Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Kevin Brown

Contemporary Style vs. Modern Style: What’s the Difference?

If you’re familiar with design, you’ve probably heard the terms “contemporary” and “modern” used to describe architecture, furniture, and overall home style. But what’s the difference? Contemporary and modern have similar characteristics, but they have different histories and methods.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Contemporary architecture and style refers to what is currently being created and is characterized by its ever-changing nature. This eclectic style borrows from various styles and eras, making it dynamic and constantly evolving.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

“Modern” style is a design style that breaks from pre-Industrial Revolution traditional styles. It is connected to the age of machination and is commonly associated with the 1920s-1950s (although some argue it encompasses the entire 20th Century).

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

These two terms, modern design and contemporary design, are sometimes used interchangeably, causing confusion. This is due to the fact that many of the characteristics and elements of modern design, also known as mid-century modern or retro, are currently popular. As a result, modern design is an integral part of today’s contemporary design.

It remains to be seen what the new contemporary style will be in the future. Here are some examples of modern and contemporary designs:

Modern: Clean-Lined Architecture.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Modern architecture incorporates glass windows in place of traditional walls, whitewash or white stucco, and intentional asymmetry. Flat roofs and distinct right angles are inherent in modern architecture as well.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Contemporary architecture in this home is characterized by solid walls with randomly spaced coverings and a cantilever balanced by a notch on the other side of the building. Like modern architecture, this home has a flat roof and a boxy feel.

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Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Modern design breaks from tradition by embracing simplicity in adornment. Unlike traditional spaces, which are visually and physically full, modern spaces are clean and fresh, with perhaps a hint or two of added color. Today’s contemporary design often includes open floor plans.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Carrying the desire for spaciousness in a contemporary space is an open floor plan where the kitchen, dining, and living areas merge. This creates an airy and livable effect.

Modern spaces also incorporate raised and open furniture.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Modern furniture is often elevated and open, creating a spacious atmosphere. The lines of modern design are clean and simple, with minimal embellishment.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Today’s design lovers prioritize individuality and personal style. Therefore, contemporary spaces often feature unique forms that take center stage. When paired with a glass tabletop, these dining chairs highlight every design element.

Modern design embraces a minimal, unadorned style.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

A key component of modern design is its minimalism – using the least to achieve the most. The result is a clutter-free space where attention is placed in the details, whether they be architectural, artistic, or related to furniture. Today’s contemporary design focuses on simple, clean lines.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Clean-lined furniture is a clear example of the merging of contemporary and modern styles. The furniture features basic forms, clean lines, simple shapes, and a focus on comfort. The use of natural materials is also prominent in modern furniture design.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Modern style incorporates natural materials like wood, stone, leather, teak, and linen, which add warmth and texture to a space without detracting from the overall feel.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Contemporary design uses natural materials like cedar and stone, which are often blended with steel, concrete, and other industrial materials for a balanced yin and yang aesthetic.

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Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

White walls can sometimes be seen as non-color or a boring default choice. However, in modern spaces, they are crisp, clean, and fresh. White walls enhance the room’s details without drawing attention to themselves.

They expand the modern space and serve as a beautiful foundation for great design.

In contemporary design, large windows play a significant role.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Large windows bring in natural light, infusing a space with a sense of spaciousness. They brighten a space, even with visually heavy details like a wood beamed ceiling. Bonus: Outside views influence the room’s color palette.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Bare floors embody the minimalistic philosophy of modern design. While area rugs are occasionally incorporated in modern spaces, they typically come in neutral tones and natural materials like wool, jute, and sisal. Today’s contemporary designs focus on seamless transitions between interior and exterior spaces.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Large windows are essential for bringing the outside inside, a key aspect of contemporary design. This allows for a balance between manmade and natural elements, which is a favorite combination in modern design.

Modern design often incorporates materials like plywood, plastic, and polished metal.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Modern furniture and architectural details often use materials from the industrial age. Examples include molded plastic chairs, wood credenzas, and polished metal furniture legs.

Today’s contemporary aesthetic focuses on comfort.

Contemporary vs Modern Style What s the Difference

Contemporary style avoids sterile, stark environments and embraces stylish comfort. Aesthetic functionality includes soft rugs or floor coverings, throw pillows and blankets, and interesting accessories.

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