Written by Steve Booz, Vice President of Marketing at Royal Building Products, A Westlake Company

Arguably, the biggest trend we are seeing in contemporary exterior architecture is the move toward modern design, emphasizing crisp lines, warm neutrals and balance.  What used to only be found in big cities can now be seen in surrounding suburbs and rural areas, dominating the new development landscape.  With this prevalence of modern aesthetics, it’s important for designers to always strike a balance between ultra-modern and the classic architecture of the surrounding area to achieve an effortlessly integrated look.  As we approach the midway mark in 2019, let’s take a look at some of the trends we are seeing in contemporary exteriors and how these trends can add a classic touch to a modern design.

Wood Accents

The look of wood has never been more popular than it is now.  Even on ultra-modern builds, designers are adding wood accents to warm up the overall effect.  Homeowners especially love the look of wood as it gives any home an instant upgraded and expensive look.  Luckily, there is an abundance of low maintenance materials that have the look of wood.  Thanks to the advanced technologies in printing and manufacturing, these wood replicas are extremely realistic and convey the same authentic warmth of stained, natural wood.

Lea Legg, a designer for Millstone Homes in London, Ontario, cites wood accents as one of the biggest trends she is seeing in contemporary architecture.  Millstone Homes builds modern homes with clean lines and European-style windows.  Legg said she is seeing a trend of homeowners desiring to add warmth back to their exteriors and shying away from the typical flat and industrial modern aesthetic that had been popular in recent years.  Wood accents are an easy way for a designer to add warmth to a contemporary exterior.

To achieve the wood look that her clients desire, Legg often chooses to work with Cedar Renditions™ aluminum siding by Royal® Building Products.  Cedar Renditions offers the same natural variants of colour and texture as real wood, coupled with a modern aesthetic.  The product offers a multitude of design possibilities for architects, builders and remodelers working on residential and light commercial projects.  Recently, Royal added three new solid colours and two new premium wood grain colours to its premium line, Cedar Renditions™ by Royal® Design Series.  Two new premium multi-tone wood grain colours, Timberline and Riverwood, have three distinct shades—dark, medium, light—that allow the designer to achieve an amazingly natural variegated plank look once installed.

“Before we were introduced to Cedar Renditions, we were using real cedar. It looked fantastic, but it was expensive and over time it would dull.  We were introduced to Cedar Renditions by our Royal Building Products representative about a year and a half ago,” says Legg.  “We started using it successfully and haven’t looked back since.  It’s a fantastic product that gives us the wood look we desire without the maintenance and staining.  Most importantly, this product can stand up to the Canadian winters much better than real cedar.”   

Mixed Use Materials and Bespoke Luxury

Also popular in contemporary exteriors right now are facades that mix materials in siding, roofing and trim.  This helps achieve the balance and harmony necessary to help contemporary exteriors better stand the test of time and assimilate with the surrounding architecture.  Defined by simple, clean lines and dramatic angles, no two modern builds are the same.  It’s important that designers are able to express their own design aesthetic in each unique project, particularly in residential contemporary architecture, through mixed materials, while still maintaining the clean lines and expansive windows signature to the modern look.

London, Ontario, is an area experiencing rapid growth and a boom in residential construction.  Legg notes that with this pace of building, homes can quickly start to all look the same.  Legg and other designers incorporate mixed materials in siding, roofing and trim to differentiate their homes and appeal to more buyers.

”It’s exciting to get a new product so I can have more options to diversify my exterior designs,” she says.  “With the arrival of new products like Cedar Renditions Design Series, we can take a similar house plan and customize each home by using different colours and textures of siding, roofing and trim.  Ultimately this is the homeowner’s decision, but I always strongly recommend using Cedar Renditions by Royal Design Series because the flat, wide panels give homes an upscale, luxurious look.” 

Matte industrial look

Matte finishes are having their day in every industry — fashion, automotive, even kitchen appliances are sold in matte finishes now.  In exteriors, matte finishes can give that sought-after industrial touch to contemporary styles.  Colours used for wood-look siding vary from dramatic high-contrast to subtle monochromatic, and are often paired with white or black accents for added impact.

Cedar Renditions by Royal Design Series has also added three new matte colours to their line: Ironstone, Charcoal and Gray.  These on-trend gray shades can give any contemporary build a West Coast vibe and be used as a modern alternative to the traditional wood grain look.  When paired with brighter tones, the solid matte colours help to add that industrial aesthetic to contemporary designs. 

It’s All About Balance

Unlike the fashion and music industries, changes in architecture respond to trends at a slower pace. But when exterior trends do become apparent, they can add contemporary touches to classic architecture, or add timeless appeal to modern looks.  The design goal is to strike a balance between classic and contemporary to ensure the longevity and sustainability of a structure within the community where it stands.


About the Author

Steve Booz is the Vice President, Marketing & Product Development at Royal Building Products, Exteriors Division which comprises siding, exterior and interior trim and decking products.

For more than 40 years, Royal® Building Products’ commitment to quality, innovation and customer relationships has attracted the loyalty of a growing number of building professionals, architects, engineers and distributors to its products.