Modern style is a design movement that emerged around the turn of the 20th century. This style celebrates natural materials, neutral or earthy colors and the elimination of adornments that do not add function. It is influenced by the Bauhaus philosophy that states, “form follows function.” This means that furnishings and decor must have an intended purpose in a room’s layout and design.
Unlike contemporary, modern design is generally more restrained. The color palette tends to be more neutral with shades of white, gray, beige and black used in walls, furniture and accents. A pop of bold red, blue or yellow can be found in some modern rooms to enliven the neutral shades but is usually kept to a minimum. This is in keeping with the origins of modernism, a belief that less is more.
Because of its neutral undertone, modern style can be paired with a wide range of other interior design styles to create unique and eye-catching spaces. For example, modern styling can work well with Mid-Century Modern and Scandinavian furnishing and accessories, or it can be paired with Bohemian or Southwestern decor styles to bring more color and pattern into a space. In addition, the clean lines of modern style can be augmented with more organic textures and shapes in the form of woven coffee tables, fish tanks, lava lamps or even a simple flower pot.
Another important difference between modern and contemporary decorating is that modern is more minimalist while contemporary can get a bit funkier. While both styles favor clean lines and uncluttered spaces, modern tends to be more sparse in its decorative elements while contemporary can incorporate a broader range of shape and size with more flowing, curved forms of furniture.
While both styles prefer a neutral color palette, modern style is more subdued and contemporary can use a wider range of contrasts to highlight furniture or to create eye-catching focal points. For example, a dark wood coffee table can be paired with a set of sleek modern coffee table books to bring a modern flair to a space that is otherwise largely filled with contemporary elements.
While it is easy to find many pieces of home decor that can be classified as modern, there are a few items that should always be avoided. Avoid anything with a lot of detail or embroidery, especially on cushions and carpets. Instead, textured or natural fabrics are preferred. Adding a few modern style decorations to a room will give it the right balance of sophistication and simplicity. For a more energizing touch, try adding some bright, primary colors in the form of throw pillows or carpets. Alternatively, you could opt for a patterned tile in your kitchen or bathroom. This can be a great way to introduce modern style to your home without making a large commitment. It can also work well with other design styles such as eclectic, industrial or farmhouse.