Ron Denhaan, Realtor (949) 290-3263. Orange County real estate specialist.
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Mid-century modern homes and real estate website banner

Mid-century modern homes and real estate in Orange County, CA

Mid-century modern real estate may be classified as homes built during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Many houses constructed during the 1950s and 1960s have the advantage of being built on very generous lots. Today, the economic realities of very high land cost has forced home builders to cram as much structure as possible on a given lot. Because of this, most newer houses have very small yards, patios, or zero lot lines. The homes built particularly during the 50s and 60s did not have this limitation, As a result, many of these homes have very generous lot sizes. This also accounts for the high proportion of single story houses built during these eras. Smaller, one story homes were simple and less costly to construct and there was less financial pressure on builders to maximize the square footage on each lot. Also, as many of these were tract homes, they were built with a certain level of quality control, consistency, and lack of "quirks" that one might find in the one-off, custom homes of earlier periods. 

Homes of this period are a good value for today's buyers. The typical 1950s or 60s, 3 bedroom, 1,700 or smaller square foot house is affordable and great for first-time buyers, retirees, down-sizers. Also great for for use as an investment or rental property. The single-story ranch with a split level roof is also the perfect platform for buyers who are in to retro design style and kitschy, mid-century furnishings. Fans of mid-century modern real estate, (also known as California Modernism), often seek out homes created by iconic mid-century modern designers, Joseph Eichler and Cliff May. There are several neighborhoods in Orange County and Long Beach where houses from these designers do come up for sale. 

If you are interested in OC homes for sale from the late 1800s to late 1930s, please visit my other web page, here: Vintage OC homes for sale  - 1890 to 1939

1940s home

The 1940s

40s house

The population of Orange County reaches 130,760

The predominant house style of the 1940s was the simple, 2 bedroom, 1 bath Cottage Home; a style also known as Minimal Traditional. This was a style that consisted of a classic rectangular shape and little or no ornamentation. Most often, it was a one-story house with a cross-gabled or hipped roof. These were quickly constructed of inexpensive materials in response to increased demands for housing after World War II.

It's important to keep these homes in context. While today's Orange County "executive" homeowner might scoff at the small size and simple design of a 1940s house, they would be unwise to project today's values on the typical buyer of the 1940s. The average serviceman or servicewoman returning home from World War II was absolutely delighted to purchase a brand new 900 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bath house for themselves. Their (future) children happily bunked together in the secondary bedroom. 

While 1940s houses are typically simple in design, they are also affordable and ideal for first time homebuyers or investors as rental properties. Many 1940s homes for sale can be found in North Orange County, as well as in the beach and coastal areas. A small number can be found in original areas of South Orange County such as in San Juan Capistrano or Tustin. Search for or 1940s homes for sale below.

Typical 1950s home

The 1950s

50's ranch

The population of Orange County reaches 216,224

The predominant Orange County house style of the 1950s was the Single Level California Ranch (also known as the Ranch Type Rambler).. This home was very similar to later 1960 ranch style with the exception that in the early 50s ranch homes, the garage was usually parallel, rather than at right angles to the main structure. Also, a few 50s ranch homes had split level roof treatments with slightly elevated ceilings in the center or on one side of the house. Large glass window treatments, including sliding glass doors were often included in these homes. Interior and exterior decoration was minimal. 

Many of these homes were built in large tracts. This type of home (which is sometimes called "cookie-cutter" housing), is style of housing development in which multiple identical or nearly-identical houses are built to create a large community. The tract house would quickly become Orange County's dominant home, with custom units shrinking to obscurity. Use the links below to search for a 1950s California bungalow, a vintage 50's split level, or a 1950s retro house for sale.


The 1960s

60s ranch house

The population of Orange County reaches 703,925

The predominant Orange County home of the 1960s was the small, "L" shaped, One Story Ranch. This typically consisted of three bedrooms, two baths, and a two car garage, The garage was now angled at 90 degrees from the house, hence the "L" shape. The logic for this was that the home would sit on a narrower footprint than it's 50's ranch forerunner. Thisresulted in the ability to squeeze more houses into a street. 

