Contemporary style decor has become increasingly popular in recent years for its sleek, modern aesthetic. If your personal style is contemporary, your home is likely minimally decorated with a focus on functionality and subtle artistic details. You probably opt for clean lines, neutral colors, natural materials and an open layout to create a soothing, uncluttered environment.

Contemporary style strikes the perfect balance between classic and current trends. It manages to feel new and fresh without being too bold or avant-garde. If you’re drawn to contemporary decor, read on to learn more about how to implement this look in your own home.

Defining Contemporary Style

Contemporary style is all about clean lines, neutral color palettes, natural materials and functionality. There is an emphasis on open spaces and natural lighting. Furniture and decor elements tend to be minimalist with little to no ornamentation. The overall goal is to create a soothing, tranquil environment.

Some key elements of contemporary decor include:

  • Neutral Color Scheme – Stick to neutral colors like white, beige, gray and black. Pops of color can be added sparingly through accessories or artwork.
  • Natural Materials – Natural materials like wood, leather, cotton and wool are commonly used in contemporary style. Metals like steel, chrome and aluminum are also popular.
  • Simple Furnishings – Look for furniture with simple, clean lines and little to no detailing. Avoid ornate or heavily carved pieces.
  • Functionality – Contemporary decor prioritizes function over form. Pieces must serve a practical purpose while maintaining a sleek aesthetic.
  • Open Layout – Contemporary floor plans revolve around open concept living. Barriers between rooms are eliminated and spaces flow into one another.
  • Ample Lighting – Abundant natural lighting and simple lighting fixtures help create brightness and openness.
  • Minimal Accessories – Accessories are kept minimal to avoid clutter. Emphasis is on complementing the space, not filling it.
  • Texture – Natural textures like wood grain, leather, steel and wool add tactile interest to simple contemporary rooms.

With these key principles in mind, you can easily transform your home into a contemporary oasis.

The History of Contemporary Style

Contemporary style grew out of the modernist and mid-century modern movements of the early-to-mid 1900s. It embraces simplicity in design that developed during these eras, but with a softer and more accessible sensibility.

Mid-Century Modern Roots

Many contemporary furniture and accessory pieces reflect mid-century modern aesthetics. Mid-century modern also emphasized clean lines and functionality but often had more colorful, playful accents. Contemporary style takes the bones of mid-century modern and renders it in a more subdued, neutral palette.

Influence of Modernism

Like modernism, contemporary style focuses on natural materials and neutral colors. However, contemporary is less austere and rigid. It allows for softer lines and more personal touches than strict modernism.

Blending Modern and Traditional

Contemporary incorporates modern and minimalist elements but often includes nods to traditional styles as well. It finds a harmony between current and classic design. The blend of traditional forms with modern materials and colors is the essence of contemporary style.

Evolving for Today

Contemporary style continues to evolve with the times. As new materials and trends emerge, they get incorporated seamlessly into the contemporary repertoire. As a style, it manages to always feel fresh and current while remaining timeless.

Creating a Contemporary Living Room

The living room is often the heart of the home where family and friends gather. For contemporary style devotees, the living room should feel tranquil and uber-chic. Follow these tips when designing a contemporary living room:

Select Seating

Choose seating with angular frames or clean, squared lines. Low, deep seats with down filling create a cozy yet contemporary vibe. Go for neutral upholstery like tan leather, light gray linen or cream tweed. Make sure pieces feel streamlined versus overstuffed. Add a sheepskin throw and lumbar pillow for texture.

Include End Tables

Flank sofas with sleek end tables in wood, glass, marble or metal. Opt for end tables with shelf space to hold books and accessories. Circular end tables also work well for contemporary style. Just be sure they have thin legs versus ornate heavy bases.

Choose a Coffee Table

Like end tables, look for coffee tables with slim legs and a transparent top material like glass or acrylic. Metal, marble and wood are ideal base materials. Avoid heavily carved detailing. Keep surfaces clutter-free and top with decor books, a vase of flowers or ceramic accent pieces.

Add Lighting

For ambient lighting, install recessed lighting in the ceiling along with track lighting to illuminate dark corners. Sleek floor lamps and sculptural table lamps will provide additional task lighting options. Opt for shades in neutral linen, paper or silk.

Incorporate Rugs

Anchoring the space with oversized area rugs is key. Wool, jute, sisal and seagrass are fitting fibers for contemporary rugs. Layer a few for visual interest. Neutral colors like beige, gray and ivory suit the color palette.

Display Art

Fill walls with a thoughtful mix of framed prints, photographs and paintings. Black and white abstract art sets a contemporary tone. Limit pieces to one or two focal points versus cluttering surfaces. Lean art against walls in addition to hanging for chic nonchalance.

The living room should feel inviting yet orderly. Because contemporary style avoids clutter and favors openness, be sure to purge excess furniture and accessories that disrupt the tranquil atmosphere.

