Atlanta Modern Design Homes

Modern design home

If there’s one lesson to be learned about modern design, it’s that modern isn’t just a sleek style.  As the old adage goes, form follows function. Truly modern design doesn’t just look modern – it also must function in a new, modern way.

Last August, architect Chris Laumer-Giddens and builder Luis Imery completed construction of the first Proud Green Home. Located in Serenbe, a unique 900-acre EarthCraft community south of Atlanta, the home has already won top awards for its sustainability and efficiency.  

It’s no coincidence that this, one of the best-performing green homes in the nation, also offers a very modern aesthetic. “In good design, the look of sleek, clean, simple lines should be the front for streamlined function and for utility that thinks forward,” explains Arlene Dean, owner of Decatur-based Arlene Dean Homes. 

To help our readers achieve both the enhanced function and the clean-lined, open-space living that characterizes modern design, we’ve compiled advice and inspiration from the makers of the Proud Green Home at Serenbe, as well as a number of other local Atlanta experts. 

Open Up  

Upon entering a home that features a modern design, you should feel swept up in natural light and an airy feeling—the result of an open-space floor plan and the correct color and materials palette. In the Proud Green Home at Serenbe, architect Chris Laumer-Giddens of LG Squared Inc. notes, “The contemporary interior palette of grays and blues creates a soothing refuge from the Georgia sun. The polished concrete floors and use of wood accents provides the perfect canvas for the wash of light coming from the wall of windows at the rear of the home.” 

To attain this open-space, airy feel in your own home our experts offer the following tips:

Modern involves design through reduction, says Diane J. Hewitt, owner, designer and stylist of her self-titled firm. Her advice: “Create open space by minimizing furnishings and belongings; the eye gets a visual rest, the space is easier to physically move through and it feels cleaner.” Of course, this means de-cluttering, which is often easier said than done. “Everyone needs to find balance between their space and possessions,” Hewitt notes. “If belongings are edited   to the essentials, then the interior design supports the architecture and your lifestyle, not the stuff.” She adds that taking advantage of built-in, integrated or closed storage allows for a seamless, uncluttered appearance.

Create an indoor-outdoor connection recommends Bryan Russell, architect and founder of Atlanta-based Dencity LLC, by adding windows and glass doors. To continue this concept, be sure to avoid heavy draperies that shut out the natural night, Dean advises. Instead, opt for shades or blinds. 

Update your color palette to brighten the home. “Consider light-colored walls,” Hewitt says. “Think of the space like a gallery, with a well-chosen collection of belongings. Furnishings with interesting texture, shape or color will stand out against a clean backdrop.” And don’t stop at painting the walls, Dean adds—consider repainting or staining your furniture, as well, to match the new palette. Then, she says, introduce accents of color through the use of pillows, throws, paintings and wall hangings. 

Think of the dwelling as a whole, instead of taking a room-by-room approach, Hewitt advises. 
“A modern space has continuity—it is visually  cohesive. Limit surface and finish selections.” She notes that a bonus to this whole-space design strategy is that it allows for change without requiring a redesign. “If furnishings have a universal appeal, moving pieces to a different location can refresh several areas without having to redo rooms.”   

Mix it in

If you like a modern aesthetic, but you’re too intimidated to transform your home, relax in knowing that modern design can be achieved in small steps. “Modern today is not an all-or-nothing commitment,” says Alison Weidner, architectural sales manager at Poggenpohl Atlanta, a renowned kitchen brand. “Many of  our clients integrate their modern kitchens into existing traditional homes, like they do in Europe.” 

The kitchen is a great place to start integrating modern design into your home. Because along with being the heart of the home, it is also a work area, where function and beauty should coexist. But if the prospect of a kitchen remodel is too big, you can mix modern elements into your home in other, smaller ways. “Integrate new modern furniture, lighting and art pieces that would coexist happily with your existing pieces,” Weidner suggests. “Look for a theme in color, texture and material that bind the old and new together.”

As an example of traditional mixed with modern, Arlene Dean points to the “prairie-house modern” style. “They integrate elements of the traditional prairie style made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright—bands of windows, a horizontal focus, stone, wood and natural materials—with conveniences and style that are current, even cutting edge,” she says. “We use the same basics—glass, stone, wood—but now they are energy-efficient windows and shower doors that maximize natural light and sleek tops for kitchen islands to fit family-friendly open floor plans.”

In Atlanta, modern design is present, but it’s still fighting misconceptions. So traditional design remains the most common and most popular. The Serenbe community is no exception—Laumer-Giddens says he designed the Proud Green Home with a contemporary feel to provide an alternative to the more traditionally designed homes in the community. But in essence, “modern” simply means current, so “modern” homes are simply the most up-to-date, utilizing present-day technologies, best practices and good design. As Hewitt puts it, “Traditional is the established standard; modern is innovative and fearless.”


Why Modern Homes Use these Products…

Metal Roofing. Metal roofs can last as long as 50 years, making them cost efficient in the long run. They save energy by reflecting heat in the summer and insulating for warmth in the winter. The ROI on metal roofing is an asset as well, as it can lower the cost of your home insurance, while increasing the value of your home.

Concrete. Energy efficiency is chief among the reasons to use concrete in new home construction. It leaks less air than wood construction and insulates better. It also uses less energy during manufacture. Modern designers love its sleek, cool, look, its color-versatility and its ability to reflect light.

Boral Bricks. These bricks are both environmentally friendly and energy efficient. According to their website, Boral Bricks do not emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or formaldehyde, do not contain CFCs, HCFCs, or other ozone-depleting substances, is completely recyclable and biodegradable. (Source: BoralAmerica.com)

Steel. Structurally, steel gives you more design options, as steel sections can be bent and rolled to create non-linear designs. Using steel can be environmentally sound as well, as it offers none of the ‘off-gassing’ that can come from the resins and adhesives necessary with wood constructed homes. 

Bamboo Flooring. Bamboo grows much faster than wood and can be harvested without destroying its root system (no need to replant!) For those reasons, bamboo is a very environmentally-friendly choice. Plus bamboo can be dyed a multitude of colors, making it a favorite of modern designers.


Don’t just read about modern homes, come tour them live!

See Modern Homes Up Close & In Person

Join the incredible “Design is Human” Architecture Tour, June 7-8, 2014. Established in 2007, MA Architecture Tour has inspired, entertained, and educated thousands of admiring fans in love with contemporary architecture and thoughtful design. 

Tickets are $35 and include entrance to the Design Is Human Design Exhibition and Home Tour Launch event on June 6 and home tour attendance for Saturday, June 7 and Sunday June 8 in Atlanta.

Tickets can be purchased at the Design Exhibition and Home Tour Launch event, online at ma-designishuman.com, and at select MA ticket outlets all around Atlanta. All ticket holders also receive a copy of the Armchair-designed 2014 edition of Design Is Human publication/ MA Architecture Tour Guide.


“The biggest misconception of modern is that it is purely an architectural or decorative style. Modern design is a philosophy that embodies simplicity, function, form, materials and innovation.”

—Diane J. Hewitt

“Modern design can—and often does—incorporate traditional materials and even conventional design elements. What makes it modern is that it works with the homeowners’ current lifestyle and project their needs rather than lagging behind.”

—Arlene Dean, Arlene Dean Homes

“Modern to me is not about a style. It is about solving problems in an honest way, with today’s materials, today’s technology, today’s consciousness and today’s craftspeople/builders. To try and emulate solutions and methodologies of times long past is irresponsible.
—Bryan Russell, Dencity LLC

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