the world into the kitchen; some designs give the young mother a commanding, quarter-deck position to supervise children’s play; one provides a “living kitchen” with room for the whole family; still others are open in plan, to make the kitchen really a part of the house.
Kitchens given special attention in these ’50s house plans
And these days, why shouldn’t the kitchen come out in the open? Cabinets and appliances are as attractive as useful; dishes go right into the dishwasher instead of being piled in the sink; disposers get rid of food waste before it becomes garbage; home freezers and freezer compartments in new refrigerators save food storage space as well as time in preparation and shopping. Built-in ovens and counter-top range units add new beauty, convenience and flexibility in kitchen planning. All these factors are considered in kitchens shown in this book.
A term you will run across frequently in the plan descriptions inside is “circulation.” In the sense used here, it refers to the ease — or lack of it — of getting to any part of the house from any other. Most important traffic ways are from front entrance to living room and bedrooms; kitchen to dining room, and front and rear entrances. Where traffic does go through a room, it is better routed through one corner or along one wall than clear through the room. Good circulation is the usual rule of all plans shown here, with a central hall the preferred method of obtaining it.
From the standpoint of both livability and economical use of space, a basement is an important feature of every home shown. Full basements are desired by most families and heartily endorsed by the architects, who have introduced any number of special treatments and devices to make them more beautiful and more useful.
There is one very desirable design quality many home plans have in common — no matter what its actual size, every house looks larger than it actually is. This is accomplished by excellent design techniques, judicious selection of exterior finish materials, and intelligent location of breezeways, garages and fenced-in patios.
Whether you yourself ultimately build or buy a home or decide you must keep on dreaming a while longer, the material in this book will help you arrive at a wise decision on your own course.