Just say midcentury modern to Hayden Ross, and she’s all in. The Las Vegas Realtor and special needs physical education teacher for the Clark County School District specializes in that architectural style. She’s even bought, remodeled and sold three midcentury modern homes in Southern Nevada and is always on the lookout for more.
It’s sometimes referred to as the Palm Springs-style home that made its way to Las Vegas in the 1950s and 1960s and remains popular today in the valley’s historic home districts, especially near downtown Las Vegas.
The concept was a simple one of bringing a more modern look to America’s growing suburbs after World War II. There were a lot of windows and open floor plans to bring the outdoors inside. That was made possible by post and beam designs that made walls of glass possible over support walls.
“I love them,” Ross said. “I’ve always been drawn to that style of architecture and to me when you’re inside a midcentury modern home it does feel like you’re living outside. It was one of the first open-concept homes before open concept was a thing like it is now.”
The first two midcentury modern homes Ross bought, remodeled and sold were in the McNeil neighborhood and adjacent to it west of the Interstate 15 near downtown.
Ross’ most recent midcentury project was at 218 E. Country Club Drive in Henderson along the 12th hole at the Black Mountain Golf Course that she bought for $279,000 and sold for $433,000.
The custom home was built in 1966 by O.L. Rainey, who once owned the Gold Strike Inn &Casino, known today as the Hoover Dam Lodge, Ross said. Southern California architect Richard Pleger, a former associate of famous midcentury modern architect Richard Neutra, designed the home whose exterior is a mixture of siding, stucco and brick.
“Many Neutra-like features are found in this midcentury modern post and beam home,” Ross said. “Post and beam construction means floor-to-ceiling windows to bring the outside in, and that drew me to the house and why I purchased it. The original fireplace had not been touched, and it had the original concrete tile that was absolutely amazing.”
Ross bought the home in November 2017 after she went to an estate sale held there. She said estate sales often lead to sale of the home, and she made an offer before it was even put on the Multiple Listing Service.
The home measures 1,980 square feet and has two bedrooms, an office, one full bathroom and one three-quarter bathroom. It has a two-car garage.
“That was the third home I have lived in and remodeled,” Ross said. “I don’t consider myself a flipper. I live in them for a year or two and see what it needs. I find that’s the best way to bring out the best in it. I try to do it right and keep it as original as possible. Unlike most flippers, they’re about cutting costs and doing the same thing in each house. Everything is handpicked by me.”
On her last house in Henderson, Ross said she spent about $125,000, and that’s typical for a home that’s not kept up.
“It can be new landscaping, kitchen, flooring, bathrooms and fixture,” Ross said. “Every one I have picked has needed a complete overhaul. If you get one that hasn’t been remodeled before you’re looking at least $100,000. A lot of times people go into a midcentury modern home with a typical Home Depot remodel, and it devalues the home and takes away character.”
Ross said she prefers homes “that need some help” and looks at it like an artist would. She said she likes to live in them while working on that because it takes a while to get to know a home.
“I like to go into a home and look at it like a blank canvas,” Ross said. “You get a chance to let your creativity come to the forefront, and it’s a nice challenge. Every property I have taken over has been dilapidated and ignored. They need a lot of love. I update the interiors to give it a more realistic feel.”
The work on the outside included repainting the home from mid-green to light grey, repairing and recoating the foam roof, installing a new Fiberglass front door, installing a new garage door and putting a layering of Brazilian walnut on the garage wall. Ross installed an irrigation system, added landscaping and commissioned front yard art of steel spikes, ranging in size of 4 to 12 feet. Done by local artist Randy Mendre, it’s in keeping with the midcentury theme that includes bright colors orange and turquoise. On the side of the house, she added a midcentury-style metal gate that resembles champagne bubbles.
On the inside, Ross restored the fireplace with original concrete tiles, replaced carpeted areas with the stained polished concrete flooring in the great room. She installed redwood to the dining room wall to give it more of a midcentury modern look of wood-paneled walls.
A popcorn ceiling was removed and plank ceiling with a smooth texture put in its place in the kitchen and dining room area. That matches the ceiling in other parts of the house with a smooth texture.
The home had a partial wall between the kitchen and living room and Ross shortened it to open the space between the kitchen, dining room and living room to create more flow. She replaced aging cabinets and put in black splash tile on the kitchen walls. She installed new stainless steel appliances and put in Caesarstone quartz countertops.
Extensive was work done in the master bathroom where Ross put in a new vanity, toilet, shower, tub, fixtures and new flooring of Moroccan tiles. She kept the vanity in the hallway bathroom because it was in good condition and had a midcentury look.
All of the bedrooms got bamboo flooring replacing a mixture of carpet and laminate flooring.
There were new electrical fixtures put in throughout the house, and there were floor-to-ceiling dual-pane windows and sliding doors installed along with new window coverings in the bedrooms and kitchen. None were needed for the living room and dining room.
Sabrina and Craig Mercadante bought Ross’ midcentury home, and this is the first one they’ve owned and love it. Sabrina said they lived in a 4,000-square-foot home near MacDonald Highlands before buying Ross’ house.
“I’ve always liked the style,” Sabrina said. “I like the look. It’s sleek and clean. I love how it’s open. It has windows on one side of the house that face the mountains and the golf course.”
There are plenty of others in Las Vegas who love living in midcentury modern homes. There aren’t as many here as in Southern California, and people need to be patient until one becomes available and act quickly because they go fast, Ross said.
“They’re so unusual and don’t look like every other house,” Ross said. “People enjoy the history and understand and appreciate the value of an older home. It has a story to tell.”
Ross said when the Nevada Preservation Foundation holds its annual tour of vintage tour next spring to see what styles and neighborhoods they like.
“They can start looking from there,” Ross said. “It gives you a nice overview of what Las Vegas has to offer.”
People who live in those neighborhoods tend to be more involved and have community gatherings and block parties than what’s seen in tract home communities, Ross said.