Contemporary Vs. Modern Home Styles
Michelle Giorlando3-minute read
September 07, 2022
If you’re into home decor styles or architecture, you’ve likely run into the terms “contemporary” and “modern” to describe home styles. While these words mean the same thing in most contexts, in the world of design and style, they have slightly different nuances.
Let’s look at the definitions of contemporary vs. modern home styles and what design and architecture factors contribute to each of them.
What Is The Difference Between Contemporary And Modern Home Styles?
In most situations, the terms “contemporary” and “modern” can be used interchangeably since both can mean “present day.” In the world of design, though, they mean two different things:
- Contemporary design expresses what’s currently popular and trending in the interior design world, and is an overarching term of different design styles
- Modern design is a single style type and embraces the specific period of the early-to-mid-20th
So, contemporary design is ever-evolving and modern design has a specific look and feel to it. Let’s take deeper dive into both.
What Is Contemporary Design?
Due to the nature of its definition, contemporary design is ever-changing with what is popular in current architectural style and interior design.
Overall, contemporary designs tend to have open floor plans, clean lines, natural light and neutral color palettes. These consistent aspects of this aesthetic are a perfect blank slate to add in other design elements like modern farmhouse, boho and art deco. While some contemporary designs are similar to the modern style, contemporary design can mix many different design styles beyond the modern framework. If it’s trendy, it’s contemporary!
Like it’s interior decor style, contemporary architecture mixes different elements to make a visually stunning impact. Asymmetry, lots of glass and eco-friendly materials are often used in contemporary architecture. These homes and buildings trend toward open spaces and multi-use areas, and often pull in nature with big picture windows to maximize outdoor spaces. Prominent contemporary architects include Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, I.M. Pei and Norman Foster.
What Is Modern Design?
While contemporary design is of the current moment, modern design is inspired by the early to mid-20th century, right around the 1920s – 1970s. A very popular subset of this design style is called midcentury modern, which is inspired by the 1950s and 1960s. After the grandeur and maximalism of the early 1900s designs, modern style evolved to have a minimalist design. This is accented by clean asymmetrical lines, and values function over fashion, although modern style is fashionable in its own right! Despite its minimalist designs, modern design isn’t boring. The unique curves and simplicity of design draw the eye to things like wood grain – it’s simple but not dull! There are also fun pops of patterns with a mid-century flair, such as the space-age retro-future look.
Some functions of modern style are carried over into contemporary style. For example, open floor plans where the living room and dining room flow into each other are a facet of modern design, a big change from the closed-off rooms of previous home designs.
Modern-style architecture in homes is represented by elements that provide function for its occupants. It also includes geometric shapes, lots of large glass windows and sharp angles and lines. Nature is also hugely present in modern architecture. Modern architecture is an evolution of the Art Deco and Arts and Crafts movements that came in the early 20th century. Notable modern architects include Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Contemporary Vs. Modern Homes: Which One Is Right For You?
When choosing a house style, it’s important to pick the style that resonates the most with you. If the tenets of contemporary and modern fit what you’re looking for, then that can help you narrow down your home search.
To further refine your search for your dream home there are subtle differences such as:
If you prefer function over a lot of ornamentation, then a modern house will be a better fit. This style embodies a minimalist, clean look. Think lots of wood, streamlined furniture, big windows, less clutter and fewer patterns.
If you’re more into mixing styles and form over function, then a contemporary home might fit your lifestyle better. This style is trendier and tends to feel warmer. It’s a great way to stay up to date on home fashions and to mix and match aspects of décor from different styles.
If you’re buying a home, you can help your real estate agent find the style you’re looking for by being very specific on what you want, especially because contemporary and modern styles share similarities.
The Bottom Line
Though contemporary design and modern design styles share a lot of facets, they’re different in many ways, the main one being that contemporary is of the current time, and modern is firmly in the middle of last century. Are you interested in either kind of home? You can start the approval process if you’ve finally found the perfect style home or if you want to be ready when you do!
Viewing 1 - 3 of 3
12 Best Interior Home Design And Room Decorating Apps In 2022
Planning a home design project? Explore our guide to the best user-friendly interior design apps for testing your design ideas on your mobile device or desktop.
Top 15 Pinterest-Inspired Home Decor Trends To Watch Out For
These 15 Pinterest-inspired home decor trends will take your space to the next level. Browse our list and get your next big home project idea!