5 Signs Your Home Was Built In The 1960s

If you’re lucky enough to find these features in your home, don’t even think about touching them.

Even from the street, you can’t miss a 1960s home—that is, if its true character is still intact. Whether it’s a brick ranch, rustic wood A-frame, or a split level, midcentury architecture isn’t hard to spot if you know what to look for. But the real treat is to find yourself a 1960s charmer with interior features that also speak to its past. While we’ll take a hard pass on the avocado-green kitchen appliances, there are certainly a broad range of traits that will make a design lover absolutely giddy if spotted in the wild. If you’re one of the lucky ones, hold on tight and don’t even think of a down-to-the-rafters remodel because these are the details they just don’t make like they used to.

Sixties Era Bungalow


Conversation Pits

There was a family-friendly aspect to 1960s homes that can’t be denied. The formal living room was no longer the only show in town, dens emerged as a central gathering space that usually included a TV around which the family might gather at the end of the day. But it wasn’t all about zoning out around the tube, conversation was still a cherished art form, even going so far as to warrant its own designated space. Enter the conversation pit. It could simply be a slightly sunken living room (just a single step down) or one that required its own mini staircase. The sides were usually composed of comfortable, built-in sofas with, of course, plenty of spots nearby to rest a drink. 

Split Level

The split-level is a true gem of midcentury architecture and homeowners are finding plenty of ways to make this calling card relevant in 2023. Split levels typically have the bedrooms and baths on one level separated by a short set of stairs to the main living space where one might find the kitchen, family room, and den. Another family friendly design, it’s still a popular choice especially when needing to regularly corral both children and messes. Whether you’re buying a split level or have been living in one for years that’s in need of a fresh look, consider leaning into its roots with a midcentury-focused design. Think color, sleek (albeit family friendly) furnishings, and maybe even a washable shag rug if you dare. 

Bold Color Palettes

Saturated is the best way to describe the color palette of the 1960s. Bright blues, oranges, yellows, and reds were popping and with no fear of the color clash. It was all a far cry from the neutral, nature-inspired tones we tend to favor these days. Sofas, appliances, carpet, and more were all opportunities to bring some color and life to the space, and boy, did they. But it wasn’t all bright and bold as wood finishes were also having a moment, but more on that…

Wood Paneling

Wood was everywhere in the 1960s. It was used for open shelving, cabinets, and, the pièce de résistance: wall paneling. It was a grounding factor amidst the pops of color and it can still be used expertly today with the same warm and inviting effect. So you painted over your wood paneling? Not to worry, there’s still much interest that can be gleaned from the detail of a painted paneled wall, especially calling on those earthy tones that feel so “right now” but deliver an inviting and cozy vibe. One more hot tip: If you don’t have original wood details, you can still get a dose of this design detail by hunting down 1960s wood furniture at vintage and antique stores. 

Minimal Architectural Details

Tall ceilings, bold crown molding, and other architectural details started to fall out of fashion during the mid-century movement. Doorways no longer had arches, ornate details were looked over for clean lines and sleek style. Even ceilings came down to lower heights. While this fact of 1960s design might sound less appealing than, say, the built-in wall-dividing bookshelves your aunt has in her 1965 ranch, this is yet another feature that takes just a little finagling to bring out it’s true glory. Consider how lighting plays a part in drawing interest. Instead of opting for ornate chandeliers, think sleek and minimal. Play with color and don’t go too formal. The 1960s were all about making spaces work for families, ditching the formality in favor of function. In fact, it sounds a lot like how many of us strive to live today.

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