Contemporary living room design ideas
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Contemporary Interior Design Styles

Contemporary Interior Design Styles Contemporary Interior Design Styles

The most obvious and distinctive element of a contemporary style interior design is line. Whether straight vertical or horizontal lines or curved shapes, strong visible lines are evident in any contemporary-style home. Line is found in architectural details, use of bold color blocks, high ceilings, bare windows, and geometric shapes in wall art and sculpture.

Transitional is a very popular style because it borrows from both traditional and modern design to facilitate a space that’s not “too much,” in terms of one style or another. There’s a sense of balance that’s appealing and unexpected.

Many designs now integrate rustic design with more modern furnishings and accessories.

Floors in a contemporary style home should be bare and smooth, using wood, tile, or vinyl. If you must use carpet for sound control or warmth, choose commercial grades. Add color and texture with plain or geometric-patterned area rugs.

It’s not…over the top. Contemporary interiors prefer to not call attention to any one past design era; rather. In fact, these interiors prefer to show themselves in calm and collected maturity of presentness, with nothing glaringly reminiscent or futuristic.

Modern and contemporary are two styles frequently used interchangeably. Contemporary is different from modern because it describes design based on the here and now.

Traditional design style offers classic details, sumptuous furnishings, and an abundance of accessories. It is rooted in European sensibilities.

There’s depth, layering and dimensionality within most traditional designs.

Black and reflective accents – Chrome or nickel finishes, glass and mirrors, ebony wood and other materials – these are accents that typically feel right at home in contemporary design. A glass coffee table, for example, is a perfect complement to a low-slung, simple black sofa in a contemporary space. A monochromatic black kitchen with variations of shine is also uber-contemporary.

It’s not…inherently minimalistic. While contemporary interiors thrive on a foundation of clean lines, contemporary design itself does not require minimalism. For example, the organic basket weave around this hanging chair, makes for warm, textural, and interesting contemporary décor.

Contemporary + Modern – Contemporary spaces can still (and often do) incorporate modern elements and pieces. To make these spaces truly contemporary, however, the modern pieces (e.g., low sofa, shag rug) are mixed with other non-modern elements (e.g., concrete floor, graffiti-type wall mural).

Shabby chic is vintage-inspired style, but compared to Bohemian and other styles, tends to be more feminine, soft and delicate.

Contemporary + Rustic – A wood-heavy design can be brought into a contemporary design realm with a few strategic inclusions, such as plenty of clean straight lines (which juxtapose, and show off, the wood grain beautifully) and cozy layers in neutral colors.

Mid-century modern is a throwback to the design style of the mid-1900s—primarily the 1950s and 60s. There’s a retro nostalgia present in Mid-Century Modern Design, and also some elements of minimalism. Functionality or “fussy-free” was the main theme for Mid-century design. It emphasis on pared-down forms, natural or organic shapes such as “egg-shaped” chair, easy-to-use contemporary designs and simple fabrications. It easily complements any interior and also helps with seamless transition from interior to exterior.

Bohemian is a popular style for home design and fashion. It reflects a carefree lifestyle with little rules, except to follow your hearts desire.


It’s not…feminine. Sleek, it definitely is. Casual and inviting, sure. Even light and airy at times. But contemporary design draws the line when it comes to feminine design elements. It’s more substantive and grounded than that, as a rule.

Take advantage of structural elements. Air ducts may hang from a ceiling, broken bricks provide texture and stability, and exposed plumbing pipes are perfectly acceptable in a contemporary-style interior. To draw the eye, paint these structural details in bold contrasting colors, or, to diminish their importance, blend them with the walls.

Industrial style as the name implies, draws inspiration from a warehouse or an urban loft.

Use a basic background and shout out with your favorite color on a furniture piece that stands out. Less is more! Sofas, chairs, and ottomans often have exposed legs. Beds and chairs usually omit skirts, trim, fringes, or tassels. Don’t use ruffles, excessive carved details, fringe, or floral prints. Abolish cute and small—go basic, bare, bold, and structural.

Color blocking – Color that makes a space look and feel fresh, new, and inviting is generally part of a contemporary scheme. Color blocking is a common way to carry this out via a contemporary space’s accents, such as painting the ends of a rustic wooden table with white blocks of color.

Contemporary Interior Design Interior Design Interior Design Styles Styles

French Country design may include soft and warm tones of red, yellow or gold and natural materials like stone and brick. French Country design can include collections of ornate porcelain dishes and heavy linens and bed coverings.

The intention is to create a relaxed and comfortable environment that is inspired by the beach and ocean.

Warm, earthy colours are indicative of a French Country design style, as are worn and ornamental wooden furnishing. The style has an overarching farmhouse inspiration.

