If you’re finding yourself at a loss when considering the differences between contemporary vs modern interior design, fear no more as we’re breaking down the differences between these two go-to interior design styles. And since this is a common question facing our designers, we’ve chose a selection of style highlights that are easy to understand and easy to take advantage of.
Though many our clients confuse contemporary as being in sync with modern interior design styles, the two are actually very different. While they may be synonymous in key regards, when it comes to interior design, contemporary vs modern stand on their own. To get you wise on the two design styles, we tapped Décor Aid designers to share their wisdom on the differences between contemporary and modern interior design styles you should know.
What Is Contemporary Design?
Although some elements of modern design can be seen in contemporary design, these two styles have their own exclusive signatures. So what is contemporary design? By definition, contemporary refers to “living or occurring at present.” Contemporary, at its core, refers to “of the moment,” which illustrates that contemporary interior design styles refer to current design trends while paying homage to the past. Dating back to the 1970’s, contemporary style is truly unique as it borrows elements from several other design styles. With contemporary style, you’re certain to see modern elements along with traditional Art-Deco inspired notes, and futuristic design flourishes.
Another important aspect of contemporary interior design styles is that they’re constantly evolving. Unlike other styles that are usually devoted to a particular look, time, and spirit, contemporary style refers to the styles gaining traction today. When looking at contemporary interior design styles of today, you’ll notice neutral palettes, curved lines, and prominent minimalism.
What Is Modern Design?
As we’re charting the differences between contemporary vs modern, let’s define what modern design is all about. Modern interior design styles consist of many different incarnations, making it a bit more complex in defining. In its simplest sense, modern design refers to the reflection of modern art movements in the interiors of a home.
With roots in Scandinavian and German architecture and design, modern style concepts are decidedly fuss-free and simple. The furnishings and decor focus on the use of neutral materials and earthy colors while eliminating unnecessary detailing. And when it comes to contemporary interior design styles, you may see hits of color. However, with modern interior design styles, the focus is placed on the use of monochromatic colors, and patternless fabrications set among whitewashed rooms.
Contemporary Vs Modern
Here are the essential looks, elements, and hallmarks defining the differences between contemporary vs modern design.
- Modern design features wooden and earth-friendly elements. In order to maintain a streamlined look and feel and to keep the space from feeling clinical, modern interior design styles tend to use a substantial mix of natural materials. These include stone, wood, and leather – faux or genuine. While contemporary interior design styles embrace a similar concept of using natural materials, they are usually paired with concrete, steel, and other industrial-inspired elements.
- Modern decorative pieces tend to have a set function. Most of the decorative pieces used in modern design often boast a purpose, while decors featuring contemporary interior design styles focus more on form and aesthetic charm.
- Contemporary style concept is more fluid. Since the term “contemporary” refers to “living at the moment,” this style is a more fluid and is constantly evolving. These designs air on the eclectic since it tends to take inspiration and styling cues from different eras. On the other hand, a modern design concept follows a strict format of minimalism, balance, and clean lines.
- Modern spaces are not usually stark or cold. Despite the fact that modern design focuses on minimalism, most modern spaces don’t require cold or stark hues. Instead, they are filled with plenty of natural and warm neutrals. Contemporary interior design styles, on the other hand, have a bold starkness in them, such as monochromatic black and white, although it may also swing from one extreme to the other on the color wheel.
- Contemporary furniture designs are a bit curvier. Although modern design furniture favors straight and strong lines, the design concepts of contemporary furniture are more organic in silhouette. Contemporary designed furniture is usually a blend of comfort and sophistication with a fresh look and feel. Metals, such as nickel, stainless steel, and chrome are also popular among furniture pieces boasting a contemporary style concept.
- Modern design colors have earthier hues. Color palettes are one of the most distinct elements in contemporary vs modern design. Contemporary interior design styles tend to stick to a stricter palate of black & white and grey. Other colors can be brought in, but these colors are usually pure and saturated tones like indigo, red, and orange. Modern design colors, however, tend to focus on natural hues and feature shades of turquoise, brown, rust, and greens.
Since contemporary interior design styles are forever evolving to what is the latest, it tends to pick up various elements that cannot be utilized in modern design.
Additionally, both contemporary and modern style concepts enjoy the use of geometric elements, which is why their design concepts are usually similar in many ways. In a modern room, it could be a geometric lighting fixture, while in a contemporary room, it would be a large-scale sculptural lighting fixture installed on a series of exposed beams against a white ceiling.
What Are the Similarities?
It’s difficult to say which is more popular between contemporary vs modern design, since contemporary interior design styles of today have incorporated key notes from modern interior design styles. In fact, modern contemporary interior design and current contemporary designs have many similarities as both designs favor a simple, minimal, and edited look featuring clean and sleek lines. Here are the most common similarities shared between contemporary vs modern design.
- The aesthetics are both minimal. Both designs have clean architectural lines and zero flash. They feature simple architectural designs that showcase a sophisticated and timeless elegance.
- Both have an open space feel. In order to create a feeling of spaciousness, both contemporary and modern interior design styles adopt an open floor plan concept. For this concept, the kitchen frequently merges with the dining room or the living room merges with the kitchen. This results in a simultaneously airy and comfortable living space.
- Neither style prefers ornate designs. Both contemporary and modern designs prefer a simple and uncluttered look as they tend to shy away from the use or heavy elements and ornate designs.
- Furnishings feature exposed legs. For both contemporary and modern style, furnishings like sofas, ottomans, and chairs tend to feature bare legs and slim bases. Both styles also highlight furnishings that boast reflective surfaces like exposed glass and metals. You’ll also find plenty of natural wooden materials in both contemporary and modern furniture, from end tables with a metal base to architectural beams and raw reclaimed wooden tabletops.
Indeed, there are several similarities and overlapping elements between contemporary and modern style which could explains why these terms are often found to be a source of confusion for novices considering the world of interior design.
The confusion of contemporary vs modern design continues today as there hasn’t been an undated set of rules for all forms of art. Part of the confusion also lies in the fact that elements of mid-century modern design are being incorporated into contemporary designs as of late. Regardless of the design style you select, our interior designers at Decor Aid can assist you in realizing a contemporary or modern look for your home interior with precision.
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