How to Decorate in a Contemporary Style
Choose New, Up to Date, Contemporary
You might like a contemporary style of decorating if you like to keep current with styles, enjoy things that are modern, of today, right now.
While it’s been thought that modern interiors are cold and minimalist, today’s contemporary interiors are comfortable and welcoming without being cluttered and dark. It’s a style that is equally appropriate for offices and stores, lofts and homes.
A contemporary style home can be a quiet and comfortable retreat. To achieve the look of a contemporary home, it’s important to stick to some basic rules.
Fundamentally, simplicity, subtle sophistication, texture and clean lines help to define contemporary style decorating. Interiors showcase space rather than things. By focusing on color, space, and shape, contemporary interiors are sleek and fresh.
Learn about some more of the characteristics and elements of a contemporary style of decorating and how you might bring the look into each room of your home.
Neutrals, black, and white are the main colors in contemporary style interiors. The palette is often punched up and accented with bright and bold color. Black is often used to ground and define a contemporary style room. With walls painted in a basic neutral, you have a wonderful backdrop for bold colored accessories. If the walls and windows are painted in pastels, the trims should be neutral. If a wall is a bright, bold color, neutrals should be used everywhere else.
- Line and Space
The most obvious and distinctive element of a contemporary style interior design is line. It’s found in architectural details, use of bold color blocks, high ceilings, bare windows, and geometric shapes in wall art and sculpture. The bare space, on walls, between pieces of furniture, and above in upper areas, becomes as important as the areas filled with objects. In contemporary interiors, less is more. Each piece stands out as individual and unique.
Take advantage of structural elements. Air ducts may hang from a ceiling, broken bricks provide texture and stability, and exposed plumbing pipes are perfectly acceptable in a contemporary style interior. To draw the eye, paint these structural details in bold contrasting colors, or to diminish their importance, blend them with the walls.
- Contemporary Style Furniture
Smooth, clean, geometric shapes are essential for contemporary style furniture pieces. Upholstered furniture often wears black, white, or other neutral tones in textured natural fibers. Cover it in a neutral, black, or bold fabric. Fabrics often have a natural look found in wool, cotton, linen, silk, jute, and add textural appeal.
Furniture pieces should be simple and uncluttered, without curves or decoration. Sofas, chairs, and ottomans have exposed legs. Beds and chairs usually have no skirt, trim, fringe, or tassels.
Pillows add a shot of color and texture in clean geometric shapes.
Keep in Mind
- Use furniture and accessories to make a bold statement in contemporary style interior. Use a basic background and shout out with your favorite color on a piece that will stand out.
- Less is more! In a contemporary style interior, don’t use ruffles, excessive carved details, fringe, or floral prints. Abolish cute and small. Go basic, bare, bold, and structural.
- Floors in a contemporary style home should be bare and smooth in wood, tile, or vinyl. If you must use carpet for sound control or warmth, choose commercial grades. Add color and texture with plain or geometric-patterned area rugs.
Contemporary style decorating has distinct characteristics and elements that are evident. Read below for ways to incorporate some of those contemporary design elements into your interior space.
- Generous use of metal, stone, and opaque or clear glass works well in a room decorated in a contemporary style. To soften and warm up the space, add heavily textured fabrics in plain colors for window treatments, pillows, or rugs.
- Colorful, fussy prints should be avoided, since they confuse a plain space that is key to a contemporary style home. Two-tone prints work well. Think about a zebra print pillow on a black leather chair, a large leopard-print pillow thrown on a plain floor, or bold, heavily textured striped rug to anchor solid colored, sleek furniture.
- Individual pieces are very important in a contemporary style interior and lighting fixtures should be selected to focus on specific pieces. Each light fixture could be a work of art itself with sculptural details and clean lines. Add color and metallic elements on the light fixtures.
- In a contemporary style room, use spotlights or can lighting directed at a painting, poster, or print. These will help to draw the eye to the pieces you want to focus on.
- Track lighting and recessed lighting help to wash a wall in light. In home renovations or new construction, consider installing cove lighting or indirect light.
- Contemporary style sculptures or art on a stand can be placed at eye level by using a structural column or pedestal. Again, be sure the piece is well-lighted.
- Don’t clutter the contemporary style rooms with collections or too many pieces. Open space is just as, if not more, important as the pieces you put in the space.
- Plants and flowers should be large and dramatic in simple containers placed in contemporary rooms. Large blooms with interesting leaves work better than small arrangements. If space allows, place upward focusing lights around a large plant on the floor. Keep the arrangements neat with rocks or bark chips arranged over the dirt.
- Frames in high-gloss or matte black, natural wood, or metal finishes are great for artwork. If you must put several pieces together, hang them close together so they give the feeling of one large piece instead of many small pieces.
- In a contemporary style dining room, keep dinnerware contemporary, too. There are a number of geometric shapes, bold colors, and interesting styles available. Bring in texture with silverware, napkins, placemats and centerpieces.
Contemporary Style Decorating
Known for Your Bold Sophistication? Then You’ll Love This Style!
look? Do you like for your home to make a statement? Are you drawn toward bold yet sophisticated furnishings and spaces? Then contemporary style decorating may be for you.
Contemporary style interiors came into vogue in the late 20th century and derived its look from many influences. When sleek Italian-designed goods and other sophisticated European furnishings began making their way into the American market, the contemporary design style boomed overnight.
Contrary to popular belief, the contemporary style home is rarely stark or cold, but instead seeks to combine the ideas of comfort and sophistication. One of the most common design styles, the contemporary style is never fussy, but instead focuses on line, tone and texture.
Typical characteristics of a Contemporary style space:
- Neutral color palette with “pops” of bold color
- Clean lines and smooth surfaces
- Soft curves, but avoids the ornate or ornamental
- Reflective materials such as chrome, steel and glass
- Natural fabrics with a focus on texture and tone
- Use of black and/or white
- Geometric patterns or shapes
- Sleek cabinetry and lighting (built-ins, recessed)
The Contemporary design style is often confused with Modern but actually the two are very different styles, though both tend to favor simple, uncluttered spaces with smooth, clean lines. The Modern style is an older style that originated during the late 19th century, but from whom Contemporary design derived some of its ideas.
Written by : About.com Interior Decorating