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Often I hear the descriptive terms modern and contemporary used interchangeably, but the definitions of each are actually very different. It may cause confusion when people define their style or search for furniture and or other household items.  So here’s the break down!

Lets start with defining modern style in the context of interior decorating and design. It refers to a style of architecture and furniture that emerged in the mid-century, reaching its peak in the 1950s.  True modern art and furniture were made in the mid-century decades.  During this time art and design took on a new form, breaking the traditional style of the time, hence the term modern was coined.  The design is characterized by natural material like teak, leather, and linen upholstery with clean lines that are sleek, long, and low to the floor.  The furniture is often mounted on legs that are thin giving it the appearance of being open and airy.  Other materials that are popular in the modern design are molded plywood, white and clear plastics, along with metal.  A true modern interior would consist of neutral tones such as cream, white and brown.  Walls tend to be white and floor coverings tend to be neutral.  Although true modern has an appreciation for neutral tones, color does exist but tends to be very isolated, limited to one piece of furniture, a piece of art or a sculpture.  The most common colors used are pops of primary colors such as blue, red, orange, and yellow.

Contemporary, on the other hand, is “of the moment.”  Contemporary interior decorating and design exist in the here-and-now. What is contemporary today is vintage tomorrow, because it only exist “of the day”.  Contemporary is a changing term. Unlike modern interiors which tend to have a cold minimalist feel, todays contemporary interiors are welcoming and comfortable.  There are fewer rules with contemporary design, you are free to use color and pattern.  Often times the two styles are mixed.  You may see the combination of a brand new couch, paired with a mid-century modern coffee table, accented with a vintage armchair, all of which is strategically place on top of hat killer Indian rug you couldn’t resist buying! We tend to call this eclectic contemporary!

( Photos: The Designer Pad, Miluccia, Sarah Frances Dias, Pinterest)
For more design inspiration check out our Pinterest page!

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