Modern interiors are the most timeless of interior styles. Modernism evolved as a movement against Victorian, Gothic, and Renaissance periods of heavily ornate styles at the turn of the century. Simple lines and classic designs are the hallmarks of modern interiors. Modern design is a broad term that encompasses symmetry, comfort, and balance with bold lines. So what is modern interior design?
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Modern interior design in its purest form will be basic squares and other shapes with a neutral color palette and occasional pops of primary colors. It incorporates elements such as woods, metals, glass, concrete, masonry, and steel, combined with an uncluttered atmosphere to create minimal functional spaces. A more modern style of interior design is always trending, from modern Spanish style interior design to modern minimalist interior design style.
Transitional Interior Design
Modern décor styles are timeless and indicative of a past era. Transitional interior design has become a popular choice. Most versions of transitional interior design styles combine new and older design styles. So what is transitional interior design? Modern transitional decor styles are a meshing of traditional and modern along with other elements depending on the style you are looking for.
Modern interior design inspiration encompasses many decor styles. Modern décor is a cohesive mix of modern elements transitioned with various design style elements while keeping the overall look clean, and clutter-free. By mixing various styles into a unified look your timeless modern interior becomes a perfectly styled space.
In its more complex definition, the modern interior design style has many avenues as it has evolved over time.
Modern Interior design styles include:
- Art Deco
- Mid-Century Modern
- Modern Farmhouse
- Modern Country
- Modern Industrial
- Coastal-Nautical Modern
- Organic Modern
- Glam Modern
- Modern Chic
- Contemporary Modern
Modernism embraced simplicity and symmetry at its core. It began to emerge in the early 1900s as the Art Deco movement also known as style moderne. Characteristics of the Art Deco movement included influences from nature, Egyptian, American Indian, and classical sources. Some of the first hints of the style were seen in fashions of the stage in the arts and then reflected in the clothing fashions of the day.
Art Deco style gives a linear appearance, with well-defined edges, geometric attributes, and sleek surfaces which were reflected in the architectural style of this period that quickly became popular elements for interior design. Chevrons, mosaic tiles, and zig-zag patterns were significant elements along with fluted doors and windows. This style was prevalent from the 1920s through 1940.
Mid-Century Modern Interior
The Art Deco style was followed by mid-century modern which was a product of the post-World War II years when soldiers were returning home and the US economy boomed with many new homes being built. The architectural style that dominated during this period was one with simple lines. New homes with garages and carports were being built with the surge of modern transportation.
This period embraced casual living and new technologies. Household gadgets including kitchen appliances became commonplace. The homes of this period had clean angular lines and large expansive windows. They were designed to be functional and efficient while bringing the outside in. Furniture styles were manufactured using mass production and new materials that were then transformed by futuristic designs evolving into what is now known as mid-century modern style.
Tulip chairs, egg chairs, shell chairs from fiberglass, Barcelona chairs, glass tables with tubular abstract supports, pedestal tables, lounge chairs, and sofas with clean lines on metal bases with metal tubed legs were predominant in this style. Pendant lighting, arched metal floor lamps, tripod lamps, new sputnik, and orb-style chandeliers gave an artsy statement to this design style.
Scandinavian Modern Interior
Going hand in hand with the mid-century modern style also emerged the minimalist style of Scandinavian modern design. Taking hold first in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and Norway; then in Europe, the style was shown by exhibitions in Canada and the US quickly adopted the design, oftentimes incorporating it with the mid-century modern style.
Post Modern – Modern BOHO & MOD
The mid-century modern continued to evolve giving way to the Mod and modern Boho or post-modern, as it is sometimes referred to, styles of the sixties and seventies. Bohemian is a style harkening from the 19th-century artists, performers, and nomads of Paris, France. It became a counterculture movement of eccentric artistic fashions and furnishings.
In the 1960s the Bohemian look received a rebirth in the mod eclectic mix which came to be known as BOHO. There are many versions of boho that all encompass the free-spirited, unstructured, eclectic disregard for the ordinary of the original Bohemians. A modern bohemian interior design can easily be incorporated into your space with a few well-curated home decor picks.
Pop culture is said to have invoked the BOHO or Mod era that lingered from the mid-’60s through the early ’90s. This period can best be described as breaking free from the structured practical modern designs to an artsy, unconventional, and often times flashy modern design style. This period featuring vivid colors, and layering of many textures, as well as shapes, brought about a maximalist rather than minimalistic style. The kaleidoscopic patterns and color-blocking effects were also reflected in the fashions of the day.
