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Modern vs. Contemporary – What’s the Difference? Design-Build Tips for Your Custom Home

August 28, 2023

Designing and building your custom home is an exciting journey, filled with countless decisions that will shape your living space for years to come. Two popular design styles that often get confused are "modern" and "contemporary." While these terms are used interchangeably, they actually represent distinct design philosophies. In this blog post, we'll delve into the differences between modern and contemporary design and provide valuable tips for incorporating these styles into your custom home project.

Understanding Modern and Contemporary Design:

Modern Design: The modern design style emerged in the early to mid-20th century and is characterized by its clean lines, minimalism, and emphasis on functionality. It often features materials like glass, steel, and concrete, and emphasizes the idea that "form follows function." Modern design embraces open spaces, natural light, and a lack of unnecessary ornamentation.

Contemporary Design: Contemporary design, on the other hand, is more fluid and ever-evolving. It represents the current design trends of the time. While it may incorporate elements of modern design, contemporary design is not bound by historical constraints. It often blends various styles, materials, and textures, resulting in a more eclectic and diverse aesthetic.

Key Differences:

Time Period: Modern design refers to a specific era in design history (mid-20th century), while contemporary design reflects current trends.

Aesthetic: Modern design leans towards minimalism and simplicity, while contemporary design is more flexible and can incorporate a variety of styles.

Materials: Modern design uses materials like glass, steel, and concrete, whereas contemporary design can include a wider range of materials, both natural and synthetic.

Design-Build Tips for Your Custom Home:

Define Your Style Preference: Decide whether you prefer the clean lines and simplicity of modern design or the adaptable and eclectic nature of contemporary design. This decision will serve as a foundation for your entire project.

Choose Appropriate Materials: For a modern home, opt for materials like glass, metal, and neutral-colored concrete. Contemporary homes can integrate materials like wood, stone, and even reclaimed materials for added texture.

Focus on Functionality: Both modern and contemporary designs emphasize functionality. Incorporate features that make your daily life more efficient and enjoyable, such as open floor plans and integrated smart home technology.

Light and Space: Both styles celebrate light and space. Utilize large windows, skylights, and open layouts to create a sense of openness and airiness.

Color Palette: Modern design often features a monochromatic or limited color palette, while contemporary design can incorporate a broader range of colors. Choose a palette that resonates with your personal taste.

Furniture and Accessories: Select furniture and decor that align with your chosen style. Modern design favors minimalist, functional furniture, while contemporary design can accommodate a mix of styles and statement pieces.

Seek Professional Guidance: Collaborate with architects and interior designers who specialize in your preferred style. Their expertise will be invaluable in bringing your vision to life while ensuring practicality.


When embarking on the journey of designing and building your custom home, understanding the nuances between modern and contemporary design is crucial. While both styles offer unique aesthetics, they cater to different sensibilities. By following the design-build tips outlined in this blog post, you'll be better equipped to create a home that not only reflects your personal taste but also aligns with your lifestyle and functional needs. Your custom home will stand as a testament to the harmonious blend of timeless design principles and contemporary innovation.