The New Year provides a great opportunity for reflection on the past and insight into the future. Rather than solely using the New Year to propose resolutions, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at how people in the past viewed the home of the future. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were all manner of predictions of what the modern home would look like in the seemingly distant 21st century. From the 1957 “Home of the Future” exhibit at Disneyland to a 1967 CBS report on homes of The 21st Century, here are some past predictions on the modern home versus today's reality.
The most glaring prediction about the contemporary home was the belief that plastics would be the primary component in just about everything. Dishes were of course composed entirely of plastics, but even the shell of many houses were made of plastics or at best a fiberglass composite. Windows ditched “old fashioned” glass for plastic, and furniture was also entirely plastic and sat upon vinyl flooring. Luckily, our present is not as pictured in these plastic fantastic dreams. For aesthetic and sentimental reasons, we all prefer the traditional warmth of a wood framed building and plaster walls. However, plastic is very important in the modern barn home, perhaps most importantly the polystyrene that forms the insulation in the structural insulated panels. The polyethylene tubing in a radiant flooring system is another way that plastics have found their way into the modern home. So, while past predictions were quite right that plastics would come into the modern home, they did so in more functional but inconspicuous ways.
Energy Consumption versus Efficiency
One prediction that was way off target was the way in which we used energy. The hypothesized home of today was imagined to use a great deal more energy than we currently do. In one home model, by the Philco Corporation, residents never cleaned their dishes. Instead, the plastic dishes were simply melted down and then the molten plastic was used to injection mold new dishes as needed! In reality, energy efficiency has become a major concern in recent years. In addition to better insulation, our furnaces, dishwashers and even fireplaces require less energy and fewer natural resources. Not only is this better for the environment, it also helps reduce utility bills. Timberpeg homes are a good example of this trend, combining great efficiency and the ability to use recycled materials like reclaimed timbers in construction.
The home of the future was also predicted to have a great deal of automation. Some of this automation has not happened, like the prediction that we would all only eat microwaved meals prepared and dispensed automatically. Many other predictions were right on the mark, however. The prediction that home computers would allow us to shop from home and have items delivered to our door has certainly come true. Also, features like automated dynamic windows and intelligent climate control are features with rapidly growing adoption.
If you'd like to watch some of the old videos from the 50's and 60's, then a quick visit to YouTube will show you some more of the wild predictions that were made about modern homes. One of our favorites is this video touring through the home of the future at Disney.
Of course, we think it's much more fun to tour a Timberpeg home, which offers the perfect bridge between the warm and comfortable feeling of tradition and state of the art technology and energy-efficiency. Contact Timberpeg today to learn about homes near you that may be open for a tour, or to learn how you can get started on your own home design. Happy New Year!