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Contemporary Design 101

Contemporary styled designs and living spaces draw upon various styles that have come to define the second half of the twentieth century. Quite often, furniture styles feature softer lines than what is traditionally seen in Modern design, but still maintain a sleek, clean and economic aesthetic., economic referring to efficiently designed pieces that are free from unnecessary elements or gaudy ornamentation. Spaces incorporate a single bold color against neutral bases of white and tan earth tones, usually with black accents. A room or property that is designed in the Contemporary style is well organized, open, and features a limited color palette.


Contemporary Designs

Contemporary design encompasses and expands upon minimalism, Frank Lloyd Wright's revolutionary modern living designs, Asian and European aesthetic and often incorporates older furniture or objects. Contemporary design usually involves technological elements as well. It is the style of the twenty-first century and while it is multicultural and simplified, there are some tricks to getting that look.

  • Architectural Terms: These terms help consumers on the same page as designers. Learn the lingo used by industry professionals to improve design outcomes.
  • Modern and Contemporary Interiors: A visual resource of great examples of Modern and Contemporary Designs.



Contemporary interior colour is recognisable for its simple tone on tone palettes. Whites and earth tones, specifically browns dominate the space. Bursts of bright colour liven up a room in limited capacities. Often specific elements or objects are in colour, such as a lighting fixture, a rug, and art pieces. A single wall may even be painted an accent colour, given that there isn't too much of the colour in the rest of the room. Colour is not the main focus of Contemporary design. It is an important aspect, but keep in mind not to overdo it. 

  • Decorator Secrets: A guide to choosing colours that will help any space achieve the right mood. Colour not only affects the furniture and rugs that are chosen, but it can affect pulse rate, and energy levels.
  • Universal Color Language: Colour index with corresponding numerical codes established by the United States Department of Commerce's National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and the Inter-Society Colour Council (ISCC).



Slim yet strong silhouettes are a main feature of furniture for this style. Pieces should be free of adornment or carving, the stress being on the expertly crafted design of each piece. Furniture is made of wood, stainless steel, nickel, chrome or even glass. Typical woods tend to be light, and are quite often birch or maple. These woods tend to have less grain than oak or pine, and this is essential for keeping the attention on the design and not on the wood grain. Plastics should be avoided unless another alternative is not possible.

  • Apartment Spacing: Choosing furniture is one thing, figuring out where to put it is another. This guide provides ideas for effective furniture placement.
  • What is Contemporary Decorating: Take a look at furniture designs that are considered contemporary.



Staying in line with the furniture, the fabrics in the space should be made of natural fibers. Wool, silk, cotton and linen are great decisions because they have naturally neutral tones. Geometric patterns or bold colours can be brought in with a coordinating rug, pillows, window treatments or blankets.



Lighting design in Contemporary style is often approached as if the light and fixtures themselves are art. Sleek lines and elegant metals are used as the fixtures. Lamp shades can be stained glass (keep it within the modern aesthetic) or may even be a coloured shade. Creative placement of lights will accent the lines of the architecture and furniture, as well as provide light to work by. Recessed lighting maintains the overall simplicity to the room.

  • LED Colour Calculator: Sylvania provides tools and resources for choosing the best lighting possible.
  • Bedroom Lighting Guide: Tips and tricks for lighting the comfiest part of the house. Elle magazine offers creative ideas for lighting this essential room.


Further Resources

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