03: Considerations when designing a contemporary home extension - Simon Mack Architecture Oxfordshire
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03: Considerations when designing a contemporary home extension

As a professional residential architect, our first consideration is to get a feel or understanding what the concept of contemporary home means to you. Contemporary design often refers to a style that is happening now and is typically heavily influenced by materials, current fashions and ways of living.

The contemporary home is about unfussy clean lines, veering towards minimalism where the materials, furniture and features stand out. There can be lots of ways to achieve this look, here are some ideas we have used to create some beautiful designs.

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External cladding should be a statement of modernity, this can be down to how a material is used, for example, there is all lot of timber cladding used on contemporary design, even though it has been commonly used as far back as the 5th Century when it was a favoured material for cladding homes in Britain, it is the way it is used gives it the contemporary feel. In the below project rather than the traditional shiplap, here we have used a vertical sawn larch cladding stained black making a striking addition to this Victorian red brick property.

In conjunction with the external cladding, we consider the spaces and windows. One of the main features of all contemporary design is large windows or glazed doors. The heart of the house is usually the large open plan family room where the importance of strategically placed windows for view and natural daylight cannot be overlooked. Where ever possible we endeavour to have tall external windows allowing more natural light penetration and exposes more sky when you are entering a room. The standard window heights are often only 2m – 2.1mm, when entering a room, you are often 4m -5m away from the window, it can feel like the top of the window is only just above eye height. Try having full-height windows and glass doors where ever possible, it looks fantastic and also removes the dark band of wall above the window head, allowing more natural light to illuminate the ceiling and giving an exaggerated feeling of height in the room.

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The flow between room and spaces are also a vital aspect of the contemporary home, try enhancing connection both physically and visually by opening up between rooms with double doors or sliding pocket doors, creating views through, picking out particular vistas. One tried and tested technique is to have the first vista when coming in the front door extending through the house and out to the garden picking up a feature such as a carefully placed ornamental tree or a composed seating area, this is where the view can define the architecture.

Trying to achieve a minimal look always relies on incorporating built-in storage, preferably through beautifully designed joinery, ensuring that there is somewhere to put the clutter that every house has. Designed well and considered from the start of the design process will enhance any space.

Neutrals, black, and white are the main colours in contemporary style interiors and can be partnered with accented areas of colour or material. To make an impact in the main rooms spend time choosing the right furniture for space, in smaller reception rooms we move away from the use of large block style sofas, these can be overpowering and leave little room for anything else, these are more suited to a media rooms than the reception.

Mid-century modern furniture to some feels a bit retro, used in the right setting works very well in contemporary properties, and owning an original piece will be a feature in its own right. An alternative style to mid-century modern is the Scandinavian style of furniture. Light-weight, thin-framed wooden pieces are a staple for both mid-century modern and Scandinavian furniture allows for maximum visibility beneath the furniture, helping to open up space.


If you would like to discuss your project please give Simon a call or drop him an email. We’d be happy to help with your architectural plans and discuss ways we can work together. Check out our contact page here.