Glass, steel, porcelain and concrete are popular contemporary design materials. Image: Studio Ten
Here are the most popular elements and looks of modern vs. contemporary design.
Modern design refers to an era that has passed, while contemporary design is all about the now and the future.
Simplicity shines throughout this contemporary interior design. The Porta Romana Whirl side table is a timeless piece with a wonderful interplay of metal latticework, adding grace and sophistication to this very stylish bespoke chair in Zinc Textile fabric.
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.
Displaying refined symmetry, taupe shades and animal-inspired accessories, our contemporary interior design of this gentleman’s office features; elegant Eicholtz feature lamps, stylish Osborne and Little animal print cushions and Casamance houndstooth wallpaper with a deluxe suede feeling.
The most popular modern design era is the mid-century modern era of the 1950s and 1960s. But Art Deco design of the 1920s or anything from then to the vintage look of the 1970s can also be considered modern.
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.
Contemporary interior design is about creating an environment of comfort and simplicity; uncluttered, fresh and subtly sophisticated. It showcases the beauty of space, clean lines and uncomplicated clarity.
The elegant living room contrasts the dark tones of the oak doors and cabinet with the white and light greys in our graceful contemporary interior design. The grand, rounded sofa shapes a homely, inviting space of comfort.
Wood elements and nature-inspired decor play an important part in modern design. Image: Square Root Architecture
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 design often sticks to a stricter palate of black, white and grey. If color is added, the color is often the pure, saturated tone like true red, indigo or orange. Modern design colors have an earthier hue and feature shades like rust, turquoise, brown and olive greens. Check out the difference in these two:
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.
Many people think modern and contemporary design are the same. But there’s a world of difference. They may be synonyms when describing many things, but in design, modern vs. contemporary are quite different.
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.
Both modern and contemporary design styles are unfussy and lean toward clean lines instead of ornamentation, like this Scandinavian-style modern living room. Image: Garrison Hullinger
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.
Following a muted palette of soft grey walls and cotton white oak floors throughout, this simple contemporary interior design is elegant, showcasing artistic flair and elements of individual expression in the eclectic choice of furniture.
Contemporary design interiors like this living room feature straighter, more austere lines, while modern tends to incorporate more curves. Image: Haus Design Studio
The gallery of prints sit gracefully above this bench in exquisite Iberis fabric by Casamance, the linear detailing echoed in the classic Porta Romana forged steel floor lamp with a chic mid-century feel.
Classically contemporary, the design of our Surrey country home dining area is crisp and light, the white faux leather and calming grey tones elevated by the sophisticated metallic finish.
A contemporary open space flows from one area to another fluidly. Image: KF Home Building
Contemporary design features state-of-the-art materials, glass and metals
Contemporary minimal design. Image: John Maniscalco Architecture
Sleek and contemporary, this casual living area features a bespoke corner sofa in Osborne and Little fabric and trendy geometric Casamance fabric cushions.
Many believe that contemporary interior design is all about achieving the ultra-minimalist look, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
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.
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.
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If we can assist you with more contemporary interior design, please feel free to get in touch.
Contemporary Vs Modern Interior Design: A Breakdown Of The Styles
The beautifully finished glass desk is accessorised to perfection, each piece contributing to the contemporary design and allowing the space to feel calm and ordered.
Our London Chapel conversion master bedroom is the epitome of luxurious contemporary interior design, with lavish padded panelled headboard and wall in a soft gold leather effect fabric, complemented by rich teal cushions and elegant Heathfield lamps.
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.
Modern urban with a New York loft feel, our contemporary interior design of these trendy East London apartments reflect their hip, vibrant location.
Here we’ve compiled a few examples of our favourite contemporary interior design projects to inspire you!
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.
Now that you know a little more about modern vs. contemporary design, which style do you prefer?
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.
The clean, bold lines in the interiors of this spectacular modern home complement the contemporary architecture and maximise the breathtaking countryside views.
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.
With flowing curves, handle-less units and large curved peninsula, this exquisite kitchen by Lida Cucina is flawless in its contemporary interior design style, dramatically contrasting the white with the dark oak panels.
Named after Yves Saint Laurent, the glittery weave of this day bed’s Zinc Textile fabric has the appearance of wool with a silver and gold metallic effect – elegantly reflecting the sophistication of this Kirkby Homes master bedroom contemporary interior design.
An International Property Award winner, we designed the library of this grand contemporary manor with a neutral palette, subtle accents of colour and gentle textures to balance the strong architectural form.
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.
Wood is featured on all surfaces to maintain the flow of this open-space modern living area. Image: Best Builders
This striking Copollo bookshelf with its eye catching round steel frame and matt lacquered shelves adds a rounded softness to the bold linear structure of the sofa in our contemporary Pathé apartment design.
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.
In this stunning style, neutrals, grey, black and white colour schemes reign (often accented with bold colour), as does the use of clean, smooth lines and geometric shapes.
Both design styles have three general elements in common, which make them good design styles to mix and match into your own signature look. The three shared elements are:
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.
Black, white and bold, saturated colors are very contemporary. Image: Atmosphere Interior Design
Browns, golds, turquoise and earthier tones are popular modern colors. Image: Nest Modern
A modern design featuring a minimal amount of furnishings and accents. Image: Koffka/Phakos Design
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.
The Basics of Decorating in Contemporary Style New, Modern, Up-to-Date