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What’s The Difference Between Modern & Contemporary Interior Design?

Comparison of Colour Palette between Modern & Contemporary Design Styles

If you’re unsure about the difference between contemporary and modern interior design, let us clarify and make you an expert yourself!! In this article, we’ll explain their origins and how they differ. We will also provide tips on how to use each style in your home effectively.

Contemporary interior design features a variety of elements that are not typically seen in modern designs.

Before delving into the specific differences between contemporary and modern interior design, it is helpful to understand their historical roots.

Roots of Modern Style

Mid Century Modern Interior Design Inspired By The 19th Century
Mid Century Modern Interior Design Inspired By The 19th Century.
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Modern design is based on modernism, a movement that emerged in the late 19th century which emphasised on abstraction, functionality, and simple formations. This style of interior design originated from German and Scandinavian roots. 

Staatliches Bauhaus, or the State School of Design in Germany, was a school that focused on combining fine art and functionality within design fields such as architecture, interior design, and graphics. This movement began during the early twentieth century and helped to shape today’s modern home designs.

Roots of Contemporary Style

Fluid & Ever-Evolving Interior Design Style.
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Contemporary interior design style made its debut about 50 years after modernism formed. It borrows from other styles, like minimalist and bohemian designs, for inspiration in its fluidity and ever-changing nature. 

Contemporary is all about being adaptable to current design trends, embracing versatility and spontaneity. As a result, there isn’t one specific philosophy behind contemporary interior design but rather a catchall term that describes the popular trends of today’s interior design world.

Decorations & Furnishings

Smooth Curved Lines & Aesthetic Charm versus Crisp, Straight Lines & Functional Space
Smooth Curved Lines & Aesthetic Charm versus Crisp, Straight Lines & Functional Space.
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View Portfolio Here: (Right)

Modern interior design emphasises on sleek, clean lines and a sense of balance. Every element has a specific purpose and/or function, from decorative pieces to furniture.

Whereas, contemporary interior design typically emphasises on curved and smooth lines but it prioritises more on how it looks rather than functionality. For example, a round cushion seat and half-moon mirror is used in the contemporary portfolio while straight lines and a headboard with storage functionality is used in the modern portfolio.

Materials & Textures

Natural Materials versus State-of-the-art Materials
Natural Materials versus State-of-the-art Materials.
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View Portfolio Here: (Right)

Today’s design trends often feature earthy and natural materials, such as wood, leather, and stone. The lack of superfluous detailing in furnishing and decor eliminates the need for patternless fabrication set among white walls. As seen above, various materials are used throughout the room – including wood,stone, and leather while still looking cohesive.

One of the main differences between contemporary design and modern designs is that contemporary designers typically utilise more industrial-inspired materials, such as metals like nickel, steel, chrome, or concrete and glass. From the portfolio above, you can see that concrete is used for the bedroom walls and metal like steel is used to frame elements in the room.

Colour Palettes

Comparison of Colour Palette between Modern & Contemporary Design Styles
Comparison of Colour Palette between Modern & Contemporary Design Styles.
View Portfolio Here: (Left)
View Portfolio Here: (Right)

Modern interior design trends focus on using muted, earthy tones as a foundation for colour. This palette typically includes beige, browns, white, and other warm natural hues.

Contemporary interior design typically utilises a monochromatic colour palette like white, black, greys. However, bright pops of colours are sometimes used to add emphasis to the room in opposition to the restive feel of neutrality.

This style is often praised for its starker and more pronounced hues – so don’t be afraid to use vibrant shades! From the above portfolios, you can see that the contemporary design used black white, and green as the emphasis while the modern design only used browns and beiges.

Similarities Between Modern & Contemporary Interior Design

contemporary interior design living room
Design Features that coincides with both Modern & Contemporary Interior Design.
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After giving you an overview of the different distinctions between modern and contemporary design, we’ll explore how each style shares similar principles. There are a few similar aspects that make contemporary and modern design hard to differentiate.

Clean Lines & Shapes

Ornate and non-geometrical shapes are not suitable for either contemporary or modern design style.

A smooth, clean look is optimal, without any decorations that might be a distraction or overly attention grabbing. Avoid prints in specific colours which may distract from the lines of your piece.

Organised & Open Space

One way to embrace and create a sense of openness in interior design is by adopting an open floor plan concept and removing any clutter from the home. For example, this can be done by merging the kitchen and living room into one space, which creates an open and comfortable living area.

Additionally, furnishings and decorations should be cohesive and work well together with empty space.

Exposed Legs

Both design styles can be used to give an illusion of spaciousness by showcasing furniture legs. It can be implemented for sofas, beds, ottomans, and more.

However, it is important to make sure that the designs are simplistic in nature with clean lines – no ornate embellishments or intricate details should be featured.

Both contemporary and modern interior design favour simplicity and openness, which makes them appear to be the same at first glance. However, this similarity is what allows for differences in style that make each design unique.

Now you know that while contemporary and modern interior design share many similarities, there are key distinctions that set them apart. Contemporary interior design is fluid, referring to the latest in trends and style. It contrasts with modern interior design, which refers to interior designs concepts from a specific time period – the 1920s to 1950s.

If you adhere and understand the principles we spoke about, it will be easy to distinguish between contemporary and modern interior design styles. Which style do you prefer? Contemporary Interior Design or Modern Interior Design? No matter which type of design you choose, our team of interior designers at De Style can help create a contemporary or modern look for your home that is specifically tailored to your needs.

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