Exterior Design

Pushing Design Limits With Captivating Elevations

Desiring the ability to convey status with their home, buyers are leaning towards contemporary styles and modern reinterpretations of traditional designs

By Paul Brady

What are the latest and most captivating elevation styles in residential architecture? In Colorado, contemporary and modern styles continue to be the preference. While there’s a slight decline in the willingness to push design limits, the consistent influx of inspirational images from our clients indicates a persistent inclination towards contemporary aesthetics. Specific stylistic veins and macro trends, outlined below, further shape our recent projects.

A consistent theme in elevation preferences centers around the desire to convey status. Homeowners take immense pride in their residences, viewing the elevation as a canvas to articulate our social standing. This embodiment of status often results in homes with a commanding presence and a discernible statement of quality. Achieving this involves a careful selection of materials and intricate details, transforming the elevation into a symbol of prestige.

In our region, there’s a noticeable inclination towards contemporary styles and modern reinterpretations of traditional designs. Similar to luxury car advertisements emphasizing sleek, modern aesthetics, our clients seek current designs that seamlessly integrate modern technology. That modern lean is often balanced with natural materials and historical undertones to create a more timeless outcome. 

Unlike fleeting fashion statements, a home’s elevation requires striking the right balance between expressing individual style and avoiding overly bold statements for longevity. This involves a meticulous dance between innovation and tradition, crafting elevations that are contemporary yet possess a timeless allure, standing resilient against fads.

Examples of trending styles that highlight these trends are European Contemporary, Museum Modern and Scandinavian Farmhouse.

European Contemporary homes feature steep roofs, distinctive massing and a classic association with homes of the wealthy.

European Contemporary: A collection of contemporary adaptations of traditional European styles like French Country and Tudor featuring clean lines, tailored roof overhangs, large windows, toned-down materials and minimal detailing. The steep roofs, distinctive massing and a classic association with homes of the wealthy make this a perfect contemporary expression of status and class.

Museum Modern: Reflecting a sophisticated aesthetic akin to a modern art museum, this style features clean lines, minimalistic forms and a focus on artful detailing. Large windows, flat roofs and pure forms tie back to early modernism, architects like Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and the status and high cultural subtext of the latest museums.

Scandinavian Farmhouse: The modern farmhouse style has splintered into a more rugged American Farmhouse and a clean and simple Scandinavian Farmhouse characterized by simplicity, natural materials and minimal ornamentation. We have seen a strong recent preference for the Scandinavian version as it has a more refined and contemporary expression.

Lifestyle preferences also play a pivotal role in shaping elevation styles. In Colorado, architectural preferences are interwoven with the terrain itself. Whether it’s the allure of a mountain retreat, the charm of a ranch-style abode, or the tranquility of a farmhouse, these popular home styles highlight, not only an architectural style preference but a celebration of the unique lifestyles that homeowners aspire to embody. 

Homes built in the style of Scandinavian Farmhouse are characterized by simplicity, natural materials and minimal ornamentation.

Contemporary Prairie: Paying homage to the iconic Prairie School style with horizontal lines, low-pitched hipped roofs and repeating windows, this style blends seamlessly with nature creating a sense of unity and balance. Contemporary adaptations to this style include varied arrangements of stone cladding, larger windows and more contemporary color palettes.

Contemporary Mountain / Mine: Drawing inspiration from rugged mountainous terrain, this style combines contemporary design with elements reflecting the mining history of the region. This style expresses the active and adventurous mountain lifestyle and the connection to nature incorporating natural materials, expansive glass and expressed dynamic structural elements.

Mid-Century Modern: With historical roots similar to museum modern, mid-century modern is a more residential-leaning vein of mid-20th-century modern homes highlighted by low-sloped gable or shed roofs. Elements of this style that work well in Colorado include the wooden beams and vaulted ceilings used with the rafter-framed low-sloped roofs and the use of stone walls and stone elements integrating the architecture with the landscape. Additionally, the floor-to-ceiling large glass windows connect the interior to the amazing Colorado views.

In conclusion, our experience underscores the enduring dominance of contemporary and modern-leaning preferences. While there is a pull towards a more conservative approach, the consistent influx of inspirational images reaffirms a steadfast affinity for sleek and modern designs. Expressing status through elevation remains pivotal, with homes becoming symbols of prestige. Lifestyle preferences further shape elevation styles, reflecting diverse lifestyles in Colorado’s varied terrain. Stylistic trends embody a fusion of innovation and tradition, reflecting our commitment to crafting enduring testaments to architectural excellence and individuality.

Paul Brady, NCARB, AIA, LEED-AP, is a principal at Godden | Sudik Architects.