Lense on the Look: The Essential Modern Exterior Checklist


In addition to taking a fresh, non-traditional approach, creating your dream modern home can be simple and achievable with a few key features. Start with these four design elements and you’ll be on your way to having a unique yet timeless façade that stands out from the crowd.


Function is of foremost importance in modern homes, with an aversion to excess allowing materials to take centre stage. Uncomplicated wall cladding and finishes in clean lines are hallmarks of modern design, with decorative elements and ornate fixtures shunned in favour of hard-wearing, angular surfaces and architectural features. The key is to keep it simple and streamlined, letting textural materials shine as the focal point.

matrix-midcenturymodern-exterior-tallowwoodridge-jameshardie-2_zenk7y Asymmetrical sheets of Matrix cladding has been used here to add a modern industrial look to this bushland home.


  1. Starting with linear lines on your exterior – using a product such as Matrix™ cladding which is ideal for a sharp, geometric shapes – will ensure a distinctive home design from the get-go and provide style cues for the interior.

  2. Carry the look inside for a feeling of connectedness that is sleek and edgy while still remaining timeless, working with the same principles of clean lines and hardwearing materials.


Keeping hues restrained is typical of modern design. As with clean, angular lines, a minimalistic approach to colour – think whites, blacks and greys – will ensure the focus stays firmly on texture as well as allowing for more creative freedom when it comes to mixing and matching materials. The relationship between materials, colours and textures should be complementary and enhance a home’s best features, not compete. A muted palette will also provide the perfect backdrop for pops of colour to be introduced through furnishings and décor.

axon-scandibarn-exterior-bentleigh-jameshardie-_12 Darker hues used for larger areas, such as charcoal cladding on an exterior, can instantly make a façade appear sleek and modern.

TIP: Darker hues used for larger areas, such as charcoal cladding on an exterior, can instantly make a façade appear sleek and modern. Throw into the mix crisp, white rendering and some cool metal or stone accents – for example, dark weatherboard cladding atop white, rendered panels, with the addition of a feature wall made from stone or plywood.


Incorporating mixed materials is what will give your façade the ‘wow’ factor. Thinking beyond traditional use of materials is a must, as you’ll want your home to both stand out and complement its surrounding environment with varied textures and visual interest.


  1. Consider using creative combinations of materials including cladding, wood and steel, warmed up with timber and brick, to bring personality to an otherwise utilitarian design.

  2. Select hardwearing materials to ensure your look lasts, factoring in your home’s location and climate when deciding on your exterior.

stria-scandibarn-exterior-adelaide-jameshardie-_9 Mixed materials such as wood, steel and cladding help add personality to modern designs so they stand out of the crowd.

Think opposites — light and dark colours, complex and simple shapes – and select two or three finishes that contrast. Several different finishes, once juxtaposed, can immediately make a tired home look edgy and fresh. Consider breaking up sections or storeys with different colours and materials, or mix horizontal and vertical lines. A versatile cladding option such as Stria cladding looks great in darker hues and can be laid in multiple directions, even on the same facade.


Open-plan living is synonymous with modern home design. As a style that is ideally suited to inner city or suburban living, where outdoor space can be limited, careful consideration must be given to light and airflow. No matter the size of your home, creating a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor areas will ensure a calm, soothing space to both relax and entertain.

axon-villasunshine-jameshardie_2__1_ Tall glass windows and a seamless indoor-outdoor space help add light to modern homes constricted by smaller blocks.

TIP: If you’re limited by land size, a modern home will benefit from tall, glass walls or windows to encourage a connection between the home’s interior and the outside landscape. An open plan living area will also promote cross-ventilation, harnessing natural light and maximising a small space, while continuing the same streamlined and contemporary look as your façade.

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