When some people think of contemporary homes, they think of a stark white box with a white interior — perhaps like the Rachofsky Residence by Richard Meier in Preston Hollow – essentially an art-museum-house-hybrid.

Enrique Montenegro, a principal at SHM Architects, says contemporary is really anything that’s not traditional in architecture, but it’s not necessarily a “classic white box.”

“Contemporary doesn’t have to be cold,” he says.

CandysDirt.com sat down with Enrique Montenegro of Dallas-based SHM Architects to discuss how to design a contemporary home that feels warm and comfortable.

CandysDirt: Let’s start with the criticisms. What are the stereotypes people have of contemporary-style homes?

Enrique Montenegro: Everybody’s got a different idea of what contemporary means. Clean lines is a term that people use a lot when they’re referring to contemporary homes, where everything’s super straight, with minimal details, and very crisp.

But we’ve all been in these kinds of spaces where you feel like you can’t put your feet up. They are rooms full of furniture that make you feel like you’ve got to sit straight up. The way the space is furnished and how the walls are finished can make it feel very cold and too formal. (more…)

Ridglea Front

Almost every listing I fall in love with has a really fabulous mixture of contemporary and vintage pieces, and maybe a few quirky flea market finds. I had no idea that this is what basically makes up transitional style. It’s a great decor style that makes almost every home look like a supermodel, and it’s not hard at all to attain.

I think that 5446 Ridgedale, a gorgeous M Streets Tudor, really evokes transitional style. Dallas stager Karen Eubank agrees.

Ridglea Entrance

“Look at the entryway. It has a simple wood-topped table with straight crome legs. There’s a glass-base lamp on top and pale grey walls. When I walk into that home, and I see that table and I can tell that it’s been updated. It’s on-trend,” Eubank said.

Ridglea Living

In the living room there’s a fantastic vintage mirror above the fireplace, a great juxtaposition with the oval cocktail table. It all has a very timeless look, doesn’t it? The seating feels clean and modern with a more traditional shape. All of these pieces mix well to produce a great example of transitional style.

What’s the easiest way to update a home that merges contemporary and traditional? “Lighting fixtures are a great way to update a house quickly,” Eubank said. Head to Lowes or Home Depot and find modern-feeling fixtures that blend well with traditional furniture.

Ridglea Dining

The dining room, with the drum light centered over the dining table, is a great example of that philosophy, says Eubank. “The dining room is wonderful. The paint is a little darker than in the living room, but with the white trim, it works. The chairs are a more traditional shape, but are covered with a more modern fabric.”

Ridglea Kitchen

Getting ready to sell your home? The easiest way to achieve transitional style is through accessories, Eubank said. Start with a coat of pale gray, green, or blue on the walls and go from there.

“Most people are not going to have the resources to go out and buy and updated living room suite,” she added. “But if you’re planning on buying a few new pieces when you move into your new home, give yourself permission to go ahead and buy a couple of new pieces, maybe a sofa or armchair that works.”

Ridgedale Master

On an even stiffer budget? Head to HomeGoods or Target.

“You can update your house for in the neighborhood of $500 if you’re smart about it,” Eubank said.

Ridgedale Master Bath