What_s the Difference Between Modern and Contemporary Interior Design

Modern and contemporary are two interior design styles that are often overlapped, confused, and misunderstood. However, in interior design, the two techniques are far from similar. So, what’s the difference between modern and contemporary styles? Modern refers to the design era of the 20s to the 70s. Function and form informed interior and furniture styles, including primary hues, bold lines, and warm woods. The modern techniques also embraced a sense of symmetry, balance, and comfort.

In contrast, contemporary is an interior design style of now and the future. It’s a style in flux; it changes as interior design ideas change. Cool hues, cutting-edge shapes, and updated finishes and materials underscore contemporary style making it trendy and ever-evolving. These are the distinctive features of modern and contemporary.

Furniture styles

Specific to the mid-20s, and with influences from the Art Deco styles, the modern design gave rise to the mid-century modern design, which embraces the idea of form following function and the notion of simple, functional furniture for the home. In contrast, contemporary design isn’t era-specific. It defines of-the-moment pieces and designs that echo the future. It combines several influences from global style to minimalism to Art Deco. However, neutral hues, organic elements, and sleek look define the contemporary design for the most part.

Colours and textures

In recent years, contemporary colour trends have shifted towards more vibrant pops of colour. Designers and homeowners alike are not interested in creating the usual white look in their homes. They are instead opting for blue interiors, black doors, and gold finishes. On the other hand, the modern design embraces hues of natural materials, such as stone, leather, wood, and metal. Large and bold patterns define the trendy contemporary design, while subdued, natural textures define the modern movement.


The contemporary design incorporates metals, glass, stones, and other materials easily complemented with wool, leather, and cotton used in furnishings. In contrast, modern design abounds in organics and naturals.

The modern style uses straight lines

Compared to the contemporary style that emphasizes the use of bold and curved lines, the modern style uses clean, straight lines. Contemporary homes utilize space and often feature open-plan layouts and natural light.

Knowing the difference between modern and contemporary design is one step towards creating a stunning living space. Whichever works for you, don’t forget to check Tylko’s guide to modern and contemporary styles for inspiration.