Modern decor can be a tricky style to pin down because it can have many different undertones and influences. From art deco-tinged to modern design with a neutral-leaning, Scandinavian flair, modern design and decor is not as clear cut as it may seem. Even so, there are a few key elements of modern decor that carry throughout all facets of modern design.
What Is Modern Design?
Modern design features a streamlined look with clean lines and edges. Most modern design is understated, focusing on neutral colors and natural materials.
Because there are so many elements of modern design, there's a way to incorporate this design style into nearly any home. Click through for some of our favorite uses of modern decor and design.
Create an Open Floor Plan
One key element of modern design is the open floor plan. Whether you have a semi-open or a totally open living space, flow is important when designing a modern space. Keep the living and eating areas open so you can easily connect with guests from any room on the first floor.
Struggling with the floor plan in an open concept space? Focus on segmentation without closing the rooms off.
Keep it Minimal
While this kitchen from Anne Sage may be soft pink (we are here for the pink trend), the design is sleek and understated. Avoid pieces with heavy detailing or ornate elements and focus on clean, sharp lines and design your space in a way that helps with your room's flow (think open, not boxed off).
Experiment With Dark Colors
Though many modern homes focus on a clean, neutral palette, dark colors can work too. Introduce blacks and grays into your color scheme in a way that doesn't overwhelm but rather elevates the neutral hues in the space. While bold, bright colors can sometimes feel too eccentric for a modern decor style, a crisp black is a great accent color for the space.
Opt for Streamlined Furniture
Modern furniture is often lower to the ground and more horizontal than vertical. The lines are clean, understated, and straight. Leather is always a great choice for a modern living room, but linen or tweed are also wonderful ideas for your couch or armchairs that help maintain the sleekness that's key in a modern-style room.
Work With Natural Elements
Modern spaces rely heavily on natural materials. Whether wicker or wood or linen, a modern space should feel natural and not overly artificial (though there is definitely a place for man-made materials, too). Think of earth-friendly elements that help connect indoor living to the outside.
Create a Focal Point
As with many decor styles, modern design often features a focal point in the living room to guide the rest of the decor and center the space. Arrange seating in a way that allows guests to converse, but ensure that your space's focal point is centered in the room.
Left without a natural focal point? Adding a fireplace insert (or even a faux mantel) is an easy way to to create a centerpiece for the room and help the space feel finished.
Look for Artful Pieces
Though this space embraces contemporary style as well as modern, opting for artful pieces is a great way to create a focal point and create visual interest in your modern space. Because many modern spaces can be understated and simple, an oversized fixture or accent wall can break up the room and keep it from feeling monotonous.
Experiment With Metallics
While modern spaces often rely heavily on natural materials, there's still room for shiny, reflective elements as well. Consider adding elements of glass, metal, and brass into your modern space, especially in the bathroom. Modern bathrooms can be a bit more adventurous than the main rooms in your house, but keep the elements streamlined and simple.
Focus on Artwork
A modern space is rarely without wall art, but opt for contemporary or abstract pieces to keep your space updated and contemporary. Larger, oversized pieces of art are great to fill up a large wall and create a focal point in an open-concept room.
If you've never considered lucite pieces before, think again. Whether you have a lot of space or you're outfitting an apartment, lucite is a great material for modern decor. Not only does it feature a low profile that won't take up visual space, but it also plays well with numerous other materials without clashing.
Opt for a Neutral Palette
This living room proves that sticking to a white color palette doesn't have to be boring. One of the easiest ways to embrace modern style in your home is to tone down the color palette and stick to the basics. White or cool grays are perfect for setting that modern vibe.
Can't give up color altogether? Mix in a few hints of color in the artwork or accessories in your space to keep it lively but still neutral.
Keep the Kitchen Crisp and Simple
A modern kitchen is filled with natural light and focuses on clean lines and neutral hues. Quartz is a natural choice for any modern kitchen, but a light granite also works well. We love adding natural wood elements to the space in the island or cabinetry.
Create a Modern Look in a Traditional Home
If the architecture of your home doesn't scream modern, that doesn't mean you can't embrace a modern decor style. Work with the crown molding or built-ins in your home by painting them a subtle neutral hue that plays well with the neutrals in your modern decor.
Consider Floating Vanities
When it comes to bathroom storage, we love floating vanities to create a modern look that mimics a high-end hotel. This bathroom features elements of contemporary and modern decor, but by floating the vanities the room feels more open and spacious.
Try Unique Tiles
We love subway tile as much as the next guy, but consider something a little edgier in your modern bathroom. Whether solid black tiles or a mosaic that lends a ton of visual interest, tile is a great place to experiment with more modern elements.
Embrace Neutral Finishes
All-white kitchens are still incredibly popular, but consider light wood finishes in your kitchen for a more modern look. Not only is blonde wood easy to pair with other colors and styles, but it can give your kitchen sense of a warmth without darkening the space.
Create Natural Light
If you're designing an entire home in a modern style, don't neglect the natural light within your home. Floor-to-ceiling windows are perfect for a modern space, but even if your home doesn't have huge windows, arranging your furniture in a way that embraces all of the natural light is key.
Opt for Natural Wood in the Bathroom
We've said it before, but we'll say it again: Natural wood doesn't need to be painted. Though there's been a trend over the past few years to paint all wood white, keeping natural wood pieces in your space can feel incredibly modern and fresh. We love pairing light or medium wood with marble or slate.
Create a Conversation Layout
The best living room layouts allow for easy conversation and entertaining. Work with your open floor plan but create a layout that allows your guests to face towards each other. This also helps to create segmented spaces in a large open room.
While you've probably used marble in the bathroom or kitchen, it's a great material for modern pieces to create an artsy feel in your room. Whether used in a dining table or a small sculpture, a classic marble is a great material for contemporary and modern spaces.
Get the Modern Look
Scroll down to see our favorite modern pieces that work in any home.
Not only is this couch affordable, but it provides a low profile and streamlined look that works beautifully in modern homes.
This side table pairs well with most modern furniture and adds a touch of visual interest to any open-concept room.
Looking for a piece that blends modern and art deco? This West Elm bed is perfect for an art deco-influenced, modern space.