Exploring Denver’s Mid Century Modern Homes with Adrian Kinney

POSTED BY katherine mcbride COMMENTS

static1-squarespace-comWe recently had the chance to chat with Denver’s Mid-Century Modern real estate expert, Adrian Kinney, who was able to give us the inside scoop on what’s going on with the real estate market in Colorado’s capital, and most populated city. Adrian specializes in connecting buyers with their mid century modern dream home and assisting homeowners in listing their mid century modern homes for sale.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to 360modern, Adrian! We are eager to hear about all of the great things going on with the Denver modernist community.

Please tell us a little bit about your background.

I’m one of the rare Colorado “natives” left here. I was born in Lakewood, CO, and graduated from CSU in Fort Collins with a degree in business, and a focus in real estate. After college, I returned to Denver where I had a few jobs in the real estate field and obtained my real estate license. I kept up with it by doing a few deals a year and always had an interest in architecture and design, but then in 2015, my mid-century modern real estate passion was revealed, as I leaped to a full-time realtor.

Adrian’s former home, and winner of the 2016 Denver Mayor’s Design Award - a renovated 1955 Cliff May prefab in Denver’s Harvey Park neighborhood. Photography by Atoms Stevens

Adrian’s former home, and winner of the 2016 Denver Mayor’s Design Award – a renovated 1955 Cliff May prefab in Denver’s Harvey Park neighborhood. Photography by Atoms Stevens

How did you get into mid-century modern design? What are some of the features that you love about mid-century modern architecture?

I have always been drawn to “modern” design and style. As I started digging into “modern” I found myself drawn to the softer and warmer aspects of what I saw in “modern” design. A lot of this was the outdoor connection and the wood elements synonymous with mid-century modern architecture. As I started digging into what this design style may be, I found it was called: Mid-Century Modern. I then started down the path to fully understand what mcm is, what it embodies, and what Modernism is.

My favorite things about Modernism are the connection to the outdoors; floor-to-ceiling glass, courtyards and courtyard “home” entrances. I love the disappearance of a house into the landscape around it, homes with a low profile and a big curb presence, and mini inside levels if the homes that were built on uneven topography.

I also love the functionality of mid-century modern homes. They were never built to be the iconic things they are today, but instead to be completely functional. They were made to make entertaining a breeze. To make living a breeze, and to have upkeep be easier so that the focus on life could be had.

Adrian’s former home, and winner of the 2016 Denver Mayor’s Design Award - a renovated 1955 Cliff May prefab in Denver’s Harvey Park neighborhood. Photography by Atom Stevens

Adrian’s former home, and winner of the 2016 Denver Mayor’s Design Award – a renovated 1955 Cliff May prefab in Denver’s Harvey Park neighborhood. Photography by Atom Stevens

Tell us about Denver’s current real estate market & and the local mid-century modern scene.

The Denver market has been quite crazy the last seven or so years. We did not have the dip that some of the other major metropolitan areas experienced in 2008. And so when things started to thaw out around 2010-2012, we were already a few steps ahead of the other markets. Also, we became a destination for young people with the passage of our pot law, our love for craft breweries, and our proximity to the mountains.

We started having a massive migration here from the younger generations, and at the peak we were seeing upwards of 75K moving to the Denver Metro area; per YEAR. Because of the massive influx, we saw prices increasing at rates of around 1% a MONTH for about five years. In some “hot” areas we saw listings close $50k+ over listing price (which was already a new high marker). The reasons for this were twofold. Denver was a hidden “big city” before this boom. We had all the amenities and structure of a major metro area, but not the living costs. Most homes were in the $150k-$250k range here, which could get you a decent home in a good area, in good condition. So we were an underpriced market.

If you go to any major city (LA, Chicago, NY, San Diego, DC, etc.) you are going to pay $400k+ to get anything in the city proper. Probably not the “hot” area or in great shape. So with the spotlight on Denver nationally with all we had going on here, plus the underpriced market, we saw home prices skyrocket. This sent immediate fears of a bubble. But most people involved in the real estate industry agree that it was all supply and demand. People wanted to be here and were demanding homes. And we did we did not have the stock of homes that these people moving needed.

We are finally seeing some relief. It is a combo of exhaustion, high prices, and more stock. But we are starting to level out, and prices are dropping. I predict that we will see a 5%-10% correction, and then head back to normal appreciation tables. If we were to see any big drop in prices, I think we have enough people sitting on the sidelines waiting, that they would jump in and pick the homes up as prices fell, which would keep them from a free-fall.

