Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Decorating Styles Part II: Contemporary

Decorating Styles 

    by Powell Brower Home 

Contemporary design styles reflect today's tastes and trends and  generally refers to the late twentieth century through the current time. While interior design "today" features softened, rounded lines, clean and sleek shapes, there is no carving and ornamentation like in traditional style. The current trends in decorating offer  a mix of natural wood, glass, metal, and fabrics both neutral in color and in striking colors and patterns. Texture is paramount to distinguish between various neutrals and colors like white, cream, tan, taupe abound. Large, slim profile windows bringing the outdoors 'in' are markers of this style.

Color trends today evolve as a new version of a color from last year. You will hear about the Pantone color matching system which is universally used throughout the industry. Colors are predicted and identified as the current trend each year by Pantone. Here are the fall Pantone 2012 colors, in case you haven't seen the line up.  These can be pops of color you add to your neutral decor, or you can go bold with any of these to be current!

We see alot of bold accents in contemporary  such as in a striking piece of art, a geometric rug or wall color, yet this look is uncluttered and simple.

                   Part II: Contemporary

This room is from a premier contemporary store, Roche Bobois:

Contemporary rooms can be an all-neutral, or a room like this that uses "current"colors:

People use the terms modern and contemporary interchangeably but they are not the same. Modern refers to 1920-to the mid twentieth century.We did a post previously on contemporary versus modern architecture explaining the differences. Interior trends follow the same precipice. This look is contemporary because it uses neutral colors with pops of the current trends, sleek finishes, i.e. metals, glass, mirror, lucite, but is warm and inviting.

Contemporary style is:

  • neutral colors, with bold accents
  • uncluttered, unadorned furnishings
  • clean, simple lines
  • natural materials
  • minimalistic
  • reflective surfaces
  • unusual colors ( more trendy)
In comparison, Modern style includes vintage modern pieces from the 1920's-30's, Mid-Century Modern- see post here- (up to the 1970's),Art Deco( 1920-30), and the Arts and Crafts Movement, or "craftsman"( 1910-1930).
  • angular lines, low profile, streamline
  • geometrics, abstracts
  • linen, teak and leather
  • barewood and concrete floors
  • industrial decor, recyle, salvage
  • "form follows function"
  • art deco: glamour, mirrors, chrome, glass, "glitz"
Here is a modern decor scheme. See the retro items and spare materials?

Is your home contemporary or modern?



 We offer room consultations, paint suggestions, shopping and sourcing, complete room and house redo's, staging and reworking your current furniture, spot-checks in areas that aren't quite gelling and many other services. eBoards are a quick and easy way to get a design look and feel in your home. While hiring a designer may cost you a bit extra, we aim to save you money by preventing costly mistakes in your design plan.


  1. I think I am to blame for using modern and contemporary interchangeably. Thank you for the true definitions! This series is very educational!

  2. I like a touch of modern in my home, and have just warmed up to the idea, especially in art.
    Gorgeous images.
    Happy Tuesday.

  3. "Modern" styles are the ones I love, "contemporary" not so much. Nice illustration of the difference.

  4. I love a mix of everything ... and I do like to add one "modern" piece to every room to give it some real unexpected oomph!!

  5. I would say currently - no. However, I am due for a change and find that I am being drawn to modern pieces! Let the buying begin. xo

  6. I like a litle of both, of course! Thanks for defining it for us!

  7. Not my style at all, but one I really do appreciate and enjoy in other homes.

  8. Yesterday I was Transitional! Today? I like mirrors, glamour, gold glitz, large abstract art....so I guess I'm Transitional/Mid-Century Modern/with Traditional thrown in! I am a MESS!!!

  9. LOVE the room from New England Home. I'm more trad with some eclectic and color. This is a fantastic series!

  10. Great post....I would say I'm transitional with a twist of vintage....

  11. Hi, Nancy - Catching up on posts. We are back :) I'm more of a traditional person. But, I love bits of contemporary accents mixed in....makes for a fresher look. Thanks for this informative post. Will check out your post on traditional style.

  12. Im so loving this series Nancy! so informative!

    I think my kitchen breakfast area and kitchen is contemporary (though I want to change the kitchen eventually to a New Traditional), I really love the clean lines and mixture of different materials. I'll show a picture of my breakfast nook soon on my blog.

  13. I'm a vintage modern girl. Love the zebra lucite stools....very GOGO - Brandy

  14. I think I'm a traditional/modern mix. Not contemporary - too cold and spare for me. I love beautiful colors, pattern, and some vintage/antique pieces. Thanks for clearly defining the two very different styles!


  15. my home is traditional wit touches of high tech modern.
    i cam't be too traditional -
    without the high tech touches i feel that it looks stale.


  16. I like this style, but I don't think I have enough of it in my home to own it.

  17. I love contemporary design, and I love being able to do homes in contemporary style!



Thank you for taking the time to comment and support our blog! You all make our day!