When you’re driving around towns like Greenwich, Westport, and New Canaan, it’s easy to see that traditional home styles are among the most popular. Our streets are lined with some of the most impressive colonial, shingle, and French country style homes. There are, however, several fine examples of contemporary and modern home styles in the area as well. We’ve had the opportunity to build more than one. As luxury homebuilders, we always enjoy applying our skills to unique designs, no matter what the architectural style.
The terms “modern” and “contemporary” are often interchanged, but there is a difference. The technical definition of contemporary design, whether in terms of architecture or interior elements, is the idea of something being created at the present time, in the now. Modern refers to a static design style that is often associated with postindustrial architecture built between the 1920s and 1950s. The terms are being interchanged even more today as mid-century, or retro, architectural design elements are becoming popular again.
For this blog post, we’ll use the term “contemporary” to describe the style and we’ll look at some of the elements that make a home contemporary. The first is the use of straight lines and rectangular forms. At first glance, the idea of straight lines can seem dull and lifeless. Once you consider the theory behind it, however, you can begin to understand the appeal. Straight lines, coupled with minimal clutter, provide unobstructed flow. And the use of juxtaposed horizontal and vertical rectangular forms is intended to provide dramatic effect.
Natural materials, and the way they are used, are important. For example, wood is often stained instead of painted, to provide a natural effect that reveals the grain. Wood is also used in less ornate fashion — such as large planks of vertical, smooth siding instead of the more textured look of traditional clapboards.
Extensive use of glass is one of the most prevalent contemporary design characteristics. Large panels of floor-to-ceiling glass are used to bring in natural light, views, and the landscape. The idea is to blend the exterior and interior spaces to create a more natural environment.
Open floor plans with minimal use of doors and walls, and sparse decor, help create an unobstructed space that flows more freely. This also creates a more casual, relaxed environment. Open spaces allow more light to reach areas of the home that do not have as many windows.
For those who are new to the style, it can take some warming up to. Once you’ve spent some time in a well-designed contemporary home, and the more you know about the design process, the easier it is to appreciate the thoughtfulness that goes into the development.
Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company