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Your complete guide to modern home design

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modern home design exterior

Most people say they want to live in a “modern home.” But what makes a property appear modern, exactly? Modern home design is based on a historical art movement that became popular from the early to the mid-20th century. It’s characterised by the use of clean and straight lines as well as earthy tones and natural materials. 

In this guide, we’ll help you understand these distinguishing features. We’ll also share some tips so you can achieve the look you desire.

Let’s begin!

modern home design facade

What is modern home design?

Modern design can trace its roots to Scandinavian and German architecture. Following the principle “form follows function,” modern homes feature designs that emphasise utility, affordability, and simplicity. This is the opposite of ornate Victorian or Art Deco styles of the past. 

From a historical standpoint, it can be said that modern building design was a natural consequence of industrialisation and development. Handmade pieces were replaced with machine-made structures and furniture to support rapid growth and expansion.

In modern homes, architectural elements, furnishings, and decorations should serve a specific practical purpose and objects that don’t serve a function are eliminated. Everything should be strictly refined and minimalistic without appearing cold or boring.

asymmetrical modern home design

Contemporary vs. modern building design

It’s easy to confuse contemporary with modern building design. The latter refers to a specific movement that originated in the 1920s and continues to enjoy popularity today. Meanwhile, contemporary design is an umbrella term for whichever style is in vogue.

Contemporary homes are similar to modern ones since both tend to have airy and spacious open floor plans. Both of them are also rooted in minimalism.

However, unlike modern ones, contemporary homes include more artful and whimsical decorations. Additionally, some contemporary homes are built from repurposed materials (such as shipping containers) and also include new technologies like solar power.

Since modern home design is the basis for many contemporary homes, these terms are often incorrectly interchanged. However, as design trends evolve, it’s important to distinguish the difference between the two so that you and your building designer stay on the same page when it comes to planning your home renovation project.

Traditional vs. modern home design

In Australia, it’s common to find traditional Victorian and Queenslander homes. These properties often feature highly decorated facades and elaborate skirtings. By comparison, modern homes feature flat roofs, geometric walls, and minimalist designs. 

If you’re planning to update a heritage home, make sure you have all the necessary approvals. It’s advisable to enlist the help of a professional so that you can maintain the heritage features of your house while renovating it to match your needs.

Key characteristics of modern building design

Modern home design refers to a specific look or aesthetic. If you are designing a modern home, try incorporating these distinguishing features:

1. Has an open floor plan

One of the most important aspects of designing and building a modern home is using an open-plan layout. Instead of walls, sections of the home are separated by furniture and decor. 

An open floor plan encourages free airflow throughout the house. It also allows families to share the same space, even when they’re in separate sections.

modern home design open concept floorplan

2. Uses clean lines and geometric shapes

Modern homes feature strong horizontal and vertical lines with little to no embellishment. That means there are no elaborate columns, arches, carvings, or mouldings throughout the space. The same goes with furnishings: instead of curvy, elegant pieces, you’ll see streamlined ones with minimal patterns.

Modern homes also feature strong geometric shapes. At times, they may be described as boxy and rigid, especially if they have a flat roof.

modern living room design

3. Maintains an earthy and neutral colour palette

Modern homes typically stick to a neutral palette, experimenting with various shades of white, grey, or black to maintain a calming or serene ambience. Colours that can be found in nature, such as blue, green, and brown are also common. 

Regardless of the colour scheme, however, modern home designs tend to lean towards solid colours. This is a huge leap compared to the murals and wallpaper that were common in more traditional homes.

4. Incorporates natural and industrial building materials

Modern homes are typically made out of natural materials like wood, stone, and leather. Aside from these, modern homes often feature exposed concrete and polished metal.

modern industrial design

5. Blurs the boundaries between indoors and outdoors

Modern homes are designed to help people feel more connected with nature. They usually feature large, floor-to-ceiling windows and flooring that continues from the interior to the exterior.

indoor and outdoor modern home design

6. Plays with balance and proportion

Designers who are looking to build a modern home often play with balance and proportion to add visual interest. They incorporate asymmetrical elements in the roofs, ceilings, and floors while keeping lines clean and straight.

Modern home design styles

Modern building design is a broad spectrum. Here are some of the styles that fall under this category:

Mid-century modern home design

Mid-century modern is a design movement that became popular after the events of World War II. Its most recognisable elements are clean lines, finished edges, and organic shapes. Additionally, mid-century modern homes typically feature bi-level floor plans with flat roofs.

Modern rustic

Modern rustic is the best of both worlds. It features clean and sleek elements from the modern era while also warming up the space with rustic elements. Modern rustic homes typically have open floor plans, modern furniture, as well as classic rustic pieces like barn doors and distressed wood decor.

modern rustic living room

Modern coastal

More than 85% of Australians live near the coast. If you’re one of them, then building a modern Hamptons-style home is something you should consider. These properties often feature crisp, all-white exteriors as well as large, breezy windows and huge balconies. Textures are kept simple to maintain the modern look.

