21 Modern House Design Ideas

by | Last updated May 17, 2024 | Houses

There are many modern home design ideas that we can discuss. Here we have outlined some key examples of modern house design ideas that you can incorporate in your new home design.


Alternative Materials for Modern Home Design

Building materials are a key factor for modern home design. We recommend considering some alternative building materials for home design. Here are a few materials you can look into:

  • Fiberglass
  • Concrete
  • GFRC
  • Steel Frame
  • Shipping Container Homes
  • Metal Insulated Panels

Modern house design does not only mean a house that looks modern. We highly recommend modern structural materials. At our firm we tend to do very little wood frame construction. The structure of the house is as important as the look of the house.

Here is a fiberglass house prototype I designed.

Modern House design Ideas Exterior

Modern House design Ideas Exterior Materials Fiberglass

This is a concrete house we did in the flood zone in New York.

Modern Concrerte House design

Modern Concrete House design with standing seam metal roof and black aluminum windows.

Modern House Materials Exterior Design

You do not have to use new composite materials or alternative materials for a modern house design.  Using simple materials or even some traditional materials can be quite modern.

List of modern exterior building materials:

  • Stucco, Traditional Stucco or Synthetic Stucco
  • Modern Fiber Cement Siding
  • Fiber Cement Panels
  • Stone used in a modern way
  • Modern Bricks, Recycled bricks can actually be quite modern with a contrasting look
  • Fiberglass Panels or FRP
  • GFRC Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
  • Exposed Concrete, pored in place or precast concrete
  • Metal panels, steel, aluminum, titanium, zinc, etc…
  • Glass Walls, store front or curtain wall
  • Modern Wood Siding
Modern House Design Materials exterior

Modern House Design Materials Stucco, Fiber Cement Siding, and fiber Cement Panels

Fiber Cement Board Siding for Modern Homes

Samples of Fiber Cement Board Siding textures for a modern house design

Glass and Transparency for Modern Houses

Glass houses are certainly a modern aesthetic. You do not need to build a modern glass house entirely out of glass to have transparency and lots of natural light. You can build a house with large glass openings in the right places to bring in light and accentuate or frame the views.

Here is a lake house we designed with some large windows and sliding glass panels.

Modern Lake House Design with large windows

Modern Lake House Design with large windows

Modern Home Colors or No Colors

To color or not to color that is the question. This is going to be really dependent on personal taste but do not be scared to use a bit of color in your new modern home design. Use red, yellow, green, purple, and blue. Why not put a little color in your house? Accent walls can be used to create a great affect too.

Of course a lack of color using only white, black, or grey is very modern as well. Either way you have to take color into consideration early on in the process of designing your house.

Modern Home Colors

Purple Hallway in a contemporary apartment in Brooklyn, NY we designed.

Consistency and Contrast are Both Modern

Consistency and contrast are both modern elements. Choose wisely. You should build your home with a great deal of consistency in its design for all modern homes. But you can include some contrast to give it a little flair. The choice is yours consistency with or without contrast.

Modern Vernacular Home design

Vernacular Design is a term we architects use to describe local design trends. For example beach bungalows in a certain area all may have a similar design local to that particular beach front. We recommend looking at the local architecture and considering a modern take on the Vernacular design. This can make for a very interesting home. If there are certain materials typical to your area you can incorporate them into the design. A home can be modern and fit in as well. Tying in some local vernacular design elements can help make a modern home fit into the local architectural fabric.

Fabric Building or Object Building

When designing a modern house I would start with one simple question do you want the house to fit in with the area or do you want it to stand out. Architects, like me, like to use the term fabric building and object building.

A fabric buildingg is a building that is designed to fit in.

An object building is a building that is designed to stand out.

So ask yourself are you going to design a fabric home or an object home?

Passive House Design

All contemporary homes should consider Passive House Design. This is a standard for energy efficient design that is centered around 5 key points:

  • Continuous Insulation / High Quality Insulation
  • Air Tight Construction
  • High Performance Windows
  • Energy Recovery
  • Solar Heat and Solar Shading

Passive house design will reduce your energy costs and your impact on the environment. Passive house is a win win. Modern houses should not only be modern in aesthetics but also be technologically modern, and sustainable. Insulation for new homes is a critical issue to consider.

Passive House Design

Passive House Design Summer and Winter Diagrams

Sustainable House Design

Modern Houses should be sustainable in every way. Passive house is a good start for sustainability but there are so many other issues for Building a Sustainable House. Here are some key points to consider for sustainability:

  • Energy Efficient appliances and lighting
  • Recycled materials
  • Renewable Energy
  • Insulation & Air Sealing
  • Efficient Heating and Cooling

Sustainability will cover a broad range of issues. We strongly advise all of our clients to take sustainable design seriously and to incorporate it into their homes as much as possible.

Modern House Design Ideas Sustainability

Modern House Design Ideas Sustainable House Design

Smart Home Technology

You can’t really discuss 21st century modern house design ideas without discussing smart home technology. Homes for millennials will be filled with smart devices. But you do not have to be a millennial to enjoy a smart home. There are so many smart home devices  you can use in your new house here are a few examples:

  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Philips Hue Light Bulbs
  • Amazon Echo
  • Google Home
  • Smart Locks
  • Smart Beds

There are thermostats that reprogram themselves based on your patterns. Home hubs like Amazon Echo or Google Home that allow you to talk to your house. Who doesn’t want a talking house?

