As the leading property management company in Las Vegas, we – at Triumph – have come across every type of question you can conceivably imagine. Here, we go through one such example – in answering what is the difference between modern and contemporary homes.

It can be quite challenging for some first-time buyers to define what they’re looking for. Are they looking for a contemporary or a modern home? Are they looking for a blend of the two, or perhaps something postmodern?

What do these terms even mean?

It might come as a surprise to hear that there is no one single answer. Given the breadth of stylistic design, it’s possible for a design to be both modern and contemporary at the same time. In this way, we should think of design types as a spectrum rather than something fixed.

Contemporary or Modern?

So let’s get straight to it…

What are the principle differences between modern and contemporary styles? First, we need to understand the eras that these terms refer to. Modern refers to something post-industrial whereas contemporary refers to the here and now.

So you can see where confusion may lie. You could have a building that is in principal modern (see characteristics below), but adorns itself with characteristics that could easily fit into what currently constitutes ‘contemporary’ – or what happens to be fashionable now.

Modern buildings tend to bear the following features:

  • Lack of ornamentation
  • Open-plan spaces
  • Expansive use of glass
  • Lack of bricks

Think of what the alternative building might look like. A building with a closed-plan, lack of glass and ornamentation, and constructed with bricks is a building we might expect to see in the post-industrial era. It is from this era that the modern style took its form.

Instead of bricks, modern buildings are likely to bear other materials – particularly stucco. But how does this modern style of design differ from more recent contemporary styles? That departure is, unfortunately, more difficult to define.

Contemporary styles tend to bear more idiosyncrasies – or elements of randomness and uniqueness – than modern designs. Modern styles focus on function whereas contemporary styles are more likely to bring a stylistic impact with them.

In other words, contemporary designs tend to be more expressive and more likely to be visualised as a work of art rather than a home used purely for its function. Though this might sound general, it accurately defines the difference from its modern counterpart.

Final thoughts

So how might be summarise the difference between modern and contemporary homes?

Modern designs are those which emphasise a lack of ornamentation, an embrace of open-plan spaces, an expressive use of glass, and use of modern materials (stucco rather than brick).

Contemporary designs are the ‘here and now’ rather than designs from the post-industrial era (modernism). They are idiosyncratic, highly expressive in form, and are – in many respects – a work of art rather than a building that focuses on what a home should be.