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  • Writer's pictureMichael Turwitt

The Future of Architecture

Updated: Mar 28, 2018

As contemporary design continues to forge ahead, driven by developments in technology and new materials, architects are shaping new ideas. Whether you prefer a trendy look or you’re going for a more traditional contemporary style - there’s something stunning for everyone.

According to a new generation of architects, limits are becoming a thing of the past. Principles that once divided the urban from the rural, and the internal from the external, are now colliding and redefining the way we understand the world around us. Gone are the days of you double window, single door, chimney houses. These days, the trick is to perfect the balance between design, functionality, and luxury — the ultimate home experience. From quirky locations to unorthodox shapes, these houses manage to blend both exquisite architecture with a taste of character.

Each home we sell has its very own particularities, that “quelque chose” that makes it pop out. Each home presents a story, a dream defined by personal preferences and somehow, it brings together all those who share the same passion for design. Design is fabulous because it challenges us to enlarge our perspective on the world. Of course, we didn’t figure out (yet) the secret to flawless design, but we look at those absolutely stunning homes and wonder what did the architects have in mind when they envisioned impeccable homes, ending up creating works of art.

The aesthetics of modern architecture are no longer limited simply functional designs, but rather have been imbued into contemporary pieces of fine art. This newfound appreciation for homes, as art, has led to a revolution in the home building space that has sparked innovation and creativity from designers around the world.

The best home builders are those that combine characteristics common to fine art and blend them with nature to create stunning buildings that fans of luxury can call home.

What’s the difference between a “modern” home and a “contemporary” one? About $275,000. That’s the gap in listing prices for luxury homes described as modern and those called contemporary, according to an analysis of luxury homes by listings website

But actually defining the two styles is a far trickier matter — and one that confounds many real-estate professionals, homeowners, builders and even some architects. Frequently, the terms are used interchangeably. And the definitions have changed. “It’s rather confusing, because a contemporary home keeps shifting,” said Chris Bardt, and architect and professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.

John Stewart, residential committee chair of the American Institute of Architects, helps explain the difference. Modern homes and décor have the simple lines and “stripped-down” aesthetic of 1940s, ’50s and ’60s modernism, said Mr. Stewart, an architect in San Carlos, Calif. Other qualities associated with modern design: cube-shaped structures with flat roofs, monochromatic color palettes, low-key furnishings and a greater use of exposed steel and concrete. Modern “is probably the original contemporary style,” said Mr. Stewart.

Contemporary homes are often more playful in combining materials and bright colors, explained Sheila Schmitz, editor of home-design website Houzz. Some may include a dramatic black-and-white palette. Interiors are flooded with natural light and floorplans emphasize indoor-outdoor living. When it comes to spotting home décor, “those terms are really good starting points to start a conversation, and then kind of go from there,” she says.

But contemporary can be a loaded word. While luxury homeowners often use contemporary to signal sleek, one-of-a-kind designs, it can also suggest that a home has become dated over time. “Brown shag carpets in one’s living room were contemporary and fun in 1970s — that’s one of the brutal realities of contemporary homes,” Mr. Bardt said.

Defining something as contemporary isn’t necessarily good for home sellers, according to In an analysis of 2016 home listings through September, luxury homes designated as contemporary had a median listing price of $1.115 million, compared with $1.39 million for modern homes. Contemporary homes also spend more time on the market than modern homes, 109 versus 81 days respectively, according to the analysis, which looked at homes listed for more than $750,000. (News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal, also owns

Single-family houses described as modern make up only 0.6% of the homes on the listings site, compared with 10.3% for homes characterized as contemporary; 1.1% of the homes on the site are described as both. Homes in New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont and California are the most likely to be described as modern.

In an October survey, about 7% of about 1,000 respondents classified their homes as modern, compared with 12% who called their home contemporary.

These days, the lines of modern versus contemporary are increasingly blurred. When Houzz researchers assign attributes to the site’s trove of more than 12 million photos, interiors can be especially subjective, as Midcentury Modern furniture has become popular in contemporary homes, Ms. Schmitz said.

When Mr. Stewart, the architect, works with clients, he uses photos to help them understand the difference between modern and contemporary. Most of the time, it turns out that homeowners are looking for something contemporary with modern foundations rather than modern in a strict sense, he says.

Many ultraluxury buyers drawn to Midcentury Modern homes are opting for a blend of styles. “They want a modern home but with a little more of a soul,” said Rayni Williams, an agent in Beverly Hills, Calif. “The cold minimalistic white box is on its way out.”

Interior designer Trip Haenisch and his partner Hadi Halawani purchased a Midcentury Modern home in Beverly Hills, Calif., last year for $7.2 million and made contemporary updates before relisting it with Ms. Williams for $10.95 million.

The “contemporized” version has wide-plank wood floors instead of terrazzo tiles to instill warmth, Mr. Haenisch, 52, said. A step-down into a sunken kitchen and family room was removed to create an open-plan design with floors on the same level. Mr. Haenisch and Mr. Halawani added glass doors that disappear when opened to the pool area. “We tried to make the house sexy,” he said.

Denise Farleigh defines her second home on the big island of Hawaii as “the modern end of contemporary.” The 66-year-old physician from Anchorage, Alaska, who lives in Hawaii part-time with her husband, Randall, hopes contemporary touches, including open-air living areas statement rugs and plenty of glass, will make it easier to sell the home. The couple is moving to be closer to family and have listed the home for $7.2 million, which includes furnishings and the 2-acre lot.

“Modern might have forced the appearance that not everybody would have liked,” said Dr. Farleigh, who completed the home four years ago for about $7 million. “We wanted a little more color.”


Michael Turwitt has long represented buyers and sellers in the purchase of fine properties and high value assets. Specialized in extraordinary quality homes and luxury property, Michael Turwitt enables clients to successfully navigate the complex North East Florida – First Coast Real Estate Market. For more information, visit

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