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Current Attractions: Contemporary Interior Design for Modern Living

October 25, 2023
Urban Contemporary

Furniture, natural light, color palette, decor, layout, and textures all play a role in determining your home aesthetic. From the bedroom to the dining area, there are many ways to make a house a home. But it all begins with you!

Contemporary style is one of the most popular design choices and it can be created in different ways.  What Is Contemporary Design? The word “contemporary” has many definitions. It can mean “marked by characteristics of the present period,” “happening, existing, living, or coming into being during the same period of time,” “one that is contemporary with another,” and “one of the same or nearly the same age as another.” 

Contemporary Design

When it comes to interior design, contemporary simply means  happening in the present time. Unlike other design styles like mid-century modern, which reflect a period in the middle of the 20th century,  contemporary style is ever-evolving and largely tied to trends. 

Contemporary interior design is characterized by a clean, uncluttered, and cozy look. It emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and the use of modern materials and technology. Contemporary design is often confused with modern design, but they are two different styles. While contemporary contemporary design is more fluid and reflects the design trends of the present moment, modern refers to a period that has already passed. 

For purposes of this blog, we are using the word contemporary to refer to a style that is popular in 2023 and is expected to be the vibe for several years to come. 

Related post: Interior Design Hitting Rewind: What is Mid-Century Modern Design

Contemporary Design

Though a contemporary home can mean different things at different times, some descriptive features have become universally accepted  like subtle, simple, geometrical, neutral, warm, serene, and homey. In contrast to modern or industrial styles which tend to be cold and empty, contemporary minimalism is simpler and serene.

If you're still confused, no worries. We’ve put together a few tips for creating the perfect contemporary home. 

Contact Us for a Free Consultation.

Contemporary Living Room

10 Features of Contemporary Interior Design 

1. Clean Lines: Contemporary design has a strong emphasis on straight and clean lines in furniture, architecture, and decor, with a focus on simplicity and minimalism.  Geometric shapes, such as rectangles, squares, and circles, are frequently used in contemporary decor.

2. Neutral Palette:  One of the best elements of using color when creating a contemporary aesthetic is that it doesn't require you to go too crazy.  A neutral palette on the walls and furniture. will make your space look clean and effortlessly elegant.  

While a neutral color scheme is typically used as a backdrop, with white, black, gray, and shades of beige being common choices, pops of contrasting colors may be used as accents.

Contemporary should feel homey, and integrating color will do that and show personality at the same time. Colors can be found in simple things like your coffee table books, artwork, or small household objects. 

Although staying close to earthy tones is a must to achieve the clean look of a contemporary home, this style also allows you to incorporate vibrant colors. Avoid going overboard, however, keeping in mind that less is more and balance is key.

Open Space

3. Open Spaces: Often featuring open floor plans with minimal use of walls or partitions, a sense of space and airiness is a feature of contemporary design.

4. Functional Furniture:  Choosing the right pieces of furniture is an essential part of creating a contemporary aesthetic. When selecting contemporary style furniture, try to hit the sweet spot of  timeless and very of the moment, which means that everything you choose needs to be simple and classy so it never feels dated.

Contemporary style furniture is often very clean with no intricate details. Contemporary pieces do, however,  catch the eye and are often conversation-starters. 

An angular sectional sofa is one example. Though this is a piece that is functional and stylish, it will likely pass the test of time. Adding details like throw blankets and floor cushions will make the space feel cozier and more lived-in than a room styled with modern design. 

Sleek lines and hard or slightly curved edges are also key. Think rectangle mirrors,  square frames, long oval tables, and closed storage to keep the space decluttered is essential.

Modern Lighting

5. Lighting: In contemporary interior, lighting should be an artistic statement and should be placed strategically to draw attention to certain spots in your home. Go for individual lighting and eye-catching pieces to add a little zest to your décor.

To create classic elegance through lampshades, go opt for interesting, not pretentious. In terms of bulbs, go for a warm white (2,500K to 3,500K) as opposed to a cool white (5,000K) to achieve a warm, cozy interior.  

If you are blessed enough to have natural light, that’s great news. Contemporary style largely utilizes natural lighting, so  keep window treatments subtle, opting for sheer, white, floor-to-ceiling curtains or wooden shades.

Glass Accents

6. Use of Modern Materials: Contemporary design incorporates the latest technology and materials  like acrylic, glass, metal, concrete, plastic can create sleek and polished look. 

Tip: Replacing a dated wood banister with an innovative acrylic option adds an instant contemporary touch to a room. Similarly, replacing a traditional fireplace mantle with a simpler design suddenly creates a contemporary touch that’s also a focal point to a room. 

Art Deco Contemporary Design

7. Art and Decorative Accents: This is the fun part of the process where you can let your personality shine through. Keeping in mind that less is still more in contemporary design, decorative elements are kept to a minimum, used intentionally,  and are carefully selected for their impact.

Neutral walls create a perfect backdrop for art, wall decor,  and plants.  Because a contemporary home should be clutter-free, don't overcrowd your walls with a lot of family photos or small pieces of art. Go for large-scale statement pieces instead. 

If you do decide to hang framed art or photos, keep the frame style and color consistent.  Go for natural wood, white, gray, or black and thick to thin lines. Along the same vein, if you’d like to hang family photos, opt for black and white to mesh with the uncluttered vibe.


Plant Styling

While the overall look is minimalist, contemporary interiors often feature bold art pieces, sculptural plants, (Cacti and Euphorbias are excellent choices) and  other accents that serve as focal points.

8. Sustainability: Many contemporary interior designs incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable materials and design principles. Japandi is an example of contemporary style that utilizes sustainable woods and fabrics.

Throw blanket

9. Texture: To move away from the cold feel of a minimalist home, adding textures is the simplest solution. Play around with wall textures, down-filled cushions, and  geometric accessories Textures and materials like velvet, corduroy, and wood are a great way to add coziness to a room.

A larger living room, for example, can feel quite cold and empty, but adding velvet throw pillows, a thick wool lounge chair, or an oversized shag area rug can transform your space to make it instantly appear more welcoming and cozy while still staying simple. 

10. Flooring: An Important aspect of any aesthetic flooring can help create the look you're going for. In contemporary homes, wooden floors are “it” because not only do they make a room feel simpler and open,  they are clean and timeless, and pair well with a lot of different furniture and décor.  


Take Away

Contemporary interior design is a popular design choice because it’s adaptable and can be customized according to individual tastes, a home’s architectural style, and budget. Constantly evolving and changing with current design trends,  "contemporary"  not only reflects current design sensibilities, but it aligns with the energy of the times. 

I hope this guide will inspire you to create a welcoming and beautiful entryway.  If you’d like a little expert support, contact VTD for a free style consultation.

Related post: Room for Improvement: Interior Design with Affordability in Mind