Contemporary vs Modern Home Building: What’s the Difference?

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Updated November 12, 2018
Sustainable 9
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.

Perhaps one of the most common mistake made when it comes to home design is the difference between modern and contemporary design. From an outside perspective, it’s understandable why someone may get these two style and design choices mixed-up. While there are certainly a lot of similarities between contemporary and modern homes, such as their tendency to incorporate large windows and flat roofs, make no mistake, there is plenty that differentiates these two popular styles.

For starters, contemporary houses is associated with design facets originating from the latter half of the 20th century, while a modern home will have roots that trace back an international style of the 1920s. So, what else makes these two distinct design approaches unique?

Exterior: Architecture and Structural Elements

In terms of the exterior, the design for both modern and contemporary homes may at times look very similar.

Above is a home that we helped create that features a modern architecture. In comparing it with the home below, which is more contemporary-driven, you’ll see that the modern house is more balanced and structured. Because contemporary homes are less restrictive and incorporate different styles, there is more more freeform and an architect can take more artistic liberties in the design.  That isn’t to say that a modern-design home can’t be innovative, but typically contemporary homes will stand out a little more in terms of the uniqueness of their shape. You’ll also notice the similarities in the large windows used in each design, as well as the flat roof.

Contemporary home architecture
Courtesy of the Contemporist

Interior: Features and Decor Inside

In the simplest explanation, contemporary can be described as a combination of modernism and minimalism without focusing on one single style at a time. It’s a combination of the most popular design trends from around the world. On the other hand, modern design is very distinguishable, in that it will feature crisp, sharp lines, warm neutral colors, and balance throughout the design.

To help illustrate this, take a look at these two interiors:

Once again, the first picture is a design that we helped create and bring to life and is an example of a modern interior. Some key characteristics to note that make it modern are the use of wood materials and earth tones. It’s a functional home that still sticks to the simple form of modern design. At the same time, it is both inviting and great to look at.

Contemporary home design
Courtesy of Architectural Digest

With our contemporary example, we see that combination of both the modernism and minimalism, as well as the blank white walls and big windows. Also, notice the primary colors are not as warm, with white and black featured prominently. Materials that you’ll often find in the interior of a contemporary home are glass and different types of metal. One detail that is similar between both are the open floor plan, with the contemporary example being a bit more open than the modern home.

So Which is Better: Modern or Contemporary?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding how to design your home. The route that you ultimately take your home should be dependent on the needs of you and your family. Go with the design elements that you like the most and that are most functional to your everyday life.

Sustainable 9 – The Premier Modern Home Designer in the Twin Cities

If you’re interested in designing and creating a home that not only looks amazing and is unique to your needs and specifications, but also is built with sustainable materials and features, then reach out today to get started and making your dream home a reality, or check out some of our other homes and see the wide range of designs we can create.

Sustainable 9
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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