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Contemporary Home Guide: The Future of Design and Decor

Crafts & Bolts is all about contemporary homes, designs, and influences. However, it can sometimes be hard to grasp what contemporary homes are actually all about. Therefore, in this post, we will make understanding contemporary homes easy by answering the following questions:



As well as answering the questions above, we will show you examples (yay, visuals) of contemporary homes and their interior and exterior design choices. By the end of this post, you will be a contemporary home expert!

What is a Contemporary Home?

The definition of a contemporary home can be different from one person to another. Many people believe that anything built after the turn of this new century (the 2000s) is considered “contemporary” while others only consider homes that were built within the last 5 years as “contemporary.”

However, truth be told, contemporary homes are more so of an idea. In other words,

Contemporary homes are designed for the way we live now as well as how we want to live in the future.

Crafts & Bolts

Having said that, let me share a litmus test for determining if a home is contemporary or not:

The Contemporary Home Litmus Test

Fireplace Upgrade

Take any home you come across and take a look around. You won’t know its style until you’re inside and then you’ll be able to see what category it falls into. After exploration, ask yourself these three questions:

1) Does this house have up-to-date features? (Newer appliances, open concept, large windows, clean lines, intricate details)

2) Does this house embrace the latest trends? (minimalism, natural light, a mix of indoor-outdoor features, sustainability, energy efficiency, raw materials mixed in with traditional decor)

3) Is the house filled with individuality and character? (new designs, intentional architecture, and unique floor plans)

If the answers to the questions above are mostly a yes, then the house embraces the characteristics of a contemporary house. Does this mean you need to live in an ultra-modern, crazy house to have a contemporary home? Absolutely not.

Although there are many different variations of contemporary homes, there are four main characteristics that define a ‘contemporary’ home:

#1 A Contemporary Home is Designed with YOU in Mind (You being the Homeowner)

The first characteristic of a contemporary home is that it’s designed with the homeowner in mind. This means that every aspect of your home, from small to big, will be tailored to fit you and your lifestyle. However, remember that lifestyles change and adapt with time, and therefore so do contemporary homes and their designs– so, it’s kind of like your home grows alongside you.

This also implies that a custom home (house built specifically for you) will be more ‘contemporary’ than homes designed by architects/builders for other people; this is because the design will revolve around your needs and wishes.

#2 A Contemporary Home is More Eco-Friendly

Another characteristic of a contemporary home is that it’s designed with an eco-friendly mindset in mind. Your home should be built within guidelines by green building councils such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or Built Green. You will also find appliances and utilities that are more energy-efficient and help reduce your overall electrical costs.

The specifications that make your home eco-friendly are endless, but modernization needs to come with cost-saving upgrades to have a contemporary home.

#3 A Contemporary Home is Design-Driven

Contemporary Home Living Room

Contemporary home design involves the use of many elements in order to keep up with current trends.

Named after the term “contemporary art,” homes should be designed using materials that are easy enough to handle and can take a beating. Wood, metal, and concrete are all common choices for contemporary aesthetic treatment because they complement other elements, such as glass and stone.

The color palette used for a contemporary home will revolve around subtle hues of white, gray, black, and beige. These colors are most common on interiors because they add depth to a room without clashing with each other or the furnishings inside the room.

#4 A Contemporary Home is More Minimalist in Style

Contemporary Living

Contemporary homes are generally more minimalist than other styles of houses. When designing a contemporary home, there are many principles to follow such as less is more (i.e. use neutral colors), positive space (i.e. negative space is just as important), and asymmetrical balance (i.e. don’t have everything in the middle).

In Summary…

A contemporary home design is about maintaining a home by adding features and updates with the intention of staying up-to-date. Today, many older homes are designed to have modern amenities while keeping their original feel. These homes epitomize contemporary home design.

Contemporary home design is not a new concept for traditional homes. In fact, some of the largest and most popular trends in traditional home design have been about creating a more contemporary feel: from large windows to modernizing kitchen appliances to adding more comfort features like radiant floor heating, every design trend has been about making a home more contemporary.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “contemporary homes” just sounds like another way to say “modern homes.” However, modern homes are actually a tad bit different. Let’s explore why that is.

What is the Difference Between Contemporary and Modern Homes?

There is no doubt that there are many similarities between a modern home design and a contemporary home design.

However, MyMove has the absolute best definition for the differences between the two styles:

” Modern design refers to an era that has passed, while contemporary design is all about the now and the future.”

