Building Modern in the DMV
People move to the DMV area from all over the world, and its residents travel near and far for career and vacations. So, it’s little wonder that people are inspired by the lifestyle and architecture that they encounter in other places. California, Florida and Europe particularly introduce the modern design for homes. At AV Architects and Builders, we believe that the “California Modern” style is achievable and desirable for new homes in the area.
Our architects have been in the DMV area for decades, although we come from Europe, where lifestyle and design is quite different from the DMV norm. In this area, it’s pretty common to see colonial and traditional architectural styles. These styles are usually constructed with a center hall floor plan – a center hall leading to the various rooms of the main floor. We find that this design doesn’t work for the way families live their lives today. Another popular style is the craftsman design. Our clients come to us wondering about alternatives based on what they’ve seen elsewhere in the world. They wonder if this California Modern look can be achieved in the DMV since it is often found in lands of palm trees, beach and consistently warm temperatures.
What are they looking for?
The modern design that appeals so much has several distinctive characteristics. First, it is a highly simple design with very light finishes. Unlike colonial or traditional, with their crown moldings and ornamental details, the modern home design emphasizes clean lines with a minimalist look. This includes an exterior look with a volumetric design, incorporating 2-3 pitches and rooflines instead of the 10-12 found in traditional and craftsman designs. Next, modern design achieves the light, airy feel of a vacation home with many, large windows – the rule for modern homes is “double the windows, half the doors.”
Finally, modern design does away with the focus on rooms, and instead, it is built around areas. The first floor consists of three principal areas: an entertaining area which is the great room, kitchen and eating space; private quarters including the owner’s suite and the study; and the outdoor area. The latter is not an afterthought. The modern home incorporates the outdoors into the original design as an extension of the main interior. The outdoor area has features that extend the house into the outdoors (for more on our outdoor design ideas, read our post on the subject).
Is It Possible?
We are often asked whether it is possible to build a modern home in the DMV given the weather conditions. The answer is an unreserved yes! The key is in picking the right materials and the right construction. In warmer climates like California, modern homes are built from steel and concrete which is less feasible in the DMV because these materials are hard to insulate and the labor costs for concrete are particularly high. Instead, we use construction techniques that are typical of the DMV area – wood framing construction with 2×6 walls for insulation. We incorporate roofing and screening into the outdoor design to make the outdoors living areas (i.e. kitchen, eating areas, etc.) accessible for much more of the year.
To build a modern design home in the DMV, we use engineered materials because they age gracefully, are low maintenance, and don’t change over time. For example, we use aluminum windows by Weathershield that withstand temperature fluctuations. Instead of marble, we use quartz counter-tops by Cambria. We turn to one of the worldwide premier porcelain resources, Porcelanosa for tiles in the bathrooms and back-splashes. On the exterior, we use concrete pavers by Techo-bloc, instead of flagstone, and we use Nichiha fiber cement siding instead of cedar shingles for the same feel but in modern panels to suit the style of the house.
Make Your New Home Modern With AV Architects + Builders
A modern home by AV Architects and Builders is perfectly suited to the DMV area, and yet it makes you feel like you are on vacation year-round. Want to know more about building a home with us? Contact us to set up an appointment.