One of the ways you can tell that a product is dated or out-of-fashion — or people think it is — is that it acquires an adjective.

So, for awhile, “Coke” became “New Coke.”

contempIn the wake of Watergate in the 1970’s, Minnesota’s Republican party became the “Independent – Republican” party (at least until Ronald Reagan became President).

In the same vein, while I see plenty of homes locally billed as “soft Contemporaries,” it’s less common to see just the term “Contemporary.”

“Hard” vs. “Soft”

Is there a difference?

Actually, there is.

As the name suggests, the lines in a “soft” Contemporary are a little less perpendicular (“severe?” “stark?”); softthe interior spaces a little more welcoming; and there’s more use of “warm” materials  like hardwood vs. “cooler” steel, marble, etc. (recessed or passive lighting and oversized, custom glass windows — and lots of them — remain a staple of both styles).

I don’t know that there’s a bright line separating “soft” and “hard” Contemporaries, but in general . . . I know it when I see it.

Twin Cities Trends

Locally, I think it’s fair to say that “Contemporary” has fallen out of favor as a new construction choice (most popular:  what I’ll call “nouveau Arts-and-Crafts,” below).

arts_craftsThe conspicuous exception to that is around and near Minneapolis’ Cedar Lake, where it appears to be extremely popular.

The reason that may come as a surprise — at least to people (including Realtors) who don’t know the area — is that many of the newly-built Contemporaries were commissioned by/for existing clients (vs. built “spec” by builders, then put up for sale with a spotlight shone on them).

P.S.:  Just because something has fallen out-of-fashion doesn’t mean it’s inferior.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of split-levels, which nobody seems to be building anymore.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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