Box-like, functional and unloved, they are often a second best for buyers who want a particular location, but cannot afford older properties. The principles of the modern movement of bringing light into buildings and freeing up the internal space were distorted by the push to build as many homes as quickly and cheaply as possible. Yet the good homes of the time are unerringly close to what many buyers are looking for today.
This is an irony not lost on Jane Collins (above), who loves all things Sixties. Hers is no sudden conversion - her loyalty has been unswerving through chintz, Victoriana and Conran chic. "Ten years ago, people would walk into my house and admire it, but they wouldn't feel happy with it for themselves. Now they love it and buy anything they can."
Collins's faith is evident from her London shop, Sixty 6. Even though contemporary designers produce good copies of Sixties furniture, people want something original. "Otherwise their homes look like catalogues. Most lighting was much better made 30 years ago."
So how many take their treasures, like the newly arrived white-plastic- and-steel swivel chair, back to a Sixties setting? As far as Jane Collins knows, none. "I am sure it will happen. No one has set a trend yet. I would much rather live in a cube than something mock-Georgian."
The features of a period property so closely conform to what many people regard as the perfect family house that they could never imagine living elsewhere. Until a year ago, Elizabeth Savell would have rejected a Sixties house out of hand. But she and her family wanted to live in Dulwich, south- east London, and they needed a garage. "At first we thought it would be a wrench moving from an older place, but we really enjoy living here. We use the whole house in a way we never did before, and it feels roomier than it really is. It's surprising how many people say they had never thought of looking at something like this, but now think it is a good idea."
She is particularly struck by the enormous amount of well-thought-out storage space - a design feature of the time - and by how light it is. "We have a lot of windows and the way the rooms are laid out gives an impression of space." Their furniture didn't adapt quite as easily, though. "We got rid of some pieces, and found ourselves looking at things we never would have dreamt of buying before."
Avril Campbell, from Bushells, the estate agents, is used to people somewhat grudgingly looking at Sixties homes. Some will refuse to consider anything later than turn-of-the-century, and reserve a special horror for anything built in the Sixties, while others are won over by position, price and, more often than not, the garage. "They may be able to get a four-bedroom detached house with a double garage for around pounds 350,000, which is good for the area. They then have more money to spend on the house and end up having made a fair saving."
On their books at present is the unlikely object of a great deal of attention: a Sixties bungalow, dubbed The Party House. A developer has opened up virtually the whole bungalow using glass doors and screens. Purple timber decking has been used in the courtyard garden. Square Foot, the developers, have moved as far away as possible from the granny image of the bungalow, and used a combination of white walls, spot lighting and wood flooring to attract a new kind of buyer.
In Blackheath, the Sixties-built Span homes, which were considered a cut above many of their ilk, have always been in demand. They tend to have large open-plan ground floors, with screens to make the space flexible, and were intended as good, affordable housing. That is still the case today, according to Mark Epps of Winkworth. It is a way of a getting a foothold on the Cator Estate, one of the best locations in Blackheath. "Some people who are horrified by them at first, grow to really like them. It is a way of getting on to the estate for as little as pounds 140,000 to pounds 200,000."
Alice Moro is selling a house originally designed by her father Peter Moro, an architect, on the same estate. Most interest in the property comes from those already living in a modern house, who appreciate the huge open-plan, split-level living space. It has five bedrooms and a three- quarter-acre garden. "I get the feeling that people are fed up with harking back to the past. They want space, and they are no longer so frightened of modern houses. The British have a peculiar dislike of functionalism."
The house, priced between pounds 650,000 and pounds 700,000, is listed. It is not likely to appeal to those who cannot live without architraves and ceiling roses, but it does knock on the head the notion that exposing brickwork and doing without internal walls is an exclusively Nineties trend. It may also be safer than taking walls out of old houses.
Bushells: 0181-299 1722. Moro house: 0171-403 3166. Sixty 6, 66 Marylebone High Street, London W1: 0171-224 6066Reuse content