Contemporary Vs Modern Interior Design: The Comprehensive Guide

If you’ve been bouncing between contemporary and modern interior design and you’re not quite sure how to differentiate the two, or decide on which one to choose, then this is the article for you.

We’re going to break down some of the key differences and style highlights to facilitate a better understanding for your convenience.  

Although both contemporary and modern interior design styles are often confused with one another, the two are actually rather quite different. Certainly, there are some factors in which they may be synonymous, but they are otherwise able to stand up on their own.

What is contemporary interior design?

In order to differentiate the two, first let’s outline the key definitions and features of both, individually. So, what is contemporary interior design?

The literal definition of the word contemporary is: “living or occurring at present.” As such, contemporary design is fundamentally “of the moment,” indicating that this design style leverages current design trends whilst giving a humble nod to the past.

Contemporary design dates back to the 1970’s and is unique in and of itself – save for a few elements that it borrows from several other design styles. Thus, with contemporary, you’ll be certain to see modern features alongside inspired notes from Art-Deco and the occasional futuristic design flourish.

One other key aspect of contemporary interior design style is that it is constantly evolving. Of course, this is a crucial part of its “of the moment” nature, after all.

Unlike many other styles that are geared toward a specific time, era, and vibe, contemporary style refers to those emerging trends that are valid and gaining traction today.

The contemporary design of right now is layered with neutral palettes, smooth, curved lines, and prominent minimalism.

What is modern interior design?

Given that the word modern is defined as: “relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past,” it’s easy to see why both modern and contemporary design are so often confused with one another. But, what is modern interior design?

Modern interior design is made up of a great number of different features which makes it a little more complex in terms of defining its true nature. In an attempt to lay it out in the simplest of terms, modern design refers to the most modern art movements and interior décors of the home.

Rooted in Germanic and Scandinavian design and architecture, the modern style concepts tend to be pleasantly easy and uncomplicated. All of the décor and furnishings in modern design are geared toward earthy tones and neutral materials, eliminating any unnecessarily elaborate detailing.

While contemporary interior design often boasts hints of colour, modern interior design styles favour monochromatic colours, pattern-less fabrics, and clean, whitewashed spaces.

Contemporary Vs modern interior design: Key differences

Now that we have a clearer image of the two, let’s dig even deeper into the various essential elements and hallmarks that differentiate both interior design styles:

  • Modern design incorporates earthy elements: Modern interior design tends toward an earthy-mix of natural materials. These can include wood, stone, and leather (both faux and genuine depending on the situation). Certainly, contemporary interior design often uses a similar approach to using natural materials, but they’re typically paired with industrial-inspired elements such as concrete and / or steel.
  • Modern decorative features tend toward functionality: In modern design, you’ll often find the most decorative pieces are purpose-built, where décor in contemporary interior design is much more aesthetic oriented.
  • Contemporary concepts are more fluid: As contemporary refers to “of the moment”, the style is forever evolving. As such, these designs tend to be more eclectic, drawing inspiration from different eras. Whereas modern design is more rigid in its minimalist format, geared toward clean lines and balance.
  • Modern spaces can feel warmer: Although modern interior design is minimalist in nature, the spaces don’t tend to feel cold as you’d expect. This is because they are filled with natural materials and warm neutrals, giving off a comfortable air. Contemporary styles however, boasting monochromatic black and white can send to feel bolder and stark, whilst being partial to plenty of colour as well.
  • Contemporary furniture tends to be curvier: Modern design furniture incorporates strong and straight lines, whereas contemporary focus more or organic shapes. For contemporary, the furniture tends toward a blend of comfort and refinement, blending metals such as chrome and stainless steel.
  • Modern design has earthy colours and hues: One of the biggest distinctions between contemporary and modern interior design is the colour palette. Contemporary stick to a much stricter palette of black, white, and grey – and whilst other colours are introduced, they tend to have saturated tones like red and orange. Modern design however, blend natural hues and tend toward rustic and earthy colours such as green, rust, and turquoise.

It’s easy to get the two mixed up as both design styles favour geometric elements. That said, as the nature of contemporary design is ever evolving, many of the latest elements that it picks up – modern design is unable to utilise.

Contemporary Vs modern design: What are the similarities?

Let’s take a look at how contemporary and modern interior design are similar:

  • Both favour minimalist aesthetics
  • They have an open-air feel about them
  • Neither favour ornate or elaborate designs
  • Furnishings feature exposed legs and other elements

Conclusion

Certainly, there are a number of overlapping elements between both contemporary and modern design, but fundamentally, they are unique in their own right.

As you can see from this article, it’s easy to understand why the two are often confused with one another. However, we hope that you have found this article helpful and that you now have a much better understanding of how the two differentiate. If you are looking to explore a project then consider reaching out to an experienced Interior Designer, no matter the oriented style Instyle Deco Paris is here to help you bring your vision to life.

Looking to Start your own Interior Design Project?

Get in touch below or find useful links explaining our Interior Design services.

Home Interior Design

We offer a range of home interior design services to help you create the perfect space for your needs. From designing a new space from scratch to renovating an existing room, we can help you achieve the look you want. We also offer tailored colour consultation services to help you choose the perfect shade for your walls and furniture. Anything from a full remodel to custom furniture, Instyle Deco Paris is here to help.

  • Bedroom Interior Design

    Our bedroom interior design services can help you to create a beautiful and relaxing bedroom that is perfect for you.

  • Bathroom Interior Design

    We offer a wide range of bathroom interior design services that are suited to your specific needs and preferences.

  • Kitchen Interior Design

    Our kitchen designers can help you create a beautiful and functional space that meets your needs and fits your budget.

  • Home Theater Interior Design

    Our home theater interior design services can help you create the perfect entertainment space for your home.

  • House and Condo Interior Design

    House and condo interior design services can be a great way to add some new life to your living space. Our team of experts can help you choose the perfect style and color palette to transform your home.

Commercial Interior Design Services

Are you in the market for a new office space, or just want to give your current one a fresh update? Our commercial interior design team can help! We provide comprehensive services from space planning and design to furniture selection and installation. We'll work with you to create a workspace that's both stylish and functional. Contact us today to learn more!

  • Hotel Interior Design

    We offer hotel interior design services that can help you create a unique and inviting space for your guests.

  • Office Interior Design

    We provide top-quality office interior design services that will help you to create a workspace that is both functional and stylish.

  • Restaurant Interior Design

    Our restaurant interior design services can help you to create a comfortable and inviting space for your diners.

  • Fitness Center Interior Design

    Gyms can be notoriously difficult to design. They need to be functional and look great, all while accommodating a wide range of activities and equipment.

  • 3d Rendering Services

    We offer high-quality 3D rendering services for businesses and individuals alike, bring your design to life. 

  • Custom Furniture Design

    From start to finish, we will work with you to create the perfect piece of furniture for your home or office.

Scroll to Top