Modern Style Decorating for Your Home

Modern interior design has long been popular in houses, offices and different public spaces. It’s not loved by all but it suits the taste of the majority. Modern design has also been a broad term that encompasses a lot of other design styles, like minimalist, contemporary, mid-century modern, Scandinavian, eclectic and more. Other design styles also have modern iterations, such as modern cottage, modern coastal and the like.

To give you an overview, the word “modern” is used to define a style that feels comfortable without feeling cluttered. Most of the furniture and lighting is low, woods and colors are kept natural, and shelves are recessed.

Modern vs. Contemporary Design

For many people, the terms “modern” and “contemporary” might mean the same thing. After all, the contemporary design style is considered modern. But when it comes to arts and design, modern and contemporary became two different styles.

Yes, modern and contemporary share some common characteristics, but they have differences. Time is the biggest difference, though: Modern design emerged from early to mid-1900s, while contemporary is used to refer to what’s trendy here and now.

Here are some of the distinguishable difference between the two design styles:

1. Modern design was a product of the modernist movement that began in the late 1800s, while contemporary style became popular during the 1970s and post-modernism.

2. Modern pieces of furniture and décor put emphasis on a function, while contemporary pieces may concentrate more on the form itself.

3. In its true form, modern style is rarely viewed as cold and stark, while some contemporary interiors, especially those that follow minimalist trends, celebrate bold starkness.

4. Modern design prefers strong and angular lines, while contemporary style likes organic curves.

5. The modern style uses colors that are neutral, whereas contemporary design enjoys stark contrast between blacks and whites, and other extremes of the color scale.

But despite these differences, there are a lot of similar characteristics to both styles. Here are some of them:

1. Both styles like simple, open and uncluttered spaces with clean and smooth lines.

2. Both styles are comfortable, calming and inviting.

3. Neither style prefers heavy elements or ornate designs, but contemporary spaces can bend this rule a little bit as trends change.

4. Both styles prefer seating with exposed legs, reflective surfaces, and exposed wood.

History of Modern Design

Modern design is a part of the modernism movement, which dates back to around the end of the 19th century. In terms of design, modernism was a rejection of the ornate flourishes and excesses of the preceding design styles such as Victorian, Renaissance, and Gothic.

Modernism was connected to modern thinking. Modernists were able to shake off the intellectual, cultural and creative norms of the Enlightenment era. One influence of modernists was to sway people away from organized religion and bring the idea of a single, omnipotent God. These people developed new norms that are more suitable to a society that has experienced big changes since the Industrial Revolution. It started as an intellectual movement but soon affected other areas of life, ranging from the political to the creative. Art, literature, music, and design (both interior and architectural) all became influenced by modernism.

The modern style was pioneered by the German Bauhaus schools of design and Scandinavian emphasis for function and simplicity. Modernism encompasses subgenres of arts and design including Bauhaus, Futurism, Cubism, Minimalism, Neo-Dada and Abstract Expressionism.

Tips to Achieve the Modern Design Style for your Home

If you want to adapt a modern design (whatever substyle you might pick for your interiors), here are some tips to adapt to help you achieve this style:

1. Create an open floor plan

1. Create an open floor plan

The modern style focuses on what’s simple and functional – it simplifies everything. Keeping an open floor plan can help achieve this style. Gone are the days when all rooms are divided by walls – it celebrates the joining of the kitchen, dining area and living room in one space. A counter can provide visual definition or divider between the two areas.

2. Use neutral hues and bold accent colors

Since modern décor focuses on function, it doesn’t go overboard when it comes to colors. Neutrals like grays, creams, tans, browns are used, as well as shades of black and white. Bold colors are often used as accents to provide focal points and break up neutrals. Accent colors, which are often primary colors, are used sparingly and rarely used as a wall color for a whole room. Any bold colors like bright yellow, red, vibrant orange, pink, lime green can be used as accents in the form of a single piece of furniture or décor, like a red leather chair or orange throw rug. You can also use these bold colors as an accent wall or in abstract wall art.

3. Embrace minimalism

Minimalism is important in modern design. The “less is more” approach to designing a space is what’s this is about. There is no need for unnecessary details like columns, trim, molding and excessive use of textiles, however, exposed structural elements like concrete or beams can be present, especially if you’re going for a modern industrial design. Decorations are used very sparingly, while furniture and storage are carefully chosen to also act as a decoration or an anchor for the design.

To embrace minimalism, the first step is to remove clutter. When it comes to modern design, clutter refers primarily to accessories, so a modern home should not be filled with vases, pottery, sculpture, knick-knacks, collections or throws and pillows. It doesn’t mean that your space must be void of these – just keep them to a minimum. Important items like electronics and books are either strategically displayed or kept out of sight inside a cabinet or closet.

4. Feature clean and straight lines

Modern design was created as an antithesis to the ornate and intricate previous designs that used heavy carvings, curves, and textures. So, adapt furnishings and storage that feature clean, straight lines with no additional details. Choose angular furniture. Modern kitchens have cabinets and counters that have no decorative edges or raised panels. Color schemes for kitchens often feature monochromatic color or a color scheme featuring colors of stark contrast with each other.

5. Use geometric shapes

Along with the clean, straight lines, geometric shapes are embraced by a modern interior. Add a table made of rigid squares and rectangles, and pair it with chairs of smooth and even curves. Symmetrical shapes, circles, and ovals are common to add contrast and interest to the angular shapes that are ubiquitous in modern interiors.

6. Buy furniture from modern retailers

Furniture for modern interiors is of a wide spectrum. It encompasses both the minimalist and the bold and bright. In a nutshell, modern furniture features sleek, clean lines as well as defining geometric shapes. Lines are crisp and sharp. Tabletops are smoothly finished, and wooden furniture lack moldings, carvings, and trimmings. To be sure, buy modern furniture from retailers (both brick-and-mortar and online) that sell modern-style furniture and décor, such as:

  • Ikea
  • AllModern
  • Dwell Store
  • Target
  • Amazon
  • APT2B
  • CB2
  • Fab
  • Etsy
  • Scandinavian Designs
  • Article
  • Rove Concepts
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Design Within Reach
  • Blu Dot
  • Joyboard
  • Room and Board
  • A+R
  • Ballard Designs
  • Jonathan Adler
  • One Kings Lane
  • Restoration Hardware
  • West Elm

7. Use polished metals and mix it up with different materials

While many interior design styles focus on one material that makes up the majority of the room (one favorite material is wood), modern interior design makes use of many different materials. Glossy metals like chrome and stainless steel make up a big part of modern design. These metals are often used as part of furniture or décor, such as table/chair legs, chair frames or body of a lamp. Chrome is extensively used in hardware throughout the home such doorknobs, railings, faucets and cabinet handles. Favoring shiny metals instead of older materials like wrought iron is a way of bringing out the modernistic ideals after the Industrial Revolution.

Wood and plastic are also commonly used. Wood pieces often have a smooth and shiny finish. Some woods are painted give it a new color and an opaque finish. But sometimes, the natural grain pattern is displayed as a contrast to artificial shapes and materials. Plastic furnishings and décor are often used to bring in colors to the space.

8. Adapt built-in shelves

Built-in shelves and cabinetry are preferred in a modern interior, in contrast to bulky cabinets and credenzas. These items are recessed into the walls so to make it look like it’s consuming less space. These also allow you to showcase personal items without making visual clutter. Sometimes, built-in shelves like these are spotlit from within to show off their contents and to serve as an accent for the room.