The minimalist concept is one that’s popular here in Australia. It takes notions of modern design and simplifies them further.

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Coastal style also dubbed Hamptons style, hails from the iconic U.S. beachside area. Common features include light, airy colour palettes with cool neutral shades paired with blues and greens. Furnishings are often white or beige. The room can contain elements of wood and accessories are often inspired by the sea.

Scandanavian design pays homage to the simplicity of life demonstrated in Nordic countries. Scandinavian furniture design often feels like a work of art, although it is simple and understated. There’s functionality in the furniture along with some interesting lines, many of which have a sculptural influence.

Cozy, comfortable layers – Residing somewhere between the minimalism that’s found in modern interiors and the often-excessive elements of traditional, cottage, and other styles, is contemporary layering. The focus of this layering is generally to incorporate friendliness and spontaneity into a space with ho-hum tendencies.

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There’s a sense of unfinished rawness in many of the elements, and it’s not uncommon to see exposed brick, ductwork and wood. An iconic home with an industrial design theme would be a renovated loft from a former industrial building.

Contemporary + Eclectic – Eclectic styles seem inherently to incorporate doses of contemporary design, simply because their mix-and-not-match attitude is embraced in the world of contemporary décor. Combine a vintage mid-century sofa with an Ikea coffee table and a Moroccan rug for an example of this concept. And singular pieces can be both eclectic and contemporary simultaneously, like this freshened up retro rocker.

Neutrals, black, and white are the main colors in contemporary style interiors. Black is often used to ground and define a contemporary style room. The palette is often punched up and accented with bright and bold color that play against neutrals. With walls painted in a basic neutral, you have a wonderful backdrop for bold colored accessories. If the walls and windows are painted in pastels, the trims should be neutral. If a wall is a bright, bold color, neutrals should be used everywhere else.

Let’s talk about contemporary design for a minute, shall we? It’s often confused with, or described interchangeably as, modern design. Although perhaps some elements of modern design carry through into contemporary design, the two styles certainly have their differences. In this article, we’ll take a look at the definition of contemporary design, how it is different from modern design, how contemporary design relates to a few other styles, and what it is…and is not.

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Transitional design also includes relatively neutral colour palettes, creating a calming and relaxed space that manages to feel both stylish and sleek, as well as warm and inviting.

It’s not…static.As you are aware by now, contemporary design is anything but static. Although it’s quite comfortable in its own skin (if you have contemporary tastes, you like what you like right now, regardless of reference to past design), universal contemporary design is ever-evolving, sometimes slowly and sometimes not.

Rustic design is drawn from natural inspiration, using raw and often unfinished elements including wood and stone.

Track lighting and recessed lighting help to wash a wall in light. In both home renovations and new construction, consider installing cove lighting or indirect light. Include color and metallic elements on the light fixtures.

Contemporary + Traditional – Traditional furnishings take on a contemporary look and feel when they are combined with lighter elements. For example, blonde wood, an ombre rug, and a light grey color bring a decidedly contemporary vibe to this traditional-inspired sofa seating with its curves and tufting.

A transitional design may incorporate modern materials, such as steel and glass, and then unite them with plush furnishings.

Traditional homes often feature dark, finished wood, rich colour palettes, and a variety of textures and curved lines. Furnishings have elaborate and ornate details and fabrics, like velvet, silk and brocade, which may include a variety of patterns and textures.

In home decorating, if you enjoy things that are modern and like to keep current with the styles of the moment, you are a follower of contemporary style. While it’s sometimes thought that “modern” interiors are cold and minimalist, in today’s homes, contemporary interiors are comfortable and welcoming without being cluttered and dark. Today’s contemporary style is equally appropriate for offices and stores, loft apartments and traditional homes.

Decoration definitely needs inspiration and you can get some by eyeing the next amazing pictures.

Patterns – Classic and geometric pattern plays an important role in contemporary design today. This colorful low seat and ottoman set, for example, incorporates a subtle contemporary vibe with its diagonal striped weave.

Modern design employs a sense of simplicity in every element, including furniture. A word that’s commonly used to describe modern style is sleek, and there is not a lot of clutter or accessories involved with a modern style.

Keep dinnerware contemporary, too. There are a number of geometric shapes, bold colors, and interesting styles available. Bring in texture with silverware, napkins, placemats, and centerpieces.

Tailored, or nonexistent, skirts – A simple, clean aesthetic when it comes to fabrics bespeaks contemporary design – keep the ruffles and excess fabric at bay. This tailored black bed frame wrap is a completely contemporary touch.

Rustic design may incorporate accessories from the outdoors with warmth emulating from the design and architectural details that may include features like vaulted ceilings adorned with wood beams or reclaimed wood floors.

