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 a while, “Coke” became “New Coke.”
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?”); the 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 right).
That may come as a surprise ” at least to people (including Realtors) who don’t know the area ” because many of the newly-built Contemporaries were commissioned by/for existing clients.
As a result, they’ve never been exposed to the market.
By contrast, “spec” homes constructed by builders have a spotlight shone on them on MLS, the Parade of Homes, by their listing agents, etc.
Of course, it’s also true that several of the most impressive new homes are less than visible from the street, located on tucked-away or otherwise private lots.
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.