Contemporary architecture is a broad and constantly changing category, since it reflects what a variety of architects are creating today.
However, Contemporary style homes have a distinctive feel because of the way those architects have built on the Modern style that broke from traditional architectural models.
Contemporary house design integrates a wide number of style features. It melds historic elements with current lifestyle concepts—resulting in homes that are warm, inviting and connected with the outdoors.
- Irregular, asymmetrical façade
- Strong, geometric shapes
- Extensive use of natural light
- Open floor plan in L, T, H or U shape to embrace outdoor space
- Flexible layout to adapt to changes in family needs
- Large windows, often placed non-symmetrically
- Clerestory windows
- One or two stories
- Local or recycled building materials
- Sustainable, eco-friendly materials such as bamboo flooring and granite countertops
- Green heating, air-conditioning and plumbing systems to conserve energy
Origins of Contemporary Home Design
The Contemporary style grew out of Modern architecture, which arose with the Industrial Revolution of the early 20th century.
Modern home style is marked by simple, clean lines; the idea that “form follows function”; and the use of what were then newly available building materials (iron, steel and sheet glass).
However, some critics consider Modernist style to be rather cold and machinelike.
Contemporary style houses emphasize a direct connection between indoors and outdoors. Many feature movable exterior walls—essentially, more elaborate versions of the ranch house patio slider—leading to outdoor “rooms” like fully equipped outdoor kitchens with refrigerators, barbecues, full-featured stoves and fireplaces.
Almost all Contemporary houses share common design elements such as tall, irregularly shaped windows; bold geometric shapes; and asymmetrical façades and floor plans.
However, most Contemporary houses also tap design history and freely borrow elements from a host of historical styles, mixing them up to create a unique look and feel.
Green Home Design for a New Era
More and more Contemporary houses are being designed with eco-friendly materials and features. Bamboo, a sustainable material, is often sourced for floors, and attractive natural granite is popular for countertops.
Many Contemporary style homes are designed to adapt as the homeowners’ family evolves, with movable partitions, pocket doors, general-purpose rooms and non-load-bearing walls easily relocated when desired.
Such plans allow homeowners to carve out extra bedrooms to accommodate children and then return the space to other uses when they become empty nesters.