Steel, glass, brushed aluminum, flat stucco. Those materials are the ingredients for a hip home. Modern and contemporary homes are a growing niche for Realtors and furniture companies, especially in Southern California.

"The whole idea was to market modern and contemporary listings and properties in San Diego and Orange County," says Boris Buecker, co-owner of Left Coast Modern.

Buecker and his partner launched the real estate specialty company earlier this year after seeing that this area was not being focused on, "It's a very good niche."

"I built, the last few years, this custom data base of these types of homes in Orange County and San Diego and I have about 2,500 properties on that list," says Buecker.

"The modernism movement began with Bauhaus at the turn of the twentieth century in Germany," says Greg Skoropada, co-owner Left Coast Modern.

The style became fairly dormant until after WWII when so much of Europe was decimated that the country began to rebuild.

"They wanted to use this new architectural concept that came out of the Bauhaus era. And it was forward thinking, they wanted to simplify things, they wanted to do a clean, uncluttered design that was so much different from the English and the French, the French provincial, the very ornate designs that were in the 17th through 19th centuries."

The Mid-century modern style really took off in the United States in the 1950's in areas such as Palm Springs.

"It laid low through the 60's and 1970's and then there was a resurgence in the 80's, more so in the 90's and the trend is continuing," says Skoropada.

"[People] like the feel of open space," says Skoropada.

The homes are very different from the tract homes that mimic each other and spring up in various communities in the blink of an eye.

"Using post and beam construction, pre-fabricated materials, concrete, glass and steel are the main building blocks, components to build one of these homes ... and then people soften it with organic materials such as hardwood floors, some are using polished concrete," says Skoropada.

"There are a lot of mid-century, modern-designed homes built in the 50's and 60's. In Rancho Santa Fe you have about 24 [homes] very modern, built by Wallace Cunningham," says Buecker.

I've seen the market expand," said Barbara Ziebarth, interior designer and owner of MPLA Associates.

Modern homes and their interior designs are in part awakening because of their gaining exposure in magazines and on the Internet. Modern furniture has been more popular in Europe than in the U.S.

There's no one particular buyer attracted to modern and contemporary styles. Instead, Ziebarth says we all, due to our fast-paced lives, can appreciate the simplistic and functional style. For the modern and contemporary lovers this style adds ease to their lives. Missing from this style are the elaborately-carved patterns that represented ostentation, but with a burden -- dusting and cleaning were a heavy, lengthy task. With both genders working and time being a premium factor, the sleek modern and contemporary looks are fast becoming more appealing.

"There are a lot more people looking to simplify their lives, edit out and not clutter them up," says Ziebarth.

She adds, "When [people] get home they're looking for a little more restful, cleaner area."

To learn more visit: www.leftcoastmodern.com.

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