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How to Find Your Home Style: Traditional Craftsman vs Modern Contemporary

June 30th, 2024

By Sofia Alonso

4 min read

Choosing the right home style is a critical part of the home-buying or building process. It's a decision that impacts not only the aesthetic appeal of your home but also its functionality, maintenance, and overall comfort. With so many styles to choose from, narrowing down the options can feel overwhelming. How do you decide between the timeless charm of a Traditional Craftsman home and the sleek, modern elegance of a Contemporary design? This decision is pivotal as it will define the character and atmosphere of your living space, influencing your daily life and long-term satisfaction with your home.

At AV Architects + Builders, we bring over two decades of experience in designing and constructing custom homes that perfectly align with our clients' visions. We don't just build houses; we create homes that reflect your personality and meet your specific needs. Our expertise ensures that every detail, from the choice of materials to the layout and design principles, is carefully considered to achieve a harmonious and functional living environment.

In this article, we promise to provide you with a comparison of two popular home styles—Traditional Craftsman and Modern Contemporary. We will explore the key features of each style, including materials, maintenance, architectural elements, and design principles. You will learn about the pros and cons of each style, helping you to understand which one aligns best with your aesthetic preferences and lifestyle. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the defining characteristics of Traditional Craftsman and Modern Contemporary homes, empowering you to make an informed decision about which style is right for you.


Comparing Architectural Elements and Design Principles

Understanding the core architectural elements and design principles of each style can help you make an informed decision. Let's delve into the specifics of Traditional Craftsman and Modern Contemporary homes.


Characteristics of Traditional Craftsman Style Homes

Materials and Maintenance

Traditional Craftsman style homes are known for their use of natural materials, which contribute to their warm and inviting ambiance. If you appreciate the beauty and authenticity of natural stones, granites, and woods, this style may appeal to you. However, it's important to note that these materials require regular maintenance, such as sealing countertops and caring for wooden surfaces.


Craftsman homes often feature countertops made from natural stones like granite, which are known for their durability and unique patterns. These countertops need to be sealed periodically to maintain their appearance and functionality.


In a Craftsman home, you'll find tiles with a lot of texture, such as travertine or marble. These materials add a touch of luxury and intricacy to the home's design but require careful upkeep.


The cabinetry in Craftsman homes is detailed and often made from stained or painted wood. This style emphasizes craftsmanship and quality, with intricate designs and fixtures that add character to the space.

kitchen h&dAV Architects + Builders, Rustic Modern, Virginia


Windows in Craftsman homes are typically adorned with mullions, muntins, and shutters, contributing to their charming and traditional look.

20171115_PimmitHseRedux_383AV Architects + Builders, Home For Life, Virginia, Photography by Stacy Zarin

Floor Plan/Layout

The layout of a Craftsman home usually features rooms of the same size arranged in a grid pattern, with the stairs located centrally. This layout can include level changes like sunken living rooms or conversation pits, adding a dynamic element to the space.

Trim and Molding

Craftsman homes boast ornate base trim, crown molding, and wainscoting. These details add a touch of elegance and sophistication to the interiors.


Arched doorways with detailed casing are a hallmark of Craftsman style, providing a sense of grandeur and history.

D14122-7981 (2)AV Architects + Builders, Rustic Modern, Virginia

Paint/Wall Color

Craftsman homes often feature deeper toned colors and ornate wallpaper, with different colors used for each room to create a rich and varied visual experience.


The roof structure of a Craftsman home is usually busy, with pitched or A-line roofs and standard shingles. This adds to the home's traditional and sturdy appearance.

MACKENZIE-AV-AdHoc-32-EditAV Architects + Builders, The Inside Out Home, Virginia, Photography by Maxwell Mackenzie


Lighting in Craftsman homes is typically ornate and grand, with features like chandeliers, ceiling sconces, and frosted glass fixtures. These elements enhance the home’s classic charm and create a warm, inviting atmosphere.


Characteristics of Modern Contemporary Style Homes

Materials and Maintenance

Modern Contemporary homes prioritize engineered materials, which tend to be lower maintenance compared to natural materials. If you prefer a more hands-off approach to home maintenance, this style might suit you better.


Countertops in Modern Contemporary homes are often made from engineered materials like quartz, which offer a more uniform and simple pattern. These countertops are durable and require less maintenance than natural stone.

MACKENZIE-AvArch-TacomaHouse-16Selections-14AV Architects + Builders, The Solar House, Virginia, Photography by Maxwell Mackenzie


Modern homes favor uniform porcelain tiles, which provide a sleek and cohesive look. These tiles are easy to clean and maintain, making them a practical choice for busy homeowners.

Forest Villa Kitchen Vignette Revision 01a JpegAV Architects + Builders, The Hill House, Virginia


The cabinetry in Modern Contemporary homes is minimalistic, with flat, paneled surfaces made from materials like melamine. Glossy finishes and clean lines are key characteristics of this style.

Photo (70)AV Architects + Builders, The Angle House, Virginia


Large, open windows are a defining feature of Modern Contemporary homes. These windows allow for ample natural light and create a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors.


Floor Plan/Layout

Modern Contemporary homes typically have an open floor plan with rooms of varying sizes to maximize functionality. The stairs are often off-center, creating clean lines of sight throughout the home. There are typically no level changes, which contributes to the home's streamlined appearance.

MACKENZIE-AV-AdHoc-29-EditAV Architects + Builders, The Inside Out Home, Virginia, Photography by Maxwell Mackenzie

Trim and Molding

Trim and molding in Modern homes are simplified and minimalistic, providing a clean and unobtrusive look.


Squared doorways without detailed casing are common in Modern Contemporary homes, contributing to their sleek and modern aesthetic.

1Y1A6540AV Architects + Builders, The Inside Out Home, Virginia

Paint Color

Modern homes favor neutral paint colors, with a uniform color scheme throughout the space. White or off-white are popular choices, as they enhance the sense of openness and light.


The roof structure of a Modern Contemporary home is typically flat or parapet, often made from metal or architectural shingles. This contributes to the home's modern and minimalist look.

Forest Villa Exterior Front Dusk JpegAV Architects + Builders, The Hill House, Virginia


Lighting in Modern homes is minimalistic, with neutral colors and simple, clean lines. Modern sconces and fixtures complement the home's contemporary aesthetic.

1528 Forest Villa (24)AV Architects + Builders, The Hill House, Virginia


Which Home Style is Right for You?

Finding the right home style is a personal decision that should reflect your tastes, lifestyle, and practical needs. Traditional Craftsman homes offer a warm, inviting atmosphere with natural materials and intricate details, while Modern Contemporary homes provide a sleek, low-maintenance living experience with clean lines and functional minimalist design. By carefully considering the key features and design principles outlined in this guide, you can confidently choose the style that best suits you and your family.

At AV Architects + Builders, we understand the importance of creating a home that not only looks beautiful but also functions seamlessly for your lifestyle. Whether you are drawn to the timeless charm of a Traditional Craftsman home or the modern elegance of a Contemporary design, our team is here to help you bring your vision to life. Contact us today to start your journey towards finding the perfect home style for you.


9903 Georgetown Pike Suite 201
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 865-5065