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Exterior Home Design: Contemporary vs Modern – Exploring the Differences

Exterior Home Design: Contemporary vs Modern – Exploring the Differences

When it comes to exterior home design, two terms often come up: contemporary and modern. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually refer to two distinct design styles. Understanding the differences between contemporary and modern design can help you make informed decisions when it comes to your home's aesthetic.

As Ackard Contractors continues to innovate and evolve, they remain committed to preserving the timeless charm of traditional home design while a shift towards modern aesthetics. This evolution is evident in the architectural design and materials such as colors, trim, stone, and woodwork. This blend of traditional and modern creates a unique look that stands out in any neighborhood.

The Origins and Evolution of Modern Design

Modern design originated in the early to mid-20th century and was influenced by the modern art movement. This design style emerged during a time when there was a shift towards functional and minimalistic aesthetics. Architects and designers like Le Corbusier and Charles and Ray Eames played a significant role in popularizing modern design.

In focus architecture and form, modern design is characterized by clean, straight lines and a focus on simplicity. It embraces the use of materials like glass, steel, and concrete. Large windows and open floor plans are common features of modern homes, allowing for ample natural light and a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.

When it comes to color palettes, modern design tends to favor neutral and earthy tones. Bold pops of color are used sparingly, often as accent pieces or to highlight architectural elements. The overall aesthetic of modern design is sleek, minimalistic, and timeless.

The Fluidity of Contemporary Design

Contemporary design, on the other hand, is a fluid and ever-evolving style that is "of the current moment." Unlike modern design, contemporary design is not tied to a specific period in time. It draws inspiration from various design movements, including modernism and postmodernism, and incorporates current trends and values.

Contemporary design is characterized by its adaptability and willingness to embrace new ideas and materials. It can incorporate elements from different styles, such as Art Deco, deconstructivism, and futurism. The key to contemporary design is its ability to reflect what is happening in the design world right now.

In terms of architecture and form, contemporary design can be more experimental and eclectic compared to modern design. It embraces asymmetry, curves, and unconventional shapes. Contemporary homes often feature a mix of materials, such as wood, metal, and glass, creating a visually dynamic and unique exterior.

Color palettes in contemporary design can vary widely, ranging from neutral and monochromatic schemes to bold and vibrant combinations. Contemporary design allows for more freedom when it comes to color choices, and it often incorporates contrasting colors and unexpected pops of bold hues.

Key Differences in Materials and Accents

One of the key differences between modern and contemporary design lies in the materials used and design accents incorporated into the exterior of the home.

Modern design often utilizes natural materials like wood, stone, and leather, combined with innovative materials such as acrylic and chrome. These materials are used in functional and minimalistic shapes, creating a warm and lived-in aesthetic. Modern design also embraces the use of bold and groundbreaking materials, like molded plastic.

Contemporary design also celebrates natural materials but in a more updated and unconventional manner. Polished wood, sleek metals like steel, and organic elements like plaster and concrete are commonly used in contemporary design. The use of reflective surfaces and unusual forms in furniture and accessories adds a touch of visual interest to contemporary exteriors.

Exploring Color Palettes in Modern and Contemporary Design

Color palettes play a significant role in defining the overall aesthetic of a home's exterior. Both modern and contemporary design styles draw inspiration from natural colors but approach color in different ways.

In modern design, color palettes are often warm and neutral, incorporating earthy hues like brown, rust, and olive. The focus is on using bold blocks of color rather than intricate patterns. Natural colors work well with a bold primary color pop on the front door or other accent areas.

Contemporary design takes a fresh and vibrant approach to color. While it also embraces neutral colors, contemporary design uses them in their natural form, such as faded sandstone or sun-bleached driftwood. Stark contrasts, black and white pairings, and crisp whites are common in contemporary exteriors. Brighter colors are used as bold accents to highlight architectural elements or to add personality to the overall design.

Architecture and Form in Modern and Contemporary Design

Both modern and contemporary design prioritize clean lines and architectural integrity. However, there are some notable differences in their approach to architecture and form.

Modern design is known for its structured and formal aesthetic. It emphasizes strong, clean lines and minimal clutter. The focus is on functionality over elaborate ornamentation. Modern homes often have open floor plans, large windows, and straightforward geometric shapes.

Contemporary design also embraces clean lines but allows for more freedom and experimentation. It incorporates irregular shapes, asymmetrical facades, and curves, creating a more dynamic and visually engaging exterior. Contemporary homes may feature mixed materials, such as stone and wood, on their exteriors. Exposed construction elements, like brick and concrete, are also common in contemporary design.

Finding the Right Style for Your Home

Choosing between modern and contemporary design ultimately comes down to personal preference and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve for your home. Consider the following factors when deciding which style is the best fit for you:

  • Timelessness: Modern design offers a timeless appeal that has stood the test of time. If you appreciate the simplicity and functionality of mid-20th century design, a modern style might be the right choice for you.
  • Current Trends: If you enjoy staying up-to-date with the latest design trends and want a home that reflects the current moment, contemporary design might be more suitable. Contemporary design allows for flexibility and experimentation, making it ideal for those who appreciate the ever-changing nature of design.
  • Materials and Accents: Consider the materials and accents that resonate with you. Do you prefer the warmth of natural materials combined with innovative elements? Or are you drawn to the unconventional and eclectic mix of materials and forms that contemporary design offers?
  • Color Palette: Think about the color palette that appeals to you. Are you drawn to the simplicity and earthy tones of modern design, or do you prefer the bold contrasts and vibrant pops of color in contemporary design?

By considering these factors and understanding the key differences between modern and contemporary design, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your personal style and vision for your home's exterior.

Achieving Your Desired Look

Whether you lean towards modern or contemporary design, there are various ways to bring your vision to life. Working with a professional design team can help you navigate the elements of each style and create a cohesive and stunning exterior design.

Considerations such as the choice of materials, color schemes, architectural details, and landscaping all contribute to the overall look and feel of your home. By carefully selecting each element and ensuring they work harmoniously together, you can achieve a visually striking and cohesive exterior design that reflects your personal style.


While contemporary and modern design are often used interchangeably, they represent two distinct styles in exterior home design. 

By understanding the differences between these two styles and considering factors such as personal preference and desired aesthetic, you can make an informed decision when it comes to your home's exterior design. Whether you choose modern or contemporary, working with a professional home renovation contractor can help bring your vision to life and create a stunning and unique exterior that reflects your individual style.

Let’s Get Started 

Let Edmonton Ackard Contractors help you take your dream home from concept to completion? Our team offers a unique experience in interior and exterior renovations, additions and custom homebuilding, presenting creative ideas, flawless finishing. Let Ackard Contractors turn your family's dreams into a beautiful reality with results you’ll love, that is the Ackard promise. Please schedule a personal consultation with us today!


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