And from the average numbers I said earlier? In Denver, the average home is now around $425K, just like most other metro areas. We are now a big city- and get all the good and bad that comes with that.

Photography by Atoms Stevens

Photography by Atoms Stevens

How is the Mid Century Modern scene in Denver?

The mid-century modern scene here is large, and growing larger. My team and I have cataloged (at the time of this writing) 5,500+ mid-century modern homes here in the metro area! So for a place that was considered a cow town in the 1950s & 1960s, we have a surprisingly phenomenal stock of mid-century modern homes here. Most of the homeowner’s whose homes we have ID’d do not know what they have. I have been working on educating these people about their unique homes, even if they do not live in a “known” mcm neighborhood. As I mentioned, we were just a town with cool things around us, and there was very little focus on architecture here before this boom.

As prices rise, and more sophistication is seen on the side of the buyer, the demand for something more than the beige cookie-cutter home, is strong here. So, as most areas know, the PPSF on a mid-century modern (when marketed correctly), is significantly higher than any surrounding ranch, even with those having more square footage. It has been my battle to keep educating homeowners about what they have, and how the average, high volume agent is not the best bet for them to get top dollar. It takes someone that knows how to market the homes to the right buyers, as well as the area (as a native and a data hog, this is also very natural to me).

Photography by Atoms Stevens

Photography by Atoms Stevens

What are some of the distinctive features of mid-century modern homes in your area?

Luckily, we are very similar to what is considered a classic modernist home anywhere across the country built during the mid-century era. What is funny about this, is that we see very similar things to MCM homes from California (Cliff May’s, HB Wolff’s, etc), which are almost identical to the California model. So these homes are authentic California Contemporaries, BUT they are not the best suited for a climate that has four true seasons, and temperatures that range from 100+ to 0 in a year’s time.

There is an enclave of homes in Arapahoe HIlls and Arapaho Acres that have some very “Colorado” characteristics about them. At the time when they were built, it was with the idea that they needed to be extra “earthy” and have aspects in them that reflect the Colorado landscape. So they had a lot of moss rock, flagstone, slate, etc. These are all natural elements that you find here in Colorado. Some of the one-off mid-century modern homes in other developments of the era have similar things in them- which would make them unique to Colorado.

Photography by Atoms Stevens

Photography by Atoms Stevens

Who are some of Colorado’s notable mid-century modern architects?

We do not have many nationally known ones here. But a few are Cliff May (though he was technically not an architect), and on the commercial side, we have a few things done by I.M. Pei!
What are some of the best mid-century modern neighborhoods?

Luckily, we have some very good ones here. I suppose it depends on what kind of home you are looking for, and then what area you would like to be in within the metro area!

If you are looking for a nationally known name, at a more affordable price, there are the Cliff May Homes in Harvey Park (SW area of Denver). Around these homes there are many post-war ranches, Burns Modern MCM homes, and the Carey Holiday Homes. HP which is the zip 80219, has the largest MCM concentration of MCM homes in a single zip in the Denver area!

The next heavy concentration, which I mentioned earlier, is Arapaho Acres. It was such a phenomenal idea when it was built. A range of architects were brought in to build 124 unique homes all under the modernist umbrella, with the flare of Colorado in them (the stone and earth tones I was speaking of earlier). It is truly a stunning enclave to see.

Another area would be the Krisana Park (KP)/Lynwood neighborhoods. Krisana Park is the first mid-century modern neighborhood in Colorado to get historic overlay protections. It is such a cool area, and a great model to use as we look at how to protect other mid-century modern neighborhoods. The homes in Krisana Park have gotten a lot of love, and many updates over the years, and though they trend on the modern side of things, they still have wonderful bones and that classic curb appeal.

North of the city in Northglenn, there is an enclave called Deza Estates. It is a pocket of all semi-to-custom mid-century modern homes. They were all built to take advantage of the hill they are perched on. They feature stunning, unobstructed views of downtown and the mountains.

Photography by Atoms Stevens

Photography by Atoms Stevens

Do you have any upcoming homes/or events that you’d like to tell us about?

We will be launching the first ever Denver Modernism Week in 2018. And we could not be more excited about it! It will have tours, talks, presentations, and interactive events for people to attend and learn all about Denver MCM. It will be held August 19-26, 2018.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us, Adrian! If you’d like to learn more, please visit Adrian’s website!




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