6 Brutalist Architecture Design Ideas to Consider For Your Custom Home

April 23, 2024

Designing and building a custom home provides a lot of freedom. It’s a perfect solution for creating exactly the home you want. But, if you’re not sure what that looks like, it can be difficult to know where to start. Looking at classic designs and popular trends can help you figure out what you do and don’t like for your custom home design. Here is an overview of brutalism and a few brutalist architecture design ideas to inspire you:

What is Brutalism?

Brutalism, or brutalist architecture, is an architectural style that emerged among post-war reconstruction efforts. In the United Kingdom, brutalism emerged during the 1950s and is also associated with architectural styles in post-war communist nations.

This style focuses on minimalist construction and designs that are built to showcase structural elements and bare materials instead of highlighting decorative elements. Concrete is a primary feature of brutalist architecture. Exposed brick and other materials, like glass, wood, and steel, are also often used.

Even though the building designs, materials, etc. of brutalism were intrinsically linked with post-war situations and reconstruction realities, the style was also thought to be a reaction against the architectural style of the 1940s, which focused heavily on nostalgia.

As the 1950s continued, brutalism shifted from being a post-war reconstruction effort into an architectural style. “New brutalism” was derived from the Swedish phrase nyrbrutalism. As the style was popularized, it also became associated with French phrases, like béton brut and art brut, which mean “raw concrete” and “raw art”.

Because brutalism is focused on simplicity and functionality, it developed a reputation for feeling cold and soulless, especially with concrete as a prominent feature. The brutalist movement was over by the early 1980s as other styles became more popular, but it has started to see a resurgence with some softening of the defining aspects. Similar to industrial interior design, minimalism, and other function-focused styles, brutalist architecture can come across as cold, but it depends entirely on the design and how it is executed.

6 Brutalist Architecture Design Ideas to Consider in Home Design

Although brutalism isn’t necessarily a popular style in residential home design on its own, there are definitely elements of it that can be seen in modern and popular styles. There are also several classic features of brutalism that can work well in home design. Here are a few brutalist architecture design ideas to consider for your custom home:

beam ceiling and chandelier detail1. Use Natural Materials and Leave Them Exposed

Brutalist architecture often features concrete and brick, especially when it is exposed and unpainted. Steel, glass, and timber are also used and tend to be used as complementary design elements to brick or concrete, or both. There are many ways to incorporate concrete into your custom home design and many of them work well when paired with these other materials.

A polished concrete floor paired with an exposed brick wall and exposed wooden beams is a modern industrial look that harkens back to brutalist architecture. Interior concrete and mixing and matching natural elements are popular home design trends that can add subtle hints of brutalism.

In exterior design, pairing brick with other materials can help add elements of brutalist architecture without making your home design look or feel cold. Mixing concrete and steel in the exterior can incorporate brutalist influence while creating a home design that is modern and innovative.

Depending on where and how you pair these materials, these brutalist architecture design ideas can support a minimalist look, something more modern, several types of farmhouse styles, and more.

exterior of modern custom home2. Feature Angles and Geometric Shapes

Angular shapes and geometric shapes are classic brutalist architecture design ideas that can be used in a variety of ways in your custom home. Although you can make them prominent, especially to highlight an entryway or other structural features, featuring angles in your home design doesn’t have to be as prominent as A-frame houses.

It doesn’t mean your home design has to be a block either. There are a lot of options for angular features and a lot of variations available to include interesting angles in your home design. It also isn’t limited to structural design elements; decor featuring geometric shapes is a simple way to incorporate elements of this design idea into your home.

Kitchen backsplashes and wall art are classic options. Areas rugs and other textiles featuring geometric patterns are others. Unique lighting fixtures, tile accents, wall designs, statement ceilings, and more are all home decor trends that can easily accommodate geometric shapes in interesting ways.

3. Opt For Monochromatic Color Palettes

Simplicity, honest materials, and a focus on function are classic elements of brutalism. Since this style was also a reaction to a nostalgic and flashier style that came before it, colors tended to stick to neutrals and monochromatic themes.

Modern brutalism takes this approach, softens it, and tweaks it a little for modern times. Neutrals and monochromatic color palettes no longer need to be boring. There are plenty of ways to decorate with neutrals and more color options that allow you to rethink classic neutrals in new and interesting ways.

Even in a monochromatic palette, there can still be a lot of variation. Even though the spirit of brutalism does not normally lend itself to bright or bold colors, a monochromatic color palette could allow you to experiment with something like color drenching where the entire room uses one color.

great room4. Create Functional Zones

Brutalist architecture takes a modular approach to design and focuses specifically on creating specific functional zones. Although the functional zones are meant to be distinct, the overall design is not less important as the goal is still for everything to come together as a unified whole and elevate the overall design.

Within residential home design, this approach can be useful when it comes to figuring out different rooms to meet specific functions and needs. It’s also a useful approach when defining spaces in an open-concept floor plan, figuring out the best layout for a great room, deciding what to include in a mudroom, and more.

5. Improve Flow Between Areas With Walkways

The focus on functional zones and grouping similar functions together in one area along with the edges and larger-than-life geometric shapes common to brutalism can result in a more modular design. At the same time, flow and use must be considered and should not be impeded. Modern brutalism often allows for some softening of the sharp edges common to traditional brutalism, which allows for more finishes, curves in addition to edges, and more.

Taking these concepts into residential home design puts the focus on how people will move through a space. In doing so, it’s about making sure whatever zone you’re creating also has optimal pathways for flow as people move through and use the space. Within interior room design, this means choosing room layouts and intentionally creating and leaving space for pathways that make sense.

In exterior home design, this could be improving flow and movement between areas with different walkway options. Connecting outbuildings to your home or outdoor patio with a walkway can help improve flow between the areas. In the case of a detached or semi-detached garage, you could include a covered walkway if it will be close enough to the home for that to make sense.

view of foyer from living room with columns6. Highlight Support Columns

Brutalist architecture also tends to highlight supporting design elements instead of hiding them. Exposing pipes, leaving i-beams visible over windows, featuring structural supports, and more are all ways this pops up in brutalism.

One of the brutalist architecture design ideas you can use in your custom home design is to highlight support columns, whether they are actually load-bearing or more for aesthetics like interior columns. This could be different styles of architectural columns to create and enhance your entryway, support a large front porch, or to create a specific look or define a zone inside.

Design and Build Your Dream Home With CHG

These are just a few brutalist architecture design ideas to consider for your custom home. Even if they aren’t necessarily right for you, evaluating ideas, elements, styles, etc. can help you narrow down options that suit your style and needs.

Partnering with a reputable and experienced custom home builder, especially one with an in-house design/build process, can be a big help and also reduce your stress throughout the experience.

They can help you narrow down options, create the home design you want, and ensure you end up with a custom home that meets your needs and tastes. If you’re ready to bring your dream home to life, contact Custom Home Group at 717-284-4090!