inspiration5 min read

Interior trends: what is contemporary decor style?

Interior trends contemporary style living room

WordsMegan Lambert


"What's in a name?" or so the time old question goes. Well, quite a lot, it turns out. That's why we're going to be taking a closer look at contemporary decor style and the difference between contemporary and modern decor. Whilst conversationally, they might be used interchangeably, when it comes to interior design terminology, the two are very different. And it's not just in the name. The two styles can sometimes be confused. But can you tell the difference? 

From the history behind the styles to the key characteristics of contemporary decor style, if you want to know what's what when it comes to one of our favorite decor trends, read on.

What is contemporary decor style?

In short, contemporary decor style refers to what is happening in the decor world right now. Whilst modern decor refers to a specific school of design (more on that later). Contemporary decor is defined by clean lines, a sparring yet deliberate use of color, pairing old and new pieces together, and layering on the texture. All done within a simple yet sophisticated framework. It's cool, sleek, yet also lots of fun. Think curved chairs, statement light fixtures and eye-catching artwork.

Interior trends Vogue Williams contemporary living room painted in Lick paint Pink 01

The history behind contemporary decor style

Confusing as it may sound, the modern decor trend has its roots firmly planted in the 19th century. Growing with the popularisation of the German Bauhaus school of design—famed for championing function over form, it favored industrial materials like concrete, glass, and steel and a minimalist aesthetic. Whilst contemporary decor style is heavily influenced by modern decor, it is very much its own decor style. 

As the name might suggest, contemporary decor doesn't refer to a specific period. Instead, it borrows attributes from every decor style from modernist to minimalist, mid-century modern to art-deco style. In truth, it's still evolving, and is heavily influenced by what is going on right now and emerging trends. So its key characteristics can be difficult to pin down, but we're sharing some of its most recognizable ones to help you get the look at home.

Key characteristics of contemporary decor style

A neutral color palette 

The backdrop for contemporary decor style is a warm and neutral color palette. This provides a clean and simple canvas for the pop of color in your artwork and furnishings. Think gentle grays, subtle beiges and greiges, warming whites and perhaps even a bit of black in the form of crittal windows and doors, or even a statement Black 01 staircase. Alongside this, you can incorporate accents of color through fabrics and furnishings or statement artwork to really make your decor pop.

Warm wood accents 

From glossy walnut cabinets to enormous mango wood consoles, warm wood accents soften what can otherwise feel like a very glossy trend. They add some welcome warmth into a contemporary decor room. They’re gorgeous in the kitchen too, if you want to go for a natural rather than painted cabinet finish. Take a look at our guide on the best paint colors to pair with wood for some guidance on how to incorporate them into your decor scheme.

Interior trends contemporary style living room

Organic silhouettes

Curved shapes and organic silhouettes are yet another clue you’re in a contemporary decor home. This can be anything from kidney-shaped coffee tables, inviting curved boucle sofas to statement art-deco inspired bubble chandeliers. It almost feels like a response to modern living. We all need a bit of a hug right now, and curved, organic-shaped silhouettes feel like they do just that. We’re seeing more and more of this trend—furniture that aims to envelop—and we foresee it continuing to grow.