fbpx Skip to main content

Modern Vs. Contemporary: What to Know for Your Next Home

By May 13, 2020March 29th, 2024Interior Design Tips

Moving into a new home comes with many opportunities, challenges, and interior design decisions. While you could rely on the style of your former homes, it could be time to switch things up. Some of the most popular design methods homeowners are leaning towards these days include the modern and contemporary varieties.

What most homeowners don’t realize is that while these seem similar, there are key differences that separate modern and contemporary home design. That’s why we asked our interior designers what makes a modern home versus how homeowners can use the contemporary style. Let’s discuss the answers and figure out which one will best fit your next home.

Modern Vs. Contemporary Interior Design

When you pick up a thesaurus or search “contemporary” online, you might notice “modern” listed in its synonyms. At first glance, it is easy to think the two styles amount to the same thing. But that isn’t the cause. There are specific nuances that make the two different. Of course, there are similarities, but let’s look over the distinctions between each so that you can better understand what you want in your next home.

Styling a Modern Home 

Modern design refers to a specific time from the early to mid-twentieth century that was a precursor to contemporary design. A few artists that made this style famous during its inception included Le Corbusier, Florence Knoll, and the Eames. What made the style distinct was it focused on form and function. Artists used earthy palettes, natural materials, and streamlined silhouettes. It was all about simplicity and minimalistic features.

One of the off-shoots of the modern style that many homeowners use today is mid-century modern. This particular niche developed in the 1950s and 60s. Some homeowners that commit to a full mid-century modern home, easily infuse both styles into their home with simple tweaks that likely include contrasting elements and plastic materials, which is a stray from modernism materials of choice. It also allowed for bolder colors and patterns, with a modernistic touch.

Contemporary Home Design

Contemporary interior design doesn’t have roots in a specific period like modernism. Instead, many of its defining features stem from borrowed qualities of other design styles. A few of these include modernism, Art Deco, minimalism, and different artistic styles. Contemporary combines these features without focusing on any style too much. This may sound confusing, but you can detect contemporary design by spotting these qualities:

  • Neutral Palettes
  • Stark Minimalism
  • Clean Lines
  • Organic Silhouettes
  • Metallic Materials
  • Natural Textures

Perhaps the best way of knowing which style you prefer—contemporary or modern, is by understanding you make your choices based on what’s popular today. If you are using a variety of popular elements in your home that also includes modernistic features, the chances are you lean more towards contemporary design. However, if you prefer modern design, you can tell by its distinct aesthetic, which emphasizes warm neutrals, balanced compositions, and crisp lines.

Unfortunately, you could still have a hard time determining which one you like. Let’s look at examples of each interior design style to understand better which is which.

Examples of Modern Home Design:

Modern bathroom design

Modern living room design

Modern living room design

Modern dining room design

Modern interior design by San Francisco Design

Each of these interiors perfectly captures the simplicity of a modern home. The pieces included in the images only emulate the sleek lines of the home’s architecture—a defining feature of modern design. The materials are also reasonably simplistic with au naturel leading the way. However, there are a few metallic elements that only reflect the overall modern style.

Examples of Contemporary Interior Design:

 Contemporary bathroom design with tiled wall

Contemporary bedroom design with bed rug and nightstand

Contemporary living room design with sofa, coffee table and chandelier

Contemporary kitchen design

Contemporary living room and dining room design with sofas, dining table and upholstered chairs

While you can find contemporary homes that mostly reflect modern styles, the examples included help depict contemporary design that blends other techniques, as well. One of the defining features in each of these designs is the mixture of sleek lines and organic silhouettes. Notice the curvature in many furniture pieces and lighting designs. Overall, contemporary design is a touch more eccentric than modernism, making it an excellent choice for many homeowners.

Finding Your Style with San Francisco Design

If you are still unsure which style would fit your next home best, work with the interior design team at San Francisco Design. Our designers can help you narrow down choices that reflect your personal style and also make whichever design style you choose entirely your own. Trust us to turn your next house into your dream home.

Contact us today to learn about our design services or browse our online collection of modern and contemporary furniture.