Modern vs. Contemporary Design: What's the Difference?

Contemporary or modern style may bring visions of Art Deco and boxy or geometrical shapes when it comes to architecture but are contemporary and modern the same thing? Modern actually refers to an era that is now past while contemporary design is all about the now and future.Modern vs. Contemporary Design: What's the Difference?

When we talk about mid modern or midcentury modern that could bring visions of retro, unique curb to architecture and furniture design, and Art Deco of the 1920s. The contemporary is all here and now, regardless of when that is. According to Wikipedia, "contemporary architecture" is the "architecture of the 21st century. No single style is dominant; contemporary architects are working in several different styles, from postmodernism and high-tech architecture to highly conceptual and expressive forms and designs, resembling sculpture on an enormous scale"

In other references, modern design can often feature wood and earth elements while contemporary design features more state-of-the-art materials, glass, and metals. For lack of a better term, you can think the modern design is warmer whereas contemporary is cooler when we're talking about colors and materials.

Modern verse contemporary does have similarities. Aesthetics are both minimal. Most layouts for modern and contemporary don't have a lot of knickknacks, busy walls, or textiles, and most of the patterns are seen in accent pieces like pillows and vases.

Both modern and contemporary have clean architectural lines. These seem to be the signature architectural design in both design elements and they both lend themselves to an open space ambiance or feel.

Can contemporary go out of style?

Modern vs. Contemporary Design: What's the Difference?Yes. But sometimes these modern or contemporary styles can offer a timeless look if you stage it correctly. Most landmarks of contemporary architecture are typically the work of a small group of architects who work on an international scale we're talking about large projects and buildings across the world. Put that into a smaller's perspective and you have architecture experts creating modern style homes and luxury estate in the Portland area.

While there is definitely a distinction between the two, many real estate websites and agents classify them as one and the same. Midcentury modern is more of the term retro and designs by architects like John Lautner, A. Quincy Jones, George Nelson, and Rudolph Schindler just to name a few. Many of these became popular in California but there are few along the northern West Coast that work on modern homes and designs including Opsis Architecture known for its efforts in sustainability, William Kaven, an innovative multidisciplinary design guru in Portland and Beebe Skidmore, creating residential, public, and commercial projects throughout the Portland metro area.

Search all Portland Luxury Homes

If you're looking specifically for a modern design or contemporary architecture in Portland real estate, start your online search here. We specialize in high-end, luxury properties including midcentury modern, postmodern design, and contemporary.

189 Properties
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Open 12/5
1975 Ostman Rd West Linn, OR 97068
3
Beds
2
Baths
1,615
Sq.Ft.
1978
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21590898
MLS
Incredible over 1,600 square foot 1-level, completely remodeled from head to toe! Nearly 1/4 acre lot with stunning new in-ground pool and patio. Open floorplan that lives large with new hardwoods,...
Open 12/4
4320 SE 49th Ave Portland, OR 97206
$629,000
Subdivision: Creston-Kenilworth
4
Beds
2
Baths
1,552
Sq.Ft.
1925
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21254488
MLS
Open House Sat & Sun 12/4 and 12/5 11-1. Charming, modern home with separate two bedroom ADU in peaceful Creston Kenilworth! Completely remodeled to the studs in 2021, this home features high-end...
Open 12/4
5832 SE Insley St Portland, OR 97206
$794,000
Subdivision: Woodstock
4
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
2,459
Sq.Ft.
2017
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21197564
MLS
Stunning 2017 Woodstock contemporary featuring an open living concept w/high ceilings on both levels, designer tile, quartz kitchen counters, expansive island, SS gas appliances. Plenty of room for...
Open 12/4
3574 SW Council Crest Dr Portland, OR 97239
$950,000
Subdivision: Council Crest
3
Beds
3F11/2
Baths
2,950
Sq.Ft.
1946
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21297177
MLS
*OPEN 12/4 & 12/5 2-4pm* Exceptional modern home w/an abundance of windows, European lighting, sleek finishes, & spacious rooms. Hardwood floors guide past a glass stairway into a living room...
Open 12/5
2606 Hillcrest Ct West Linn, OR 97068
$819,000
Subdivision: Marylhurst Heights
4
Beds
3
Baths
2,598
Sq.Ft.
1974
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21155819
MLS
Rare Opportunity! Gorgeous views from every window of this serene gem! Wonderfully light & bright home features two living spaces, two fireplaces, two levels of deck, and two garages! Abundant...
$2,499,900
Subdivision: Forest Highlands
4
Beds
4F21/2
Baths
5,288
Sq.Ft.
2014
Year Built
3
Days on Site
21337533
MLS
High style design with a dramatic two-story great room that flows into the outdoor covered patio. Fantastic chef's kitchen with an abundance of workspace and high-end appliances. Intimate dining...
4
Beds
5F11/2
Baths
9,232
Sq.Ft.
2021
Year Built
4
Days on Site
21048695
MLS
Innovation & contemporary design meet eclectic high style. Private estate w/incredible views. Walls of glass windows & doors designed to create a sanctuary surrounded by nature. Impeccable style. Use...
Open 12/3
18747 S Terry Michael Dr Oregon City, OR 97045
2
Beds
2
Baths
1,808
Sq.Ft.
1988
Year Built
4
Days on Site
21540628
MLS
Open house 4-6 Friday, 12-3 Saturday and Sunday. Private forest mid century modern home on just under 3 acres. This home is filled with unique features such as an atrium/courtyard, skylight and...
Open 12/4
3019 SE Division St #3 Portland, OR 97202
$624,950
Subdivision: Richmond
2
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,392
Sq.Ft.
2021
Year Built
5
Days on Site
21042259
MLS
Division St Commons are the newest addition to the Division St corridor. This community consists of 7 townhomes which feature 2 large bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, solid white oak flooring, custom...
$2,495,000
Subdivision: Rubicon
4
Beds
3F11/2
Baths
4,551
Sq.Ft.
2017
Year Built
5
Days on Site
21076307
MLS
Beautiful CUSTOM ESTATE ON PRIVATE ACRE, backing to greenspace. Stunning open concept contemporary farmhouse. Expansive ceilings, walls of windows create a natural backdrop. Relaxed luxury lifestyle....
Open 12/5
1012 SW Tangent St Portland, OR 97201
$890,000
Subdivision: Portland Heights, West Hills
3
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
3,068
Sq.Ft.
1977
Year Built
5
Days on Site
21663135
MLS
Rooted in PNW architecture this home offers rich wood details, oversized windows and expansive decks. Located in desirable Portland Heights, you are at once removed from the City yet minutes from...
$1,295,000
Subdivision: West Highlands
4
Beds
3
Baths
3,302
Sq.Ft.
1960
Year Built
5
Days on Site
21635536
MLS
A fabulous remodel on SW Highland Rd. The perfect mid century with gourmet kitchen, top of the line applcs, quartz counters, warm maple floors and designer porcelain tile flooring thru out. Super...

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