Are you to the point where you want to change your home decor? Maybe remove any signs of the 80s and toss out hand-me-down furniture that really isn’t functional for your space? If so, welcome! You found the right place. This article discusses letting go of the old and welcoming the new with some easy, modern home decor ideas.
What is Considered “Modern Interior Design?”
You may have heard modern design used synonymously with contemporary design, but in fact they are two different design styles from different periods. Modern design refers to the industrial-inspired decor principles that became popular in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century: sleek lines, functional spaces, natural materials, minimalism, and monochromatic color palettes.
What is a contemporary theme in design?
Contemporary design started evolving in the late 20th century and has been heavily impacted by environmentalism and the digital revolution. It continues with sleek lines, functional furniture, and minimalism. The biggest difference? Everything is a little more. Natural materials are still used, but instead of just concrete, metal, and wood, contemporary design has added bamboo, cork, recycled plastics, glass, aluminum, and clay.
Sculptural Lighting & Construction Highlights
Another sign of contemporary design is sculptural lighting. Where bare bulbs and minimalistic lamps were popular in the modern era, contemporary designers are likely to use light fixtures to make as much of a statement as a sofa or a piece of artwork. Chances to highlight construction are also part of a contemporary design theme. If you see steel pillars, wooden beams, brick, or concrete, then you’ll know a contemporary designer dreamed it up.
Minimalism is carried through from the modern era to the contemporary one as well, but again it’s amplified. Due to technological advances, furniture and appliances are even more compact and efficient than before, though contemporary themes aren’t afraid to use things whose sole function is to look good.
Travel Influences & Neutrals
Since the contemporary era was born with the digital revolution, access to information has impacted the design elements you’ll likely see. As a result, contemporary interior design is a mix of styles and influences from all around the world, whether past or present, in Asia or South America.
Where modern home decor featured monochromatic themes (white, grey, black, etc.) with the occasional bold pop of red, yellow, or blue, contemporary colors are more naturally neutral. You’ll see more earthy hues such as sandy browns, stone grays, charcoal blacks, and cloudy whites with pops of color similar to leafy greens and jewel tones.
Open Floor Plans and Artwork
Another sign of contemporary interior design is the open, airy floor plan and the standalone artwork pieces. Artists’ influences in the contemporary period are also seen in functional, but esthetically pleasing furniture.
How much would it cost to add modern interior decor to a house?
Now that you know what modern and contemporary home decor looks like, now you’re probably wondering how much you’ll have to dish out to make the switch. If you’re ready to do a home remodel, you can plan on an average of $47,000. But if you’re looking for small things you can do to upgrade your home and still keep something in the bank, we’ve provided some affordable decorating tips below that will go a long way as you move to modernize your home.
Tips to Modernize Your Home
Refinish Kitchen Cabinets
Giving your kitchen cabinets a makeover will greatly affect the atmosphere in your kitchen. If your cabinets are dark, opt to refinish them with a more neutral color that doesn’t suck all the natural light out of your kitchen. You don’t need to completely replace them to create a nice change. You need a good cleaner, a nice paint color, and some elbow grease. Don’t forget to replace the cabinet and drawer handles, too.
Breathe New Life Into Your Wood Deck
If you have a wooden deck that’s looking a little wild, breathing new life into it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Using a power washer and some semi-transparent stain will reveal its original beauty and protect it from the elements.
Add Architectural Interest
The modern interior design style directly contrasts the overly busy and ornate decorations of the early 19th century. Where modern home decor is all straight lines and minimal embellishments, contemporary design isn’t afraid to add esthetically pleasing, yet simplistic design elements. Adding crown molding or thin, simplistic molding to the walls in your kitchen, dining room, or living room creates dimension in a room and makes it appear more expensive than it is. Consider adding simple stair brackets for some texture and interest as well.
Upgraded Gadgets and Appliances
Since the contemporary era formed around the digital age, upgrading your home with some popular digital gadgets is one way to modernize your space. Consider installing a programmable thermostat and energy-efficient appliances. If you want to upgrade your appliances, such as your refrigerator or dishwasher, but the ones you have still work, check out the DIY paint kits that can cover the flat white or black color with the popular stainless-steel look.
