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Decorating in a Contemporary Style

Be Right Up to Date
Current, modern, of today, right now. If that sounds like you, then you might like a contemporary style of decorating.

While it's been thought that modern interiors are cold and minimalist, today's contemporary interiors are comfortable and welcoming without being cluttered and dark. It's a style that is equally appropriate for offices and stores, lofts and homes.

A contemporary home can be a quiet and comfortable retreat. To achieve the look of a contemporary home, it's important to stick to some basic rules.

Fundamentally, simplicity, subtle sophistication, texture and clean lines help to define contemporary decorating. Interiors showcase space rather than things. By focusing on color, space, and shape, contemporary interiors are sleek and fresh.

Learn about some more of the characteristics and elements of a contemporary style of decorating and how you might bring the look into each room of your home.
Color

Neutrals, black, and white are the main colors in contemporary interiors.

The palette is often punched up and accented with bright and bold color. Black is often used to ground and define a contemporary room. With walls painted in a basic neutral, you have a wonderful backdrop for bold colored accessories. If the walls and windows are painted in pastels, the trims should be neutral. If a wall is a bright, bold color, neutrals should be used everywhere else.

Line and Space
The most obvious and distinctive element of a contemporary interior design is line. It's found in architectural details, use of bold color blocks, high ceilings, bare windows, and geometric shapes in wall art and sculpture. The bare space, on walls, between pieces of furniture, and above in upper areas, becomes as important as the areas filled with objects. In contemporary interiors, less is more. Each piece stands out as individual and unique.

Take advantage of structural elements. Air ducts may hang from a ceiling, broken bricks provide texture and stability, and exposed plumbing pipes are perfectly acceptable. To draw the eye, paint these structural details in bold contrasting colors, or to diminish their importance, blend them with the walls.

Contemporary Furniture
Smooth, clean, geometric shapes are essential for furniture pieces. Upholstered furniture often wears black, white, or other neutral tones in textured natural fibers. Cover it in a neutral, black, or bold fabric. Fabrics often have a natural look (wool, cotton, linen, silk, jute) and add textural appeal.

Furniture pieces should be simple and uncluttered, without curves or decoration. Sofas, chairs, and ottomans have exposed legs. Beds and chairs usually have no skirt, trim, fringe, or tassels.

Pillows add a shot of color and texture in clean geometric shapes.

Keep in Mind

Use furniture and accessories to make a bold statement. Use a basic background and shout out with your favorite color on a piece that will stand out.

Less is more! No ruffles, cute, carved details, fringe, or floral prints. Abolish cute and small. Go basic, bare, bold, and structural.

Floors should be bare and smooth in wood, tile, or vinyl. If you must use carpet for sound control or warmth, choose commercial grades. Add color and texture with plain or geometric-patterned area rugs.

More Elements of Contemporary Decorating

Contemporary style decorating has distinct characteristics and elements that are evident. Read below for ways to incorporate some of those design elements into your interior space.

Generous use of metal, stone, and opaque or clear glass works well in a room decorated in a contemporary style. To soften and warm up the space, add heavily textured fabrics in plain colors for window treatments, pillows, or rugs.

While prints are usually avoided, as they confuse a plain space, two-tone prints work well. Think about a zebra print pillow on a black leather chair, a large leopard-print pillow thrown on a plain floor, or bold, heavily textured striped rug to anchor solid colored, sleek furniture.

Individual pieces are very important in a contemporary interior and lighting fixtures should be selected to focus on specific pieces.

Each light fixture could be a work of art itself with sculptural details and clean lines. Add color and metallic elements on the light fixtures.

To draw the eye to wall art, use spotlights or can lighting directed at a painting, poster, or print.

Track lighting and recessed lighting help to wash a wall in light. In home renovations or new construction, consider installing cove lighting or indirect light.

Sculptures or art on a stand can be placed at eye level by using a structural column or pedestal. Again, be sure the piece is well-lighted.

Don't clutter the room with collections or too many pieces. Open space is just as, if not more, important as the pieces you put in the space.

Plants and flowers should be large and dramatic in simple containers. Large blooms with interesting leaves work better than small arrangements. If space allows, place upward focusing lights around a large plant on the floor. Keep the arrangements neat with rocks or bark chips arranged over the dirt.

Frames in high-gloss or matte black, natural wood, or metal finishes are great for artwork. If you must put several pieces together, hang them close together so they give the feeling of one large piece instead of many small pieces.

In a dining room, keep dinnerware contemporary, too. There are a number of geometric shapes, bold colors, and interesting styles available. Bring in texture with silverware, napkins, placemats and centerpieces.



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