Contemporary Design 101: Everything You Need To Know

Contemporary Design 101: Everything You Need To Know

As many of my readers, the world of interior design is a breath of fresh air, two years ago I grew an interest in interior design. What I’ve learned along the way and what most people struggle with is telling apart the different interior styles/ design. Even designers who been in this industry for decades have trouble telling apart the different types of designs. 

If you ask me, all the different interior designs pretty much share quite a few characteristics and I believe that’s the main reason we tend to struggle to tell them apart.

Contemporary design is one of those designs that share similarities with other designs. Pinpointing it from the crowd can be difficult. Wondering what makes a room or design contemporary is actually quite common in the home design world.

After doing my research on this design, I’ve decided to make this post to help others and answer any questions they may have about this design. So keep reading and ill break down this design piece by piece. 

What Is Contemporary Design

In plain English, the word contemporary means “in the present time”. Contemporary design always evolves and changes. What we might consider contemporary today will not be contemporary in a few years. Defining contemporary can be difficult because of the constant changes. A great way to point out contemporary is by what’s trending, contemporary is pretty much the “trending design”.

This unique style became popular in the middle of the 20th century. Ever since then-contemporary has been a word used to describe the current trending home design. Unlike the other styles, contemporary is the only design that doesn’t refer to a particular period of time, every other design is set and stone but contemporary keep things fresh.

Minus the constant changes this design borrows a lot of its elements from the other designs such as modernism, art deco, minimalism, and futuristic design. What I love about contemporary is that it never focuses on a particular look it just goes with the flow.

Color Scheme

Neutral shades really highlight the unique hallmarks of contemporary design. You should use shades of grays, whites, and tan. These colors should make up the majority of your design if you truly want this style to pop. Using neutral shades has many benefits. It opens up the different routes you can take when decorating with accents, throw pillows and home accessories. 

As long as the bulk of your design consists of neutral shades, don’t be afraid to use bold colors on your accents, throw pillows, arts, and home decors. What do you mean by the bulk of your design? I’m referencing to the walls and large furniture such as sectionals. 

 What I really love about contemporary is that no one style fits all. It allows you to express your character as no other design can. If you want a flashy design you can go that route and if you like your design plain and simple that’s also an option.

Whatever route you decide to take. Just remember to add texture into the mix. What do I mean by texture? Have you ever walked into a room and it felt incomplete? You can’t really wrap your hand around what’s missing but you know and feel something is missing? Well, it was missing texture. The texture is basically the feel of the room. 

Contemporary Furniture

Contemporary furniture also shares elements from other designs such as modern design. It utilizes the simple clean lines of modernism to focus on comfort. Besides comfort here, a list of characteristics contemporary should have.

  • Chrome
  • Stainless steel
  • Shiny, reflective surfaces
  • Smooth wood
  • Frosted glass


Nothing brings out the elegance of contemporary design like Light does. Allowing light to flow through the room helps enhance this beautiful design. There are many forms of light, but primarily natural light is the way to go. Not only is it energy efficient but it’s also the easiest light to get access to. Put them windows to work, open them up and let the sunlight from outside pour through the room. If for some reason you don’t have windows there are other options you can use.

Accent light focuses on an area or object, you would use this lighting if you want to show off an art piece or artifact. Some commonly used accent lights are wall sconces, floodlights, and torchiere lamps

Task lighting is your assistant light, its a light used to make a certain task easier such as reading in the dark, and using the computer; it takes the tension out of your eyes. Some great examples of task light are reading lamps and desk lamps.

Ambient light can be referred to as natural light, such as light coming from the outdoors or the sun peeking through the windows pretty much any light that was not added.

I highly recommend using a mixture of these lights, never depend on just one type. Mainly because ambient light is not accessible 24/7, unfortunately, the sun needs to rest. Get creative and add flavor to your design with the different lights. Focus on getting fixtures that will complement the edgy, clean line of your furniture and your shiny surfaces. 

Form Comes First

contemporary design

Normally when setting up a new design for your home,  your main objective should be making sure functionality comes first. However, when it comes to contemporary functionality comes second and form comes first. Out of all the design styles, contemporary design is the only design that places form over functionality. I highly advise making form your main priority when taking on this design, because form is the foundation of this unique design and is what sets this design apart from the other designs.

What exactly is “form” when referring to home design? The form is basically the overall shape of the design. Most designs have clean, sleek, straight lines. Contemporary, On the other hand, mix things up using both straight lines and unique curved lines. Curved lines were first introduced in the art deco style. Like I mention before contemporary design borrows elements from other design styles to create its unique look.

When designing this style you should implement these breathtaking lines in your home. Try to mix them up in a variety of ways, this is the time to let your creativity shine. You can use architectural elements such as a fireplace, built-in wall units. If your home doesn’t come with a fireplace you can get a realistic-looking electric fireplace on amazon. While those items are recommended its certainly not needed you can substitute them for curved furniture and home decors.


After reading this post I hope you have a better understanding of contemporary design. Contemporary design is referred to as the trending design if you revisit this post lets say a few years from now the examples and pictures I shared throughout this post will not be an accurate representation of contemporary design.

Contemporary design incorporates the best elements from the different design styles to create its unique look. This is why this design has many fans. This style literally fits every lifestyle. There are many routes you can take if you decide to go with a contemporary look. Use this post as a reference when decorating your home.