Minimalist style takes its principles from the Western art movement of the 1950s and was heavily influenced by the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi which embraced imperfection and impermanence. A minimalist design goes very naturally with a modern interior’s clean lines. Minimalistic interior design is about form and function. Less is more with this design style and any furnishings should serve a functional purpose in your space. Minimalist is a no-clutter, no-fuss lifestyle and design choice.
Minimalist signature style is one of serenity and simple beauty. In minimalist design, the backdrop can give character and interest to the interior space. If the interior space does not have a suitable backdrop it can be achieved with the use of simplistic large wall art or a stark white background. As shown in the photo above there are two different minimalistic looks depending on the backdrop. A touch of greenery will warm the space and give a clean air wellness vibe to your minimal interior.
The modern farmhouse style was born of simple farm life and the emergence of the industrial revolution. Subsequently, with the availability of new materials and the American revitalization movement which began in the fifties, the farmhouse style slowly evolved to its modern form. Farmhouse interiors became an urban mainstream style in the latter part of the 20th century with the Modern Farmhouse style emerging in the early 21st century.
Modern Farmhouse style invokes feelings of warmth and simplicity with a clean modern aesthetic. Warm wood tones, whitewashed walls and flooring, wide plank natural wood flooring, soft metals, and other soft patinas give this look a comfortable, soothing ambiance and somewhat nostalgic feel reminiscent of bygone days. Many Texas-inspired home decor styles incorporate modern rustic elements. No matter where you live you cannot go wrong with a modern farmhouse style.
Read more in our Farmhouse Style Home Decor Guide here.
Neutral backgrounds paired with the crisp blacks and pastels, natural wood flooring, and modern accent pieces, as shown above, give this Modern Farmhouse look a style that is both practical, upbeat, and homey. It offers just a hint of contemporary and Scandinavian comfort for the new decade while keeping its modern farmhouse appeal. A popular modern rustic interior design style, the modern farmhouse remains one of the most popular modern styles with a broad appeal. The modern farmhouse interior design style is one of our favorites along with Modern Country interior design styles.
Modern Country interiors are both beautiful and practical. Neutral color pallets, natural woods, open shelving, and bringing the outdoors in are all typical elements in modern country spaces.
Open windows, florals, and greenery paired with industrial touches and sleek lines give this space a refined, dynamic yet comfortable feel. The shiplap-style hood vent and black hardware pair beautifully with the natural wood floors and kitchen stools. Read more about Modern Country here.
A rustic modern decor transitions nicely with a modern country interior as well. Natural elements, warm colors, woods, plank flooring, and other rustic elements blend nicely with a modern country style. Rustic elements can also lend a playful, modern chic ambiance to a modern country space. Read more about rustic decor here.
Modern Industrial is reminiscent of renovated lofts, warehouses, old barns, and other industrial-type spaces being converted into living spaces. Industrial style elements of aged woods, metals, exposed brick, concrete, pipe fittings, and industrial lights are vogue additions to up the authenticity of the space. Mixing old vintage and aged elements with sleek modern lines gives this look its distinct edgy décor style.
Open concept spaces are great since they work well with the urban, modern, industrial loft look. However, any space can be transformed with modern industrial touches. A neutral color palette, paired with industrial light fixtures and a mixture of modern as well as aged and repurposed furnishings go a long way in getting the look you want in any room, no matter which size or shape. Faux concrete wall finishes and distressed walls paired with geometrical shapes as in the photo above work well to achieve the Modern Industrial aesthetic.
Coastal-Nautical Modern Interior
This design style originated as a regional style in coastal locations, then became popular for lake houses, and finally became a mainstream interior design style. Coastal and Nautical interiors can be used interchangeably depending on the overall feel you want for your space. The basic design palate will be natural light, natural pallets paired with soft tones of blues, grays, and sand colors. Coastal Interiors are designed to give a beachy vibe, reminiscent of ocean breezes, sand, and shells.
As in the photo above, this space has a whitewashed effect flooring coupled with natural woods. The tiki-shaped floor lamp and other wood elements pair nicely with the clean modern lines of the furniture giving the impression of an evening on the beach with the low tides and seagulls.
Nautical Interiors can incorporate all of the coastal elements with the addition of ships and other boating elements such as heavy ropes and anchors. Treasure elements lend a heartier aesthetic as well as preppy navy blues and stripes. Lighthouse art, porthole mirrors, navigational maps, chests, sailboats, and other related decor items work well with this style.
