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Contemporary vs Modern Interior Design: What are the differences?

Think contemporary and modern are the same thing? Think again. Interior design is constantly evolving, with trends coming and going, and, in recent years, the two styles have been particularly loved. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two different approaches that evoke distinct feelings.

Modern interior design, much like its name, is the style used in the modern movement, usually defined as the 1920s-70s. It uses clean lines and a warm palette of earthy materials such as walnut and plywood, complemented with primary hues (red, blue and yellow).

On the other hand, contemporary design is all about the present. The style changes with time, but is recognisable as cool toned, minimalistic, airy and cutting edge. It generally combines a number of influences, while keeping sleek white, black and grey colour schemes, and organic and metallic elements.

If you’re planning to restyle your current home, or are in the process of designing a new house, it’s important to know what style you want its aesthetic to be. Here are a few ways of incorporating either modern and contemporary styles into every important room of your home.

Start with the kitchen

There’s no better place to start than the kitchen, mainly because it’s the most complicated. Being a highly practical room in your home, your kitchen has to look the part as well as meeting all your needs and being a delight to use. . “A contemporary kitchen has elements of modernity; however, a modern kitchen is different in itself,” the experts at bespoke kitchen designers, Harvey Jones, explain. “While both designs feature clean lines, few embellishments, and are generally minimalist, modern kitchens tend to feature fewer patterns compared to contemporary designs.”

For a contemporary kitchen, maintaining simplicity is key. Disguise your kitchen appliances as cabinets for an uncluttered and streamlined feel. Combine dark hues with bright white and touches of stainless steel to evoke a crisp and contemporary ambience. Patterns, such as glass tiles or mosaics, are favourites, or, for a statement look, an antique mirrored splashback will be sure to impress.

Modern kitchens would have less ornamentation, instead opt for luxurious materials like marble for backsplashes against neutral wooden elements for added warmth. You should also consider frameless cabinets, flat panel doors, and metallic finishes for your modern kitchen.

Turn your bedroom into a dream

While kitchens are functional spaces that require a lot of thought for usability, the bedroom’s main purpose is to be calming and induce a good night’s sleep. This task should not be underestimated — rest benefits our immune system, mental state, and even our healthy weight. Both a modern and a contemporary bedroom can help support our slumber, even if they do it in slightly different ways.

Both enjoy crisp lines, however, the former is warmer and more cosy in nature. An inviting walnut bed frame with soft, lux neutral-coloured bedding is a great place to start, especially if it has pronounced, raised legs. For the modern look, you want to incorporate different textures alongside wood, so shiny chrome bedside lamps and terracotta plant pots can make a huge difference. Avoid knick knacks and instead make simple art your décor focal point.

Contemporary bedrooms will be more slick and greyscale, other than some statement pieces. A geometric cushion, throw, or wallpaper in a bold colour can complement the simplicity of the design and add some interest. The key is to ensure the space has a natural flow and a relaxing cosy feel, which is perfect for a bedroom — mixing textures in a similar hue such as calming neutrals and greys will do the trick.

Don’t forget about the bathroom

Here’s a little stat that may shock you — we spend 416 days of our lives in the bathroom. That’s over a year! Although these don’t all necessarily happen in our own home, it’s clear that the design of a bathroom can make or break your experience there, and it should never be an afterthought. . Contemporary spaces would want to embrace large, open structures, whereas modern bathrooms will be warmer but just as clean-looking.

Terrazzo or warm-toned mosaic floors, glass showers and floating teak furniture can give a beautiful modern atmosphere to a bathroom. Brushed brass hardware and leather baskets will add texture to modernise the look further. Contemporary bathrooms would be more monochrome, usually adorning bright white cabinets and dark grey or black tiles. Natural stones such as marble and concrete with matte black hardware are recommended to invoke the open-space feel.

Get your living room to shine

The living room is an essential part of every house, with a history going back centuries. Unlike the other rooms in your home, it doesn’t serve a particular purpose other than to represent what’s important to you. A film buff? You’d want the focal point to be a large TV, or you could incorporate a pull down screen with a projector if you really want to immerse yourself. Prefer the chill part of Netflix and chill? Comfy sofas or a chaise lounge may be more your vibe.

No matter what ambience you want your living room to emanate, modern and contemporary styles can help you get there. Warm wooden floors, leather furniture and fluffy rugs can work together to achieve a modern feel, with striking artworks in chrome or wooden frames to accompany them. Little pops of primary colours will also give a modern sensation. Just take a look at Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange for inspiration, especially the living room of the writer and his wife, with the warm wood, glass, steel and crisp lines.

Contemporary living rooms can combine a monochromatic look with stark contrast. For example, grey sofas, dark stone floors, white shelving and cabinetry, and a large colourful statement piece, be it a rug, coffee table or armchair. Accent the room with metallic shades, whether it’s copper, gold or steel, and add oversized floor lamps and art to add more texture and brightness to the space.

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