What Is The Difference Between Modern And Contemporary Interior Design

by Sneha Virmani | January 10, 2024 | 4 mins read

Modern vs contemporary interior design

Is there a difference between modern and contemporary interior design? Read on to know what’s trending and what’s not.

The difference between modern and contemporary interior design might be a smudge for you because the dictionary defines them as synonyms. But for home decor enthusiasts and interior design professionals, the two words refer to distinct design styles. Modernist styles blossomed in the early 20th century, while contemporary surged around the 80s and 90s. While both design styles lean towards minimalism, modern has elements of function and contemporary works with bright colours and elegant materials.

How do you tell the two designs apart? Unless it’s a teak wood derry armchair lined with a luscious layer of linen oozing sparks of understated elegance to your living room, a chair is a chair. If you’re in a dilemma of modern vs contemporary design, let’s delve deeper and help you create a home that caters to your preference.

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What Is Modern vs Contemporary Interior Design?

Modern interiors stem from the mid-century design style era with an emphasis on function. Architecture and design influenced by the modern art movement have traces of the strong natural colours and the popular art deco style. Today modern homes include revolutionised materials with warm tones to subdue the space. 

On the other hand, contemporary design represents the ongoing trends and how you choose to incorporate them into your home. Though it has borrowed elements from modern designs, contemporary is an ever-evolving style. It is not rooted in any single period, making it a more fluid choice for owners who want to incorporate pieces of the past and present. With today’s technological advances, contemporary homes are unique style statements that reflect multiple architectural styles. From eco-friendly sustainable designs to using recycled materials, here’s how you can choose elements from these similarly dissimilar interior designs:

Modern vs contemporary interior design differs in terms of design trends
Nature-inspired pieces elevate the vibe of the home

What Are Modern Interior Styles?

One key difference between modern and contemporary design is the materials used within the home. Since the inception of modern design took place during the 1900s, the design leans towards natural materials, focusing on simple and functional forms. To create a home inspired by modern elements, you need to think of earthy palettes with furniture and furnishings made from materials like wood and stone. 

Since modern designs prefer natural materials, home interiors inspired by this style have a lot of warm earthy hues. White walls exude a calm to the space, while colours like brown, cream, and grey, with a touch of olive and turquoise, are commonly used. You can incorporate elements of modern luxury into different rooms of your home.

Modern interior style leans towards natural materials, focusing on simple and functional forms
Streamlined silhouettes emphasise elegant modern design styles

What are Contemporary Interior Styles? 

Contemporary vs modern home design is separated by a fine line that is often blurred with confusion. Contemporary design styles rose to popularity in the 1970s after gathering pieces from other styles like futurism, deconstructivism, art deco, and more. So when incorporating contemporary elements into your home, there is no specific period to bind your choices. Take the plunge and opt for the latest designs trending in the market now.

Contemporary interior style incorporates futurism, deconstructivism, art deco, and more
A plush abstract chair lends a zing to the contemporary interior design of the room

Which Design Style Is Better?

Contemporary has a more fluid definition that is hard to pin down to elements. With aesthetics that break norms with what’s happening at this very moment, contemporary styles adapt to state-of-the-art materials like plastic, glass, and metal to their designs. Another stark difference between modern and contemporary interior designs is their characteristics. While modern originates from an era, contemporary is fairly ambiguous owing to changing consumer trends. Clean organic silhouettes mixed with materials like chrome with natural textures like rattan or jute are prominent characteristics of the ongoing contemporary trend.

Comparison of modern and contemporary design styles. Which is better?
Spruce up your home with a contemporary rattan swing
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Modern Or Contemporary?

We cannot pick between the two most unique interior design styles that are similarly dissimilar. Modern style suits homeowners who appreciate warm, natural colours for a space that revolves around a singular theme. 

While contemporary homeowners like the trend, prefer to stay on top of current trends and are willing to redecorate their place with time.

Modern and contemporary both have most unique interior design styles that are similarly dissimilar
Start with a small wall to enliven your space

To summarise the debate between contemporary interior design vs modern, both these styles are beautiful when you give your home the love and care it deserves. If you are still unsure about which one is for you, give us a shout-out to us at DesignCafe, and we’ll help you decorate your safe space with elements suited to your needs and budget. 

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Sneha is a content writer at designcafe

Sneha Virmani

Sneha Virmani Gupta is a content creator and strategist. She writes about design trends, marketing ideas, growth hacks, and consumer behaviour to help brands create a more engaging relationship with their audiences.

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