What's the difference between Contemporary and Modern house design?
People ask us this question all the time as the Modern house plan style is becoming more and more popular in today's market. Both describe the sleek look of today's homes, but they actually have their own distinct traits.
Modern Design refers to the specific time period between the early to mid-twentieth century when the German Bauhaus and the pioneers of Scandinavian design were creating furniture and architecture that featured a distinct style focused on simple form and function. From modern came the term mid-century modern which was developed in the 50s and 60s, although in the design world the term "modern" often includes both.
Contemporary design doesn't refer to a specific period of time, because it's constantly changing to reflect the popular styles of today's design style. It borrows qualities from modernism, minimalism, and other global styles, without hyper-focusing on any one in particular. Contemporary is, by definition, what's going on in design at this very moment in time, which makes it more fluid and hard to pin down. Modern design, on the other hand, has a distinguishable aesthetic that emphasizes clean lines, warm neutrals, and balance.
We have recently expanded our portfolio to include more single, low pitched rooflines with smooth, often whitewashed exterior materials.
Is it more expensive to build a Modern house plan?
Much of what makes a Modern home appealing is the simplification of materials and shapes (ie: shed roofs, smooth metal railings, simplified trim, wood floors throughout). But it's those materials that drive up labor costs needed to create and install the materials without imperfections, and material costs themselves. Trim work is often minimal so materials used to hide slight imperfections such as door and window trim are not available to finish the look. Workmanship has to be top notch, and you'll pay a higher price for that. The results are very clean, smooth finishes with simple lines and shapes throughout the interior and exterior of the house.
Simple details and construction practices are actually very time consuming and challenging to construct, and it takes a high level of craftsmanship to execute the simplified detailing of modern design. There are few builders and tradesmen who know what modern is and fewer still who want to take the extra time required for the construction. Finding tradesmen with the skill to construct a modern home is tricky business and when you do find them, they tend to be very busy. Just keep this in mind as you are contemplating the Modern house plan when searching for your design.
Do Modern houses have to be built on a slab?
No. In fact, all of our plans are designed and come with an unfinished basement plan. While it's true that most of the photos you see of Modern homes are typically on slab foundations, here in the Midwest, a basement is very common and our Modern house plan customers are no exception. Finishing a lower level in your basement, assuming you have enough slope in your lot to accommodate daylight windows at a minimum, is a great way to add livable square footage to your home while keeping the overall footprint smaller. We are seeing a lot of interest in our newest Modern house plans as this trend is picking up across the country.
Can a Modern house plan have an open layout?
Modern house plans typically always have an open concept floor plan with wide open spaces. Window walls are very common and the natural light that floods the living space makes the home spacious and comfortable. Often you'll find vaulted ceilings that allow for even more windows, typically facing the best view of the lot. Fireplaces are also common in Modern house plans, and smooth, clean finishes such as marble make up the fireplace surround, often reaching to the vaulted ceiling.
Floor plan layouts of 2-story Modern houses often have large great rooms with 2-story ceilings and staircases that have sleek straight lines. Railings can be made from metal and many homeowners work with craftsmen to create original designs that often have an industrial feel. You'll even see some homes with glass instead of newel posts for an even more modern look and feel.
What are window walls in a Modern house plan?
Most modern homes have rectilinear walls and volumes meaning that the walls line up floor to floor and across the same floor. Modern house plans are characterized by large expanses of glass to either let daylight in or highlight views, or in some cases, both. Tall, vaulted ceilings combined with an open floor plan allow for what we call window walls, or in most basic terms a large wall filled with windows. The natural daylight that filters in through the window wall helps to warm the house during the day while providing views of the exterior.
While large windows can be pricey, the benefit is that they allow a lot of natural daylight to enter your home. Exposing more areas to natural daylight reduces the need for artificial lighting (at least for the majority of the day) so lighting loads are less. Exposure to natural light also improves mental health and well-being, and in today's busy world, coming home to a warm, comfortable home is a blessing. Many people have the impression that Modern homes are cold and industrial feeling, but with a window wall, the opposite is true. If you see a home in our Modern house plans portfolio and would like to add a window wall, or increase the number of windows to a particular view, please call us at 1-800-725-6852 for more information.