The Contemporary Kitchen

Kitchens have become the showpiece room of many modern homes. For contemporary kitchens, the principles of sleek lines, muted palettes, natural materials and openness still apply. Follow these guidelines when planning your contemporary kitchen design:

Select Cabinetry

Opt for streamlined slab-front cabinets in a neutral wood tone, matte lacquer or high-gloss paint. Door fronts should be spare with no ornamental hardware. Drawers and cabinets should have a simple recessed pull versus prominent knobs.

Choose Countertops

Quartz, marble, concrete, butcher block and laminate (like Formica) make smart contemporary countertop choices. Keep colors neutral like white, gray, black and beige. Add interest via pronounced veining and patterns.

Pick Sink and Faucet

Undermount rectangular sinks maintain clean sightlines along countertops. Look for sinks in stainless steel or porcelain with minimal styling. For the faucet, select a high arc gooseneck design in brushed nickel, chrome or matte black.

Style Backsplash

While bold patterned backsplashes are trendy, conventional contemporary backsplashes are neutral. Think white subway tile, beige ceramic brick or slate tile. Modern interpretations can include hints of subtle color or metallic accents.

Incorporate Lighting

Use recessed ceiling lights for ambient brightness paired with sleek pendants or track lighting over key areas. Opt for bell or cylinder shaped glass pendants in chrome or brushed nickel. Light wood shelving for an additional glow.

Choose Appliances

Pick standard sized appliances in stainless steel or charcoal colored finishes. Built-in, integrated appliances maintain a streamlined appearance. Include contemporary touches like induction cooktops and wine refrigerators.

Add Open Shelving

Open shelves keep items visible and accessible. Stash less attractive appliances in closed lower cabinets. Display decor, dishes and glassware artfully on open shelving built from wood planks or steel pipes. Keep styling minimal.

A contemporary kitchen impresses with understated elegance. Use a neutral color palette, natural materials and quality finishes for timeless style that also feels fresh and current.

Creating a Contemporary Bedroom Retreat

Bedrooms in contemporary homes provide a relaxing, zen-like retreat away from busy modern life. Follow these tips when designing a contemporary style bedroom:

Select a Serene Color Palette

Stick with soft neutral wall colors like pale gray, beige, cream and light blue-gray. White walls keep the space feeling airy and bright. Reserve bolder color for throw pillows, blankets and artwork for contrast.

Choose Flooring

Hardwood with a natural stain, wide plank floors or dark laminate flooring give contemporary bedrooms a grounded feel. Wool area rugs with simple patterns add softness and warmth. Tile floors work in warm climates.

Add the Bed

Upholstered platform beds keep lines low and sleek. Look for tapered wood or metal splayed legs. Look for tufted, buttonless headboards. Opt for bedding in linen or cotton with subtle patterns and piping.

Include Nightstands

Flank the bed with streamlined nightstands. Opt for open cubby-style nightstands versus pieces with drawers. Metals, glass, marble or wood suit the aesthetic. Keep surfaces decluttered and top with a modern lamp.

Dress Windows

Floor to ceiling curtains create a serene backdrop. Choose panels made of linen, cotton, wool or silk in white, ivory or light gray. Hang high and wide for drama. Add softening sheer panels behind.

Incorporate Seating

Benches and slipper chairs at the foot of the bed provide landing spots. Upholster chairs in the same fabric as curtains for unity. Add a cowhide rug for interest. Floating shelves make a perfect book nook.

Limit Clutter & Accessories

Edit out visual clutter to keep the space calming. Stash most accessories in closets and drawers. Pick a few handcrafted accent pieces for shelves like pottery or carved wood bowls.

The ideal contemporary bedroom provides an escape from the stimulation and busyness of everyday responsibilities. Aim for a hotel-like feel with plush bedding, serene colors and minimal clutter.

Decorating a Contemporary Bathroom

Bathrooms may be small, but they still deserve your design attention. Give your bathroom contemporary flair using the following strategies:

Select Surfaces

Keep wall tile neutral like white subway, beige or gray stone mosaic. Add drama and height with large format tile. Choose quartz or porcelain for countertops. Pick wide-plank wood or porcelain floors.

Style with Metals

Brushed gold, matte black, chrome and nickel finishes lend contemporary edge. Use for faucets, showerheads, lighting and accessories. Avoid ornate metals.

Choose Plumbing

Look for wall-mounted or floating vanities and toilets that have a streamlined, built-in appearance. Select rectangular or oval undermount sinks. Get drawer-style cabinetry for hidden storage.

Illuminate Properly

Shower in brightness with ample recessed ceiling lights, vanity strip lighting and modern wall sconces. Light up mirrors for grooming.

Add Patterning

Use pattern subtly in towels, shower curtains and rugs. Modern graphic prints, subtle plaids and organic shapes enhance the contemporary vibe.

