Understanding Contemporary Interior Design and Contrasting it with Modern Design

A contemporary collage showcasing a living room's interior design.

Time and again, the question as to the difference between contemporary and modern interior designs surfaces, and more often, the answer to this question astonishes many. Many are often taken aback by the right answer to this question simply because many people think that “contemporary” and “modern” are synonymous words. Yet, there is a marked difference between these two seemingly similar words, and if you are planning to design the interior of your home, you must carefully distinguish between these two words.

The word “contemporary” refers to the present moment, and if this word is used to refer to interior designs, then it would surely pertain to any interior design concept that is apropos to the present moment. This means that it is relevant at present and is the “in thing” relative to interior designing. On the other hand, the word “modern” refers to a time before the present moment, and when referring to interior design, it points to those design concepts that were relevant during the period from 1920’s to 1950’s. Although design concepts from this period can sometimes pop up in contemporary time and be incorporated into contemporary design concepts, the design signature of this period is collectively referred to as modern and not contemporary.

Knowing this stark difference between contemporary and modern home designs would surely help you choose the right contemporary designs for the interiors of your home. Moreover, next time you would be having a look at Houston area new homes, you could readily distinguish if a prospective home sports a modern or contemporary design concept.

Small Touches, Big Impact for the Holiday Table

Key Points to Determine Contemporary Interior Design Concepts

Designs have their own patterns and a certain era has its own characteristic traits and attitudes. Present designs are not spared from these stereotypical concepts, and you can readily distinguish a contemporary design concept because of these stereotypes. Present designs for the interior of homes generally have the following key elements:

Penchant for Neutral Colors

A contemporary living room with a fireplace.
Stephen Gambrel, Bridgehampton, New York – the living room of his Manhattan home took to the sea in varying shades of cerulean

First, contemporary designs have a typical penchant for offsetting everything with neutral colors. Hence, the interplay of colors is critical to present interior designs. The colors of the walls should be offset by neutral colors on the furniture, and vice versa. Simplicity likewise is a typical characteristic of present-day designs.

Accent Your Design with Metal

A contemporary bathroom featuring two sinks and mirrors.
Trough 48 Brushed Nickel Double Basin Rectangular Bathroom Sink

The use of metals such as nickel, steel, and chrome is definitely very contemporary, for its use brings sleekness and a modern look. Bathrooms and kitchens are further enhanced by the addition of metallic accents. Furniture pieces with metallic accents could likewise enhance your home, and if you maintain this consistent accent in each of the rooms of your home, you would surely make your home look very contemporary.

Offsetting the Smooth Lines of Metal Accents with Fabrics

A contemporary living room with green curtains and a coffee table.
Green and beige living room features a bay window dressed in green curtains filled with a pair of matching beige French chairs flanking a round brass and marble accent table.

The best way to offset the sleek and contemporary accents of metals is to use fabrics like silk, linen, wool, and crushed velvet. You can use furniture upholstery, overstuffed pillows and window treatments that make use of fabrics to ensure balance in your interior design. Flashy colors will surely not be very stylish for present-day designs.

Spruce Your Designs by Adding Wood Tones

Unique Room Partitions for Functional Style

Contemporary living room with a fireplace and a wicker chair.

The use of wood surfaces is definitely very appropriate; yet, you should restrain yourself to just using very dark or very light tones. You can choose from great varieties of woods, finishes, designs, and stains. With regards to the range of contemporary designs, your only limitation is your creativity and imagination.

Emphasize and Contrast Using Lighting

A contemporary living room with a table and chairs.

With the development of awesome lighting systems, you can now easily utilize the lighting of the room to emphasize or to contrast. Moreover, the use of lighting choices that highlight clean lines and accent your design concepts is truly very contemporary. You can use pendants, floor lamps, or track lighting for this purpose.

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