What Classifies A House Style: What Makes A Contemporary Home?

For many people, the meaning of the word “contemporary” is hard to pin down because it’s always evolving to fit a modern context. The same can be said for contemporary architecture. However, we’re here to put a face and a definition to the contemporary home once and for all. Keep reading to learn how to identify this style of architecture, as well as what sets it apart from the crowd.

contemporary home

Contemporary homes reflect today’s architecture. Image: Lochwood-Lozier Custom Homes

What is a contemporary home?

Put simply, contemporary homes reflect the architecture of today. While you may think that definition makes it synonymous with modern architecture, that’s actually a common misconception. Modern architecture refers to a style that was popularized from the 1920s to 1950s, one that embraced clean lines and stark minimalism. Contemporary architecture goes beyond that to define the ever-evolving architectural styles of the 21st century.

Most contemporary homes do have a modern flair to them, with design tweaks from postmodernism and deconstructivism, as well. For the first time, we also see homes where the building materials are just as important as the final product. With contemporary homes, we see a huge emphasis on natural and sustainable building materials.

popular

Contemporary homes are popular because they allow for individuality. Image: Openspace Architecture

What makes these homes so popular?

Contemporary homes are popular because they’ve broken the mold when it comes to changing architectural styles. Traditionally, the dominant architectural style of the time will be the complete opposite of the one that came before it. For example, the simplicity of Craftsman homes is in direct opposition to the over-opulence of the Victorian era that came before it.

However, the same cannot be said for contemporary architecture. In fact, this style borrows a lot from modern design, its predecessor. It borrowed what worked, as you can see from the emphasis on clean, simple lines and a connection to the outdoors, and fixed what didn’t. Contemporary homes are often much warmer in design than modern versions.

This ability to pick and choose characteristics led to a never-before-seen emphasis on individuality. Homeowners were free to design their homes in a way that truly worked for them, architectural conventions aside. It also may be why contemporary design seems to be sticking around for the long haul.

feature

In general, contemporary homes try to bring the interior and exterior together. Image: RW Anderson Homes

Defining features of a contemporary home

Though contemporary design does hold a strong emphasis on individuality, there are a few defining characteristics that tie this style of home together. They are:

Exterior:

  • An irregular, asymmetrical façade
  • Strong emphasis on geometric shapes
  • Large windows
  • Clerestory windows
  • Use of recycled building materials
  • Mixed materials on the exterior (e.g. wood and stone)

Interior:

  • One to two stories
  • An open floor plan
  • Lots of natural light
  • Use of natural or recycled materials
  • Green systems for plumbing, heating and air conditioning
  • A flexible layout suited to meet the family’s needs

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Micro Apartments are the Next Big Thing

For fans of tiny houses, there’s a new way to live small and affordably – even in the biggest, most expensive cities. Micro apartments are hot in many cities with developers busy building entire buildings of them in places like New York City and San Francisco. Read on to learn more about micro apartments and where they’re located.

The difference between a studio apartment and a micro apartment

Studios and micro apartments have many things in common. They’re often a single-area open floor plan and they’re both usually less than 600 square feet. The difference comes down to function and ease.

Micro apartments are designed to be space-efficient as well as LEED certified or energy efficient. They are designed so that they feel bigger and more open than their actual square footage. They typically feature a community feel with plenty of common areas and high-end amenities including gyms, recreation areas, spas and bike valets.

Best micro apartment developments across the U.S.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best micro apartment developments in the U.S. Even if you live in a larger space, the design and lay out of these tiny spaces can still provide inspiration. All images courtesy of the developer.

1715 Micro Apartments, Seattle

micro apartment living

Contemporary and crisp white decor, high ceilings and plenty of windows ensure a bright and airy 150 square foot space.

micro apartments

A small designated office workspace next to the bathroom.

Seattle may have the largest selection of micro apartments in the country. This development offers small and relatively affordable units (as little as $800 per month) and also makes renting a snap. All units are pet friendly, have flexible lease lengths, come furnished and also include all utilities and wifi in the monthly rental price.

Stream Belmont, Seattle

best micro apartments and small studio apartments

The tall ceilings create space for large windows and a floating bed loft.

The large rooftop deck features views of downtown Seattle.

This 70-unit development in Seattle’s Capital Hill neighborhood is a combo of 460 square foot micro apartments and 1-2 bedroom apartments. The property offers a central location and earned a walkability score of 98 according to Walk Score. Built with a net-zero carbon footprint, it is LEED gold certified with:

  • reflective roofing
  • passive cooling
  • reverse cycle air-to-water chillers for hot water
  • LED lighting
  • no-VOC paints and finishes
  • bike parking

Turntable Studios, Denver

The cheerful and colorful interior matches the exterior’s warm hues.

The community club house next to the large outdoor pool is the social center of the development.

