Book explores the secret life of the modern house

A new book, The Secret Life of the Modern House, published by Ilex and authored by Dominic Bradbury, explores the enduring appeal and influence of avant-garde domestic architecture, looking at the modernist house and beyond

Gwathmey House
Gwathmey House, Long Island, USA
(Image credit: Richard Powers)

With many of us spending more time at home than ever before, a new publication by design and architecture author and long-term Wallpaper* contributor Dominic Bradbury explores the irresistable blend of modern and domestic architecture. Titled The Secret Life of the Modern House and published this April, this book is a timely survey of more than 150 years of homes, from art deco mansions, to minimalist pilesmodernist houses and beyond. 

Starting with the Victorian home and ideals brought about by societal and economic advances of the time, Bradbury goes through the dramatic changes that took place within the humble, domestic space and how these have translated into architectural expression. Bringing spaces that were once considered back-of-house to the forefront (kitchens are a great example), replacing opaque surfaces that signalled privacy with swathes of glass, and shifting from divided spaces to open plan and then potentially back again – the whys and hows that shaped our homes are all pondered. 

the secret life of the modern house

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

‘Our homes are our most precious safe havens,’ writes Bradbury. ‘In good times, they offer the focal point for so many of our personal pleasures and delights. In difficult times, they become refuges and one of our greatest sources of reassurance… House and home represent the point where architecture and design impact most prominently upon our lives.’

The book is structured around 19 thematic chapters. These go through a variety of more and lesser known case studies, and topics including modernism, minimalist, high tech, and more. There is iconic architecture, such as works by Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, and a range of trends and interiors approaches too.

Informative and entertaining, this publication is a feast for the eyes, while also thought provoking, and offers excellent inspiration for daydreaming about what makes the perfect, modern house. 

Hopkins House

Hopkins House, London, UK

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Shearers Quarters

Shearers Quarters, Australia

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

The Secret Life of the Modern House, by Dominic Bradbury, Ilex, £26

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from