Mid-Century Modern: Bring the Outside In

Expansive glass walls connect the living spaces to the surrounding trees and the skyline beyond in this newly built, Mid-Century Modern style home located in the city of Charlottesville, VA. Skylights above the kitchen fill the open-plan spaces with natural light. Wooden beams span across the interior ceilings and continue outside to extend the main roof over the deck off the dining and primary bedroom suite. Understanding the potential of creative spaces like this, before building them, requires thorough design study. Below is a rendering we did before we built the home. Slide the bar left and right to compare what was designed to what was built.

Our renderings are the most effective tool for describing the spaces that we design before they are built. You can Move in, before you move in!

Ben Robbins.jpg

Ben Robbins

Architecture & Build Manager


Entry Through Living Room Rendering


Entry Through Living Room


Exterior Drive


Diagram that shows light coming through the outside into the house


Exterior Side View with Balcony


A Welcoming Front Entrance
Thumbnail of a render








Square Feet



House Highlights

  • Modern open spaces.

  • Long and low roof line.

  • Large glass walls.

  • Bringing the outdoors in.

  • Clean lines.

House Highlights

  • Renderings help visualize before building.

  • Exposed structural wood beams and accents.

  • White and black brick color scheme.

  • Charleston style side courtyard.

  • Cantilever roof over front entry and side deck.


Long and Low Roof Line

Shot of an outside of a house
A Welcoming Front EntranceLarge Side Deck
Black & White Hand-drawn Mid-Century Mod Exterior

The client of this home loved Mid-Century Modern architecture and moved to Charlottesville, VA looking to find their dream home. They struggled finding homes that met their style, so they decided to build a new home. We started helping review and study the feasibility of the project on a vacant city lot that they found. From there, we came up with the concept sketch you see above to help them visualize what the project could look like on their lot.

With the goal of creating their Mid-Century Modern dream home, we looked to the core tenets of the style - Long and low roof lines, exposed wood, large walls of glass, and connection to the outdoors.

To achieve the desired long and low profile we made the footprint of the house 85’ long x 36’ wide, matching the narrow proportions of the lot. We decided on a single slope, or ‘mono-slope’, roof over most of the house with a low 2/12 roof slope.


Natural Wood Beams

Wood Fireplace Mantel Detail

It was important to achieve the open floor plan without intermediate posts or load bearing walls getting in the way. We supported the wide spans of the roof above with exposed pine wood beams that are a feature element on the inside of the home. The pine wood beams we used are commonly called Glulam beams. ‘Glulam’ is an engineered structural product made by laminating (stacking and gluing) multiple wood members together to create a single structural beam. The structural advantage of using these beams is that they are much stronger and more efficient then timbers cut from logs. We used a stock beam size of approximately 5” x 12”. The glulams let us do a more ambitious structure with less material and keep a simplified clean aesthetic. Since the look of the beams worked so well with the mid century style we used remnant pieces of the beams to create some of the custom built-ins throughout the home, including shelving in the kitchen, a bench in the foyer, and the fireplace mantle pictured above. In the picture you can see the individual layers of laminated wood.

Learn more about Glulams here

Designer Tip

How to Bring the Outdoors In

An indoor-outdoor connection is a common design goal, but what does it mean and how can you add it to your design?

Diagram that shows light coming through the outside into the house

The overall goal of an indoor-outdoor connection is to make you feel like the inside relates to the outside. Of course, putting plants on the inside is a great way to make the inside feel more like the outside, but how you can do it with architecture is a big design question. Here are our top architectural tips to creating a natural connection - a core tenet of Mid-Century Modern design:

  1. A wall of glass is a great way to be able to see the outside, and feel like you are in nature, while still being inside. We created a large wall of glass in our Mid-Century Modern home with a sloping roof line. We started at 9’ high on one side of the house and reached almost 15’ tall by the time the roof reached the other side of the house. This design created a dramatic interior volume that accommodated tall walls of glass to provide expansive views of the surrounding landscape and fill the interior spaces with natural light.
  2. Make the materials on the outside and inside relate, so it feels like you are in the same space. One of the best visual tricks is to stretch your roof line out over a porch - this is called a cantilever roof. (See Slider Below.)

We accomplished this trick by stretching the interior roof beams out over the outside deck. This gave us the same ceiling treatment inside and outside, making the outside space feel like an extension of the inside space.

Nick Corcoran.jpg

Nick Corcoran

Architecture & Project Manager

Entry Through Living Room

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