Tag Archives: American Modernism

Charlie’s Tiny House: Mid Century Modern

Using the same inspiring mid-century modern arch from Patricia’s Tiny House, I have separated the form, similar to a pilaster, from surface decoration and surrounded a tiny dwelling ¾ of the way with arches. Charlie’s Tiny House, much like Patricia’s is totally influenced by the modernity of 20th century American design. The introduction of curved shapes while maintaining an overall rectilinear plan is seen over and over again in modern architecture from dinners such as Sambo’s to burger joints such as McDonald’s.


Sambo’s restaurants were an incredible source of mid-century architecture, which included fanciful roofs, rough stone walls and long stretches of windows. Most were original and delightfully playful in their artistic exuberance.

1587 Shawano Avenue, Green Bay, Wisconsin, McDonald’s Speedee Sign, Built:   c1959, Style:   Mid-Century Commercial, Singular example of iconic McDonald’s metal and neon sign dating to the late 1950’s in Wisconsin. Features include the company’s trademark mascot, “Speedee,” and golden arch design.   This sign remains in its original location, and was recently restored.  

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The “front entrance” of Charlie’s Tiny House.


I have never understood some preconceived notions about house design such as the aspect facing the street should have a front entrance. Famous mid-century modern architects many times set the entrance back, hid the front facing the street with sculpted block or walls and reserved walls of glass for the unseen areas in the so-called back of the house. Charlie’s does not necessarily have a front, but does have entrances. The two doors at the corner of the house lighten the heavy effect of the red stained, wood covered exterior and balance the two long windows on either side.

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A more direct view of the “front”.

The Rietveld chairs, combined with a Platner coffee table, sets a mid-century modern mood, which continues around the rest of the veranda. Mid-century pendant lamps keep the influence going.

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964), Dutch, active 20th century, Red-Blue Chair, designed 1917–18, produced ca. 1950, Painted beech and plywood, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo credit: John Nienhuis


Charlie's Tiny House3.pngA corner of the house showing the continuation of the yellow arches, the tall, narrow windows of the bedroom and the cement planters.

Charlie's Tiny House4.pngDirect view of the veranda with the Wassily Chairs by Marcel Breuer, 1925.

Charlie's Tiny House5.pngComing around the corner.

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Straight on view of the side opposite the “front” entrances showing the boulder garden, Lombardi poplars and the French doors leading to the kitchen/dining room.

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An oblique view.

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A closer look exposing the cement, elevated planters and the Grand Confort Chairs by Le Corbusier.

Grand Confort Chair by Le Corbusier (1929).

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This image displays the side of the house with the sanded, stained and clear coated wood strips reflecting the living area extension. The casement window at the roof line is repeated inside.

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Image looking back toward the raised planters and boulder garden.

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Direct view of the side with an entrance on the right.

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Back around to the “front” entrances with a better look at the Rietveld “de Stijl” chairs.

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Coming in through one of the “front” entrances and seeing the living area. The door is to the bathroom. Notice the window above the door.

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A less elevated look at the living area with the door to the bathroom ahead.

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The television console with the door to the bedroom to the right, the door to the bathroom on the left and the dining area straight ahead.

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The bedroom with the two long windows.

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The bedroom with desk and wardrobe.

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Out of the bedroom and looking at the kitchen/dining area. Notice the windows to the bedroom and to the bathroom.

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The kitchen and dining area with the French doors to the veranda on the left.

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The dining area and French doors to the veranda.

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The bathroom covered on the left with the same material on the exterior of the house.

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The bathroom with the door to the living area on the right.

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The bathroom windows.

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Looking back toward the entrances.

This small house is only around 360 sq. ft. and appears much larger due to the ceiling height at 12 ft. The long windows not only let in considerable light, but  also produce a feeling of greater space. One other advantage of tall walls is the ability to hang large artwork which produces a feeling of spaciousness as well.

Charlie’s Tiny House Floor Plan