At My Modern Home we strive to help each of our customers build a home that will meet their needs now, and in the future. With the longevity of our homes a key part of our designs, we have spent a lot of time considering how to design a timeless home.
In this article, we outline some of the best things to keep in mind in order to achieve a timeless home design.
There are many beautiful contemporary home designs, and some contemporary home designs incorporate timeless elements. However, many aspects of a contemporary design go out of fashion after a few months to a few years. After all, “contemporary” means “happening now” not “happening now and forever”.
In comparison to contemporary design, many elements of modern design (and specifically, “Modernist” home design) have remained the same for over 100 years. Arguably, these design elements are intrinsically timeless.
Modernist home design is characterized by clean, streamlined forms, a neutral color palette, and strong geometric shapes. Interior and exterior design elements are generally minimalist, with an aesthetic that underscores use of natural materials and an absence of unnecessary decoration.
One aspect of Modernist home design that is naturally timeless is the incorporation of natural materials throughout a home’s design.
While it is true that certain species of wood and certain types of stone do tend to enjoy periodic moments of being “au courant”, natural woods and stones with minimal grains (such as teak) and minimal veining (such as travertine and some granites) are most in-keeping with Modernist design. These types of wood and stone have not become “au gauche” across the decades of use in modern home design and will certainly stand the test of time and help you to create a timeless home design.
Wood and stone can be utilized for both interior design elements and as exterior finishes. Using the same type and finish of wood and stone in both interior and exterior aspects of design minimizes visual transitions. This not only makes a home feel larger than its actual square-footage, but also adds to the timelessness of a home’s design.
The choice of natural materials used in a timeless home design will often vary depending on the geographical area in which a home is designed and constructed. Consider using locally found stone and wood species. Doing so not only allows a Modernist home design to blend more seamlessly within its surrounding landscape (a key element of Modernist design) but is often more economic and can have a lower carbon footprint (as transportation costs and fuel use are minimized).
Pro Tip: Use locally found stone and wood species, or stone and wood species with minimal graining and veining (like teak and travertine) for both interior and exterior finishes to create a timeless home design.
Clean lines, uncluttered surfaces, and unobstructed visual connection are all hallmarks of modern home design that provide a visual simplicity and contribute to timeless home design.
Unobstructed visual connection between spaces improves the relationship between spaces. This allows individuals to enjoy greater connection, and can also improve the functionality of each space by making the spaces feel larger and function flexibly.
Modernist designers intentionally used clean, streamlined forms to break with references to the past. Unlike gothic, Victorian, or similar design periods, the use of clean and streamlined forms in Modernist design does not reference any particular era and are thus intrinsically timeless.
In keeping with the theme of clean and uncluttered, Modernist design is also characterized by minimal ornamentation.
Often, ornamental features have a shelf-life that is not as long as many of us might expect. Many ornamental features are trendy for a few years, but then go out of style quickly. For example, Grecian pillars and arches were a major design trend of the mid-to-late 90s – but that trend didn’t last for thousands of years the way it managed to in ancient Greece.
Pro Tip: Keep permanent surfaces and finishes like window and door trim, built-in wall units and fireplaces free of ornamentation to achieve a timeless design. Instead, explore current design trends with items that are not difficult or costly to change. Good places to explore trendy materials and finishes include lighting and soft surfaces like carpets, pillows and drapery.
Of course, choice of material and style of design are important elements to designing a timeless home. But, in order for a home to be timeless, its form must meet function and that function has to meet the needs of its inhabitants. These needs will change across many stages of life and will just as surely change as lifestyles evolve for individual families, but also within society.
Functional considerations to keep in mind when designing a timeless home include designing an open floor plan and making sure that your home design is flexible.
The term “flexible house plan” isn’t easily defined, in part because it can be achieved in so many ways. Some aspects of a timeless flexible home design include flexible living spaces (ie: spaces that are intentionally designed to serve more than one function) and flexible floor plans (ie: floor plans that intentionally consider the relationship between rooms to allow for flexible use).
A flexible home design is one which allows for a broader spectrum of use for each of its spaces, and one which considers how spaces relate to each other to maximize their potential.
A flexible home plan contributes to a timeless home design by ensuring that the home can meet changing needs day to day, and season to season, but also across many years and for many different homeowners.
An open floor plan makes any home plan feel larger, and function larger, than its overall square footage would suggest. In particular if you plan to design a small home, an open floor plan can help your home stand the test of time as your family grows and changes.
Removing interior walls not only makes each room look larger than it actually is, but also allows rooms to benefit from the fluidity of spaces between functional zones.
Not only can an open floor plan make a home feel larger and act as an important element of flexible home design, an open floor plan also allows light from exterior windows to reach deep into a home. A timeless home design ensures access to ample natural light – not only because access to natural light contributes to health and wellbeing, but also because it makes any space more enjoyable!
Pro Tip: Work with your designer to understand your home’s future orientation on your property. Consider how natural light can best be used to the advantage of shared spaces, such as kitchens and living rooms.
As this article outlines, timeless home designs often incorporate elements of Modernist home design like the use of natural materials, incorporation of clean, streamlined forms, and minimization of ornament. Timeless home designs also ensure that spaces can function flexibly, and often include an open floor plan.
At My Modern Home we strive to create timeless home designs that will meet the needs of our clients for decades to come. Not only do our pre-designed home plans incorporate the aspects that we have outlined in this article, we also offer custom-design services with these same goals in mind.
What do you think are the most important things to keep in mind when designing a timeless home? We’d love to hear from you!
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