Minimalist modern home design

Minimalism is based on the philosophy that “less is more.” In architecture and interior design, this means that every element should serve a specific and necessary function. Any superfluous detail, like mouldings or trim, should be omitted.

Minimalist homes typically feature monochromatic colour schemes to keep the design simple and straightforward. Knick-knacks and collections are kept out of sight.

modern minimalist living room

Scandinavian modern home design

Scandinavian design’s main guiding principle is that spaces should be light, comfortable, and cosy. Homes are uncluttered and painted in white or neutral colours to maintain a fresh and airy vibe. Wood, stone, and wool are often used to add warmth to the space.

Industrial modern home design

Industrial designs were inspired by the raw and unfinished aesthetic of warehouses and factories. Its key features include iron or steel finishes as well as concrete flooring. Exposed beams and vents are also signature qualities of industrial modern homes.

industrial modern home design interior

Urban modern

Urban modern is another interesting subcategory of the modern design style. It features industrial elements like concrete flooring and exposed piping, but also aims to warm up spaces by adding soft furnishings and rugs. Unlike minimalist spaces, urban modern homes include more decorative elements like feature walls, abstract paintings, and accessories.

8 tips for creating a modern home design

Sticking to a clean and modern aesthetic all throughout the home isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are some tips to help you design a sleek, modern property:

1. Decorate with modernist art

If you want your home to have a huge impact, try decorating it with modernist paintings or sculptures. These include abstract, cubist, or expressionist pieces. If you’re on a tight budget, you can scour flea markets to find an affordable yet impactful art piece.

modern home design with abstract art

2. Keep your space free of clutter

When designing your space, make sure to add enough storage so that you don’t have to leave any of your belongings lying around in the open. Aside from cabinetry, modern homes have recessed open shelves where people can showcase their collections without adding clutter.

3. Consider your window design

Modern homes often take advantage of natural light by incorporating expansive, unadorned windows. These floor-to-ceiling windows give homeowners an unobstructed view of the surroundings and blend indoor and outdoor spaces.

Avoid adding heavy window treatments to maintain the modern theme throughout the house. In case you’re concerned about heat, consider investing in window glazing.

4. Stick to modern furniture

One way to really amp up the modern theme in your home is by adding signature modern pieces like an Eames lounge chair or a Beetle chair. If these signature modernist pieces don’t strike your fancy, you can pick any type of furniture with exposed legs and plain fabric. As a rule of thumb, avoid antique furniture with dramatic carvings, lace, and frills.

5. Include a bold accent wall

Keep in mind that having a neutral colour palette in your home doesn’t mean that your space has to be boring. Feel free to add a bold accent wall to keep spaces fresh and interesting. Don’t be afraid to experiment with bold patterns for maximum impact.

For more information on the hottest colours this year, don’t forget to check out our Home Design Trends 2022 eBook. It also contains in-depth information on interior and exterior finishes.

accent wall for modern home design

6. Update your kitchen

Having a modern kitchen is a must. No matter how modern your living room or your home’s exterior is, your property will still appear dated if it doesn’t have a modern kitchen. Here are some ways you can modernise this space:

  • Simple cabinetry: Modern kitchens are usually fitted with white or black cabinetry with flat panels and simple hardware. 
  • Good lighting: Modern kitchens typically feature modern lighting fixtures and under-cabinet lights.
  • Simple flooring, tiles, and countertops: Modern kitchens feature natural materials like slate and granite. Splashbacks can feature geometric patterns to create visual interest.
  • Modern kitchen accessories: All cooking appliances and accessories should align with the sleek and minimalistic design of the space.
dark modern kitchen design

7. Choose modern lighting fixtures

The type of lighting fixtures you choose can make or break the modern theme in your home. Avoid flashy and gaudy chandeliers or outdated fluorescent lights. Go for beautiful pendant lights or recessed lighting.

modern lighting fixtures for kitchen

8. Renovate your bathroom

Modern bathroom designs differ greatly compared to dated, traditional bathrooms. Here are some details you should pay attention to:

  • Tiles: Modern tiles are larger and sometimes feature geometric shapes. 
  • Mirrors: Modern bathroom vanities are usually frameless or have thin metal frames. You can also consider adding integrated lighting.
  • Bathtub: Most modern-style bathrooms include a freestanding tub.
  • Hardware: Modern bathroom fixtures should feature strong, straight lines and come with no embellishments.

Final word on modern home design

Understanding the key characteristics of modern home design can help you build your own. Just remember its most distinguishing features: clean and simple designs, wide and open floor plans, as well as muted neutral colour schemes. 

Whether you’re constructing a new property from scratch or are simply interested in giving your home an update, you can turn to Superdraft for all your design and building needs. We can help you do the following:

  • Sign up for a free project consultation and get an instant quote
  • Visualise and design your dream space using 3D technology
  • Connect with the industry’s most respected building designers, engineers, and draftsmen
  • Coordinate and track the flow of your project from start to finish
  • Pick a dependable builder who can make your vision come to life

Sign up for Superdraft now and get started on your dream project.

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