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Mixing Traditional Homes with Contemporary Design Elements


Mixing Traditional Homes with Contemporary Design Elements

They say Everything old is new again. We’ll bet you can think of many different ways this applies to the current recycled trends in fashion, beauty, and decor. When it comes to architecture, however, incorporating ideas from homes of the past is a prime example of benefiting from history’s many lessons.

American Architecture is Ever Evolving

American architecture has gone through countless transformations in the past hundred years, largely governed by influences from our forefathers’ European heritage, fluctuations in the economy, stylistic experimentation and reworking from earnest mistakes. Variables such as square footage, symmetry, window size, and ceiling height are all tell-tale signs of a home’s decade of origin. Even elements like exterior materials and roof pitch have gone from being dictated by what’s geographically practical to what’s trendy nationwide (Mediterranean villas springing up in New Jersey, for instance).

Fortunately for today’s buyer, the overriding aesthetic is clean and classic, with colors and materials that have proven to stand the test of time. Here in the Triangle, timeless Southern style is being celebrated and accentuated with modern accents for a sophisticated look with universal appeal. The busy Italian cucina of the early aughts has made way for subtle subway tile and sleek hardware choices. The contemporary open-concept floor plans buyers have grown to love are now being highlighted by the best of the best in traditional design. Accents like lovely moldings, built-in shelving, and stand-alone bathtubs infuse a past-meets-present charm into newly built homes for a look that’s unique to this day and age and caters to buyers’ current wants and needs. Traditional homes are getting a facelift from contemporary elements, and vice-versa. The fusion of these styles is prompting buyers to take notice, so we’re going to take a look at what these design terms mean, and how they’re being redefined to meet today’s standards of style.

Traditional Homes in the Southeast, United States

Mordecai House - Raleigh - Traditional Homes
Mordecai House - Raleigh, NC

A traditional home can be defined by several forms, but typically favors a notably historical look from Europe and early America. Stately homes with tall ceilings, defined rooms, a single exterior material choice (i.e. all-brick, all-stone, or all-wood) and symmetry, are all tell-tale signs of a traditional style home. In the South, you may find that traditional homes have a signature antebellum style, recognized for their neoclassical columns, large wrap-around porches and balconies, and tall, evenly spaced windows. Grand gardens or walkways adorned by flowering trees may lead up to the home, and their interiors typically feature formal front rooms ideal for courting, or even a grand ballroom.

In the post Civil War era, builders became more practical about their use of space and splurging on the ornate details. As industrialization took off and folks flocked to the cities, sprawling plantations became fewer and suburban neighborhoods became plentiful. This new more concise way of living popularized styles like the American Foursquare, Arts and Crafts bungalows, and mid-century modern homes. This evolution eventually birthed contemporary architecture with its clean lines, low roofs, asymmetrical framing, large geometric windows, and of course, open floor plans.

Integrating Contemporary Elements with Traditional Styles

Today’s architecture gives a strong nod to several of these eras. Buyers have demonstrated their love of Craftsman exteriors, contemporary layouts, and Farmhouse-style interiors complete with shiplap and exposed beams (thank you, Joanna Gaines). They have no patience for the wasted space created by formal sitting rooms and oversized foyers, but crave practical features like mudrooms and home offices. While hearkening back to traditional elements like hardwood floors and designated dining spaces has been a necessity for a lot of buyers, the very non-traditional open concepts of the past couple of decades have only become more open. No longer does a home’s flow depend on a lack of doors, but now a lack of walls altogether. As moms and dads take on less traditional roles in the home and place a new found importance on communing family time, it’s become vital for everyone in the household to be able to share the same space and great rooms are perfect for this. Parents can cook, kids can play, guests can chat, and no one feels isolated from the action.

Being able to have a floor plan that works for your family is the beauty of being a homeowner in the modern era. Today’s buyer has the ability to pick and choose elements from every architectural style and hire a custom home builder like our team at J. Fuller Homes to execute their vision in a beautifully balanced way. If you’re in the market for a brand new home, let us know what you’re looking for! Our team has a variety of options customized to fit your life!

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Lauren Matas

Lauren Matas joined Fuller Land & Development in 2014 as a Project Coordinator. Her responsibilities include obtaining municipal permits and entitlements as well as managing the day to day activities for development and investment projects.

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