Developers refurbished an old cylindrical hotel in order to offer Denver’s first micro-apartments in Colorado. One of the coolest communities for rent in Denver, in includes amenities like:

  • Central lobby/reception
  • 24-hour gym
  • 24-hour laundry
  • Common outdoor grill area
  • Car-charging ports
  • Pet-friendly units
  • Clubhouse with adjacent swimming pool
  • High-floor game room featuring pool tables and stunning city views
  • Key fob access

77 Bluxome, SoMa, San Francisco

micro apartment and micro studio

Generously appointed features, such as a pantry, dishwasher and gas range, offset the small size of the kitchen.

The development includes plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy.

San Francisco may arguably be the most expensive city to rent in the U.S. This 240-square-foot micro apartment located in the highly desired SoMa district rents for $2,247 per month. The available amenities add real value to the monthly price tag. They include valet dry cleaning service, an arcade, a rooftop deck with 360-degree views as well as a gourmet community kitchen.

Shattuck Studios, Berkeley, CA

All units are furnished and have a murphy bed that converts the sitting area into a sleeping area.

A small but functional kitchen in a contemporary white washed wood finish.

Shattuck Studios is a four-story building for Berkeley students with 21 units. This project is exceptional due to the fact that the building went up in just 4 days. This is the first building to use MicroPADS, tiny modular apartments modeled on shipping containers. Each prebuilt apartment follows a shipping container model and then gets connected on site.

Carmel Place, New York City, NY

small studio living

Minimalist yet cozy living. The sofa quickly converts into a drop-down murphy bed.

The smart design of the sofa/bed ensures both are large and generous enough for 2 people.

Part of the large outdoor terrace space.

This development of micro apartments in Manhattan consists of 55 units that vary from 260 to 360 square feet in size. It includes a ground floor gym and lobby as well as a top floor communal commercial kitchen, dining area and large terrace with grills.

The Flats, Chicago

This breathtaking lobby offers micro apartment dwellers the perfect place to lounge if they need a little space.

CB2 furnishes these 300 square foot ready-to-go micro apartments.

The developers of The Flats have several properties throughout Chicago, including three locations with micro apartments for rent:

  • Lawrence House in Uptown Chicago (shown in images), a formal 1925-built hotel, renting for $1018 per month
  • The Bachelor, a 1922-built industrial-style building Uptown
  • Bush Temple on River North, the most upscale of the three, starting at $1700 per month

The Wharf, Washington D.C.

The studios feature 9-foot ceilings in order to avoid an enclosed feeling. The well-appointed kitchen offers a washer/dryer as well as stainless-steel appliances including a dishwasher.

Renters can access amenities like a rooftop 40-foot-long infinity pool which overlooks the river in addition to the surrounding restaurants, nightlife and marina.

This high-end community set on the Potomac River combines luxury housing, restaurants, boutiques and more. A third are micro-units which average 350 square feet and are designated as affordable housing. According to the developers, the market rate for the micro apartments will be, “in the range of $1,500-$2,000 per month.”

Micro Apartments Around The World

Here are some stylish and very innovative micro apartments from around the world, proving you don’t have to have a big house to enjoy good design.

Vienna, Austria

Rotenturmstrasse 5-9, located in the heart of Vienna. These eight fully furnished and nicely designed micro apartments range from 320 to 400 square feet with high-end finishes as well as smart technology like adaptive ambient lighting, keyless entry, high speed internet and satellite TV.

Budapest, Hungary

This 322 square foot space includes plenty of practical and modular storage. The pegboard wall along the kitchen and bed area can hold shelves anywhere. The stairs also feature cubbies and large concealed pullout drawers.

Beirut, Lebanon

Aptly named the Shoebox apartment by Eliemetni Architects, this rooftop micro studio is just 150 square feet. The bathroom is located behind the glass door while all the furniture is arranged against the walls for easier movement and flow.

Hong Kong

These are perhaps the most unusual of the world’s micro apartments. James Law Cybertecture refitted these tubular pipes as homes and stacked them as shown to create a micro apartment community.

Sao Paolo, Brazil

Casa 100 designed this 258 square foot studio to function like a modern hotel room.

Madrid, Spain

This micro apartment in Madrid takes advantage of its 13 foot ceilings with a vertical space that goes beyond the 226 square foot floor plan. Design firm MYCC created a stacked design in order to provide levels for a living area, work space and sleeping, all accessed by a wall-mounted ladder.

Would you live in a micro apartment? Which design is your favorite?

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Floating Island in Belgium Drives People to the Waterside

OBBA Architects collaborated with Studio DERTIEN 12 for the design of The Floating Island, an urban installation in the charming town of Bruges, Belgium. By building a twisting pavilion on one of the city canals, the architects tried to blur the line between land and water and drive people to the waterside.

