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Custom Homes: The Difference between Modern vs. Contemporary Designs

It has always been a bit challenging to distinguish between contemporary and modern house designs, but it’s not impossible. In general, architectural experts view contemporary style as anything rooted in the present or current design trend. Modern style, on the other hand, was actually a response to the predominant styles during the late 1800s, the time of the Industrial Revolution. Modern homes, therefore, are those commonly found after the turn of the 20th century and before the beginning of the 1950s.

When you look at it this way, using the term “contemporary” cannot be really restricted to just one style, just like how “modern” can also be represented by a variety of styles. Does that confuse you even more? Okay, let’s name some characteristics of modern architectural style:

-Simple and clean lines are preferred to elaborate designs

-Whitewash and materials like concrete and steel are quite common

-Large windows give a more expansive sense of space

Contemporary, like mentioned above, is rooted in the present moment and while it is still related to the modern style it is also considered more innovative. Because it can be really difficult to sort the two styles out, we got here for you some features of both contemporary and modern house designs to help you identify one from the other:


Most modern homes have a minimalist appeal and those with the simplest looks are often the most challenging to construct, too. Contemporary houses don’t always have to go with elegant minimalism. In a nutshell, think of it as minimalist is to modern as playful is to contemporary. Though there are many elements that are common in both styles, the effects created by how differently these elements are incorporated set one from the other. Modern is all about focusing on consistency and order while contemporary is brave enough to unexpected curves or a lone column of an entirely different material from those found in a room.


Natural lighting is a priority for both contemporary and modern designs and it is intended to give the interiors the illusion of being larger than it really is. You’ll see large windows and high ceilings in both styles. Contemporary styling incorporates softened elements and focuses on showcasing natural materials. Modern homes often take pride in their famous boxy appearance.


Both architectural styles make use of interesting angles and shapes to create unique features. Modern styles are known for their stronger sense of structure.  Support beams, for example, are often exposed. Contemporary homes, though they can also expose some structural elements doesn’t have to stick with the simplicity and silent elegance of modern designs.

The differences between the two styles are still a topic for debate among many design experts. For most homeowners though, it doesn’t really matter much whether you call their home contemporary or modern, as long as it is a space that keeps their family safe and comfortable. When it comes to making a choice between modern and contemporary designs, you can always let your preferences lead you to the perfect choice!

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