Contemporary vs. Modern Design: What’s the Difference?

Contemporary and modern designs might seem synonymous to most people, but in reality, they’re not the same. It’s essential to know the difference between contemporary and modern styles. Once you understand the difference, it’ll be easier to plan and design your own interiors.

The problem is any dictionary will tell you that “modern and “contemporary” are synonyms. However, in the world of interior designing, these two terms refer to two distinct interior designs.

Today, we’re breaking down the differences between contemporary and modern interior design styles.

Contemporary Design

The contemporary style is always changing. It doesn’t refer to any specific time period. Initially, this design became popular in the 1970s, borrowing elements from both modernism and postmodernism. However, contemporary design gathered characteristics from other styles too.

Yet, contemporary design is continuously evolving and reflects the current trends and popular styles of the present day. Though contemporary is a broad design term, and it’s quite ambiguous in nature, but there are some qualities based on which we define the contemporary style.

Modern Design

The modern style, on the other hand, originally began in the very late 1800s, with the onset of the modernism movement. This design was birthed by the German Bauhaus schools of design, along with the Scandinavian design, with an emphasis on simplicity and function.

Generally, the modern decor style refers to the specific time period from the early to mid-twentieth century. The inception of modern style occurred at the peak of the modern art movement. This distinct style focuses on simple form and function.

Contemporary vs. Modern Style

Contemporary Style

  1. This style has many variations, but the spaces always have a distinctive bold starkness.
  2. The décor pieces are used in this style are ornamental and focus more on the aesthetic charm.
  3. This style features curves. For instance, furniture designs are curvier.
  4. The color palette is stricter and has lots of blacks and whites. The design favors contrasts. However, other colors like red, indigo, and orange can be used. Usually, pure and saturated tones are included.
  5. This design is more fluid as contemporary refers to “living at the moment.”

Modern Style

  1. This style is comparatively strict, but the spaces are not stark or cold. Instead, they’re full of natural and warm neutrals.
  2. The decor pieces always have a purpose and are functional.
  3. This design favors straight and strong lines that can be vertical or horizontal.
  4. The color palette includes naturals and neutrals. The colors in this design feature shades of rust, turquoise, greens, and brown.
  5. This design follows a strict format of minimalism, harmony, and balance, paired with crisp, clean lines.

But Wait! There are Similarities Too

  • The open space feel is common in contemporary and modern designs. Both have an airy and comfortable living space.
  • The aesthetics are minimal.
  • Both prefer a simple, clean, and uncluttered look as the use of ornate designs and heavy elements is avoided.
  • Furnishings like sofas, chairs, and ottomans have bare legs and slim bases.


Style your home the way you like with our exquisite home décor items. Head to our online store and discover all the items you need to design your interior.

Whether you prefer the Nordic style, modern style, or any other style, we can provide you the right items to create your desired interior design.

So, what are you waiting for?

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published