You have heard an interior decorating scheme referred to as “contemporary” and you’ve seen a “contemporary design” take shape on one of the decorating shows on HGTV and you may even have stepped into a home that the owner said was decorated in “contemporary design,” but you are still left with one big unanswered questions.
What does contemporary design mean?
If you are planning or would like to plan a remodeling or redecorating effort that ends with a contemporary design, what do you do? How do you go about creating a contemporary interior design when you don’t really quite understand the details of the larger pictures you’ve been shown by the designers on HGTV? Let’s start with colors.
The colors of a contemporary design focus primarily on the monochromatic. You want to blend some stark black and white with some less stark neutral colors like beige or brown. The idea behind the neutral color design of contemporary coloring is to foster a sense of well-being, security and comfort. Using these neutral colors also allows you to go a little more offbeat in the coloring of trim, accents and accessories. Don’t go too crazy, however. A few warm colors contrasting with some cool colors that don’t overwhelm the monochrome is what contemporary design shoots for.
The lines of contemporary design are clean and straight for the most part, but with the occasional gentle curve for a bit of variation. When it comes to actual furniture, look for chairs with exposed legs. Upholstery should be flat or equipped with box pleats. Accessories on the furniture should be next to nil. If you do accessorize, make the lines straight, make the colors complement the neutrals and be aware that contemporary design means eschewing fanciful covers and design; go for the boxy chair rather than the sleek chair.
Natural fabrics are contemporary. The fabrics at the top of the list include wool, cotton, linen and silk. Soft furnishings might include things like a brightly colored red throw over the sofa balanced with a vase of silk flowers on the table behind the sofa. If you wan to tread on the wild side of contemporary fabrics, you can introduce a leather and suede in minimal amounts. Add a chair upholstered with fake fur and you have gone about as far as you can in a contemporary design without moving into the neighborhood of Post-Modern.
Window treatments are one of the aspect of contemporary design that is easiest to fulfill. The best way to manage a window in contemporary design is with not treatment at all: just leave those windows uncovered. Failing this for one reason for another (privacy), contemporary window treatments can include bamboo shades, plain vertical blinds or simple drapes. The rods and finials should not draw attention; the plainer you can make your window, the more it fits into contemporary design.
The simple effect also goes into the creating a contemporary floor design. Go with low-pile carpeting that complements the neutral wall colors. Or you could go with old-fashioned hardwood. Wood is an essential element at some point in contemporary design and the floor is as good a place as any to bring it into the design. If the floor is too cold on your feet, contemporary design does allow for the placement of a throw rug here and there. Throw rugs are another place to walk the tightrope between contemporary and neo-contemporary. Your rugs can be of animal prints or feature vivid geometric designs.
Lighting a contemporary home means metal. Lots of it. The more metal you’ve got in your lighting design, the more contemporary it becomes. Look for either chrome or brushed nickel lighting fixtures. The lights themselves should not be bright and glaring, but rather cast a comforting patina over the entire room. Go for a mixture of track lights, and lamps to bathe the room in warm illumination.
When it comes to accessorizing a contemporary design, you want to stick with the geometry at work on the throw rugs and go for abstractions that follow your monochromatic lead. Black and white photographs of just about anything are suitable for the contemporary design. Abstract metal sculptures are an effective touch. The dining room should serve food on square plates on a shiny black dining table using highly polished silverware that features a simple decorative design. Put up a Japanese print of a white tiger if you have also gone with the faux fur chair and the animal print rug.