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Contemporary Homes 101

With straightforward silhouettes, textural fabrics and endless opportunities to evolve, contemporary rooms distill the design world’s most comfortable and popular trends into a livable look that constantly changes while remaining eternally chic.

What Is Contemporary Style?

Contemporary interiors are style chameleons: with streamlined silhouettes, neutral foundation pieces and careful attention to editing, they’re able to adapt on the fly to incorporate emerging trends in the design world through accessories. Modern style (a movement that dates back to the 1930s) zeroes in on a monochromatic palette and the near-total absence of decoration; contemporary style (which emerged nearly half a century later), on the other hand, uses simplicity as an opportunity for play. Contemporary spaces can embrace what feels right right now — and that versatility and spontaneity is where the fun comes in. Here’s how to pull it all together.

Contemporary Style Is Uncluttered

Spaces like this sumptuous guest suite exemplify the sort of minimalism that would delight Marie Kondo devotees: Though it feels unquestionably rich, thanks to jewel-toned bolster pillows, an oversized upholstered headboard that runs the full length of a wall and a pair of textural sheepskin throws, accessories are limited to a few elemental pieces. Natural light (and a mounted television) are the walls’ only adornments, and the bank of dressers and the floating vanity in the bathroom feature no hardware. Rooms like this one — designed to cultivate calm and serenity — are ideal spots to deploy contemporary style.

Contemporary Spaces Use Track Lighting

In this sleek urban condominium, ultra-functional lighting is anything but an afterthought: selected to evoke the feel of a studio (and to complement the arching floor lamp in the corner of the room), this unobtrusive, focused illumination makes the most of the space’s high ceiling to offer uninterrupted views of the city. Contemporary lighting design highlights statement pieces like the room’s aqueous, oversized abstract painting and the pair of organic sculptures on the gleaming occasional table beside the sofa.

Contemporary Rooms Have Organic Accents

As in modern interiors, there’s high contrast between broad expanses of marble tile and warm grey cabinetry in this contemporary kitchen. Organic touches like the casual arrangement of flowering branches in a vase on the island, a quirky pedestal bowl of “fruit” and a wood chopping block all soften those lines.

Contemporary Style Favors Open Floor Plans

Kitchen and dining rooms, entertaining areas and lounging spaces flow together seamlessly in contemporary homes. In most cases, those open floors will be uncarpeted and show off the bare, clean wood, tile or vinyl; area rugs can add color and help to define “rooms” with subtle visual cues. In this breezy contemporary living space, a pale rug beneath the dining table differentiates it from the fireside conversation spot (and the geometric rug) in the center of the room.

Contemporary Spaces Lack Drapes

Just as floor coverings are typically limited to area rugs, contemporary window treatments are minimal — that is, if they’re present at all. In this dramatic contemporary living room, unadorned windows allow dramatic shadows to cut across the pair of silver-framed black-and-white photographs on the wall. Similarly, the ample, pale hairpin-leg coffee table and stylishly mismatched sectional gain “patterns” from the window hardware. The large, spiky succulent by the window is a characteristic contemporary accent, as are the candlesticks on the table; though ornate pieces aren’t typically congruent with contemporary style’s simplicity, their bold color creates a playful focal point in the otherwise neutral room.

Contemporary Textiles Are Textural

This blend of contemporary and Mediterranean influences demonstrates how nimbly contemporary interiors can pickpocket the best elements of other styles. Contemporary spaces feature dramatic, oversized plants like the handsome olive tree displayed here, touchable textiles like the deep-sea velvets on this generous sectional, plush area rugs like the Berber piece centering the room here and large-scale geometric features like the mirror, firewood caddy and window.

HGTV | By: Lauren Oster

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