Mid-Century Remodel Horror Stories

We’ve all heard them – horror stories of gorgeous mid-century designs being spoiled by trendy, tasteless updates. Here’s a few examples of mid-century remodels gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Case Study House 17A

One of the most famous examples of a heart-breakingly indiscriminate remodel is the story of Case Study House 17A. The home was designed as part of Arts & Architecture‘s Case Study House program by Rodney Walker in 1947 and was a beautiful example of forward-thinking mid-century architecture. Since then, the home has been rendered completely unrecognizable by “21st-century updates.”


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That Time Gregory Ains Got Stuccoed

This would-be lovely residence in Altadena’s Park Planned Homes tract was designed by the one-and-only Gregory Ains in 1948. Since then, the only parts of the house that stood the test of time were the walls of glass and clerestory windows. The rest is so completely smothered in layers of textured stucco, it’s hard to see its original mid-century simplicity.

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The Henbest-Birkett Residence

While nothing by Pierre Koenig could ever be rendered ugly, one would think that a bonafied architect would be a little more sensitive when updating one of his masterpieces. The Henbest-Birkett Residence – designed by Koenig in 1966 – had been surprisingly well-preserved until 2011, when a contemporary architect decided to strip away all the original finishes and interiors. Still a pretty house, but a shame all the same.


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1957 Waterfront Atrocity

This waterfront residence in Washington was probably a breathtaking example of mid-century architecture, if its barely-visible bones are any indication. Now however, it’s like a mahogany-bedecked nightmare.

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Masters of Mid-Century Ceramics, Part 4: Otto and Gertrud Natzler


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Otto and Gertrud Natzler were partners in both marriage and business, and began practicing their craft together in Vienna soon after their union in 1933. The self-taught couple won their first art competition at the Paris Exposition in 1937 with a silver medal in ceramics.

From there, Otto and Gertrud’s work blossomed, and after fleeing Vienna during War War II, they landed in Los Angeles. The couple soon became renowned on the American West Coast as well for their unusual style and unique glazes. It is said that Gertrud threw the clay and Otto perfected the glazes, with over 2000 styles under his belt by the end of his career.


Photo courtesy of Jacky Masters.

Although Gertrud passed in 1971, Otto lived to see his work become highly valued in art circles. By the time of his death in 2007, Natzler pieces were highly sought after by collectors and museums as symbols of post-war modernism.


Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Craft.


Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Craft.


Photo courtesy of 1stdibs.


Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Craft.


Photo courtesy of 1stdibs.


Photo courtesy of 1stdibs.


Photo courtesy of Simple Virtues.


Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

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Photo courtesy of 1stdibs.


Photo courtesy of Mondo Blogo.


Photo courtesy of For the Life of Me.


Photo courtesy of 1stdibs.

Home Spotlight: Amazing Art-Filled A. Quincy Jones in Stanford, CA

The design for the Matt and Lyda Kahn House was a collaboration in 1959 between A. Quincy Jones and Joseph Eichler, but that’s not the only reason we adore it. Besides its pedigree, the home’s interiors were designed by its owner – Stanford art professor Matt Kahn – whose jaw-dropping collection of art and artifacts cover every square inch of the space.


Although we usually go with a “less is more” attitude when it comes to interior design, this gorgeous house and its incredible collection are the obvious exception. Kahn lived in the house for over 50 years until his recent passing, at which point it was sold to another Stanford faculty member with most of the collection intact.

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