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Contemporary Vs Modern Home Design: Is There a Difference?


If you’re confused about what makes a Modern home different than a Contemporary home, you’re not alone. With the terms often being used interchangeably, it can be hard for a casual observer to distinguish the difference between the two styles. However, knowing the difference can help you pick the style that is right for you.

Modern design has its roots in the early and mid-twentieth century. Unlike styles from before the Industrial Revolution, Modern design emphasizes clean lines, a sparing use of interior decoration, and deliberate asymmetry in building design. A Modern home is likely to feature white walls and a neutral color palette, with just the occasional pop of bright color for contrast, along with mostly bare floors. Open floor plans are a common feature of Modern-style homes as well. Expect to find large windows, particularly corner windows or large walls of uncurtained windows that invite the outdoors in. In keeping with the elegant simplicity of this design ethos, Modern furniture tends to be raised (think a sofa on legs, rather than with skirts down to the floor), to preserve the open feel of interior spaces.

On the other hand, Contemporary design may be a bit harder to pin down. In fact, there is some disagreement about whether or not “contemporary” describes a particular type of design at all, rather than simply what is currently in vogue at the time. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is a fair amount of overlap between what is considered Contemporary and Modern these days.

Contemporary design is likely to feature the same open floor plans, large windows, high ceilings, and natural surfaces of Modern design. However, Contemporary design is likely to feature an emphasis on natural materials, while Modern design tends to include more industrial-type materials such as steel or concrete. Modern designs are also quite linear, while Contemporary designs might include curved features that lend a softer look.

A Contemporary home will generally resemble a Modern home in an overall clean, clutter-free aesthetic. However, Contemporary d├ęcor features a wider range of possible uses of color, and can incorporate the playful addition of unique furniture pieces or textiles for eclectic flair. Unlike the sleek minimalism of Modern design, Contemporary design can incorporate different elements specific to your particular sense of style.

Of course, the most important part of any design is not its label, but whether or not it creates a space that you love. Our design experts can help you incorporate the best elements of any type of design to transform your house into the home of your dreams.