Organic Modern Interior
Organic modern uses natural fabrics and elements paired with crisp modern lines. Curves with straight lines, textures with geometric shapes, and natural woods, with a soft white or neutral background, are signature elements of this style.
Seagrass, rattan, wicker, linens, bamboo, leather, sheepskin, wool, and cotton, with sisal or jute rugs, will lend interest as well as, an overall eco-friendly vibe to your space. Organic edge wood pieces for shelving or furnishings will further define your space. Organic modern has a hint of minimalism for a clean modern look with a cozy, comfortable, airy aesthetic.
Glam Modern Interior
Glam Modern interiors can be achieved in many ways. Focus on ways to highlight your existing basic modern room. Lighting can add glam in so many ways. Fun artsy pieces with an art deco vibe also work for this style. Luxurious elements to add elegance to your space help inspire this look.
Glam and glitz Hollywood style with tufted furniture pieces, gold or brass and glass, animal prints, and furs all make this design style pop and sizzle. Ceiling to floor drapes and mirrors, including mirrored furniture pieces, lends a lot of visual appeal. Velvets, whites, and blacks, paired with clean lines will keep your design from going too traditional.
Modern Chic interiors achieve a balance between old and new elements with an industrial edge while maintaining a casual softness creating a chic cozy space with a hint of minimalism.
This modern chic bedroom with its white backdrop is accented by the softly shaded drapes of flowing fabric skimming the vintage whitewashed floor. In addition, they further accent the existing vintage radiators giving the space both charm and sleek style. The soft neutral shades paired with the modern elements of the bed, industrial lighting, and a chic pendant lamp define a modern chic design that is both casual as well as uniquely edgy and very much on-trend.
Contemporary Modern Interior
Contemporary and modern design is often seen as the same, however, a contemporary design is current and on-trend. When contemporary on-trend designs are paired with modern design elements the design becomes contemporary and modern.
Many contemporary styles continue to incorporate mid-century pieces and lighting styles as well as other modern design elements. This beautiful contemporary modern living room with a large stone fireplace surround and abundant natural light features Mid Century touches in the Barcelona Love seating and glass table. The sleek contemporary fireplace and built-in entertainment system keep the design on-trend.
New Design Styles
The end of the industrial age and the birth of technology, as well as outsourcing and urbanization, have created many new design styles. Design styles are always evolving. Many new design styles have emerged in the 21st century, wellness and eco-friendly designs, as well as organic and smart home designs, are just a few of these.
One emerging trend harkening from the past is wallpaper and patterns with Maximalist excessive tones in the overall style. This style is fueled by self-expression so it covers a broad scope of designs from Moroccan to granny-style. At its core, the Maximalist Style is an explosion of color, patterns, styles, and objects. With an infusion of modern elements and bold colors, this is a viable style for those individuals who want to surround themselves with an expression of the elements in a loud style. Millennial Maximalism or Grandmillennial as it is sometimes called is blowing up on Instagram with twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings.
In Conclusion, many contemporary designs incorporate elements of other design styles which on their own might otherwise be outdated. Modern elements can make a hectic or flat design more defined as well as update outdated and tired interiors. Modern Italian style house interior design, modern Balinese interior design style, and modern French style interior design characteristics are also popular modern interior design themes for your space.
Modern interior design inspiration can come from anywhere. There are many different types of modern interior design styles. We hope you have enjoyed perusing the many different Modern Interior styles and wish you happy hunting to find your personal interior design style.
More on finding your interior design style here.
Find more Decor articles here.
Online Interior Architecture and Design resources here.
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Modern interior decor and design denote an era that has passed. Natural materials, natural lighting, practicality, and functionality are essential to this design style. Heavily influenced by Scandinavian and mid-century modern eras a modern interior decor style is more minimal, and monochromatic, with clean lines and natural materials.
Modern transitional decor styles are a meshing of traditional and modern along with other interior design elements depending on the style you are looking for.
Resources and Citations
Postmodernism as an Interior Space Design Approach
Preserving Postmodern Architecture
MID-CENTURY FURNITURE DESIGN AND ITS IMPACT ON THE DESIGN OF THE 21STCENTURY
The Science of Style
Clark, Gregory, Kevin H. O’Rourke, and Alan M. Taylor. 2008. “Made in America? The New World, the Old, and the Industrial Revolution.” American Economic Review, 98 (2): 523-28.
The Application of Color Within Modern Interior Design
Oriental Interiors: Design, Identity, Space
The English Arts and Crafts MovementA Companion to Contemporary Design
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