Many people confuse contemporary design with modern design. Then there are others who see contemporary interiors and mistake it for another style entirely. We can’t necessarily blame them. After all, contemporary interior design is perhaps the only design style that is ever-changing.
But what is contemporary design style, exactly? In this article, we will cover the key elements of contemporary interior design, its distinctions from other common interior design styles, and, of course, what this distinct style is going to look like in your home.
What Is Contemporary Design Style?
When you ask the question, “what is contemporary style interior design,” you may get different answers depending on who you ask - and when you ask. This is because the “contemporary” style is ever-changing; always adapting to emerging trends and new design movements.
In fact, the contemporary design style was a blend of different interior design styles before it became distinguishable on its own. It borrowed ideas and elements from modernism, postmodernism, art deco, futurism, and many more—but it has certain key elements that make it distinct from other styles.
So, what is contemporary interior design style? To better understand its distinction, let’s take a look at its key elements:
Elements of Contemporary Design
The contemporary interior design style is versatile, meaning there is plenty of room for experimenting and spontaneity. Nevertheless, there are several key elements that make this design style distinguishable from the others:
A Combination of Neutral & Vibrant Colors
Contemporary style interiors use muted neutrals for the majority of the space, then bring in bold colors to create a dynamic environment. You’ll see plenty of contrast in a contemporary-style home, but instead of clashing with each other, these colors create harmonious, sophisticated visuals throughout the space.
A Blend of Different Textures & Materials
A contemporary-style home draws its ambiance mainly from textures. To avoid monotony in a space, contemporary interior designers combine various textures and materials. For example, furniture with sharp lines can be softened by round-edged upholstery to keep the space from looking too “harsh”. Natural stone walls can be matched with wooden accents to make the space look warmer. And so on.
Simple Geometric Shapes & Crisp Lines
Shapes add interest to a contemporary-style space, but there are certain rules you have to follow to stay in line with the design style. For instance, when you are designing a contemporary-style space with geometric shapes, they can either be angular or curvy—whichever fits your style the best. But if you are designing with lines, they should be crisp and strong.
A Blend Between Industrial & Natural Elements
Some contemporary interiors combine industrial and natural elements into one space, making way for a more dynamic environment. A few ways you can blend these two design styles include complementing sleek metal furniture with natural textiles; decorating industrial-style shelving with plants; complementing industrial-style upholstery with a wooden coffee table, and so on.
A Touch of Minimalism
When you look up “what is contemporary style interior design”, you will probably see results that are very, very similar to the minimalist design style. This is because contemporary interiors embrace minimalistic elements, which makes way for a sophisticated, uncluttered, and ‘everything in its place’ atmosphere.
However, contemporary-style spaces are not as bare as true minimalist interiors. Contemporary designers leverage minimalism as a way to highlight the key elements of a space, but they are more liberal when it comes to the amount of décor, the variations in texture, and the different colors in a room.
Large, Open Spaces
The contemporary interior design style favors wide, open layouts to create a sense of spaciousness in a home, much like modern and industrial design styles. Contemporary-style homes also have big windows to let in as much natural light as possible, which makes the room look even bigger than it is.
Contemporary Vs. Scandinavian Design
The goal of the Scandinavian design style is to create an environment that promotes contentment and simple happiness, which is why it focuses on simple and functional elements more than anything else. Similar to the contemporary design style, Scandinavian interiors make use of natural materials, minimal décor, and large, open spaces to achieve its goal of simple and comfortable functionality.
Given the similarities of these two styles, you might think that they will be tough to differentiate. However, there are two key differences that make each style distinct. For one, contemporary interiors have bright, contrasting color palettes, whereas Scandinavian interiors feature light, neutral colors almost exclusively. Secondly, Scandinavian furniture is characterized by sleek and modern designs. On the other hand, contemporary interiors often make use of pieces that were popular in past design movements.
If you want to know more, head on to our article answering the question of what is Scandinavian design next!
Contemporary Vs. Rustic Design
As far as similarities go, both contemporary and rustic design styles gravitate towards natural materials as a means to break up the monotony in a space. Apart from that, these styles rarely share common elements unless you blend them together to create a contemporary-rustic space.
So, what are the key differences between these two styles?
Rustic interiors focus on rugged, natural, and raw elements to create a space that exudes refined roughness. Think exposed architecture, organic textiles, antique furniture, and so on. Hence, rustic interiors often look aged and lovingly “used”--a far cry from contemporary-style rooms that feature modern furniture, polished wood, and–for some homes–a more luxurious feel. For more information on this style, take a look at our article covering what rustic interior design style is.
What Is Contemporary Design Style Going To Look Like In Your Home?
Industrial interior design is going to consist of sleek surfaces, crisp furnishings, and cutting-edge art. And today, we’re going to explain what it will look like in action. Take a look at these must-have affordable contemporary furniture pieces that can tie your design together:
Contemporary Bedroom Furniture
Expect the perfect balance between form and function from well-designed contemporary bedroom furniture. Choose contemporary bedside tables, end tables, and vanity desks that are simple, elegant, and can complement every other design style, especially if you want to blend two or more designs.
Contemporary Home Office Furniture
After working from home for so long, you are already probably well aware that a beautiful workspace can largely affect your productivity. A contemporary-style office may be just the thing you need to perform even better at work, so why not create a sleek, stylish space with contemporary home office furniture?
Contemporary Living Room Furniture
If you want to create the perfect space in your home to relax and spend time with family, you cannot go wrong with a contemporary living room. And to design one, you need the right contemporary living room furniture.
Of course, one of the most important pieces to have is a minimalist coffee table. It’s the central point of your living room and will serve as the accent for your upholstery. Most contemporary designers prefer sleek coffee tables with metal legs and a wooden top. But if you are striving for a fancier look, go for a coffee table with a glass or marble top.
Another must-have piece is a contemporary entertainment center. Unless you are a no-TV household, you need to have a console that is both stylish and functional; it should be able to keep all your entertainment devices organized, and at the same time, look sleek and modern for that contemporary touch.
Check out our previous blog post for more contemporary living room ideas!
Contemporary Serving Carts
Want to impress your guests at the next dinner party? Roll out a chic modern contemporary serving cart when it’s time for drinks! Aside from being the perfect way to serve your guests, it makes for an elegant addition to any room (almost like a piece of decor in and of itself!). Plus, it does more than just store alcohol; you can also use it to serve food, store extra dishware, and maybe even display decor.
Contemporary Style Ladder Shelving
A contemporary-style room is not complete without a luxurious modern ladder shelf. Complete your living room, bedroom, or home office with a contemporary ladder shelf, then use it to display your books, plants, ornaments, and other knick-knacks. If you want to keep some things hidden, choose a ladder shelf with drawers as a base.
A ladder shelf is also a good idea if you want to blend the contemporary design style with industrial or rustic. For instance, a shelf with a dark metal frame will go well with a contemporary industrial room. On the other hand, a wooden shelf with an aged finish is the perfect choice for contemporary rustic interiors!
Final Thoughts On Contemporary Style Interior Design
What is contemporary design style? From what we know now, the answer is simple: it is the chameleon of interior design styles; ever-changing, always adapting, and highly versatile. Although it does have its key elements, such as contrasting color palettes and geometric shapes, this style does little to limit you in a box.
Want to create your own contemporary space? Look no further than Nathan James. We have some of the best collections of all modern, rustic, and contemporary furniture online; stylish and high-quality pieces, but for the right price!