1980s Contemporary Home Update in New York

Re-imagining a stuck-in-the-past house into a beautiful, contemporary home doesn’t have to mean cutting all design elements that aren’t “modern enough.”

Peter and Diane G. of New York worked with brick&batten to discover a happy medium — transforming their house’s exterior into a contemporary home that honored its ’80s roots, with mostly non-structural changes. Read on to learn all about their process.

Is your home stuck in the past? Dreaming of a modern exterior? Brick&batten has helped thousands and thousands of homeowners achieve their exterior design goals quickly and affordably.  Click here to learn about our virtual exterior design services. Do you already have an “actual after” showing the results of your design process with brick&batten? Click here to upload it for a chance to be featured on our blog. 

Before its remodel, the 80s house was small and covered solidly in dark-brown paneling

The Before

Diane and Peter purchased their 80s house in January of 2021, with plans to make it their summer home. They said the inside was “perfect,” if a bit small. The exterior, in contrast, felt “old and tired” and needed a lot of updating to fit their style.

They knew they needed a change but weren’t sure where to start. They said:

“We had no idea how to make [this] 1980s home look modern for today.”


They reached out to their architect hoping to come up with a fresh exterior for their home. They already loved their architect’s work on a blueprint for an extension they were adding above their garage:

A blueprint of the home added an expansion above the garage

However, their architect said designing a new look for their home’s exterior could take a while. Diane and Peter didn’t want to wait, so they began searching for other ideas, and brick&batten popped up.

I loved your website and felt, for the cost, I would take a chance.


The Design

Diane and Peter had no clue where to start on their contemporary home redesign, so they ordered two virtual renderings from brick&batten to help get their creative juices flowing.

Using their home’s blueprint, which took into account the in-progress expansion, our designers came up with an option that featured a warm, off-white paint (a big change from the original gray exterior):

The first rendering featured white as a main color, alongside black and orange-y wood-tone accents

This design suggested Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster for the center of the home and on the above-the-garage siding, and Benjamin Moore’s Black for the trim. Light paint colors are on-trend, so moving forward with this design would have definitely modernized the home’s look.

Our designers also provided a rendering showcasing a different paint for the siding sections — Benjamin Moore’s Deep Creek. This version modernized the home, while the focal color kept a bit of its original 80s flair:

The 2nd option we provided had a base of dark greige, which modernized the home's original color.

All of our clients receive more than a design; we also provide a resource list with links to suggested paint colors, trims, fixtures, and more, creating an easy-to-reference kit that makes renovation a breeze.

Both of the original designs Peter and Diane received suggested light stone accents, a black metal roof, black shingles, warm wood paneling, and airy windows with black trim. Wooden pillars (with a suggested stain color) and black accent elements, including chairs and lights, make the home look finished.

Both versions were on the right track, but weren’t completely what the couple envisioned. They gave a few points feedback and then, they said, “we had our new home!”

The revised rendering kept more dark greige throughout the home

The final rendering kept Benjamin Moore’s Deep Creek and Black, but showcased lighter-toned wood accents and no stone elements. We love how the final design looks contemporary but still feels like it would have worked in the 80s!

Contemporary home remodel in process, near completion, photo taken at night

The Process

Diane and Peter combined renovating the home’s exterior with their above-garage expansion. Altogether, the project took eight months.

Many of our homeowner clients, like Diane and Peter, say having a design rendering to reference makes the renovation process go smoothly. Whether you’re planning to work with a contractor, multiple contractors, do it yourself, or some combination thereof, our virtual rendering will ensure you never feel lost. Your rendering acts as a guide for you (or your contractors), even if something we recommend isn’t locally available.

The home's after looks bright while retaining an 80s feel

The Actual After

Not only do Diane and Peter love the final result, their neighbors do, too:

Anyone who sees us tells us they love it. One neighbor said ‘it was broken and we fixed it.’ Thank you for your brilliant ideas.


The home’s completed curb appeal is a fantastic marriage of its inherent contemporary architecture and updated building materials. The varied textures of the wood and metal accents bring the home an of-the-moment feel and show off its unique shape. The color scheme gives it a look we believe will wear well for years to come.

The home’s overall welcoming, down-to-earth vibe works perfectly for its role as the couple’s summer getaway. Diane and Peter said:

We truly love it and can’t wait to create more memories there.


A contemporary home that feels timeless

When you’re renovating your home’s exterior, the sky’s the limit. Is your home vintage but you wish it felt more modern? A few coats of paint may get you there. Is your exterior dated, but you wish you could incorporate new trends? Some simple accent pieces and trim could do the trick.

Just like we worked with Diane and Peter to transform their 80s house into a timeless, contemporary home / getaway oasis, we can help you accomplish your exterior design goals, too.

Not sure how to make heads-or-tails of what the words “vintage,” “dated,” “trendy,” or “modern” even mean? Let brick&batten figure out what would make your home look best! You won’t have to worry about a thing, leaving you time to coordinate the rest of your renovation. Start your virtual exterior design today.