“The pavilion consists of pontoons on the water, metal frames, deck plates, metal pillars, upper metal rails connecting the pillars and rope curtains embracing the rails,” the architects explained.

“The rope curtains and their shades create ambiguous spaces that seem to be open and closed at the same time. In addition, the curtains and shadows reacting to the light and wind blur the boundaries, repeatedly open and close visitors’ sights, and make familiar landscapes fresh again.”

By using materials like rope and wood, the installation visually adapts to its surroundings while remaining unique. We particularly like the playful touches of this installation.

“There are various spaces with different shapes and forms in the middle of the linear trail where people can rest quietly,” the architects added. “Visitors can enjoy sunbathing, leaning into the tilted ropes or rest on the wide rope hammocks looking at the clouds in the sky. In addition, they can read books or reflect while sitting in the circular space alone, or have a great time playing on the swings.”

Take a look at the video below to get a better idea of this floating island in Bruges and let us know your thoughts.

Photography by OBBA Architects.



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Aging Gracefully: Timeless Design for a Classic Home

Trends may come and go, but taste is forever. When designing your own home, it’s tempting to take an “everything but the kitchen sink” attitude. There are so many exciting features and fun trends to inspire your build! But before getting whisked away on the trend train, you need to remember that today’s trend is tomorrow’s dated. It’s better to take a classic approach to designing and building your own home. That way, you can incorporate trends without letting them take over. Aging gracefully isn’t just for skin care and fashion; the same ideas can be applied to home design. Take these factors into consideration to create a timeless design for your home.

timeless design arched windows

Co-opt classic timeless design elements like arched windows. Image: Phoebe Howard

Blast from the past

There’s a reason some architectural styles have been popular for centuries. By incorporating some of these classical design styles, you’ll be sure your home will age gracefully. Ask for Greek elements by incorporating columns, or embrace French style with arched windows. Work with your architect to bring historical elements into a fresh perspective. Borrowing from the past means a chic, tasteful future for your home.

timeless design cabinets

Simple cabinets always look classic. Image: RLH Studio

Keep it simple

Clean lines and simple layouts keep your home fresh for years to come. Think about it: Yesterday’s smaller rooms seem outdated when compared to today’s open concept layouts. That’s because homes designed around specific purposes and trends fall victim to time. What worked five or 10 years ago might seem stale today. That’s why simple design and clean lines work best. After all, it’s much easier to paint over simple woodwork than to replace ornate and outdated cabinets. In design, less is more for aging gracefully.

timeless design functional

Let function be your guide for a well-designed home. Image: Dreamhouse Studios

Function over form

An architect worth their salt will be able to tell you that form should always follow function. That means you should focus on the function of your home before you start thinking about aesthetics. Sure, you might have always dreamed of a hacienda-style place, but timeless design focuses on the purpose of the home first. Talk to your designer about the way you live, work and entertain. Nail down the specifics of your home’s function first and you’ll find that its form will better stand the test of time.

timeless design neutrals

Neutral backgrounds keep your home current. Image: D2 Interieurs

Neutral backgrounds

A surefire way to make your home look dated is to use the color du jour for the walls. Sure, it’s popular now, but will it always look as fresh and current? Just five years ago, coral was the “it” color for new homes, but gray has been more popular in years since. In fact, we’d be willing to bet that there have been more than a few coral cover-up jobs since then. By using neutral colors as a backdrop for your home, you can easily swap in colorful, trendy accents. Commit to neutrals as your safe choice and you won’t feel guilty for a fleeting love of plaid or paisley.

timeless design wallpaper

Textured wallpaper adds character in a classic way. Image: Soledad Builders

Texture over pattern

One of the simplest ways to ensure your home ages gracefully is to decorate with texture rather than pattern. Patterns are one of the quickest elements to go in and out of style. Palm print might be huge this year, but next year it will be something else entirely. Instead of, say, plastering your wall with palm wallpaper, it’s better to opt for a rich textured paper instead. Texture adds just as much personality and depth as print, but it’s much less prone to trendiness. A jute wallpaper is just as breezy as palm print, and you won’t have to change it when something else becomes popular.

timeless design natural materials

Natural materials age better than synthetics. Image: Building Ideas

Durable materials

Architectural design is only part of the equation for a timeless exterior. The materials you use can definitely factor into how your home ages. The rule of thumb is to use durable, natural materials for a timeless home. Vinyl or aluminum may be cheaper, but materials like wood, brick and stone are higher quality. You may find it’s better to design and build a smaller home with durable materials than a larger one using less expensive materials. The first will always look current and the second can cycle in and out of style – and cost money to maintain and repair.

Think about all the trends your mom used to decorate. They seem hopelessly outdated today, right? Designing and building a custom home means taking every component into consideration. Choosing finishes, fixtures and elements that are simple and classic will always serve you well. Skip the flash-in-a-pan design and you’ll have a home with timeless design that looks fresh and classic – no matter its age.

