Traditional or Modern Design: What is the Difference?

Indoor fireplace and archway with Creative Mines manufactured stone

What comes to mind when you hear that a house is styled in a traditional, modern, or contemporary way? There is so much more to design than just “old” or “new.” The architectural design, interior design, colors, materials, and floor plan choices all play a big role in what type of a style a home is. There is no right or wrong choice when picking a design style, it all comes to your personal preferences and taste.

Traditional Design

Traditional design often uses arches, columns, window shutters, and eccentric ornamentation as well as symmetry. Rich and dark colors, woods, and floral, paisley, plaid, and striped patterns are focal in traditional style design. Building materials used for traditional building are clay, wood, brick, stone, plaster, and stucco. Floor plans for traditional architecture usually utilize spaces divided into single-purpose rooms. Traditional homes may often be associated with “old” styling but there are ways to make it more applicable to current day design with the right styling and design choices.


Outdoor space accented by Aspen brick
Outdoor space accented by Aspen brick

Modern Design

Modern design on the other hand uses clean lines, simple and geometric shapes, and intentional asymmetry. Windows are large and unadorned, their purpose is to bring in as much natural light into the interior space as possible. The focus in modern homes is placed on the feel of the room instead of highlighting the space with artwork or wallpaper. Floor plans in modern architecture are open concept with multi-purpose rooms; there are less walls separating each space into its own designated section, instead emphasizing simplicity and open space.

Concrete Masonry Units

Outdoor space consisting of Charcoal ground face CMU and Vancouver Bay architectural slabs
Outdoor space consisting of Charcoal ground face CMU and Vancouver Bay architectural slabs

Contemporary Design

Contemporary design is a good median between traditional and modern design. While it uses natural materials such as wood, stone, or exposed concrete to make a statement, it seamlessly blends past designs with modern ones. The colors and textures are simple and natural in this design choice with the focus being more on architectural style elements such as large windows and angles. Natural, untreated colors, neutral paint tones, minimalism prints and patterns, and clean cut asymmetry bring a serene ambiance to the contemporary living spaces. Contemporary architecture uses a blend of materials and design choices for a unique but unified look.

Natural Stone Thin Veneer

House faced with Cultured Stone drystack ledgestone
House faced with Cultured Stone drystack ledgestone

Mutual Materials Products For Any Style

Brick, while usually attributed to a more traditional style, can be beautifully incorporated into modern and contemporary design. Our bricks come in various colors for any style choice and we also provide custom blends and colors for those looking for something more unique. Slimbrick® has a very clean and polished look that can help make a modern or contemporary home pop. Concrete Masonry Units or CMU are often used for commercial projects but can be used to add a unique look to a modern home.

Stone is a very versatile material that can be used for any style of home; Natural Stone Veneer can be used on the interior or exterior of a home as well as on fireplaces and retaining walls to give it a natural look. Choose from Natural Stone Veneer, Cultured Stone, or Eldorado Stone to achieve the style you’re looking for.

When it comes to outdoor design style, pavers can help create the look you want. Architectural Slabs and Patio Stones can help achieve a neutral modern or minimalist contemporary look while Clay and Concrete Pavers can help achieve a classic look. Turfstone can be used for paths or driveways to achieve any design style you desire while also giving your landscape a touch of nature. Natural elements such as Flagstone and Ledgestone can bring a more traditional look to a home while Fire Pits can be used to achieve any variety of styles. Our many Retaining Wall choices can be used to attain different unique design and style choices. MagnumStone and CornerStone are great choices for a modern or contemporary style, while StackStone, ManorStone, and Roman Cypress are great for a more traditional look.

Which Should You Choose?

We know how difficult it can be for a homeowner to create a home design that makes them happy. How you want to design your home is entirely personal preference and Mutual Materials is always here to help you choose which materials go best with your favorite style! Whether you are going for a traditional or modern style, or a blend of both for a more contemporary feel, Mutual Materials products can help you achieve the look you desire.