Modern Architecture

Modern architecture refers to a design style found throughout the United States and Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. Modern homes have unique shapes, sharpness of color and texture, and have a lot of industrial flavors. It was a dominant style for many years — especially in the years after the World Wars and in the 1980ies.

Today, modern architecture still has several styles and subgenres (such as Bauhaus or Futurism) leaving it open to more imaginative interpretations.

Modern homes are often very large in size but also make use of very unique interior designs by using bright colors, angles, and other artistic architectural elements. They’re also characterized by the use of glass for a view of the outside world.

For example, the iconic Eames House is considered modern in design because it features an angled roof and walls made from glass. What it does not have, however, are elements that make it contemporary by using materials such as wood or stone.

Contemporary Architecture

However, contemporary design is more about current trends and styles as opposed to eras or historical periods.

So we know that a contemporary home design is basically “modern” with regards to its stylistic elements. But there are many differences between the two homes that add up to differentiate the two.

Contemporary designs use soft curves, textures, and materials to create a warmer feel for the home. The aesthetic value of contemporary design is high in value because it includes personal style as a key design element. Also, contemporary homes tend to be better for families because the interiors tend to be more functional and utilitarian.

Therefore, in summary: Modern architecture tends to be more industrial, raw, and crisp. Whereas, contemporary homes take from other styles and designs to create warmer, functional, and comfortable spaces. Contemporary home design is flexible to changes in keeping with current styles and trends; while modern designs are less so and breaking from this style can often be conspicuous.

Can I Make Any Home Contemporary?

Mix Style House

Absolutely! That is actually the best part about a contemporary home! There are many ways to add a contemporary feel to your home regardless of style.

“It’s never old but always current”

In fact, you can even get more specific and say that there is a Contemporary Modern Craftsman Home Design, Contemporary Modern Mediterranean Homes Design, or Contemporary Modern Ranch Designs for example. It all depends on the design elements taken from popular styles like craftsmen or Mediterranean homes. Essentially you can take any home design trend, and make it more contemporary by updating the home to include the latest styles and trends. That’s why contemporary home design is so timeless: it’s never “old” but always “current.” And with all of the changes in technology, that won’t be changing anytime soon (if ever).

Contemporary Home Design Trends

Let’s take a look at some current trends for homes that take their own unique styles and embed them with contemporary home designs.

1. Contemporary Victorian Architecture

Most people don’t look at Victorian homes and think of contemporary designs. However, interior design can be a great way to add a more up-to-date style and feel to a room.

The three-story Victorian house in Harborne, Birmingham known as the Minton house is a perfect blend of old and new. The use of matte paint and colorful furniture creates a unique and fun room that brings a designer’s individuality out into the home. However, while the old Victorian charm is visible from the original molding and woodwork, the home is also modernized to meet the needs of the 21st century. Therefore, you get a bit of charm but also a lot of sophisticated contemporary designs.

The blend of white and black in this English country manor screams contemporary. The style of this home stays true of its character, with just a few coats of black paint over old trim. However, the upgrades of appliances are what really make this a contemporary house. Sometimes, a contemporary house plan requires investing in custom appliances that honor the history of a home. I mean, who wouldn’t want a kitchen like this?

2. Industrial Contemporary Architecture

Industrial contemporary design requires an old structure that is in need of a makeover. The great thing about this build is that it’s made from repurposed metal and wood, making the home almost entirely eco-friendly. You can feel the industrial design through the cement countertops and backlit shelving. One can even argue a modern style that is embraced in this design. However, contemporary architecture is all about creativity and individuality, and the metal shelves attached to the ceiling are great for creating clean lines and architectural character.

This home is quite possibly a perfect example of an industrial contemporary design. In this home, you can see steel, wood, clean lines, and raw industrial designs. While at the same time the house embraces a deep sense of warmth and inviting character. The natural wood cabinets and gold painted steel accents bring contemporary style into a gorgeous industrial design.

3. Modern Contemporary Architecture

Modern Contemporary Mix

We have spent some time explaining the differences between modern and contemporary designs. However, you might remember that there are also quite a few overlapping design elements. Therefore, many homeowners may prefer to design their homes as modern contemporary spaces.

Modern contemporary interior design tends to use a lot of white and bright colors, mixing in more neutral touches when needed. Minimalist designs are quite popular for modern contemporary houses, as the structures tend to have very little adornment around them. Enjoying simple clean lines is the ultimate goal for any contemporary home that mixes modern style into the plans. You will also see a bit of outdoor living in these house designs.

Here are some examples:

How Do I Decorate my Home to be More Contemporary?