Kinetic Architecture & Automated Systems

This is going to be one of my personal favorite Modern Home Design Ideas, Kinetic Architecture and Automated Systems. Kinetic architecture literally means moving parts in houses and buildings. The parts can move manually or mechanically. Having parts of the homes that are mechanically operated can really make a home modern, high tech, and down right futuristic. Homes have lots of moving parts these can be made mechanically operated by the touch of a button, motion sensor, or programmable. Here are a list of just a few items that can be manually kinetic or mechanically automated.

  • Automatic Doors
    • Push Button or Motion Sensor
  • Motorized Blinds and Shades
  • Movable Partition Walls, Operable Walls
    • These can be motorized or manual
  • Motorized appliances, TVs, Millwork Components etc…
  • Sliding Exterior Wall Panels
    • Having Many Sliding Exterior Doors can create the same effect

This is a Retractable Kitchen Range Hood in an NYC apartment renovation we did.

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Motorized Blinds in a Contemporary Manhattan Apartment we renovated.

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Commercial Products and Features

Modern houses can incorporate some commercial products or design features. For example we designed a Modern Townhouse in Brooklyn, NY using fiber cement board panels that would normally be used on a commercial building.  Maybe some commercial products will help modernize your house. Cement boards or metal panels can be used on a single family house as well as a multi family building. You can use commercial windows or typically commercial hardware. Store front construction can be used on a house as well. Bellow is a photo of a townhouse we designed with modern fiber cement panels and large commercial windows.

Modern Townhouse Design

Modern Townhouse Design with Fiber cement Board Panels

Modern House Roof Deck

If you are going to build with a flat roof you should consider using it as a roof deck. You will need to engineer the roof to a higher structural load for this, so plan ahead, it should not be an after thought. Roof decks are a great way to use every inch of space and get some good views. Outdoor space is always a great bonus for a family to have in their home.

See the image below of a backyard office with a roof deck I designed.

Connecting Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Connecting indoor and out door spaces is another great modern house design feature. This will really be affected by your local conditions, climate, terrain, etc…

Creating a relationship between the indoor and outdoor spaces is a great modern feature for your new house. You can do this many ways:

  • Green Roofs / Roof Gardens
  • Roof Decks
  • Indoor Trees
  • Sliding Exterior Walls
  • Large sections of multiple sliding glass doors to the exterior
  • Terraces
  • Balconies
  • Large Operable windows
  • Inner Court Yard
  • Retractable Roofs

See image below of a lake house we designed with a series of hinged doors that open to the sides creating a 12 foot opening to the rear yard. On a nice day you can open the house and invite a little of the outdoors to come in.

Modern Home Connecting Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Modern House Design, Connecting Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Open Plan Design for Modern Homes

Open plan is architect talk for not having a lot of walls. In an open plan design you would not have walls except those that are necessary for privacy like bedrooms and bathrooms. Open plan makes the house look and feel bigger. It also allows for flexibility, you can change how you use the space easily by moving furniture.

See the open plan design below for a house I designed. This house has a kitchen, living room, and dining room that are all open to each other. The stairs are also open to the living space. The dining room has a double height space and at the top of the stairs is a sitting room that overlooks the floor below. The dining room has sliding glass panels that open the dining room onto the rear patio.

Modern Double Height Living Room

You can make a modern double height living room for your new modern house. Double height spaces can have a great feel to them. You can have big windows in your double height living room to bring in natural light and air. I highly recommend considering this one in your modern home design.

Open Kitchen Design For Modern Homes

Almost every residential project we do now has an open kitchen. Open kitchen design is just about standard for a modern home. The open kitchen has many advantages. Open kitchens make spaces feel bigger. They also allow you to see more of the home. This is great for parents who need to keep an eye on the kids. You can put an island with bar stools this can be used for eating, having a beer during a party, or even a homework area for the kids.

In the open kitchen we designed below we put magnetic paint on the wall so the mother can hang pictures, kids artwork, report cards etc…

Modern Kitchens and Modern Bathrooms

You need to really design you kitchens and baths. In modern architecture the kitchens and bathrooms are not utility spaces but features for the home. These are the rooms where you will spend the most money.

Modern Bathroom design

Modern Bathroom design

Modern House Architectural Details

Modern House design and construction details will make or break your project. It is all in the architectural details. Every piece of hardware in the house should be thought out. All the materials need to be planned. Every product from windows and doors to tiles and cabinets need to work together in harmony.

We cannot review all the different details you need to consider but here is one good example from one of our projects. In the picture below you will see what is called a Countertop Waterfall. A waterfall is where the countertop material is installed on the side of the kitchen cabinet to be continuous with the countertop on top. In this case we did a miter cut edge and a book match. The miter cut means cutting the slab at 45 degree angles and putting them together. The book match means that the two pieces were cut from the same marble slab so they match up when we attach them later. They are put together with the matching corners so the marble looks continuous. This makes for a great detail and a beautiful sleek modern look.

Modern Kitchen Counter Detail

Modern Kitchen Counter Detail Waterfall Countertop with miter edge and book match marble

Modern Home Gardens

The 21st century modern family typically wants to eat healthy and that means eating organic. What is the best way to get organic food? Grow it yourself. A home vegetable garden or green house can be a great addition to a modern home.

Build Well and Build To Last

Do not cut corners when building your new home. Do not hire the cheapest unqualified contractors. Use professionals that care and know what they are doing. Most importantly build your house well and build to last.

Thank You for reading our Blog Post on Modern House Design Ideas

Please feel free to post questions or comments below. If you are interested in discussing a specific project please contact us directly to speak with an architect.

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Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.