inspiration4 min read

Interior trends: what is modern decor?

An image of a neutral modern living room

WordsMegan Lambert


In these modern times, it can feel like we need to make our lives more streamlined. That’s where the modern decor trend comes in. Despite what the name might suggest, the modernist movement gained momentum in the late 19th to early 20th century. Today, it’s as popular as ever and feels every bit as 'modern' in the colloquial sense. So, if you want to get back to basics and simplify your life, why not try out the modern decor trend in your home.

What is modern decor style?

Modern decor is best defined by this simple mantra: “form follows function”. A piece of furniture’s functionality should come before its looks. It’s the opposite of fussy, frivolous decor—nothing should be without purpose. Sharing similarities with both Scandi interior style and Japandi style, modern decor is sleek, uncluttered, and pared-back, favoring simple aesthetics. Think clean lines and carefully selected color palettes, paired with abstract art with industrial elements like concrete, steel, and glass.


The history behind the modern decor style

Modern decor refers to a specific period in the early to mid-20th century. The style flourished in tandem with the industrial movement resulting in a preference for industrial materials like concrete, glass, and steel over more traditional materials like wood and stone. It’s no surprise then that modern decor shares several key characteristics with industrial decor. One of the most instantly recognizable and influential styles was the German Bauhaus school of design. It is defined by clean lines, geometric form, open-plan spaces and, of course, function over form—a look that appears just as cutting edge as it did when it first began.

Key characteristics of the modern decor style

Neutral and earthy color palette

When it comes to modern decor you want to keep your color palette clean and simple without it feeling austere. A neutral and earthy color palette is a great way to achieve this, and our neutral paint color collection by Kelly Hoppen CBE does the job perfectly. Grown-up, grounding, and very soothing, from subtle beiges to deep greys, these neutrals will stand the test of time.

If you want to inject some color, it should be carefully considered and used sparingly. When it comes to modern decor, avoid patterns, and opt for block colors instead.

Shop the Lick x Kelly Hoppen neutral paint colors today.

Timeless neutral colour palette in Lick paint

A focus on industrial materials such as glass, steel and concrete

When choosing materials, try and incorporate lots of glass, steel, and concrete. Opt for polished concrete floors rather than exposed wood. Or what about floor to ceiling steel and glass folding doors? Not only are they in keeping with the style but they also allow in lots of light.

Minimalist and clutter-free

Modern decor is all about simplicity and streamlining your life. This also means a zero-tolerance policy on clutter. This applies to both decorative and personal items. In a bid to win the war on clutter, something you’ll see in a lot of modern decor homes is large sliding wardrobes, particularly in hallways, as extra hidden storage. Keep your surfaces tidy by ensuring that you keep the mess to a minimum and out of sight.

Sleek lines and streamlined furniture

Some of the most successful and recognizable exports from the modern school of design are its furnishings. The names of Le Corbusier, Florence Knoll, and Marcel Brauer are recognized globally for their no-nonsense yet aesthetically gorgeous furnishings. Large leather sofas, long glass dining tables, and design-led armchairs all speak of the modern decor movement. Remember: less is more, so think about investing in a statement piece you love.