Clever storage solutions – Contemporary design is all about smart, hidden, and/or unexpected storage solutions. This includes architectural storage solutions, such as behind or inside of walls, as well as furniture-based storage, such as the drawers camouflaged in the sculptural elements on these side tables. So pretty and functional!

The dictionary defines contemporary as (1) living or occurring at the same time, or (2) belonging to or occurring in the present. Simply put, contemporary at its core refers to things “of the moment.”

Minimalism is ultimately defined by a sense of functionality and ultra-clean lines.

Shabby chic furnishings are often either distressed or appear that way; paint tends to have antique-style finishes. The Shabby Chic colour palettes include white, cream and pastels. Light light fixture and wall hangings may be ornate and continue the feminine vibe of shabby chic design.

The surfaces are sleek, smooth and polished. As for the flooring concrete, granite and linoleum are commonly used and chrome and stainless steel is used on furniture and in the kitchen. The shapes focus on geometry and angular.

A work-in-progress – As you know by now, contemporary design is ever-evolving. It shifts subtly over time, but it is never “finished,” never static. This is a key component of what contemporary design is.


Sleek, clean lines – Contemporary design is grounded; nothing here feels over-the-top.Super decorative items are omitted in favor of simplicity and cleanliness in contemporary forms. This includes low, simple sofas.

In contemporary rooms, plants and flowers should be large and dramatic in simple containers. Large blooms with interesting leaves work better than small arrangements. If space allows, place upward-focused lights around a large plant on the floor. Keep the arrangements neat with rocks or bark chips arranged over the soil in the pots.

The primary difference separating modern and contemporary design style is that modern is a strict interpretation of design that started in the 20th century. Contemporary on the other hand, is more fluid and can represent a sense of currency with less adherence to one particular style. For example, contemporary style may include curving lines, whereas modern design does not. You can refer to modern vs contemporary article for more information.

Fundamentally, a contemporary style of decorating is defined by simplicity, subtle sophistication, deliberate use of texture, and clean lines. Interiors tend to showcase space rather than things. By focusing on color, space, and shape, contemporary interiors are sleek and fresh. To achieve the look of a contemporary home, it’s important to stick to some basic rules.

Use spotlights or can lighting directed at a painting, poster, or print. These will help to draw the eye to the pieces you want to focus on. Contemporary style sculptures or framed art can be placed at eye level by placing them on a structural column or pedestal.

Blue and white striped patterns for pillows, large windows, white plush sofas, and painted white wood are also common fixtures of the classic Coastal/Hampton style.

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The bare space on walls, between pieces of furniture and above in upper areas, becomes as important as the areas filled with objects. In contemporary interiors, less is more. Each piece stands out as individual and unique.

Think high ceilings, old timber and dangling metal light fixtures with sparse functional furniture. There may possibly be one or two pieces of abstract art or photography to add a dash of colour to an otherwise neutral colour scheme derived from the primary materials of wood and metals.

Modern, industrial, shabby chic….and the list goes on. A significant challenge many of our clients face is a lack of understanding or vocabulary to describe and define their personal interior design style. With an abundance of unique design styles, it can be daunting to decipher which style will work best for you. Some also enjoy combining elements of several styles to create their ideal look.

In contemporary design the furniture comes in wood tones, metal, and synthetic materials. The furniture is in soft, quieter colors such as sage green, misty blues or grays. Couches and chairs are cushiony and covered in durable, soft fabrics.

Colour palettes are neutral and airy; furnishings are simple and streamlined, and nothing is excessive or flamboyant in accessories or décor.

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Also referred to as Hollywood Regency, Hollywood Glam is a design style that tends to be luxurious, over-the-top and opulent. It’s a dramatic design style, perfect for a homeowner who enjoys making a statement.

A great starting point for an interior design project is to learn a bit about each of the styles and how they differ from one another.


In contemporary design the accessories are kept to a minimum. The accessories are limited to sculptural pieces, such as silver plate bowls or abstract statuary, animal print ottomans, fur lined throw blankets, wicker chairs, silky throw pillows, ornate sculptures, and beaded window treatments.

As for modern style it is characterized by polished surfaces, strong geometric shapes and asymmetry. Colors are neutral and they allow the objects in the design to take center stage. White walls are very popular in a modern home with furnishings, accessories.

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It’s not…bright pops of color. Whereas modern design thrives on neutral expanses with pops of bold color, contemporary design uses this less. Tones and shades of similar hues are more likely to be found in contemporary design, such as the brown and grey neutrals of this dining area – large wooden table with brown leather chairs.

Frames in high-gloss or matte black, natural wood, or metal finishes are great for artwork. If you must put several pieces together, hang them close together so they create the feeling of one large piece. Don’t clutter contemporary-style rooms with collections or too many pieces. In contemporary interiors, open space is often just as important as the pieces you put in the space.

