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.

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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.

232 Properties
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Open 1/16
10744 SE Idleman Rd Happy Valley, OR 97086
4
Beds
3F11/2
Baths
3,660
Sq.Ft.
1997
Year Built
1
Day on Site
21405701
MLS
Stunning home with walls of windows and ever changing views! Modern, sleek updates throughout, gorgeous hand-scraped hardwoods, luxe finishes. Great Room living upstairs, and downstairs, the family...
$769,900
Subdivision: Concordia
4
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
2,267
Sq.Ft.
2020
Year Built
1
Day on Site
21688492
MLS
Beautiful New Modern Luxury Home by Everett Custom Homes! Certified Earth Advantage home features all of the modern conveniences. Master suite with a double sink, soak tub, tiled shower, and a...
$1,150,000
Subdivision: Portland Heights
2
Beds
2
Baths
2,708
Sq.Ft.
1987
Year Built
1
Day on Site
21373458
MLS
Extraordinary post-modern, custom home, designed by noted architect, to maximize southern light, expansive view of Mt. Hood, Cascade foothills & urban forest. Total privacy. Compact and cohesive for...
Open 1/17
6315 SW Peyton Rd Portland, OR 97219
3
Beds
2
Baths
1,536
Sq.Ft.
1956
Year Built
2
Days on Site
20623272
MLS
Large windows draw you to the beautiful groomed private yard, custom cedar decks, garden beds, water feature. Gleaming wood floors, newly updated kitchen with high end gas appliances, cork floor....
Open 1/16
2612 SW 64th Pl Portland, OR 97225
4
Beds
3F11/2
Baths
3,977
Sq.Ft.
2005
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21542933
MLS
Imagine living in a stunning home on a quiet large forested lot with its own creek only 10 minutes from downtown! Entertain in a spacious living room/dining area. Tall ceilings, hardwood floors. Huge...
Open 1/16
12182 SE William Otty Rd Happy Valley, OR 97086
$732,500
Subdivision: Royal Vista
3
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
4,447
Sq.Ft.
1999
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21169620
MLS
This Beautiful, Gorgeous Home Features Dual Living With so many Amenities. High Ceilings Adorn, with Amazing Valley Views From Every Window on the Main Floor. Chefs Kitchen with Beautiful Appliances,...
$765,000
Subdivision: Bridlemile
4
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
2,867
Sq.Ft.
1980
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21333487
MLS
Cool NW Contemporary combines spacious open living with style and function. Gracious formal spaces + a vaulted great room warmed by rich cedar paneling & fp adjoin the updated kitchen & spacious...
Open 1/17
1692 NW Riverscape St Portland, OR 97209
$619,900
Subdivision: Riverscape Townhomes
2
Beds
2F11/2
Baths
1,614
Sq.Ft.
2008
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21044697
MLS
Beautiful, light filled home w/ private ground level entry & garage. Corner unit includes spacious rooms w/ huge windows & high ceilings. Fabulous views of the West Hills. Lovely master bed with...
5
Beds
3
Baths
3,150
Sq.Ft.
1970
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21587920
MLS
Come home to this idyllic mid-century haven in the treetops!Open concept living makes for easy entertaining & the large decks allow you to take the party outdoors with ease. Enjoy sweeping valley...
$749,000
Subdivision: Sellwood
3
Beds
3F11/2
Baths
1,835
Sq.Ft.
2021
Year Built
2
Days on Site
21110574
MLS
Just finished New Custom Townhome in the red hot Sellwood neighborhood. Located across the street from New Seasons, you will find yourself living in luxury. Accentuated by exposed beams, designer...
3
Beds
3F11/2
Baths
3,322
Sq.Ft.
1982
Year Built
2
Days on Site
20635221
MLS
Natural light floods in through the wall of windows under soaring ceilings in this 3 bd 3.5ba Southwest contemporary. Perfect location at the end of a culdesac across from Maricara Natural Area....
$675,000
Subdivision: Richmond / Hawthorne
3
Beds
2
Baths
2,020
Sq.Ft.
1942
Year Built
3
Days on Site
21419574
MLS
LOCATION!!!Amazing updated home in the Richmond/Hawthorn Area. This 3 bedroom 2 full bath home is full of charm. Enjoy your evenings in front of the wood burning fireplace or relax in your large...
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