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Atomic Ranch: Your Rosetta Stone to Architecture and Design

Atomic Ranch is the Rosetta Stone of Mid Century Architecture and Design. It helps architecture aficionados and novices understand how this livable art form can transform your home and, by extension, your life. I had the opportunity to speak with Jickie Torres, editor of atomic ranch and director of content at Atomic Ranch, Cottages and Bungalows, and American Farmhouse Style, to discuss mid century architecture. In fact Jickie, expert that she is, has a new book out Atomic Ranch: Remodeled Marvels. that discusses everything about mid century renovation that you could want to know. If you know anyone remodeling a modern home, Jickie tells me that their copy will arrive before Christmas!

1. What does Atomic Ranch architecture refer to?

Atomic Ranch is another name for the Mid Century Modern Era, which is the period that encompasses the mid-1940s through the early 70s. Atomic Ranch departs from the then-popular architecture (Victorian and Craftsmen) in the United States. Mid Century Modern pairs back from the wooden embellishment of the Victorian era. The result is a much more simplified approach to architecture that leans heavily on linear forms and geometric shapes. The Mid Century Modern Era's big focus is elevating everyday materials such as aluminum and glass. Today, the style appeals to interest l because it still looks futuristic.

2. How is the mid century evolved with COVID?

I think the mid-century has flourished during COVID. Mid Century homes have a strong emphasis on blurring the lines between indoors and out. If you go to a mid-century home, you'll find that the whole back half of the property is glass or floor to ceiling glass. An example of these incredible homes is the houses in Palm Springs or Los Angeles, California. During the pandemic, when people were forced to stay home and use their homes more often, they found the mid-century style therapeutic. It offers a solid connection to the outdoors via views of gardens or landscaping.

3. When people are making property investments, why should someone buy a Mid-Century House?

Most towns have a little pocket or neighborhood that has Atomic Ranch homes. These houses are usually a single story with a horizontal sprawl. When looking for property, I'd suggest looking into the area's regional history and seeing the architects during the time. You will find prominent names like Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler, architects and developers associated with this area. Each region has its local leading developer or architect. If you can track down a property constructed or drawn by one of these people, you can buy the property that will retain or grow in value.

4. Why do you think there's an uptick in interest in architecture?

We have all been so focused on home lately. There are things about home and ways we can make home happier and more productive. Collectively, people around the world are more designed-focused and aware of design's impact. Home is our respite, a place where the outside world's trouble melts away. The renewed interest stems from the realization that home is where a person feels comfortable.

5. How has social media (in particular instagram and Tiktok) impacted mid-century architecture?

I love it. It made the field more egalitarian. You can go onto Tiktok and watch home hacks. It made the topics we always cared about more popular with the average person. However, there is an emphasis on quick fixes and changes to different properties. When a person does small flips, they lose touch with the essence of the home; when conducting home renovations, it's essential to understand the house's character and add value long term by maintaining its mid-century modernism rather than completely tearing everything out.


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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