What it is: Technically, contemporary design is rooted in the moment (as in this moment, here and now — how's that for having to think on your feet?). But in broad terms, it represents an about-face from the conventions of traditional decor.
Less is more: smooth profiles instead of ornamentation, solid or subtly patterned fabrics in lieu of colorful prints, minimal accessories rather than big collections. While it doesn't have the overt warmth of older design styles, it won't cast a chill either.
|Why it works: A strong emphasis on line and form — two essentials of good design — gives contemporary style its energy. These rooms are designed with abundant open space and natural light in mind, which makes them feel airy and expansive. Because there isn’t any clutter, every piece has to count.|
You'll love it if... At art museums, you gravitate to the abstract works. You have more than two books with the word Simplify in the title. Heavy curtains make you claustrophobic. Geometry class was the high point in your school day. You're tempted to stash most of your stuff in storage and redecorate all in white.
Style Secret: Sophisticated Neutrals
Cream, white, tan, beige, black — these are the bedrock upon which contemporary design lies. Monochromatic and tone-on-tone schemes allow the lines and shapes within a space to take center stage.
| Style Secret: Open Space
Contemporary design celebrates what isn’t there as much as what is. Empty space takes on an almost sculptural quality, carved out by the strong architecture. Because of their openness, contemporary interiors are especially well suited to large-scale furnishings, art and accents.
Style Secret: Unadorned Floors
If you’re wild for the feel of bare feet on cool tile, you’re in luck. Contemporary design eschews rugs and carpeting in favor of sleeker, harder surfaces: bamboo; blond woods such as maple or ash; stone; ceramic. Ebonized planks or dark-stained concrete can ground contemporary rooms (as long as you’re prepared to make friends with your dust mop).
Can you picture tasseled draperies or a balloon valance in this space? Neither can we. Windows in a contemporary milieu are usually abundant, and they’re often left undressed to highlight their crisp lines and let natural light flood in.