Tips for Designing a Contemporary Home from the Ground Up

While some people are content to live the majority of their lives in the same home without regularly updating it or changing the style of the home, not everyone feels that way. If you want to have a home that keeps up with the trends, a contemporary home may be the best way to go. Of course, if you want the house to be perfect for you and your family, that means designing it yourself. So how do you design a contemporary home?

What Is Contemporary Architecture Anyway?

A lot of people make the mistake of using the terms “modern” and “contemporary” interchangeably. While the two terms are often synonymous in everyday speech, when it comes to home building and interior design, there are some real differences between modern and contemporary homes. In short, a contemporary home is built and designed around the current trends. That means it can be highly subject to change, though you aren’t super likely to see drastic changes over a short period of time. Contemporary architecture focuses on form following function. Typically warmer than modern designs, it tends to feature a blending between the indoors and outdoors, asymmetry, strong geometric shapes, and tall, irregular windows.

Make Your Budget Work For You

The budget you have for building a custom home will greatly impact what you’re able to do when designing your contemporary home. The price you should expect to pay per square foot of house will depend on the dimensions of the custom home, among other factors. There’s no question that homes are expensive, and there’s a good chance you’ll need to make some decisions about what to prioritize. Location matters in real estate, so that’s one area worth prioritizing. Beyond that, make careful and intentional choices about the materials and layout of the home you design to make the most out of your budget.

Contemporary Color Palettes

Contemporary color palettes usually focus on using white, black, and neutral colors throughout the house. This helps boldly colored accessories stand out against the walls, making it easy to accent a room and create a focal point. How you use the colors will matter, especially since a room’s color impacts the mood. Black can be a grounding color, while neutral walls provide a, well, neutral background for anything you want to put on them. This can make it much easier to decorate a room and change it up periodically without worrying about clashing with the paint too much. If you opt for color on your walls, go neutral with any trim, the floor, and the ceiling.

Commonly Used Siding Materials

What material you choose to use for the siding of your home can set it apart and really make it stand out. There are a lot of different siding materials to choose from. Ones you might find used on contemporary homes include options like cement, stucco, metal, and wood strip siding. These materials can all be used to great effect to create clean lines that accentuate the geometric shapes of the home, as well as the irregularity and asymmetry that are a defining characteristic of the current contemporary home. 

A Contemporary Mindset

Of course, then there’s also the mindset that goes behind contemporary homes to consider. Remember that part of the signature of a contemporary home is the blending of outdoors and indoors, and that there’s been an increasing emphasis put on being environmentally friendly. As such, you may find that those aspects have a strong influence on contemporary trends, not just in siding, but in every other aspect of the home as well. Locally sourced, recycled, and sustainable and eco-friendly materials are often featured in contemporary homes. Details such as the style of hardware and cabinetry, the drapery, your choice of kitchen and bathroom countertop materials, and even the furniture you use will impact how accurately you are able to design a contemporary home.

The Floor Plan

One of the things that blending of settings and the emphasis on the environment directly impacts is the floorplan and overall layout of a contemporary house. Many contemporary homes are built in the shape of an L, T, U, or H to make it easier to incorporate the outdoor space into the home better. Higher end outdoor homes may use some of that incorporated space to extend their home into the outdoors by means of adding an outdoor kitchen. In terms of the interior floor plan, there is a tendency for it to be fairly open. There is often a greater degree of flexibility built into the floor plan so that as the needs of your family change, the way you have your home set up can be changed more easily to reflect those needs.

Lighting Fixtures

Ornate light fixtures and track lighting are out in contemporary homes. A more contemporary take on a chandelier or pendant lighting can be a good way to bring a contemporary aspect into the interior design of your home. Recessed lighting is in as well, and working better than ever thanks to the greater efficiency available in smaller lights. If you have a chance, play around with different lighting levels to achieve the lighting you want in any given room.


Carpets may be relatively warm and comfortable underfoot, but this flooring option generally doesn’t fit in contemporary homes. Porcelain tile, hardwood, and stained concrete are more commonly found in contemporary homes. Ideally, you would use the same flooring throughout the majority of the house to connect rooms throughout the home. Not quite ready to let the carpet go? You can compromise by adding area rugs to different rooms in the house. Area rugs can add the warmth and comfort you’re missing and can also help protect your floors from damage.

Designing your own contemporary home can help you make sure that the finished house is the perfect fit for you and your family. Do some research and develop an understanding of what it means to have a contemporary home. This will help you make sure that it really is the style of home you want to have.

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