Design + Decor, Design Styles

Ancient Modern: Design that Takes Cues from the Past

“We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently, have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.”

Yuval Neah Harari, author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind


I recently ran across an article about a newly built home in the “Ancient Modern” style. Oxymoron, right? Wow, was I pleasantly surprised!

The brand new home, built by Jackson and Leroy, looked like a residence that had been there for hundreds of years but it was completely modern inside. The blend of old and new, modern and rustic, ancient meeting 21st century was very intriguing to me and actually reminded me of something I saw on a trip to Europe.

A few years ago, I spent time in France delving into family history. There was an ancient cathedral where a few of my ancestors supposedly were buried. Googling the cathedral came up with sketchy results, so we got in the car to investigate further. Not surprisingly, the cathedral was gone, except for a few stalwart walls which had been incorporated into a modern mall!

Needless to say, I didn’t find any graves, but the mix of ancient walls with new construction delighted me. With Europe having scads of ancient buildings and no extra space to spread out, it’s no wonder that reuse and repurposing, blending old and new, is seen everywhere.

Here are some great examples:


Architecture firm Ferran Vizoso fully restored the hilltop ruins of an ancient Baroque church in the Spanish city of Corbera d’Ebre. The temple is now used as new multi-functional public room.

Ferran Vizoso Architecture | Architectural Digest

I love, love, love this ruin turned into sun-filled loggia.


A couple looking for the unusual transformed this 1877 water tower in London into a luxury home. Black iron paired with the ancient brick created a modern and unique space, and it offers 360 degree views across London. How cool is that?!

For an ancient ruin that isn’t large enough to use as a new home, why not use it to enclose your pool?

Architect: Antonio Zaninovic | Designer: Lucien Rees Roberts | Landscape Architect: David Kelly | Photo: David Kelly/OTTO | Interior Design magazine


Imagine walking toward an ancient structure, through an ancient doorway into a totally modern home!

Architects Witherford Watson Mann designed a two-story contemporary residence right in the middle of the 12th-century Astley Castle in Warwickshire, England. According to an article in Dezeen, “clay brickwork was used to infill gaps in the structure, creating a visible contrast between the new and old structures.”

I’m getting a little time travel vibe here!

Here are just a few of the newly transformed spaces found inside.

This powder-coated-steel addition transformed a brick warehouse in Sheffield, England, from a relic of the city’s industrial past into a vibrant commercial space with offices, a restaurant, and a bar.

After removing the building’s original pitched roof, London-based architecture firm Project Orange designed the addition’s roofline to echo the area’s other industrial buildings.

I personally like how the arched windows of the past play with the stark rectangles of the new structure.

The acclaimed Italian designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba carved a serene retreat out of a 17th-century oil mill in Salento, Italy.

This space is almost “other worldly” to me, and serene is the perfect description for it. I can’t imagine wearing anything but a flowing white caftan while in this space.





The Ancient Modern design style to me is such a pleasant departure from stately traditional, stark contemporary or strictly midcentury modern. Why not blend it all together? We are all a blend of many historic peoples, why not our homes, too?

Too often we build and decorate via trends, but trends get dated and stale. A home with a mixture of styles might just have more staying power, keeping us from feeling like we need to remodel every 10 years. What do you think?

Let’s take a look at a few modern homes, both in Europe and the U.S. that successfully employ this Ancient Modern style. Then you can decide.


Natural stone is definitely gaining popularity in home design and construction. This ancient, organic material adds texture and pattern while maintaining a neutral palette. It also adds substance and a sense of history to a brand new home.

Oz Architects

Here the rough stone walls and smooth stone floors pair well with rustic beams, black iron doors and a modern kitchen.


Source Unknown

Sleek hardwoods, pristine white walls and contemporary furniture allow the ancient stone wall to take center stage.


Source Unknown

The vertical black stove pipe and horizontal wood beam add just enough interest to the hand-laid stone wall.

Amber Interiors

Rough stone floors under a sleek, white arched ceiling and skylights! This is a wondrous kitchen.


Amber Interiors

The interplay of dark and light on the ceiling takes this room to new heights!


Here in the United States, ancient buildings are few and far between, and we aren’t always very good at preserving history, so often we choose to rebuild history.

Remember the Ancient Modern article I mentioned at the start of the blog? This is it.

Utah builder Jackson and Leroy  did a superb job of rebuilding history in the Ancient Modern home using craftsmanship not always found today.

First, there is no drywall in the house. The walls and ceilings are tight-jointed, tongue-and-groove shiplap poplar – a technique used over a hundred years ago but rare today. As the wood shrinks and moves over the seasons and over the years, its unique character will only increase.

Second, there is no visible foundation to the house. Its walls rise up right out of the earth, as if it has been rooted there for years.

This Ancient Modern Home is a great example of a new home built in an old style but with an interior that melds old and new to perfection. It combines all of the amenities of 21st century technology in the skin of an ancient home.

Here are some more images from Jackson and Leroy’s Ancient Modern house to inspire you. To see all of the photos of this most amazing home, click here.

The Ancient Modern design concept is especially relevant to new homes in St. Louis, where many builders tend to favor traditional exteriors. When you have a more modern-minded clientele, like I do, blending old and new is a perfect way to create something that looks great today but will stand the test of time.

I have just started working on three new construction projects where I think this design style will work perfectly. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on their progress.

And if you’re thinking this design style might be for you, please give us a call at 314.395.1114 or CLICK HERE to send us an email. We’d be happy to help!

We’re back running full speed at Marcia Moore Design but if you’d still prefer to work virtually, we understand and can do that, too. Whatever works best for you and makes you the most comfortable is great with us.

Stay safe and healthy,

P.S. SUBSCRIBE to receive our latest post each week directly to your inbox.

P.P.S. CLICK HERE to check out our portfolio. We recently uploaded several new projects that we’re super excited about.


A few more posts you might enjoy!