Everything Your Need To Know About Contemporary Home Design

Updated January 17, 2019

Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

When it comes to home design buzzwords, there are a lot. And contemporary is one that gets thrown around A LOT. Just watch any show on HGTV, and within the first few minutes, someone will say something to the effect of, “this beautiful, seaside contemporary home…”.

But, what exactly is contemporary home design? Is it any different than ‘modern’ home design? What are some of the unique features that contemporary design possesses? We’ll get into all that and more in this breakdown of contemporary home design.

What “Contemporary Design” Actually Means

Contemporary, in its most basic definition, simply means “of the present time.” Essentially, what people mean when they say contemporary is whatever is currently fashionable at that moment.

Does this mean that contemporary design is always changing? Yes! But the shift in what it means to be contemporary isn’t something that happens year to year. Instead, what defines a contemporary home will change more gradually over time. And, those changes are usually smaller in scale, so a contemporary home built now will still be contemporary 5-10 even 20 years down the road.

But, that doesn’t mean that a contemporary home will never “go out of style.” The reason for contemporary homes being so popular is that while their looks accurately reflect the most popular styles and design trends today, they still look good long after their construction.

As of today, these are some of the main features that you need to know about when designing a contemporary home.


Allow your creativity to flow and work alongside our team of talented and experienced designers who are determined to create the best modern and sustainable home for your budget.

Neutral Colors Abound

Contemporary colors are a little more subdued than you might see in a traditional, modern home. While modern homes can also feature neutral colors (and many of them do), neutral shades are a key fixture of contemporary design. If you’re looking to create this style of home, then it is recommended that you use blacks, whites, tans, and of course, grays throughout your design.

Below you’ll see an example of what a contemporary bathroom may look like (designed and crafted by Sustainable 9).

bright modern bathroom design by sustainable 9

Perhaps a great way to describe the colors used for these types of homes is that they are simple. They don’t try and do too much. While a modern home may add some touches of dark, royal blue or greens, and earthy browns, contemporary homes typically keep things extremely simple with colors.

Of course, if you do want to add a little more modernity to your contemporary design, you can certainly add some bolder solid colors, but they should be used sparingly and as more of an accent.

fireplace in modern lodge style home built in Minnesota

Another great way to add some extra color to a home that fits the contemporary mold is to add plants, as pictured above. It can help add that feeling of “naturalness” that can sometimes be missing in these types of homes.

Natural Light is Encouraged

Another way to get a natural feel to your contemporary design is by allowing for natural light to thrive in the space. In fact, this is highly encouraged for these types of homes because if you have only a few windows throughout the home, the neutral colors may be a bit overwhelming, and the space may be void of warmth.

Take a look at this Sustainable 9 home below, which pairs a lengthy set of windows with a contemporary-styled room to help bring natural light and greenery into the space.

modern bedroom in a sustainable home built by sustainable9

Overall, natural lighting is great for any home, regardless of the style. It will help reduce your use of artificial light, as well as provide some fantastic views of the surrounding property.

In fact, natural light does more than look great; it also provides the following benefits according to Healthline:

  • Boosts Vitamin D
  • Helps to fight off seasonal depression
  • Improves sleep
  • Reduces some of the health risks associated with fluorescent lighting

So, all in all — for both mental and aesthetic benefits — natural lighting is the way to go, especially for contemporary homes.

Form and Function Are Equivalents

Contemporary homes don’t just have the job of looking good, but it also needs to function so that it provides a livability factor. Otherwise, you just have a great-looking home that isn’t fun to live in.

Form and function in these homes must be married together, as they go hand in hand. For example, having a purely functional piece of furniture that doesn’t fit the mold of contemporary may be comfy, but it will stand out like a sore thumb in the home. On the other side, having a contemporary piece of furniture that perfectly fits in with the rest of the home, but that isn’t comfortable for you and your family to use is not good either.

So, when deciding on furniture, appliances, and other commonly used features of your home, make sure that they look great, but don’t sacrifice function for form — or vice versa.

basment in modern lodge home built in minnesota

There are tons of great contemporary features in this room alone that are a perfect example of form and function meeting in the middle. The couch, wood end tables, wine rack, and windows are all great examples.

Custom Contemporary + Modern Home Builder

Here at Sustainable 9, we craft custom homes that are commonly associated with modern design, but as you can see from our gallery, we do more than just that. For those who are eager to get started on creating the contemporary home of their dreams, reach out to us today! We’ll kick things off with a friendly meeting where we’ll discuss your plans for your home and how we can help achieve your goals for your new home.


A custom-built home means you don’t have to sacrifice the details that make your home one-of-a-kind. View our award-winning work and get inspired.

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Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

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More energy efficient than a standard new construction home* *based on HERS ratings


0% Stinky. Committed to - reducing or eliminating VOCs and toxins in the homes we build* *Receiving the EPA's Indoor AirPlus certification on every home we build


Tighter and less leaky than a standard new construction home* *based on blower door test/air leakage results

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