Contemporary vs. Modern: A Guide for Creating a Modern Home | AllModern (2023)

Everything you need to know about creating a modern home.

Contemporary vs. Modern: A Guide for Creating a Modern Home | AllModern (1)

Wondering what the key differences between a contemporary vs. modern-inspired home is? We got you. Keep reading to find out exactly what you need to give your home a modern refresh.

Contemporary vs. Modern Design
What is Modern Design?
What Is Contemporary Design?
Contemporary vs. Modern Design: The Similarities
Contemporary vs. Modern Design: The Differences
Designing a Modern Home
How to Design a Modern Kitchen
How to Design a Modern Bedroom
How to Design a Modern Living Room

Modern and contemporary designs are similar and have overlapping elements, but trust us, they are not the same. The two designs have distinct differences.

What Is Modern Design?

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Modern design is simplistic, and full of clean lines, neutral color palettes, and furniture that reflects a clear purpose. You’ll find that modern furniture and decor have influences from both German and Scandinavian design.

The term, “modern” refers to the early to mid-20th century, which just happened to be the peak of the modern art movement. During this era, people started to shift away from art deco style and shift more towards a retro and simplistic style.

It led to mid-century modern design, which was developed and shaped in the 1950s and 1960s. This style was about embracing the future. With technology advancing, it was possible to create new textures and colors that enhanced modern design. The mid-century modern look is as popular as ever and is often found in contemporary design today.

What Is Contemporary Design?

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Contemporary design was a blend of styles before becoming its own style in the 1970s. It’s all about what’s popular and on-trend today; something that’s contemporary now will not be contemporary in a few decades.

(Video) Modern vs contemporary interior design: What to know for your next home

It’s inspired by modernism and minimalist style, but doesn’t focus on one style in particular. The style is constantly evolving and changing, making it quite eclectic. It takes on different forms and ideas with each season and trend that passes.

Contemporary vs. Modern Design: The Similarities

Both styles are minimalistic, favoring the simple and uncluttered look. While there are some shape and color differences, the overall simplicity, neutral colors, and clean lines are similar.

Both favor open-concept layouts resulting in an open-air feel. They are inviting and comfortable, while being visually appealing. The two designs are more about showcasing space instead of things, and they avoid unnecessary accessories and decor.

Contemporary vs. Modern Design: The Differences

Modern design is inspired by the past, while contemporary design is all about what is on-trend today and will change with each season that comes and goes.

In modern furniture and decor, you will find clean, strong lines. Contemporary pieces have clean lines but favor curves over straight edges.

Contemporary color palettes can be extreme and have contrast, while most modern design palettes are neutral with an earthy accent color.

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Neutral Color Palette
Love neutrals? We do too. Stick with natural colors like white, beige, and different shades of black. That doesn’t mean you have to stay away from color. When there’s an accent color, opt for more natural, earthy colors like green.

Slim + Sleek Furniture
Think slim and sleek. Clean architectural lines are a staple of modern design. Pieces will have sleek bases and bare legs, meaning no sofa or chair skirts.

Asymmetrical Details
Asymmetrical balances are a modern design fave. The balanced details draw attention to different aspects of the room while creating a cool and fresh feeling. Use lighting, decor, and seating to help bring asymmetrical details into your space.

How to Design a Modern Kitchen

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We spend most of our time in the kitchen, from cooking and eating meals to entertaining friends, so you want it to be comfortable.

Let’s talk about cabinets. Most modern homes opt for white cabinets with simple hardware and little to no detailing or rail trim. If you want a more high-end look, opt for cabinets with a glass front. The glass makes it easier to see what’s in each cabinet while making the space feel larger.

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Choose Sleek Furniture
Whether you are choosing a table to be the focus point or to blend in with your kitchen, there’s a modern option for every style. Whether you choose round, rectangle, or square, each shape has that sleek and slim look that modern design loves.

Islands are a quick fix for adding storage and food prep space. You’ll find that most islands will feature sharp edges and neutral colors (like white.) Some feature a standout color to act as an accent in your kitchen. Store away extra linens, pots and pans, or anything you don’t use regularly to maximize your kitchen storage.

When looking for bar stools or dining chairs, opt for something sleek and slim to keep the modern feel.

(Video) Contemporary vs Modern Style Homes- What's the Difference?

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Kitchen Decor
Transform your kitchen in seconds with easy decor swaps. Stainless steel accents like wall accessories or vases are an easy way to add character. Add decor pieces to wall shelves to keep surfaces uncluttered and clean.

Try focusing on items that you use regularly as decor pieces. For example, let your cookware act as a backsplash by mounting a pot rack on the wall and displaying your set. It not only frees up some island storage space, but doubles as a focal point.

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Geometric lighting will add dimension and functionality to your room. Consider installing a sputnik chandelier or lantern-style pendant lights above your kitchen island.

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How to Design a Modern Bedroom

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Opt for Wall Decor
Try simple artwork with neutral colors or something bolder with geometric patterns to add a statement piece to the room. Abstract geometry is well-known for its modern roots and is an easy way to tie your colors together or add an accent color in your bedroom

Floating shelves are simplistic and let you display your decor throughout the room. Shelves also make it easier to grab items that you need on the go.


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Bed Design
Platform beds are a modern fave because they have the classic, sharp lines while taking out the pesky need for a box spring. You can still choose a standard bed that requires a box spring. Opt for one with clean lines and a neutral color.

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Add Glass Details
Reflective surfaces are a quick way to add a modern feel to your room while making the room seem larger. Look for a mirror on the wall or steel, chrome, or glass decor, to add a clean, modern look.

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Changing your lighting can add serious style to your bedroom in an instant. Accent lighting is an easy way to show off wall art or just add a fun detail to your space. Use wall sconces or tape lights to give off a nice glow and create a warm and cozy feel that we all love.

Table lamps can be modern, too! Opt for a lamp that has texture on the surface or sharp, clean lines on the side. It is an easy swap but helps update the vibe of your bedroom.

Chandeliers are not just for the dining room! Look for an empire or tiered fixture to add a focal point above your bed. It adds a touch of modern glam while lighting up your bedroom.

Pendants are an alternative to table lamps and a go-to for smaller bedrooms. They come in many different styles and materials. From geometric glass to gold shimmer, you can add in the perfect accent piece to your bedroom. They include a dimmer light and are great for adding mood lighting to any room.

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How to Design a Modern Living Room

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Add Plants
Add some green to your living room with faux plants without the task of watering. Choose a base that is simplistic, with clean lines and a modern shape.

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Incorporate Color
Accent colors should be just that, an accent. Add in layers and textures with earthy colors such as shades of green or navy. Adding in blankets and throw pillows will add a cozy vibe to the room while providing a pop color.

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Choose a Focus Piece
Having one piece that is eye-catching, like your sofa, allows you to decorate the rest of your space accordingly. If you love the neutral look, choosing a different color or texture for the focus piece creates a point of interest in the room.

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