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The Essential Elements of Contemporary Interior Design

Contemporary is all about the here and now with a focus on things that are current and modern with the styles of the moment. Think of subtle sophistication, simplicity and open spaces.

What is considered contemporary interior design?

A contemporary design style is fundamentally defined by sleek, clean lines, light, airy and spacious rooms with subtle simplicity and neutral colour palettes. You won't find ruffles and tassels but you will find natural textures such as linen, wool, sheepskin and greenery.

Contemporary Interior Design

Contemporary encompasses what is fashionable and trending at the time, which means it's a fairly adaptable style that can be changed and refreshed often. There are certainly some basics to follow in order to capture a contemporary look and feel.

It is typically a fresh, sleek look that focusses on shape, space and colour to achieve the right aesthetic. Slim down accessories and keep spaces minimal, devoid of clutter and excess accessory pieces.

What is the difference between modern and contemporary design styles?

This is a great question. At some point, there's probably been a time where you may have confused modern interior design with contemporary style, and though they share similarities, contemporary home decor is definitely its own thing.

Contemporary Interior Design

Contemporary decorating style is classic, yet very much 'of the moment' and also timeless since it's a fairly adaptable interior design style. It adopts elements of modern design but changes with fashions of the day and embraces contrasting colours, curves and some decoration.

Modern design emerged during the turn of the 20th Century and encompasses pared back interiors, crisp, clean lines and minimal accessories. Materials might feature things like glass, metal and steel. Modern design includes simple, sparse and uncluttered yet functional spaces.

What are some key contemporary design elements?

Contemporary interior style leans into sleek shapes, neutrals and an abundance of natural light. Features may include elements like wood, polished concrete or stone. Furnishings will be minimalist and there will be plenty of open and bare space.

  1. Colour use will be mostly neutral with black and white contrasting the muted tones. If a bold and bright colour is used, it may be one feature or accent wall to create a strong focal point.
  2. Deliberate use of texture and unique materials will be present throughout.
  3. Open plan layouts are essential with a 'less is more' theme paramount.
  4. Incorporate a good mix of industrial and nature inspired elements.
  5. Simple shapes and clean lines are hallmarks of contemporary interior design, although curves can easily be incorporated as well.

Adaptable layouts that allow for the changing needs of busy, modern families with lots of natural light and windows are all part of today's contemporary aesthetic.

Can I bring a contemporary design style to my current interior?

Yes, absolutely! Mixing design styles is a wonderful way to bring your own personality to a space. There is no reason you can't add a contemporary feel to a traditional, or boho, or other design themed room.

Contemporary Interior Design

The easiest way to change out a look or create a fresh aesthetic in any room, is simply to paint the walls. Select a neutral shade to reflect light well. Remove busy artwork and replace with a large simplistic mirror. Add some texture through carefully chosen textiles - a luxurious sheepskin area rug will transform a tiled floor and bring some warm inspiration and interest to your interiors.

Although a sparsely decorated room is best for a contemporary look, details like lighting and an exposed section of concrete on a wall or floor will provide a unique element of interest as well.

How can I decorate my living room in a contemporary style?

Changing up interiors, especially a living room, is a fun home project. Begin with a refresh of paint and ensure your walls are either a single shade, or are paired with minimal contrasting colours, like white and black. Furniture will be simple and fairly straight forward and it'll be arranged with plenty of space to move around. Form and function will equally feature within the room.

Although blank walls are often the norm for this popular style, a bold and unique piece of art can create a wonderful focal point within a space. Follow the lines of the architecture, but at the same time, don't be afraid to bring in a curved or round piece of furniture to offset a very square and sharp lined ceiling.

If you can master a pared back, streamlined and crisp, clean look that exudes a light, non-fussy aesthetic that you like, then you're there!

What are some good colours for contemporary interior design style?

Muted neutrals and a simple colour palette are most often used. That's not to say that bold and bright shades can't be part of your contemporary decor. Bring a striking work of art with contrasting colours into the room - hang it above the dining table for added interest.

Consider lighting when selecting paint colours as well. Light reflects certain colours in different ways. Choose tones that complement your wood floor, or your stone feature wall. Add a luscious sheepskin rug in a neutral tone if these nature inspired details of design are featured within your home.

To conclude, achieving a contemporary look and feel is a blend of fresh, what's currently trending, spacious and sophisticated pared back comfort.


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