Other common characteristics include all-white colour palettes and the incorporation of natural elements like form-pressed wood, bright plastics, and enameled aluminum, steel and wide plank flooring. If there are pops of colour it often comes from the use of art, natural fibre throws or furs, or a single piece of furniture.

Modern is a broad design term that typically refers to a home with clean, crisp lines, a simple colour palette and the use of materials that can include metal, glass and steel.

Neutral, masculine color palette – Feminine elements don’t tend to take root in contemporary design; rather, the overall effect is more muted, mature, and masculine. This is particularly true of the color palette.

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Because contemporary design is always evolving, it easily relates to other styles no matter what they are. A space of almost any given style can have contemporary elements due to the very nature of contemporariness – that is, as a space’s design changes to accommodate the shifting preferences, tastes, and needs of the people who live there, that evolution inherently creates a contemporary space.

Furniture pieces should make a bold statement but at the same time be simple and uncluttered, without curves or decoration. Smooth, clean, geometric shapes are essential. Upholstered furniture often wears black, white, or other neutral tones, using the natural fibers found in wool, cotton, linen, silk, jute to add textural appeal. Pillows in clean geometric shapes add a shot of color and texture.

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Generous use of metal, stone, and opaque or clear glass works well in a room decorated in a contemporary style. To soften and warm up space, use heavily textured fabrics in plain colors for window treatments, pillows, or rugs.

Bohemian homes may include vintage furniture and light fixtures, globally inspired textiles and rugs, displays of collections, and items found in widely varied sources including flea markets and during one’s travels.

Together, we make homes beautiful. If you would like to consult with Rochele Decorating on design elements to enhance your home décor, please contact us!

This design style can incorporate some features of Victorian design, including plush, velvet furnishings, tufting and antiques. The colour palettes are particularly bold—think purples, reds and turquoise.

Spacious, natural lighting, less accessories and functional furniture characterizes Scandinavian designs.

Contemporary, however, refers to décor that is much more current. Even designs that were contemporary in the 2000s may no longer be considered contemporary but rather vintage. In five or ten years from now, contemporary design will likely have a different look and feel than contemporary design today. Where modern design has a specific look and feel, contemporary design is ever-changing, due in part to the availability of (new) materials and pieces.

It’s interesting to note that many people use the words “modern” and “contemporary” interchangeably when referring to design; however, this is not quite accurate. Modern design generally refers to design of the mid-1900s. Characteristics such as natural materials, expansive neutrals with pops of color, and clean, low lines are all part of modern décor.

Colorful and/or oversized art – Softer art may be mixed in to a contemporary art gallery wall, but what creates a contemporary feel is the inclusion of oversized, often colorful, pieces or a geometric wallpaper backdrop that READS as oversized art.

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Before we set out to quantify certain design elements that are not innately contemporary, there’s a caveat: Each of these discussion points can actually be part of contemporary design. While this seems like an oxy moron, it actually makes sense because of the ever-evolving scope of contemporary design. So, the points below may or may not appear in contemporary spaces, and their presence or absence does not in and of itself qualify the space’s contemporary-ness.

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Of course, the dynamic nature of contemporary design makes this section time-locked. But, today, we’ll do our best to showcase what types of design elements are contemporary touches.

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It’s not uncommon to spot floor pillows and comfortable seating spaces when incorporating the bohemian style. This eclectic style can incorporate an ultra-glam chandelier paired with a well-worn rug and a mid-century chair. Within the Bohemian style, there’s a laissez-faire attitude where anything goes as long as you love it.

Contemporary design tends to use edited accessorizing, for softer lines and subtle color palettes. Contemporary design includes a mix of the past and present, a touch of the personal and is, above all else, comfortable. Thus design is about making your home your comfort zone, not a show place. Contemporary design in addition to making your home warm and comfortable it can make it unique as well as contemporary. Contemporary design is characterized by three main features, sleek furniture, modern metal accents, and abstract decorations.

A rudimentary understanding of design fundamentals and styles can be a great help in solidifying your personal design ideals. The ability to identify different interior design styles will help you conjure up inspirational visions of your future home and provide a framework to build your personal aesthetic. With a vocabulary to express your inspired vision, magic happens! If you’re interested in this look, we recommend you to read our post “Everything you need to know about the Hamptons Style“.

Colorful, fussy prints should be avoided since they confuse the plain space that is key to a contemporary-style home. Two-tone prints work well. Think about a zebra print pillow on a black leather chair, a large leopard-print pillow thrown on a plain floor, or a bold, heavily textured striped rug to anchor solid colored, sleek furniture.

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