Tuesday, March 5, 2013

House Stalking: Cedar Contemporaries

It will surprise exactly five readers that I love and adore Mid-Century Modern homes. However, if we continue living in the Atlanta area there's very little chance I'll ever live in one. Atlanta has some fine examples of mid-century modern houses, but they are relatively rare and expensive.

Recently, though, I've become more and more charmed by shed-style contemporary houses. These houses are also called cedar contemporary or California contemporaries. Their exteriors boast odd rooflines and lots of windows, which leads to interiors with lofted ceilings and lots of light. Because of the emerging environmental ethos of the 1970s they also tend to be surrounded by trees and situated to give the residents views of the surrounding greenery. They were primarily built from the late sixties into the early eighties.

Most of my books about the history of the built environment don't really discuss this style of house. I think they are an important lynch-pin between the more modest ranches and split-levels of the fifties and sixties and the McMansion boom of the 1980s. They are larger than the typical ranch house (proof the middle class was demanding more space even as family size dwindled?) and far more experimental. They are certainly more modern looking than the McMansions (most of which borrow heavily from more traditional styles). They boast some of the things I love best about MCM houses (light, use of wood, openness without a huge amount of square footage) and my favorite furniture styles would work in them really well.

These houses aren't exactly beloved by home buyers. Many of them aren't aging well. They were sold as "maintenance" free, but in reality the cedar siding isn't holding up. The ones that have been painted look so much better.

Since they were ubiquitous  in the late sixties/seventies/early eighties so there's plenty available in our local housing stock.

Here are a few from surrounding suburbs.

Original Condition Cedar Contemporary

Pictures from Trulia

This house has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, multiple decks, is in a good school school district...all for about $155,000.

I love the lines of the house, especially the windowed...quadrant thing. Lovely! I think a whole lot of either cream or dark gray paint would completely transform the exterior.

 One of the three bathrooms. All of them look like they need some SERIOUS updating. (Also, maybe clean off your counters before taking pictures. Just a thought.)

 Although I'm not crazy about the fake stone fireplace, I LOVE the high wood ceiling.

One of the things I love about this style of house is that many of them offer multiple decks and other outdoor spaces. This home has decks on different levels AND a screened in porch.

Lots of seventies neighborhoods preserved trees (instead of clear cutting the land, like newer subdivisions tend to do). Add in the following decades and you end up with lush greenery.

Partially Updated Cedar Contemporary

Photos From Trulia
This is another four bed/three bath in a good school district. This home has been painted, and it definitely looks the better for it!

The back of the house, sporting a screened in porch and a couple of different patio spaces.

A laundry room. Sigh. Have I mentioned how much I'd love a laundry room? Especially one big enough to leave an ironing board up? And one with natural lighting? I can't even.

The master bath. I could deal.

Another bad fake stone fireplace/awesome lofted wood ceiling living room with lots of natural light.

It was hard to get a feel for the rooms because the owner's furniture is large, and there's a lot of it. I have no idea if the rooms actually aren't as large as the first house, or if its just badly scaled furniture and all together to much STUFF eating up the space.

 The Swiss Chalet-Style Contemporary

Photos From Trulia
 I think of this as the Swiss Chalet various of shed contemporary. It's got the lots of windows/lofted roofline thing happening, but at the same time it's far more restrained overall. This house has three bedrooms, two baths, and is in one of the best school districts in the state.

The kitchen is huuuuuuge! And has been attacked with white paint. (The boob light needs to go!)

The back. Love the trees, light, level yard. The deck would probably need to be rebuilt.

This is my favorite fireplace out of the three. The owners have painted almost everything white, and I think it makes the house look very dramatic and modern. Replacing the carpet with laminate hardwood would make it look even more modern.

One of the bathrooms. The wallpaper would have to go! But look at the space!

Editing! I'm Editing!

I'm actually editing this post because I fell in love with another, different 1980s contemporary.

Photos From Redfin
 The exterior doesn't have any of the exaggerated rooflines of the first two late twentieth century contemporaries. It's almost severe! And would look better painted.

This is the picture where I fell in love. THE LIGHT. OMG, THE LIGHT.

 All that light, those amazing dramatic windows, AND built-ins? This makes me a terrible blogger, but I wouldn't change a thing. Okay, I'd probably pick a truer white. The carpet would have to go, probably in favor of laminate hardwoods. The rest of it, though? Nothing.
The den area, I think? More windows overlooking a wooded backyard.

I think this is the master. It has its own deck! You could put a little coffee station on the sliver of wall next to the sliding doors, go outside in the morning and drink your coffee with the birdies.

Also? I like the sliding doors for this house. Yes, yes sliding doors rank only slightly above vertical blinds in the most hated home design element category, but sometimes they just work in a space. Like here.


  1. The swiss chalet one is adorable! My favorite thing is the neighborhoods (Martin's Landing in Roswell comes to mind, but there are others) built in the 70's where they alternate brick front colonials with cedar contemporaries. Who thought that was a good idea?

    1. Heh. I grew up in a neighborhood with traditional ranches, colonials, cape cods, and cedar contemporaries. It's a lot of look.

  2. i think the first one is actually my favorite, i could love that house real hard. haha

    1. I think that house needs our love, Stephanie. Space AND projects. It's a bloggers dream house!

  3. You're right! They feel so fresh right now. I didn't think much of this style until I saw Lauren from Pure Style Home start transforming one. http://purestylehome.blogspot.com/2012/08/our-new-house.html

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the link! I've been trying to find a blog about redoing this style of house.

  4. Right,Good to see these useful info here..Thanks a lot for sharing them with us….


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