How to Update the Exterior of a 1950s Home

Updated February 21, 2017

The 1950s were a time of much post-war prosperity in America and houses of the time reflect this optimism. Certain structural and design features are typical of homes of this decade. For example, an attached double garage, a cedar roof, brick or stone trim, front and rear covered porches, services porches, sliding glass patio doors and hardwood floors were all characteristics of homes of this period. If you have a home built during this period, update the exterior making strategic changes so your house appears more contemporary.

Change the exterior color of the house. If the color of the exterior of your 1950s-style house is a "modernist" color that was common during the decade and historically accurate, paint your house a color that more reflects the tastes of this decade. For example, a yellow and brown ranch-style house typical of the 1950s would look more sleek and contemporary if painted slate blue.

Enlarge the windows and consider installing windows in round, half-moon or interesting shapes. Most houses of the 1950s have small or modest-sized windows, in square or rectangular shapes. Installing larger windows will not only give you the benefit of more light, but it will dramatically change the appearance of the house, making it look less iconic of the decade.

Change the landscaping drastically. Most 1950s houses have a modest landscape design -- a lawn at the front of the house, one or two trees at the side and perhaps some low bushes or flower beds along the edges of the house of walkway. For example, planting ornamental grasses, Japanese maples and bamboo, as well as installing a rock garden will give your surrounding land a look evocative of a Japanese garde -- and one which is more representative of modern style.

Build a sleek, modern patio at the front of your house. This will help to accentuate the new windows as well as the surrounding landscape. For example, a simple slate patio would instantly take away the 1950s flavor of the house.

Install a modern-style fence around the house. For example, a wrought iron or chrome or steel fence would give your house a chic, contemporary feel, as well as provide the added benefit of privacy.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Landscaping plants
  • Patio
  • Fence
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About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."