We’re all very familiar with the heavy use of glass and steel and open floor plans associated with Modernist architecture. While sadly there just simply aren’t enough Frank Lloyd Wright or George Nelson masterpieces for everyone to live in, the increased demand for modern style homes in America has led to a boom in new construction all striving for a sometimes poorly-defined ‘mid-century’ modern motif. Flat-fee MLS services have made it easier and cheaper for buyers and sellers alike to find modern homes, but there are still some key factors to look out for.
Though the fringe elements have morphed with trends over the years, the principles of the style have remained constant. Buyers will need to distinguish between contemporary construction with modernist elements, and a design that really encompasses the modernist mindset. By sticking closely to the original philosophy behind Modernism it’s easy for buyers to distinguish between the two.
Open Floor Plans and Communal Space
The idea of an open floor plan revolves around attempting to create spaces that are inviting and promote better communal living. Elements in the kitchen such as a center island and large barn sink add to the idea of shared spaces in good modernist floor plans. A lot of flips will remove interior walls to try and recreate this feeling, but often it leaves the space feeling exposed or slightly awkward. Moving glass walls can provide interplay between indoor and outdoor spaces that create an uninterrupted line to nature.
Modernist architecture saw the connection to the landscape around the structure as crucial to its design. Neglecting or ignoring how a structure interacts with its surroundings is another way contemporary construction falls short of really embodying the modernist principles. Often we see new construction placed on a lot too small for the structure with little to no consideration to the natural elements on the property at all.
This isn’t to say you need vast tracts of green fields to have a modern home, but some homage to the natural world is helpful. We’re looking more importantly again for that seamless transition from home to the natural world. This could be as simple as a small balcony with glass double doors, allowing the outside to become part of the inner space or even just a large window in the absence of exterior access.
Eco-Friendly, But Smart
We’re going way beyond LEED certified in a lot of modern homes. High-quality glass and smart design is making the difference between an energy-efficient home, and one that’s approaching carbon neutral. Solar Panels and in-floor heating fit right the aesthetic of modernist design. New ecologically-minded construction techniques and use of energy saving technology are further aiding in reducing overall energy demands.
Consumers are looking for more for these smart-ready homes that they can integrate their existing technology into. Older, retrofitted electrical systems struggle to incorporate the new technology without large electrical retrofits that often there just isn’t the budget for. However, the benefit to blinds that automatically close between a certain time of day or when a room approaches a certain temperature is huge.
Eco-friendly materials and Modernist design principles go hand-in-hand. Exposed and untreated natural elements contrast well with the wide-open and inviting spaces. There’s a built-in advantage to these modern building materials that go beyond their structural features.
Glass and metal elements tend not to require a finishing treatment at all, contributing to an increase in indoor air quality.
While you generally want to stay away from all manners of plywood and veneer laminates, these flooring solutions have become increasingly popular and are getting hard to avoid completely. Carpeting, while a popular choice in the past, has also been shown to be a major contributor to indoor air pollution by the American Lung Association.
Small Details, Big Results
Trying to strive for something a little more modernist? Maybe it’s your existing home or that property you’re trying to prime for the open market. Either can benefit either with a few small helpful lessons from the modern ethos. Even if it’s a completely different style of home, a lot of these approaches will increase curb appeal and overall faith in the investment. First, reduce clutter everywhere possible.
While it’s not completely feasible to turn your
home into a sacred temple, devoid of any signs of life, you would be surprised
how a de-cluttered home can lead to a de-cluttered mind. Light is one element
we haven’t touched on, but the general rule of thumb is more is better. Out
with the oversized and probably dirty curtains; In with the new blinds made
with natural woods and textiles. Even a little cable management of electronics
can go a long way in making a space feel more open.