How to Update the Exterior of a 1950s Home | Home Guides

During the 1950s, many houses were built quickly, with an eye toward fast occupancy by growing families. While the 1950s had a unique style with retro qualities that are still popular, there are many houses that are plain because of the speed at which they were built, or have simply become so worn and dated that it’s time for an updated exterior.


The landscaping in the 1950s was known for fast-growing trees and shrubs. These kinds of plantings have a tendency to look overgrown. Unless a tree is diseased, it’s probably best to simply trim it. As far as landscaping bushes are concerned, consider a complete tear out. This would give you an opportunity to redo the landscaping completely. Replace the older shrubs with low- to midlevel plants and colorful mini shrubs more suitable for low-profile 1950s houses such as ranches.

Siding and Paint

Fiber cement, cedar ridge, aluminum and vinyl siding were popular in the 1950s. Short of re-siding your house, the best way to update the look is by repainting with more modern colors. Aluminum, fiber cement and cedar ridge siding all take paint well. Use caution in working with fiber cement siding, as it may contain asbestos. It’s best to have it checked out by a professional. Some kinds of vinyl siding can be painted, but generally it’s not recommended. If the siding is white or a color that’s acceptable today, then try giving it a good cleaning with soapy water and a pressure washer.


Many homes in the 1950s were built with brick, which has timeless qualities. Try cleaning the brick with a hose and scrub brush, but avoid using a power washer, as it will make a crumbling brick problem worse. If there are stubborn stains, a mixture of 1 cup of bleach with a gallon of water can be used. If you need to remove paint, call in a professional. The chemicals used are dangerous and can damage the brick if not used properly. If you decide to paint the brick, clean the brick with a mixture of trisodium phosphate and water for best paint adhesion.


When considering replacement windows for a 1950s era house, avoid going too modern in the look and design of the windows. There are plenty of new windows that can fit within the design of your house. For example, double-hung windows remain a viable choice, as do colonial-style windows with mullions forming multiple window panes. Keep in mind that windows are a prime spot for old lead paint to lurk, so use caution when renovating them. Avoid sanding lead paint, and dispose of any paint chips or scraps appropriately.

Eichler Homes

If you live in an Eichler home, you might want to consider using original design elements, as Eichler homes are considered historic. Eichler homes were built in California from the 1940s through the 1970s, many in the San Francisco area. They have a timeless, contemporary style all their own, featuring design elements such as shallow-pitched roofs, exposed beams, and wide expanses of plate glass. Attempting to bring too many current exterior decorating styles to an Eichler home will likely have less than satisfactory results.

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