The typical 1960s ranch home had two small secondary bedrooms with a common bathroom with tub. A slightly larger master bedroom had a small, but private bathroom. The exterior often had siding and some type of window molding to add interest. Despite this, these homes were built quickly and on a massive scale. There was very little in the way of detail or character. One positive offset was they were inexpensive to buy. 

Land was still "dirt cheap" in this decade. Many 1960s homes had large yards, especially those that were constructed on corner lots. For current buyers, the large lots of older, 1960s era homes are a very attractive bonus over newer ones, which were often constructed on extremely small lots. One other advantage of 60s homes is that many are open, single story houses, which is ideal for retirees, rental properties, and first-time buyers. 

Search for homes by price range

Search for mid-century modern homes by price. I have created search links in $100K increments.



Desert areas of Riverside County

The true Mecca of mid-century modern homes and architecture can be found in the desert areas of Riverside County, in cities like Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. The warm, sunny atmosphere and stark geography of the Coachella Valley inspired an architectural movement know as ":Desert Modernism". 



Mid-century homes - For lease

All of Orange County, single level 1950s and 1960s houses for lease



Eichler home in Granada Hills

Joseph Eichler


Several unique tracts of homes were built in the 1960s by San Francisco developer Joseph Eichler. These are located in the Orange County cities of Orange (350 homes, Fairhaven, Fairhills, and Fairmeadow) and Fullerton (286 homes in Fullerton Grove), You can read more about these, here. Eichler homes were noted for bringing "the outdoors in". They featured expansive glass walls and atriums. His homes also had other innovative features such as exposed post-and-beam construction, tongue and groove decking for the ceilings, mahogany paneling, and sliding doors for rooms, closets, and cabinets. 

Unlike Cliff May (see below), Eichler designed his residences with an eye to the European modernist tradition, rather than with a nod to the past. Eichler was not an architect himself. Many of his homes were designed by firms such as Ashen & Allen, Jones & Emmons, and Claude Oakland. One other interesting note about Joseph Eichler is that he was one of the first builders to sell to minority families .In fact, in the late 50s, Eichler resigned from the National Association of Home Builders, because the organization refused to support a non-discrimination policy. 

 Eichler homes do come up for sale in Orange and Fullerton and if you are interested in one of these, please contact me at or use the link below

Eichler designed homes in Orange County

Cliff May home

Cliff May


Cliff May was a California residential builder and designer who was known as the "father of the California style ranch house". Like Joseph Eichler (above), Cliff May's homes are designed to bring the outdoors in. There are a few Cliff May designed homes in Orange County in the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Costa Mesa, Tustin, and Fullerton. There are many more in Long Beach, where they are known as The Cliff May Ranchos" or "Rancho Estates". These homes were built in 1953 and 1954 and they feature design elements such as clerestory windows, floor to ceiling glass, board and batten siding, and low pitched roofs. The link below may contain Cliff May designed homes for sale in Long Beach, along with other ranch style homes.

Cliff May designed homes for sale in Long Beach


William Krisel home

William Krisel


William Krisel (born 1924) is an American architect best known for his pioneer designs of mid-century residential and commercial architecture. His designs mainly consists of affordable homes with a modern aesthetic. He has designing more than 30,000 living units throughout Southern California. Some of his homes can be found in Orange County cities such as Fullerton. He is most prominent however, in the high desert areas like Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, etc. 

William Krisel designed homes - OC and desert cities


Mid-Century Links

Related web site links

If you are interested in purchasing a mid-century, 1940s, 50s, or 60s home in Orange County, please contact me. I can help you find ranch style homes for sale. My team will be happy to help you find your new home, whether it is a mid-century modern classic, a vintage home, or a contemporary condo, town home, or single family home. We'll be there for you every step of the way! 



DRE# 01728866

Ron Denhaan - Mid-century Realtor

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