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Style File: Contemporary

Contemporary style is much like the name suggests. Namely, it embraces what is current in interior design and decor. By definition, this style is not always easily defined, since things that are popular in design are ever-changing. This means that contemporary style tends to be quite fluid.  However, there are some style guidelines that keep this style anchored.

While what translates as contemporary may change over the years, you will see that the principals of the style will remain the same. Here’s a look at some of those principals.

Clean and Clear

contemporary style

Source: West Home Planners 

Contemporary design places a lot of emphasis on clean lines and minimal adornments. As such, “white space” is very important. You’ll see this in the high ceilings and large, unadorned windows, as well as in the use of geometric shapes, and lack of clutter.

Textures and Textiles

contemporary styleSource: Loombrand 

When it comes to upholstery, window coverings (when used) and other fabrics, contemporary design often prefers natural textiles. Here, texture adds interest, along with geometric patterns. Things like nubby wool blankets, linen curtains, leather couches, and even faux fur throw pillows can feel right at home in a space that embraces contemporary design.


contemporary styleSource: Daily Dreamer Decor


Angular, unencumbered furniture is a favourite among the followers of contemporary style. Soft seating is typically a neutral colour, with exposed arms and legs in wood or metal. Hard surfaces embrace clean lines and shun embellishments, creating a simple sophistication that is often seen as the hallmark of contemporary design.


contemporary styleSource: My Domain

Hard flooring is almost always the standard in contemporary design. Think smoothly finished wood floors (no hand scraped or wire brushed wood here), concrete, or tile. Area rug use is minimal. If they are used, neutral colours, geometric shapes, and texture are often selected.

Lighting and Décor

contemporary styleSource: Zillow 

Keep in mind that the room itself and the space is the key feature in contemporary design. This means leaving it as unencumbered as possible and free from clutter, collection, or over decorating. The idea is to evoke simple elegance.

However, maintaining simplicity does not mean the space must be completely devoid of adornment. Paintings, prints, and objets d’art all have a prominent place in a contemporary room. Select one or two significant pieces to be featured, such as an interesting sculpture or a large painting.

Lighting is included in this section because in a contemporary home, the light fixture itself is also seen as décor. It is meant to be enjoyed like art. Clean lines, metal, and wood are a common choice. However, no florals, pleats, or fussy shades of any sort.

Contemporary vs. Modern Interior Design

While there may be some similarities between modern and contemporary design, it is contemporary design’s fluidity that differentiates them.  Modern design also called Mid-Century Modern, specifically refers to an aesthetic spanning the 1920’s to the 1950’s.

View Past Style Files here:

Farmhouse | Regency | Cottage | Coastal | Industrial | Scandi |

Coming Soon:

Traditional – Coming Soon | Mid-Century Modern – Coming Soon | Tropical – Coming Soon


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