Putting a Modern Twist On Exposed Brick

Exposed brick is a statement piece in its own right. It stands alone and gives a home character in a way that a basic white wall—while classic—isn’t able to. They’re perfect in their imperfection, visually appealing, as well as practical and durable.

The fact that bare brick is having a big fashion moment now (thanks in large part to the New York brand Supreme)—with one recently being auctioned off on eBay for $1000—is a testament to its appeal. And while I don’t necessarily encourage spending that much money on a single piece of brick, I do think its raw, authentic aesthetic is something that homeowners should invest on.

Think of it this way—white walls on a house are like fresh canvasses where you get to make your mark and bring in your own personality as you make it your home. Exposed brick brings the home’s past to the fore, and it’s your job now to put a modern twist to it so its rich history shines.

Traditionally, the material is found on Colonial, Greek Revival, and Tudor style homes. But its recent resurgence showcases just how attractive it can be on more modern architectural styles. If you’re considering brick siding for a newly constructed home or want to purchase a home with beautiful exposed brick walls, here’s how you can update the classic aesthetic.

1. Paint it

I usually advise homebuyers who want to modernize an exposed brick wall to give it a fresh coat of white paint. It gives it a clean, contemporary vibe that gives traditional brick walls more design flexibility.

A fresh coat of white pain can refresh and modernize classic brick.

That said, I am a big fan of the classic color and texture of exposed brick—especially if it’s used for external walls.  If you’re lucky enough to find a home with brick walls that are in excellent condition, make the most out of it. A good coat of limewash, which is a breathable coating with a soft, porous finish, can soften the red hue of the brick and create a more neutral palette. Otherwise, a good primer can serve to refresh and update the natural color and texture of the brick.

2. Stay neutral

The rustic aesthetic of exposed brick walls is a great contrast for contemporary furniture and home design. For example, raw, natural bricks for external walls paired with stark white paint for doors and windows create a more up-to-date look.  An all-white interior is also a beautiful and subtle way of accentuating the sense of history of a traditional brick exterior where a warm and textural façade can usher you into a cool and monochromatic enclave.

Exposed brick walls is a great contrast for contemporary furniture

3. Go sleek

As gorgeous as exposed brick is, it does have a tendency to look dated. Remember, what you want to achieve with your brick walls is to draw out its sense of history, not make your home look stuffy and old-fashioned.

Sleek decor against modern exposed brick creates warmth and contrast.

I like mixing and matching exposed brick not only with monochromatic colors but with cooler textures from sleek décor and appliances. For example, stainless steel appliances and countertops are both functional and modern. Industrial or glass accents, used as coffee or end tables, can add a more modern flair to your home.

Industrial accents can update and complement the look of exposed brick.

4. Find balance

Exposed brick is warm, rustic, and lends a beautiful sense of old world charm. To complement this, neutral accents and crisp, stark interiors are usually used to keep the design beautifully balanced. But here’s the catch—all that sleek furniture and monochromatic palette can make a home feel more industrial than cozy.

Never forget that your home has to still feel and function like home.  Striking a balance between aesthetics and function is critical. And to add more warmth in monochromatic rooms, I would suggest using lighting. Avoid overhead fluorescent lighting, which tends to make the spaces feel cold and industrial. Instead, use soft yellow lighting.

5. Pops of color

The use of bright or rich colors can do a lot to make exposed bricks look and feel more contemporary.

A pop of color against exposed brick can modernize the traditional aesthetic.

The smart use of brights can help accentuate exposed brick. Yellows are a favorite, and it can be used in artwork, or interior accents such as rugs, throws, or vases. Surprisingly, darker hues, when used with restraint, can also add depth. A great example would be painting shutters a rich dark shade of blue or black to contrast classic red brick.

Exposed brick adds texture, a sense of history and a lot of character to any home. And if you’re on a lookout for a house that highlights a lovely balance of modern and rustic, get in touch with me with me today.