A Guide To Contemporary Interior Design

October 14, 2023

Contemporary house interior designs came into existence first post the mid-century modern movement. Fundamentally, a contemporary style of decorating is defined by simplicity, subtle sophistication, deliberate use of texture, and clean lines. A contemporary design functions on a few principles that define the said style and segregate it from the modern. In contemporary interior design, the interiors tend to showcase space rather than things. There is a lot of use of texture involved, the stark juxtaposition between the décor elements, and the neutral colour palette of the house. You will often find materials including nickel, steel, and chrome combined with natural textures like hemp or jute in a contemporary house interior design.

contemporary home

History of contemporary interior design style

The era of contemporary architecture is generally thought to have begun sometime after the modern period of the roughly first half of the 20th century and the postmodern period which was a reaction to it beginning in the 1960s and continuing through to the '90s. Therefore, buildings from the late 20th century to the present moment might be referred to as works of contemporary architecture. Unlike modern interior design, contemporary architecture and design aren’t defined by a single style. It is constantly evolving to reflect the popular styles of present-day design. It borrows qualities from modernism, minimalism, Art Deco, and other global styles without hyper-focusing on any one in particular. Though contemporary design is, by nature, fairly ambiguous, there are a few qualities that help define the contemporary style. Neutral palettes, stark minimalism, clean lines, and organic silhouettes are some of the prominent characteristics.

Basics of contemporary house interior design

1. Line and Space

The most obvious and distinctive element of a contemporary style interior design is the line. Whether straight vertical or horizontal lines or curved shapes, strong visible lines are evident in any contemporary-style home. The line is found in architectural details, the use of bold colour blocks, high ceilings, bare windows, and geometric shapes in wall art and sculpture. The bare space on walls between pieces of furniture and above in upper areas becomes as important as the areas filled with objects. In contemporary interiors, less is more. Each piece stands out as individual and unique. You can take advantage of structural elements.

2. Use of Colour

The dominant colour palette in a contemporary interior design comprises neutrals, black, and white. Black is often used for grounding and defining a contemporary-style room. The palette is often punched up and accented with bright and bold colours that play against neutrals. With walls painted in a basic neutral, you have a wonderful backdrop for bold-coloured accessories. If the walls and windows are painted in pastels, the trims should be neutral. If a wall is a bright, bold colour, neutrals should be used everywhere else.

3. Flooring

Floors in a contemporary style home should be bare and smooth, using wood, tile, or vinyl. If you must use some carpet for sound control or warmth, choose commercial grades. Add colour and texture with plain or geometric-patterned area rugs.

4. Lighting

Lighting plays an integral part in contemporary interior design. A contemporary interior design is dominated by warm lighting in the room. Consider installing cover lighting or indirect light that includes colour and metallic accents on the light fixtures.

What are the main characteristics of contemporary interior design?

Contemporary designs emphasize clean lines and angles, just like modern design. It also relies heavily on minimal furnishings, open spaces, and natural light. While these similarities tend to create confusion between the two styles, contemporary is more comfortable and welcoming than its modern counterpart.

How to incorporate the furniture in contemporary interior design?

In a contemporary interior space, furniture pieces should make a bold statement but at the same time be simple and uncluttered, without curves or decoration. Smooth, clean, geometric shapes are essential. Upholstered furniture often wears black, white, or other neutral tones, using the natural fibres found in wool, cotton, linen, silk, and jute to add textural appeal.

contemporary living room

Difference between contemporary interior design & modern interior design

Many of us use the phrases “modern design” and “contemporary design” interchangeably—but they don’t actually mean the same thing. Modern design refers to a specific design movement, the Modernist movement, which dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Contemporary design is a more general term, referring to styles of the present and future. Although modern and contemporary designs are looked at as one, they are distinctly different from one another. We often mistake contemporary design for being modern; both styles tend to be pretty minimal, but modern design is about function and accessibility, and contemporary design is freer with its bright colours, chunky and bold shapes, and sleek materials. These are just some of the ways you can tell the design styles apart.

modern vs contemporary

Contemporary house interior tips: 

Since we have already spoken about contemporary interior design so much, let us give you some tips on how to create a contemporary-style interior at home!

1. Furniture

When choosing furniture for a contemporary home interior, make sure that the furniture pieces make a bold statement but at the same time are simple and uncluttered. The furniture should be without curves or decoration. When speaking about the patterns and textures in particular, the furniture should exude smooth and clean surfaces and should be geometric in shapes, as these features are essential and are the essence of contemporary interior decor such as the hexagon geometric patterned coffee table from our collection of furniture.

Side table

2. Decor Object

Avoid using cute little showpieces or centrepieces. Incorporate more abstract and bold pieces of decor objects with a neutral colour backdrop to keep the essence of the contemporary design intact. In contemporary interiors, less is more. Each piece stands out as individual and unique. You can decorate a bull head decor piece in white in your living area to compliment the contemporary interior of your home.

Decor object

3. Vases

A large minimalist vase or a bold-coloured simple vase is one of the characteristics of contemporary design at home. A simple ceramic vase in black or white colour is a perfect decor piece to compliment the contemporary interior design.


4. Artificial Flowers

In contemporary rooms, plants and flowers should be large and dramatic in simple containers. Be it fresh blooms or faux flowers, large blooms with interesting leaves work better than small arrangements, arrangements just as our faux tulip flowers. Bright coloured blooms against a neutral colour palette of the house create a stark contrast, defining the contemporary design.

