Contemporary Interior Design Style Guide

Contemporary interior design is one of the most common styles because it takes the elegance and comfort of traditional style and presents it in a more modern and updated way.

Instead of feeling too sophisticated and fancy, contemporary decor takes traditional style and makes it more casual and updated which is why you'll often hear the word contemporary style and traditional modern style used interchangeably.

Of course to ensure you don't go too far in any one direction with traditional modern style there are key elements you'll want to look for so it's important to know what makes contemporary home decor unique and know if this decorating style fits with the style you want in your home.


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What Does Contemporary Mean Exactly?

A contemporary style home is traditional in style but with a more modern twist.

You'll hear the term contemporary decor used often so it may seem that it's a really broad term, but I assure you, contemporary home decor has unique style elements that can easily create a really inviting look and feel.

What is a Contemporary Interior Design Style?

A Contemporary interior design style is the same as modern traditional decor. The two terms are used interchangeably.

Traditional decor take cues from the 18th and 19th centuries and includes a lot of details that feel elegant like moldings, heavy window treatments, and tufting.

Compare that to modern decor which is simple with clean lines and little detail.

The mix of modern and traditional decor gives you a modern traditional style that includes that has some of the same intricate details, but they're done in a more streamlined way.

What Are The Features Of Contemporary Home Decor Style?

  • Contemporary interior design characteristics include details that mimic traditional decor but are more subtle.
  • Modern traditional furniture features softened or rounded lines to incorporate the curves you find in traditional style and the sharp edges you find in modern style.
  • There is a simplicity to modern contemporary interior design but with a focus on texture there's a warmth to it that you don't find in modern decor.
  • A contemporary color palette combines the soft neutral palette of traditional style with some bold color layered in.

Examples Of Contemporary Design Style

How traditional or modern your contemporary decorating style ends up is really up to you. It will really depend on the ratio of modern to traditional decor in your space.

This traditional contemporary living room is more traditional in the fact that there is a lot of symmetry, curves on the furniture, and heavy window coverings but is balanced out by furniture with clean lines.

traditional contemporary living roomPin

On the other hand this modern traditional living room has more modern elements at play with the high contrast color palette, clean lines on the furniture and asymmetrical furniture layout.

Of course it's balanced by some symmetry, moldings, and neutral tones.

modern traditional living roomPin

In this modern but traditional kitchen you'll see some detail on the cabinetry balanced out by a neutral color palette and clean lines.

modern but traditional kitchenPin

This contemporary kitchen has even less detail on the cabinetry and includes a lot of clean lines but it's balanced out by the more traditional backsplash.

contemporary kitchen with grey cabinetsPin

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How To Get a Contemporary Style

Because contemporary design borrows elements of different styles getting a traditional modern style is easy to achieve.

To start creating a contemporary style home you'll want to…

  • Keep details on moldings, paneling, and cabinetry subtle.
  • Look for furniture with clean lines but soft or rounded edges.
  • Keep the color palette neutral with a few bolder colors.
  • Look for opportunities to add texture on things like window coverings, toss pillows or throws, and rugs.

Here are some spaces in my own home with a contemporary interior design style:

A few of my favorite places to shop for contemporary home decor and furniture are:

To make it easy for you to get a contemporary design style, I've rounded up some of my favorite modern traditional decor finds from these stores and others.

Even though a contemporary interior design style is a mix of two styles, it's important to take it a step further and mix in more styles for an elevated look that really makes your home feel like you.

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