If you are looking for something warmer than the edgy, clean lines of modern design, but tassels and trims aren’t quite your jam either then contemporary style might be for you! Most of our projects these days fall into the contemporary design category. We find our clients are drawn to the cleanliness and simplicity of modern design, but still want something that feels comfortable, lived-in, homey without feeling chintzy. And that’s where contemporary design comes in. It’s a perfect marrying of the two sensibilities.

How to Achieve Contemporary Style in 5 Steps

1. Choose a Distinctive Design Style and Stick to It

Contemporary design actually refers to a family of design styles. From mid century modern to clean coastal, contemporary design is comprised of styles from the later half of the 20th century up to now. When you start mixing and matching, you start veering away from contemporary style and into something more eclectic. That can look awesome too, especially if you want something more bohemian. Of course there are no hard and fast rules, but if it’s that sleek, cleanliness you’re going for, it’s important to pick one and commit to it.

2. Keep Lines Clean, and Minimal, But be Sure to Soften the Space

Even though curves have been trending, (and we love them!) they’re still not the norm just yet. You’re still far more likely to see clean, straight lines, especially in contemporary design. That is by design, for a couple of reasons: On the one hand, fabricating furniture with straight lines, rather than curves makes them sturdier unless, of course, you jump up in price point. So there is always going to be the economic motivator driving the popularity of the clean line aesthetic. Another reason: Aesthetically, it is intuitive and practical – you can follow a pathway by a couch marked by a straight line, rather than curving around. The quickest way to get from A to B is with a straight line, afterall. Now when we say clean, sleek lines, often we think about ultra modern, cold interiors, but in a contemporary space, we’re actively fighting against that feeling. Warm it up with layers and textures, soft materials.

Contemporary Style in san diego home designed by celebrity interior designer Lori Dennis

3. Keep Color Palettes Simple and Concise

While there are never any hard and fast rules, we like a soft, monochromatic palette to emphasize the simplicity of the space. There are other ways to make a statement aside from the larger furnishings. Aside from the occasional geometric pattern, this isn’t the place to go wild with pattern and print, wallpaper and poppy shag carpets.

California Cool Monochromatic Living Room with Pool Table contemporary design

4. Let Statement Lighting, Art, and Architectural Details Do The Talking

Symmetry and geometric shapes are signature essentials in a contemporary space. A great way to infuse your space with symmetry and geometry is with statement lighting (think: chandeliers and Mid century lighting in pairs), wall art, and architectural details. In the kitchen, for example, we’re seeing an uptick in popularity in counter-to-ceiling backsplashes with three-dimensional, geometric tile.

LORI DENNIS FLORES AZURE HEX CERAMIC TILE

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5. Edit, Edit, Edit

The secret to contemporary design is that it looks very easy, breezy, simple, but getting to that place is a real test in willpower: I implore you to choose just 5 pieces of furniture for your space and make it work using only those. This is a great design exercise to challenge your creativity and will help you maintain that cleanliness in the long run. Every piece of furniture you use should feel inviting – and should actually be used! In contemporary style you won’t find a lot of lone accent chairs in an entryway (who’s sitting there all by themselves?) or wallpapered coat closets. Contemporary design takes a less is more approach that forces you to get creative!

Contemporary Design monochromatic living room in santa monica