Artificial flowers

5. Wall Art

A bold and abstract wall art against a neutral colour palette of the walls speaks of contemporary design. Adorn your walls with bold-coloured and abstract design wall art to add a pop of colour to your neutral walls. Contemporary-style framed art can be placed at eye level by placing itthem on a structural column or pedestal. Frames in high-gloss or matte black, natural wood, or metal finishes are great for artwork.

Wall art

6. Jars & Containers

Keeping up with contemporary interior design, make sure your kitchen blends well with your entire space. Incorporating natural elements like glass, metal, and wood creates a contemporary space. When it comes to decorating your kitchen, you can opt for sleek and minimal glass jars and containers with lids for a clean look.

Jars and containers

7. Rugs

Colourful, fussy prints should be avoided since they confuse the plain space that is key to a contemporary-style home. Two-tone prints work well. Think about a zebra-print pillow on a black leather chair, a large leopard-print pillow thrown on a plain floor, or a bold, heavily textured striped rug to anchor solid-coloured, sleek furniture.


8. Throws & Blankets

Soft furnishings in contemporary decor often wears black, white, or other neutral tones, using the natural fibres found in wool, cotton, linen, silk, and jute to add textural appeal. Pillows in clean geometric shapes add a shot of colour and texture.

Throws and blankets

9. Dinnerware

When painting your home with contemporary design make sure to keep dinnerware contemporary, too. There are many geometric shapes, bold colours, and interesting styles that can be incorporated to create the look. Bring in texture with silverware, napkins, placemats, and centrepieces. Use geometric shape plates with bold colours to balance the neutrality of the entire space.

Dinner plate

10. Cushions

When it comes to choosing soft furnishing for a contemporary home, always remember to play with colours and patterns. Use a basic background and shout out with your favourite coloured cushion covers and pillow covers on a furniture piece that stands out. ‘Less is more’, is the key to a classic contemporary design. Opt for a black patterned cushion cover for a neutral colour sofa to create a juxtaposition of colours and patterns.

 Cushion cover

11. Serveware

Incorporate contemporary dinnerware sets that often feature clean lines, neutral colours, and simple shapes. Square plates, rectangular platters, and round bowls with unadorned surfaces are common. It combines functionality with sleek, minimalist design to create pieces that are both practical and visually appealing.

Serving bowl

12. Mirrors

Mirrors are also a great way of decorating your home in a contemporary way. Opt for a sleek and minimalist round mirror to create an aura of contemporary design at home. 

Wall mirror

FAQs on Contemporary interior design

What are the 3 characteristics of contemporary interior design?

The three main characteristics of a contemporary interior design are open spaces and floor plans, neutral colour schemes with pops of colour from artworks, and clean and streamlined silhouettes and geometric shapes of upholstered pieces.

Why choose contemporary interior design?

Contemporary interior design is often characterised by sleek and clean lines, sophisticated neutral palettes, and a lot of texture. A contemporary interior design offers the best of both worlds - modern and timeless classic designs. A contemporary design creates a comfortable and welcoming aura at home. Hence, it is great for minimalists looking to steer clear of fussy prints, a heady mix of eras, and for those looking to create a simple yet thoroughly realised harmony between varying elements while focusing on the architectural elements of a room.

When did contemporary interior design begin?

The roots of contemporary design can be traced back to the early 20th-century modernist movement, which rejected traditional ornamentation and embraced the principles of minimalism, functionality, and the use of new materials. Architects and designers like Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius played significant roles in shaping modernist design.

What is the purpose of contemporary design?

The purpose of contemporary design is to create spaces that reflect the aesthetics, lifestyles, and needs of the present moment. Contemporary spaces are designed to be highly functional, with a focus on practicality and usability. Furniture and layouts often prioritizes comfort and efficiency. It values aesthetics and visual appeal. It often features clean lines, a harmonious colour palette, and a sense of balance and proportion.

What does contemporary style look like?

Contemporary style is characterised by a sense of simplicity and sophistication. It values a clutter-free environment, where each element has a purpose and contributes to the overall harmony of the space. While the colour palette tends to be neutral, contemporary spaces often incorporate textural contrast through materials like glass, metal, wood, and stone. Textured textiles like wool or silk may be used for upholstery or area rugs.

What materials are used in the contemporary style?

The contemporary interior design incorporates a variety of materials that emphasise clean lines, simplicity, and a sense of space. Metals like stainless steel, chrome, and nickel are often used for fixtures, furniture legs, and appliances. These materials add a sleek and polished look to contemporary spaces. Glass is a prominent material, often used for large windows, sliding doors, and tabletops. It allows natural light to flood into the space and creates a sense of openness. Wood is used for flooring, cabinetry, and furniture. In contemporary design, you'll often find light-coloured woods like maple, birch, or ash, or dark woods like walnut or ebony. Leather upholstery on furniture is common in contemporary interiors, adding a touch of luxury and comfort.

What kind of furniture is used in contemporary interior design?

Contemporary interior design favours furniture pieces that are sleek, clean-lined, and functional. These types of furniture typically feature clean, straight lines with minimal ornamentation. Neutral colour palettes, such as whites, blacks, greys, and browns, are prevalent. However, bold and contrasting colours can be used as accents. Contemporary furniture often incorporates a mix of materials. Common choices include metal (chrome, stainless steel), glass, wood (light or dark tones), and leather. These materials contribute to a sleek and modern appearance.

What are the key elements of contemporary style?

To create a contemporary look in your home you'll want to incorporate these key elements: colour, metal accents, texture, wood tone, and lighting. Contemporary design is typically offset by neutral colours.
share with: