Space to Grow

Mid-century modern homes today continue to make it easy for kids to run free, enjoy nature and dream
Space to Grow

For kicks, Robin Schick will grab his son Ethan by the legs and haul him across the floor.

"It's a fun game," Schick says. "He's all limp. It's especially good when the floor is newly clean."

Dragging your son across a smooth floor is just another joy that comes with raising children in a modern house.

Smooth floors of concrete or laminate make for sliding and gliding. Radiant floor heating makes for great sleepovers. Atriums allow little ones to get a little air without getting away. And open plans turn a house into a speedway.

"You can run through the house from the front to the backyard," mom-of-two Valerie Calegari says. "They love running laps around the kitchen counter," she adds.

Back when modern tract houses were new, architects and developers bragged that they would be ideal for families, giving mom the ability to keep a constant eye on her brood from her perch in the kitchen.

Space to Grow
Robin Schick of Rancho San Miguel playfully drags his son Ethan along the kitchen floor.
Space to Grow
In the Schicks' backyard, while Robin and Ethan play catch, older son Isaac works out on the laptop.

Kids would be able to play safely in a protected backyard. Cul-de-sacs and curving streets would slow traffic, making play outside safe as well.

And the light! The light would be healthful.

A recent absolutely unscientific sampling of modern-day families in mid-century modern houses suggests that the men in the suits may have been telling the truth.

What do you like about your house, a four-year-old resident of Joe Eichler's Greenridge subdivision in Castro Valley is asked.

"The windows!" he shouts.

Every morning, his mother Mona San Filippo says, her son Dash wakes up with the sunlight. "The sun is up!" he says, pointing outside.

"We go to other friends' houses," she says. "We walk in, he's, 'Why is it so dark here?' Which is sort of embarrassing because it was the middle of the day."

"We were living in a dark Victorian in San Francisco," dad Scott San Filippo says of his past. "I think it's good for everybody's health to get more light."

And the light can be great even at night.

"Sleeping in the living room, it's like camping," says Isaac Schick, a 16-year-old cross-country runner and lifeguard who lives in Eichler's Rancho San Miguel neighborhood in Walnut Creek. "You can see the moon bringing light into the room, you can see the hot tub, the trees."

"Even on overcast days," he says, "you can feel the mood of how the day is. The mood changes."

The easy in-and-out of a modern tract home, the open sliding doors, the lack of steps or second stories provide another plus for parents and kids.