Modern and Contemporary interior design styles – 3 key tips to unravel the difference

Modern interior style
A Modern Scandinavian style kitchen.

Quite often a Modern interior design style and a Contemporary interior design style get mixed up and interchanged. It’s easy to understand why as the two, whilst different have similarities.

To help unravel the different design styles, here are three key tips to uncover what’s different and what’s similar.

Unravelling What’s What

Let’s start with the definitions of both. A Contemporary interior design style refers to the ‘here and now’ i.e. current trends. It also borrows elements from other other design styles including Modern and Art Deco. So you would expect a Contemporary style to include elements are on trend such as sustainability in the materials used for furnishings and decorations, wall paper and window dressings. As the name suggests a Contemporary interior design style has to constantly change and evolve.

On the other hand, a Modern interior design style is a little more defined as it reflects the modern art movements in the interior style. The Modern interior design style has its origins in Scandinavian and German architecture and design. This defined style typically is from around the mid 20th century, from the mid-’40s to the mid’ 70s. At this point in time, the world was changing and with it came the introduction of new materials, technologies and mass production. Design became streamlined, and materials such as moulded plywood and plastics were abundant. This style is recognisable by its clean, unadorned interiors that are associated with minimalism. Whilst some would call this a cold, harsh interior, it can evoke a sense of calmness from its simplicity.

Key take-outs

Modern design features a mix of natural elements including wood, leather and stone. Most decorative pieces are not simply for decoration but tend to have a specific function. Whilst a Contemporary interior will use natural elements it is often coupled with concrete, stone and other industrial-inspired elements.

In relation to colours used, white is the rule of colour for walls in Modern design. Other colours can include earthier shades such as rust turquoise, brown and sage greens. Colours used in Contemporary design have a more streamlined palette of black, white and grey with pops of colour such as red, indigo or orange.

The similarities

Confusion between the two design styles often occurs due to the similarities between the two styles, for example:

The aesthetics are minimalist, although a modern design follows a more rigid format of minimalism, balance and clean lines.

These design styles are simple and understated, and lean towards clean lines with minimal decorative elements and clutter.

Both design styles are light and airy with an open space feel. The layout is often open plan with large windows for heaps of natural light.

So if you’re looking to create a Modern or a Contemporary interior design style for your place, hopefully these tips will steer you in the right direction. .

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