Contemporary homes comprise a rich mixture of design elements. Designers borrow a little from the past – ideas first seen in Modern and Craftsman style homes – then remix the past with the present. Contemporary architects incorporate fresh new ideas like sustainable materials and integrated technology to construct entirely new concepts.
They may be found all over Los Angeles and surrounding areas with the highest concentration in affluent neighborhoods like Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills and Pasadena. You may even find renovated homes that have been updated with Contemporary elements as part of their rehab, bringing new life and a fresh look to the house.
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Contemporary refers to the architecture of today. Both the materials used in the construction and the design of Contemporary homes reflect the latest technological trends and styles. Homes that incorporate the most cutting-edge technology and sleekest style may go by the moniker ultra modern.
Design choices evolve. Contemporary designs run parallel to current cultural tastes and the functional needs of people who live in the home. Contemporary houses built ten years ago might look much different than those made today. Fluid and ever-changing, Contemporary styles are eclectic.
Contemporary designs often reflect the region in which homes are built. Houses built in Los Angeles can look quite different than those built in another city just 100 miles away. For example, Contemporary homes in a wine-producing region like the Santa Ynez Valley could infuse elements of industrial winemaking like steel I-beams, corrugated tin, and French oak accents.
While energy efficiency has long been a part of residential construction best practices, Contemporary homes take it to a new level. The installation and reliance of solar panels for clean energy continue to grow. Smart, internet-connected heating and cooling systems are also more prevalent now. In fact, home security, lighting, entertainment systems may all be programmed or controlled remotely from smartphones.
An electric vehicle charging station in a garage would have been an anomaly a decade ago. But with the advancements that make electric cars practical for everyday use, and the ensuing broad adoption of them has created an upsurge in demand for in-home chargers.
The importance of sustainability has also come into sharper focus for builders as more consumers expect it of them. Materials like bamboo are on the rise, the growing and harvesting of which has less impact on the environment. In fact, home shoppers will see a plethora of terms involving sustainability and safety come up in property descriptions such as eco-friendly, recycled, and non-toxic.
Contemporary Home Features
- Brings in natural light via skylights and large windows
- Open floor plans provide a sense of airiness which is great for entertaining because the flow among rooms increase interaction among guests
- Non-load-bearing walls allow for room reconfiguration which accommodates changes in the homeowner’s preferences or needs
- Kitchens adjoin living rooms with no barrier to separate them
- Built-in storage units and wall-mounted shelves
- Sometimes boxy or industrial-looking
- Flat or low-pitch roof
- Geometric shapes
- Little ornamentation
- Uncluttered interiors with fewer colors such as white living room walls
- Accents and contrasting fixtures to make rooms pop such as a red table lamp
- Smooth textures and clean lines
- Oversized art hung on the walls
- Simplistic and functional design
Contemporary vs. Modern Architecture
The terms Modern and Contemporary are often used interchangeably. However, Modern refers to a specific design period (roughly 1933-1965).
Modern architecture represents a design movement aimed at breaking with traditional design approaches. It sought to reject the ornate styles of the past like homes built in the Victorian Era (Queen Anne). The movement took hold in the early 20th century and accelerated during the postwar period.
The common themes of Modern and Mid Century Modern design include clean horizontal lines, natural materials, and open floor plans. These design principles emphasized function and sought to usher people into the world in which they now lived: one where technology was transforming everyday life. After all, this was the period where automobile ownership and televisions were taking hold in every American’s work and home life.
Modern interiors included futuristic ceramic lamps, lounge chairs, Eames furniture, tulip chairs, nubby rugs, and fur throws. Beautiful hardwood floors were also in vogue. Today we sometimes call Modern design retro.
While Contemporary homes might borrow from Modern design principles, they might have concrete floors or stone countertops, things that one would not find in a Modern home. That’s the big difference between the two styles: one merely borrows elements from the other.
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