Does Contemporary Design Lose Its Value Faster Than Classic Design?
Remodeling your home is a difficult proposition not just because it requires a lot of time and effort, but also because you want to be sure that the design and décor you pick out won’t retro or out-of-date in a few years. While it’s nearly impossible to pick out styles and furniture pieces that’ll hold their value every year for decades, homeowners can read on to learn how they can maintain maximum value in their homes as efficiently as possible.

What are Classic and Contemporary Design?

In terms of the former, we have to go all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome where interior design had a strong relationship with harmony and balance. Tradition is a big drawing point when it comes to creating classical designs, as nothing can be modern or contemporary. You’ll notice that in classically-designed homes, each room has something big that’s the dominant focus of attention, whether it’s a staircase, fireplace or huge table. And around that focal point, the rest of the room is tailored to fit it and complement its aesthetic; the idea of balance, too, is such that if you were to cut the room down the middle, the two halves would look pretty much just like each other.

Contemporary design, on the other hand, uses lines as its focal point, but not rigidly straight ones. Instead, lines in contemporary design are smooth, soft and rounded, giving the room a gentler appearance than the harsh and stark lines that we see in modern design. Furniture reflects this, too, with simple surfaces that don’t feature carvings or adornments. Finally, the lighting fixtures are little pieces of art, but not in an ostentatious way, but a subtle, understated way. In a contemporary house, you can expect to see lighting like recessed or track lighting on the ceiling, and floor and table lamps with straight lines and sleek metallic finishes.

The colors used in both designs don’t vary too much. White is the dominant color for classical design, followed by the colors found in nature: browns, yellows, greens, deep blues, and terracotta tones. The colors you see in contemporary design follow a lot of the same neutral lines, but you see things like frosted glass, stainless steel, nickel, chrome, silvers and other, slightly bolder, colors. Occasionally, a bright color or geometric design is introduced in a contemporary home, but it’s as an accent, such as with a pillow, rug or throw.

Which One Stands the Test of Time?

Without a doubt, decorating your house in a strictly classic style is a better option for retaining value than a strictly contemporary design. After all, the former has been around for thousands of years, while the latter first saw popularity in the 1970s. It’s a little too soon to tell if contemporary design will last as long as classical, as only the passage of time can answer that question.

However, the risk of remodeling your house in an all-classical design is that it’s really easy to make it look old-fashioned. For example, having everything in your room aligned perfectly balanced can look a little too matchy-matchy, giving the impression of a homeowner who is firmly stuck in the past. And going too contemporary can mean your remodeling décor can look passé in a decade, leaving all your time and money worth not so much.

Your best bet is to combine the two. You can keep a large focal point in each room, like highlighting a grand staircase or expansive floor-to-ceiling window, to have a classical feel, but then play around with simple surfaces and soft lines to achieve a bit of a contemporary look. Colors are another way you can combine the two looks as well, such as if you want to have white or off-white walls, which would complement any color scheme in a contemporary codebook you’d decide on.

And if you’re still caught in the middle about what design you want, remember this saying: less is more.

Amy Wright
Amy Wright is the Lead Editor of Remodeling Central. When she isn't playing with her dogs she is trying to remodel a classic Chicago style brownstone with her husband.

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