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What Classifies a House Style: What Makes a Cape Cod Home?

Cape Cod homes have been around for centuries, yet they continue to enchant us. This type of home, which is now synonymous with beachy style and weekends away, comes from very humble beginnings but still remains popular. That popularity led us to a question. What exactly is it that makes a Cape Cod-style home so unique?

We’ve laid out the answer below. Keep reading to learn more about the long history of this quaint architectural style, what it is that sets the different types of Cape Cod homes apart and some defining characteristics of the style as a whole. By the end of this post, you should be able to consider yourself a Cape Cod expert.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod homes have been around since the time of the Puritan settlers. Image: REEF Cape Cod’s Home Builder

History of the Cape Cod home

Believe it or not, this style of home dates back to the times of the earliest Puritan settlers. It came about because they brought the idea of an English cottage to America and then adapted it to accommodate New England’s harsh winter climate.

The symmetrical design, arranged around a large, open living space – or “hall” as it was once called – is English in its tradition. However, the steep roofs were meant to minimize the weight of snow settling on the roof. The characteristic low ceilings were meant to conserve heat and the cute shutters were put in place to block harsh winter winds.

The term “Cape Cod house” wasn’t given to these cottages until the 1800s. The Reverend Timothy Dwight IV, President of Yale University, named them after a visit to Cape Cod. His observations from his visit were published posthumously in “Travels in New England and New York” (1821-22)

That said, the modern Cape Cods you see today were popularized during a Colonial Revival period in the 1920s and 1930s. Boston architect Royal Barry Willis reintroduced the Cape as a contemporary housing option. He retained the same basic exterior elements but adapted the interior layout for modern living. His work saw another boom after World War II, when the Cape’s simplistic layout made it a good fit to house returning soldiers.

variation

There are several variations on Cape Cod homes as we know them today. Image: Eagle Painting Inc

Variations on the Cape Cod home

Half Cape

Featuring a front door on one side of the home with two multi-paned glass windows on the other, this house was the starter home of its day. Settlers would often keep adding additions to it as their families grew until, eventually, it would transform into a three-quarter Cape. This type of home is sometimes also called a Single Cape.

Three-quarter Cape

This home features the front door to one side of the home with two multi-paned windows on one side and one multi-paned window on the other. It was the most popular style of Cape in the 18th and early-19th centuries.

Full Cape

Also known as a Double Cape, this style is common today but was rare among the settlers. It was reserved for the wealthiest among them. The full Cape has a central front door and two multi-paned windows placed symmetrically on either side. It also features a particularly steep roof and a massive chimney.

characteristics

Simplicity defines Cape Cod homes. Image: REEF Cape Cod’s Home Builder

Defining features of a Cape Cod

Though Cape Cod homes come in a variety of styles, there are a few defining features that bring them all together. Here is a general overview of what you can expect from this type of home:

Exterior:

  • Symmetrical appearance with a centered front entry
  • Steep roofs with side gables and an overhang
  • Shingle siding
  • Gabled dormers
  • Double-hung windows with shutters
  • Centralized chimneys
  • Simple exterior ornamentation

Interior:

  • 1 or 1.5 stories
  • Low ceilings
  • Symmetrical layout featuring a center hall
  • Large, open-concept living space
  • Bedrooms in dormers or under gables
  • Clean lines, little aesthetic detailing

Have you fallen in love with the Cape Cod-style home? Do you dream of owning one of your own someday? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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Small Cedar Home Reigns Over Farm-Field Landscape

small cedar home door countySalmela Architect recently completed the design of a charming contemporary home located in Door County, Wisconsin. The 1,093 square-foot crib reigns over a farm-field landscape and takes in the peacefulness of the surroundings. The small cedar home design caters to the expectations of a bohemian client named Beth.

House for Beth is a narrow three-room building with stepped pitched roofs that reflect the functions within,” the architects explained. “The tallest roof defines a bright, open living space with views to the landscape in all directions. The lower pitched roof houses the bathroom and bedrooms. A third lean-to structure is attached to the back which contains the mechanical room.”
small cedar home exteriorSimple white walls and natural pine additions make for inviting interiors. “Sequences of large fixed windows and smaller operable windows create an immediate visual connection to the surrounding site while providing ample opportunity for breezes to passively ventilate this narrow house,” the architects added. “Natural wood trim adds warmth, and a narrow black band of Richlite above a continuous pine shelf mimics the black splash band on the exterior. The furnishings are simple, modern and affordable, all from IKEA.”

Terraces on the north and south of the small cedar home provide the owners with plenty of outdoor space and shade during warm summer days. The small white fence defines the perimeter of the courtyard, including the integrated parking spots. White window frames complement the natural cedar siding. Photography by Paul Crosby.

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