Wood Decor
  1. Use Natural Textures and Materials

    While the look of contemporary designs may feel cold and stark, there are actually lots of warm touches that can be added to the space to make it much more inviting. For example, you can use natural elements like textured wood surfaces instead of solid metal or glass décor pieces. Exposed beams, visible ducts, and industrial pipes can all be highlighted within your design– especially if painted or stained black. However, light-exposed materials that have a visual texture have more impact than materials that are completely smooth. Light natural wood floors that compliment darker accents as well as embracing minimalism are essential to making an expensive-looking style and design.

  2. Embrace Indoor-Outdoor Living

    Bringing your exterior features indoors, or vice versa is a great way to show balance, greenery, and depth of design. You can achieve this with large glass windows for natural light, covered patios as extensions to your home, nature-filled rooms, and an earthy interior design to create a warmth that only nature can bring.

  3. Incorporate Black and White into your Design Scheme

    The contemporary design incorporates bold colors and solid lines, so dark hues like black and white are a must. You can add these to your walls, furniture, or accent pieces in a contemporary home to create an almost modern art piece in your home. However, when thinking about using black and white in your colors, you need to remember to incorporate your entire color palette. For example, our friends at The Spruce write that ” If [your] walls and windows are painted in pastels, the trims should be neutral. If [your] wall is a bright, bold color, neutrals should be used everywhere else.” So, in other words, the use of white and black is actually in coordination with the style of an entire room. Don’t be afraid to be bold, but remember your goal is to allow individual elements of your home to stand out on their own.

  4. Use Lines and Focus on Unusual Materials for your Furniture

    Contemporary design involves clean and simple lines, but using unique materials can greatly complement your aesthetic. You can use non-traditional furniture finishes, like chrome or copper, in addition to wood as the main material. This will add some flair to your home furniture without being too flashy. Modern spaces can sometimes be unique and creative while lacking functionality. Whereas with contemporary spaces, your design choices should bring character and functionality to a space. If you can see strong visible lines and your home stands out without being too overpowering with color, you’ve succeeded in creating a contemporary home. Less but better is a great minimalism approach to use here!

  5. Choose contemporary style lighting

    Point lights are a contemporary design must-have, but adding other lighting styles into the mix can completely change up the look of your home. For example, you could have chandeliers or wall sconces in your space as well as recessed lighting. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard with it and keep one or two of these accessories in the home. Lighting can also be achieved by using natural sunlight to play in unison with your home’s fixtures and accents.

  6. Keep some of your walls bare

    Due to its modern roots, contemporary design is often thought of as a cold and stark style. While that can be true in some cases, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. With the contemporary design, you can choose how daring space will be by choosing when (and where) to add some color. If you want a bold wall, go for it! But if you would prefer a more neutral space without walls as the primary design feature, then go ahead and keep them bare. The flexibility of this style is like no other.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Contemporary House?

Contemporary Living

Pros

1) These homes are eco-friendly, energy-efficient, and have updated appliances. If you like to save money on your bills, then this is an ideal home for you.

2) Contemporary homes embody the open floor plan minimalist design, meaning spacious and clutter-free living for homeowners. Now, who doesn’t love that?

3) For homeowners who love “always on trend” and dynamic living spaces, this design will be perfect for your house. This means that the home is constantly evolving to keep up with changing styles and demands, without compromising the essence of what it was originally built as.

4) Contemporary design help increase the property value of homes, which in turn provides a good return on investment.

Cons

1) This design tends to be pricier than the average home build.

Tip: You don’t need to purchase a contemporary home to be a part of the culture. Look for contemporary design inspiration, then apply it to your own space. No matter what your original home design and style is, you can always use modern contemporary style to improve the look of your house.

2) Contemporary design can feel cold and uninviting to some people.

Tip: There are lots of ways to add character and warmth to your home decor without painting the walls. For example, you can swap out modern furniture for warm wooden accents and use natural elements in your décor instead of decorative covers. Contemporary styles actually tend to be warmer and more inviting than modern designs.

3) Contemporary design is an evolving style, meaning that styles are constantly changing. While this can be exciting for some people, others may find the changes too drastic and off-putting.

Tip: Today’s contemporary home designs are already edgy and current without being too fickle. You might want to keep these aspects in mind when designing your own home, so you don’t have to worry about constantly adjusting the look of your house later on (unless that brings you joy!)


Is your Home a Contemporary Dream Come True?

If you are into contemporary styles, send a picture of your dream home or personal space over to craftsandbolts@gmail.com! Or comment below if there is anything about contemporary homes that you think deserves recognition.

Thanks for reading!

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