The Many Faces of Modern: Mixing Classic & Current

Real Estate

The Many Faces of Modern: Mixing Classic & Current (Part 3) 


The combination of traditional facades with modern interiors is another expression of contemporary design and is often found in cities such as Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia or even in Aspen, where you could find a Victorian with a gutted modern interior.

“Modern architecture opens up. It takes small spaces and makes them look larger because you are combining rooms and maximizing glazing. Maximizing light and transparency by default creates a larger feeling home,” says Dewan.

“Modern is about floor plan, it’s about flow, it’s about light,” says Ames. In Chicago, renovated properties often mix classic façades with contemporary, updated interiors. There is value in the original exterior, since the footprint often allows for a larger house.

“Because of the number of historic homes in Philadelphia, many clients reach out because they love the historic bones of the home, but they are looking to create a new, more modern look in those homes,” says Plachter.

Strict zoning and little land for new development in Boulder and Aspen promotes renovations of properties in town. Contemporary works well for smaller condos built during the 1970s, says Brian Hazen, vice president of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse in Aspen. “It feels bigger, more spacious and is a much cleaner look and lends itself well to smaller spaces.”

“Contemporary is absolutely big here, and we’re seeing it in a few different ways,” shares Pamela Colesworthy with Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Ketchum, Idaho. “Some homeowners are building new, and they want ultra contemporary, but the bigger trend is what I call Mountain Modern. It’s taking the rustic materials that are representative of the environment—barn siding, corrugated metal and stone —but doing it in a very clean way and just giving it that contemporary twist.”

For newcomers to Sun Valley, Mountain Modern is also a preferred style. Colesworthy explains: “During the downturn, building stopped, so the inventory of what’s for sale is a bit dated and the trend the last five to 10 years has been toward Mountain Modern. So, people are building. Lot sales are way up. If people can’t find exactly what they want, they are building new or doing a significant remodel.”

“Log-accented and post and beam styles are not nearly as popular as they used to be,” Hazen says, “but I think it’s a cycle. If you get too much steel and glass, it is too sterile. Contemporary designs that work the best still incorporate a lot of wood, it’s very much a Rocky Mountain look.”

Twenty years ago, log timbers and river rocks were favored materials, and they were also representative of the environment. Now, wood and stone still bring a textural component and connection with nature, but the overall look is more streamlined. Timbers are more refined. Stone is widely used, but the product is often custom fabricated to achieve a specific effect often in flat or dry stack installations.

Design isn’t static. As designers and architects continue to tweak contemporary design, there is a good chance an entirely new style will be created in the process.