Family moving into industrial contemporary style loft.

A Guide To Contemporary Houses And How To Recreate This Design Style

March 08, 2024 5-minute read

Author: Victoria Araj


When buying a house, one thing home shoppers must consider is their preferred architectural style. But with so many options available, that choice can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Today, a popular style of home is a contemporary house, which features popular trends in the design world. You can get your hands on a contemporary home in several ways – you can build one from the ground up, find one on the market or add contemporary design elements to your new or existing home.

Contemporary homes allow homeowners to unleash their creativity and incorporate their personality into their home design with on-trend features and materials. In this article, we’ll discuss the elements of a contemporary home, how to design or decorate one and the impact this style can have on homeownership.

What Is A Contemporary-Style Home?

When a property is described as having a “contemporary home design,” that typically means the house's architecture has features that align with current design trends. These home designs are often more fluid than some other architectural styles. Contemporary construction often incorporates originality, creativity and innovation while emphasizing natural and sustainable building materials. Contemporary homes share characteristics with modern, minimalist and midcentury modern styles.

Contemporary architecture often evolves as society changes and new style trends emerge, usually emphasizing different approaches to space and functionality based on homeowners’ changing needs and wants. Naturally, contemporary house designs continuously evolve based on current market trends and what home buyers are purchasing. Some popular themes in contemporary home design today include environmentalism, minimalism and individualism.

Contemporary Homes Vs. Modern Homes

Modern-style homes have been popular among home buyers and builders for a while. Their popularity has also led to increased attention to contemporary-style choices. Contemporary homes are often confused with modern homes, but they aren't the same. The word “modern” might lead you to believe these properties feature present-day trends, but modern homes actually incorporate design styles from the early to mid-1900s.

Contemporary homes reflect current popular styles while incorporating modern aesthetics. While the design styles can look different, both typically feature minimalism and clean lines.

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What Does A Contemporary House Look Like? Key Features

A contemporary home isn’t a fixed concept – its style changes and transforms depending on what's trending. But in general, contemporary houses feature simple decorating to emphasize its functionality.

Interior Contemporary House Design Elements

Grey attic with neutral modern interior

Interior Contemporary House Design Elements

Here are a few contemporary-style home interior design features:

  • Natural light
  • Open floor plans
  • Minimalism
  • Natural elements
  • Texture blends
  • Neutral palettes
  • Sustainable and eco-friendly materials

Exterior Contemporary House Design Elements

White and brown exterior contemporary Home At Dusk

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Contemporary House?

Here are some contemporary-style home exterior design features:

  • 1 – 2 stories high
  • Strong, clean lines
  • Large windows
  • Sloped roofs and green architecture
  • Asymmetrical layouts
  • Mixed eco-friendly materials, including concrete, brick, wood, stone and types of metal

How To Design A Contemporary House

There are several ways to achieve the look of a contemporary home, but it’s essential to understand the fundamentals. Let’s dive into some basic ways to recreate this house style.

Use Light

Luxury spa style bathroom with Japanese style wood slatted paneling, black slate tile and black soaking tub, subtle lighting and natural lighting from windows.

Lighting is an essential feature in a contemporary home. You don’t have to choose one type of lighting over another. You can mix natural light and manufactured lighting to customize and maximize the brightness in your home.

Accentuate Color

Simple living and dining area with peach minimalist style couch. Walls and all other interior elements are neutral and simple.

Black, white and neutral tones are primary colors in contemporary-style homes. You can expand your color palette by accenting your neutrals or primary colors with pops of bright and bold colors.

Add Contemporary-Style Furniture

Minimalist style living room featuring large wood minimalist furniture including bookshelf, white cushioned chairs and natural style coffee table.

Furniture plays a pivotal role in the design of any house, but clean, geometric shapes are a hallmark of contemporary-style homes. Opt for simple, minimalist furniture.

Update Your Flooring

Minimalist wood open staircase that matches light wood flooring.

When you update your floors, they should be plain and smooth. Some popular flooring materials include wood, tile and vinyl. For a dash of color and texture, add geometric-patterned area rugs.

Add Lines

Interior of contemporary style loft dominated by white with clean lines in exposed beams, posts and railing.

Lines are probably the most crucial element of any contemporary design. Choose the types of lines you want (straight, vertical, horizontal, etc.) and place them in different areas, such as high ceilings, bare windows, painted walls, etc. Whether you’re building a home from the ground up or renovating your existing home, make sure your lines stand out in your design.

Create An Open Floor Plan

Black and white open floor plan style kitchen and dining room.

Minimalism is key with this home style. Creating open spaces between your walls, furniture and other items is essential. Open floor plans allow you to highlight simplicity, lines and lighting. In a contemporary-style home, less is more. You should avoid cluttering rooms with unnecessary decor.

Pros And Cons Of Contemporary Houses

The versatility and individualism you can incorporate into contemporary houses make them appealing to many home buyers and homeowners. Before deciding on a contemporary-style home or home design, weigh their pros and cons.

Pros Of Contemporary Houses

Here are some benefits of a contemporary-style home:

  • Unique and individualized: You can personalize a contemporary home to reflect your unique taste.

  • Low maintenance: Owners of contemporary homes often find the clean lines, minimalist layout and design features easier to maintain.

  • Eco-friendly: Many contemporary homes, particularly recently built homes, emphasize sustainable building materials and feature energy-efficient systems.

Cons Of Contemporary Houses

Here are some possible drawbacks of a contemporary-style home:

  • High price: Contemporary homes typically use sustainable materials and features, which are sometimes more expensive.

  • Challenging to incorporate other styles: Because contemporary-style homes have a specific look, trying to blend in other design styles can be challenging. If you like changing your home design frequently, a contemporary design may not work for you.

Why Are Contemporary-Style Homes Popular?

Contemporary-style homes are growing in popularity because buyers see these homes as an opportunity to customize and integrate their personalities and design choices into the homes. In other words, buyers can secure a functional home that celebrates their individual style.

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How Much Does It Cost To Build A Contemporary House?

The total cost of building a contemporary home can vary based on several factors, including location, labor, material quality and desired square footage. Building a contemporary home may cost borrowers more upfront, but when you resell, it may turn a healthy profit due to the home’s popularity.

Given the variety of design options and home buyer preferences, the cost to buy a house will likely vary, too.

How Easy Is It To Sell A Contemporary House?

Whether a contemporary house sells can depend on the location, the size of the home and its condition. These three factors will help determine home value and what buyers may be willing to pay. Contemporary homes often sell well because they usually appeal to a larger pool of buyers.

Even though contemporary homes sell, they sometimes don’t sell as fast as modern homes. When buyers begin their home search, they often look for a modern home because they think contemporary homes are older than modern homes. But that’s not always the case. What buyers likely want is a contemporary home with a modern influence.

The Bottom Line: Contemporary Houses Are Dynamic And Change With The Latest Trends

Contemporary homes are still in demand for home buyers and builders because they draw on current trends in architecture and design. Buyers can buy a contemporary home that suits their needs and aesthetics or add contemporary design elements to their homes to keep up with current trends. A contemporary home can be a sound investment because buyers often pay close attention to current design trends.

If you’re ready to buy a contemporary home, start the approval process today with Rocket Mortgage®.

Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.