What’s the big difference between modern and contemporary design? It’s a question that plagues the minds of many. You might find yourself thinking, don’t the terms modern and contemporary basically mean the same thing? Aren’t they both current and minimal, void of color and filled with clean lines? While some of that may be true, the differences between the styles can also be as vast as night and day. So to help you out, we’ve put together this handy guide to distinguishing the sometimes confusing contrasts between modern and contemporary interior design.
By definition, “contemporary” refers to the period we’re living in at the moment, so this style has a bit more fluidity. A modern space tends to follow a strict format of balance, clean lines, and minimal decor.
COLOR: Despite the attention to minimalism, modern spaces aren’t usually cold or stark. They’re filled with plenty of warm and natural neutrals. Contemporary spaces, on the other hand, can have a bold starkness–think monochromatic black and white–but they also can swing all across the color wheel.
SHAPE & LINE: While modern design favors strong, straight lines, contemporary furniture can get a bit curvier.
“Less is more” could easily be the motto for both contemporary and modern design. Each style of space is typically simple and uncluttered, opting for smooth lines and a little dash of artistic panache. You can forget about seeing anything heavy or ornate in either. Both styles are calming and neutral with a focus on materiality. Think reflective surfaces, exposed woods, metals, and glass.
IN THE HOME