by Mark Bailey

Modern and contemporary interior design are often used interchangeably. Contrary to what a lot of people think, they do not mean the same thing. So, what is the difference?

Modern Design

Modern design refers to a historic design movement that was prominent within a certain period of time (between the 1920’s and 1950’s). It is a defined style that does not change. The elements that make up modern design are peculiar to the modern style, and are easily recognizable.

In terms of categorization of interior design development, modern really refers to a style that eventually develops into ‘Mid Century Modern’ design. Basically, this design style is characterized by clean and unadorned interiors. When you speak of a modern interior in its true sense, you are referring to an interior where the use of natural materials is such as hardwood flooring is prominent. Hardwood floors are not only a good investment but it also accentuates elegance and luxury design. It is a practical investment because they add value to your home. They are durable, easy to clean and repair. The aesthetic character of the interior is simple yet beautiful and functional. Furniture is open and raised off the floor to give an airy feel and there is an emphasis on vertical and horizontal lines showing off structural elements.

Contemporary Design

On the other hand, contemporary design is ever changing. Gaining popularity in the 1970’s, this style is reflective of the moment. When you speak of contemporary design, you are referring to cutting-edge, trending, ever-evolving designs and homestyles. It projects the elements in design that are prominent at the point in time. It is not uncommon for contemporary designs to use elements from different time periods, fusing them to form a unique style. As a result of this diversity and its ever-changing nature, up-to date contemporary design today, may look outdated years later.

Diversity in texture and colour are prominent with this design.

The Blurry Line

When you are able to tell one from the other, you find that the line between the two styles is not so blurry after all.  There are noticeable differences between them. The interior of a modern space follows a definitive and strict format. Colours are usually neutral and natural to give a spacious and airy effect.

On the other hand, a contemporary interior celebrates variety. With this style of interior design, there are no barriers to the colours that may be integrated.

The Similarities

There are also remarkable similarities between modern and contemporary interior design, in spite of the differences. Time and again, modern design elements can be found in contemporary design. They both display simple and uncluttered spaces. Some of the materials used in modern design are equally favoured in contemporary styles such as metal, wood and leather.

What Works For You

In a nutshell, while the idea of modern in interior design describes a distinct style which stemmed from a historic design movement, contemporary design is a constantly evolving style that features current trends. It is eclectic, trendy and diverse. Whatever suits you, works just fine. Both styles have their noticeable features. In making a preference, it is worth knowing that although a contemporary design can have modern features, a modern design can by no means be contemporary.

Related Articles