The biggest challenge people face when they hire an interior designer is using the right vocabulary to describe their interior design style and define their personal tastes. There’s a hefty list of design styles out there, and for most homeowners, the finish they want in their room doesn’t squarely belong to just one style, but actually combines elements of different styles.
This article is for the homeowners who are thinking about renovating their interior space, would like to hire a designer, or simply want to articulate their tastes and preferences during a conversation without referring to a TV show or obscure references.
First: Contemporary design and modern design are two different interior design styles – modern design refers to an era that has passed; contemporary design refers to the design trends of today and what is expected of the near future. The most popular modern design era is the mid-century modern era of the 1950s and 1960s. But Art Deco design of the 1920s or anything from then to the vintage look of the 1970s can also be considered modern.
Clean, architectural lines
Use of natural materials such as wood, leather, teak and linen are prominent. Moulded plywood and plastic is very popular in modern furniture, as well as polished metal.
Modern design colours have an earthier hue and feature shades like rust, turquoise, brown and olive greens.
Contemporary design refers to what is popular or used right now, and is defined by the influence of and accessibility to interior design styles from different countries. For this reason, contemporary design can be very eclectic – it is ever changing and borrows pieces and styles from different nationalities and different eras.
Lines – straight vertical or horizontal lines or curved shapes – are the most distinctive elements of the contemporary style. Line is found in architectural details, use of bold colour blocks, high ceilings bare windows, and geometric shapes in wall art and sculpture.
A lot of natural elements such as fir, cedar, and stone for finishes, complemented with wooden or metallic frames for artwork. To soften and warm up space, heavily textured fabrics in plain colours are added in window treatments, pillows, or rugs.
Neutrals, black, and white are the main colours, but bright and bold colour in accents is a popular way to give a room flair.
‘Minimalism’ first appeared in the middle of 1960s of the 20th century to describe sculptures of Robert Morris and Donald Judd. In interior design, it takes notions of modern design and simplifies them further. Minimalism means interior design that highlights the architecture of the space and lets that shine above all else. It’s very streamlined, with open spaces and strong nods to industrialism and functionality.
Although it may, at first, seem against the rules of minimalist design, choose a single supersized art piece for a room and let it dominate.
Function wins: thanks to the ease by which you can clean them, wood, linoleum or stone tile are staples for flooring. Concrete, steel, chrome, and marble are popular materials. Furniture usually has streamlined shapes and is usually upholstered with neutral coloured leather.
Neutral and airy, subdued hues rule—from biscuit to greige and every ecru-inspired tone in between. Beige, grey, and light-green are staple options. For accents, a singular bright colour is used to make the room pop.
As the name implies, this interior design style celebrates the warehouse-into-apartment trend, taking inspiration from the industrial setting and the ‘urban loft’. It’s not uncommon to see exposed brick, ductwork and wood.
Features that people typically try and conceal become part of the decor – particularly pipes and ducts. Also iconic: High ceilings, dangling metal light fixtures.
Earth tones and very neutral colour schemes – lots of greys, but also warmer colours such as copper. Plants and art pieces are used to add a dash of colour.
Metals, wood, old timber, and glass. Those who like to marry the industrial with older styles add vintage furniture, antique light fixtures, and wooden panels to their equation.
A homage of the lifestyle in Nordic countries, where simplicity and minimalism rules. How does it differ from minimalism? With Scandinavian design, it’s less about the space itself, and more about how you live within it. As an interior design style, it’s much cosier than minimalism, with a focus on making your space comforting and inviting. Scandinavian design makes use of natural textures and materials to create a space that’s ‘easy to live in’.
Neutral colours, white walls, warm woods, natural fibres and textures, and an open, airy feel.
All-white colour palettes are complemented with the incorporation of natural elements such as form-pressed wood, bright plastics, and enamelled aluminium, steel and wide plank flooring. Colour is also introduced through the use of art, natural fibre throws or furs, or a single piece of furniture. Scandinavia’s favourite accent colour? Recently, blue — a bright blue that stands out brilliantly against all-white interior.
This is where Scandinavian design distinguishes itself from minimalism, where the juxtaposition of wood alongside woven and softer textures become a highlight of Nordic design.