Limit Accessories

Avoid cluttering surfaces. Pick just a few sleek canisters for cotton balls and toiletries. Use trays and containers to corral items. Add one dynamic piece of wall art.

Create Openness

Clear shower curtains maintain an airier aesthetic versus heavy shower curtains. Floating wood shelves provide open storage. A glass sink base opens up small spaces.

The right mix of materials, metals and minimal accessories keeps bathroom decor contemporary and calming. Focus on high-impact tile, abundant lighting and decluttered surfaces.

Incorporating Contemporary Style Outside

Your contemporary design aesthetic needn’t end at the front door. Bring contemporary chic outdoors by adapting your decor approach for porches, patios and pools.

Outdoor Living Rooms

Group sleek outdoor seating like modular sofas and suspended chairs. Choose cushions in weather-resistant fabrics like canvas, sunbrella and performance knits. Add a contemporary outdoor rug. Opt for streamlined side and coffee tables.

Al Fresco Dining Spaces

Dine contemporary outdoors with wood plank tables on iron bases. Mix in molded plastic or metal chairs. Use an oversized patterned bowl for a centerpiece. String galvanized metal or rattan pendant lights overhead.

Poolside Chic

Poolside design is all about relaxation. Place teak chaise lounges in a row by the pool. Add rectangular side tables for drinks and books. Use potted palms and agave for landscaping. Keep towels and supplies in frosted glass containers.

Outdoor Kitchens

Create an outdoor kitchen with modular cabinetry fronts in fiber cement, laminate or stainless steel. Include a built-in grill, bar area and stone kitchen island on casters. Use outdoor wicker barstools. Install an outdoor rated ceiling fan overhead.

Patio Perfection

Build a contemporary patio with sleek poured concrete or linear flagstone. Choose modern angular patio furniture. Add a rectangular firepit and elegant al fresco chandelier overhead. Potted grasses, ferns and blooming plants provide pretty landscaping.

Don’t reserve contemporary just for inside. Continue your pared down, modern aesthetic into outdoor areas for resort-worthy relaxation.

FAQs About Achieving Contemporary Style

How do I decorate a contemporary living room on a budget?

Focus first on buying key foundational pieces like a sleek sofa, coffee and side tables. Then layer in budget-friendly accents over time like throw pillows, curtain panels, area rugs and wall art. Don’t feel like you need to furnish the whole space at once. Build it gradually and keep embellishments minimal.

What colors work best in contemporary style spaces?

A neutral color palette is crucial for contemporary design. Stay mainly in the white, gray, brown, black and beige families. For pops of color, add muted blues, greens and blush pinks in accessories and artwork. Avoid bright, saturated colors.

How do I transition my traditional bedroom to contemporary style?

First, remove ornate furnishings like four-poster beds, heavily carved nightstands and frilly bedding. Replace with sleek upholstered beds, acrylic lighting and unembellished linen bedding. Paint walls a light neutral. Add in mineral accents like ceramic bowls and woven baskets. Remove heavy window treatments.

Should my contemporary home only use modern pieces?

Not necessarily. You can blend contemporary and vintage pieces beautifully. The key is to stick with clean-lined vintage pieces like Mid-century Modern furnishings. Avoid vintage items with elaborate detailing. The mix looks current while adding character.

How do I make a small space feel contemporary?

In addition to a neutral color scheme, maximize light and space. Use reflective surfaces like glass and mirrored accents to brighten. Float furniture off the floor using legs versus a base. Raise curtain rods high and wide. Keep furnishings streamlined and multipurpose. Declutter vigorously.

Is contemporary style trendy or timeless?

While contemporary style includes some trending elements like bright white decor, its foundation carries timeless appeal. Focus on flexible pieces in natural wood tones, adaptable color schemes and versatile fabrics. You can build on the basics through the years as trends come and go.

Pulling Off Contemporary Style

Contemporary style manages to feel both classic and current by blending the best elements of modern and traditional decor. The emphasis on clean lines, well-chosen textures and tranquil hues results in spaces that feel edited, designer-done and crisp.

As you employ more contemporary elements at home, avoid going too stark. Add in warmth through layers of down-filled sofas, woven textiles and occasional antique pieces. Contemporary design shouldn’t feel impersonal or too austere. Tailor it to your personality by mixing in book collections, travel mementos and artwork in your personal style.

Most importantly, embrace quality over quantity when selecting furnishings and accessories. Contemporary style relies on exquisitely crafted items that stand the test of time versus fleeting fast home fashion. Invest in staple pieces made from 1natural materials by reputable brands. Then incorporate new decorative accents sparingly each season to refresh your space.

With a meticulously edited mix of classic and current pieces, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a contemporary haven that feels anything but cold or clinical. Your home will impress guests with an underlying glamour that manages to feel both elegant and inviting.