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Riddle me this please. Why did bell-bottoms make a huge comeback before 1950s interior design? Maybe I missed the resurgence.

There’s nothing like setting your little backside on a marshmallow sofa by Irving Harper for George Nelson. Add a string of pearls and you transform into a sexy seductress.

House10.jpgTake a step back in time to the middle of the 1900s. World War II was over and homeowners craved luxury like the Hollywood films.

The California style spread across the country.

Today the minimalist design and organic, re-purposed interior attracts overstimulated homeowners.

I recently visited one of the original California-style homes at an open house in an unexpected place…. Oklahoma!



Here’s what I learned about the design:

  • Natural light beams indoors through windows from floor to ceiling
  • Mahogany and plastic are two prominent materials throughout
  • Colors are light with a lot of turquoise
  • Floor plans are open
  • Roofs are low-pitched

I met Jay Whiteside at the open house. He owns a home in the neighborhood and knows everything there is to know about the design and decor. Click the link below to listen to our conversation.




“Lortondale was named after the Lorton family’s country estate that took up about half of this square mile,” said Whiteside.

The Lorton’s were a wealthy family who owned the newspaper in Tulsa.

“Eventually real estate developers bought the property,” said Whiteside. “They wanted the mid-century modern coming to Tulsa.”

House13.jpgThe homes were modern… the first with on-site air conditioning instead of window units.

“All of the living areas of a Lortondale house will have the living areas in the back with glass from floor to ceiling, so it looks like your outdoors and indoors merges.”


That way the mother (or father in current times) could get the family meal ready in the kitchen and see what the kids were up to outside.

One of the main characteristics of the design is the roof. The pitched lines are low and there isn’t any attic space.

The clean lines continue on the inside of the homes.

“A lot of contemporary homes don’t have a lot of furniture like you would see in people that have early American and they’ve got every corner and every wall space covered.”

One problem with recreating the California-style in the middle of the country was the weather doesn’t come with the home.

“They don’t contend with snow in California usually so they don’t know about insulation… we have since learned.”

More than 60 years later, the colors are back in style.

House4.jpg“Back in the 50s turquoise was a big thing. Dark brown was a big thing. Pink was a big thing. Orange was a big thing.”

Placement is just as important as the hue.

“In the literature of the Lortondale homes, they would have like a wall on the end where the dining room is would be one color and the opposite end in the den would be a different color.”

Many of the Mid-Century homeowners have a story. Jay remembers his mother and her love for the décor, although she never lived to see a day in one of the Mod50s homes.

“When I re-did my house it’s sort of in homage of her. It’s too bad she’s not here to be able to see that. She passed away.”

If you’re interested in buying a Lortondale home, contact Gary Vance at