Open Your Floor Plan
Do you have an unused closet or wall you’d love to bring down? Do it! Opening up your floor plan is a great way to upgrade the feel of your home, and it averages less than $200, not including debris disposal fees.
Replace or Refinish Your Front Door
Your front door contributes to the first impression people get about your home, and potential buyers if you’re trying to sell. A simple way to update your home and add to the front yard curb appeal is to refinish your door if it’s wood to highlight its natural beauty or paint it for a fun pop of color.
Replace Your Outlet and Lightswitch Plates
An easy way to spice up your space is to replace those tired, old standard light switches and outlet plates with something more exciting. You can choose different colors, shapes, patterns, and embellishments. In your home, modern decor may call for designer plates—from warm wood to that sleek stainless steel look—that can match your paint trim or just be used to create a new vibe in the room.
Create a Gateway to the Outside
Taking down a wall isn’t the only way to open up your floor plan. If you don’t already have a sliding glass door to the outside, consider installing one. A sliding glass door not only allows for more natural light, but it will also help your floor plan feel airier.
Create a Feature Wall
Though modern and contemporary design tends to shy away from overly ornate decor, it’s not uncommon for some decor to hang around, or even take up a whole wall. Use reclaimed wood, peel-and-stick wall panels, shiplap, or painter's tape and paint to create a budget-friendly, eye-catching design.
Upgrade Your Countertops
Gone are the days when you actually have to buy granite countertops to get the look of granite countertops. Pull in that popular, natural rock look to your kitchen by using DIY paint kits or peel-and-stick
Paint Your Trim
Instead of letting your trim work blend in, consider painting it a color in stark contrast to that of your walls. For example, if your walls are white, consider painting the trim on your stairs and the railing black or stone gray. It will not only keep to the neutral color palette that’s part of the modern and contemporary design styles, but it will also create more sleek lines in your modern house design.
As much as we all love free furniture from relatives and good neighbors that have moved away, a mashup of furniture doesn’t often have a cohesive feel, let alone blend nicely into the modern feel you want for your living room. If you can, paint or reupholster your furniture so at least the color matches your decor ideas. If you can’t, consider letting go of the older pieces and opt to buy furniture that’s not only functional but matches your home decor.
Upgrade Your Fixtures
If your home still has the original faucets on the bathroom sinks and they’re starting to feel old to you, don’t be afraid to upgrade them along with your decor. Same with the doorknobs. If you don’t want to buy new fixtures, it’s easy to paint the old ones.
Upgrade Your Windows
As you know by now, modern home decor includes more than just light fixtures and furniture. An easy way to update your home and add interest is molding to the top and sides of your windows. This makes them look bigger and more expensive. You can also swap out old blinds for indoor shutters that provide privacy and reflect a southern/urban design feel.
Fake a High Ceiling
If you can’t literally raise your ceiling, then something you can do to fake it is raise your curtains quite a bit (~6 inches) above the windows and use long, flowy drapes. Changing the space this way draws the eyes upward, making the room seem taller.
How can I make the inside and outside of a home match?
Once you modernize your home decor to your liking, then you can double-check that the exterior of your home prepares your guests for what’s inside. The outside and inside don’t necessarily have to be exact matches, but they do need to be similar styles. You wouldn’t want the outside of your home to reflect an ornate, Victorian theme, then have the inside be all black and white with straight rigid lines and minimal decor. Having a cohesive feel from the outside of your home to the inside will not only help visitors know what to expect, but it will help you sell your home later on if that’s what you plan to do.
Painting your home's outside to be the same color as your inside could be too much. Instead, consider painting the inside and outside of your home different shades of the same color, or colors that are similar temperatures, such as cool-toned, warm-toned, or neutral. You can also choose a contrasting (but still complementing) color to highlight accents on the outside and inside of your home. For example, a blue door would contrast with your home’s white siding, while in your living room an ottoman, a painting, and a lamp in the same or similar shade of blue would help the decor flow from the outside to the inside.
Another way to create a cohesive feel is to stick to similar textures. For example, if your home is of a modern design with lots of glass and metal, consider using metal fixtures inside your home with metal-lined mirrors to amplify the natural light. If your home is partly brick, don’t be afraid to pull that same texture inside by lining your fireplace with brick.
Your furniture should be a continuation of the exterior style of your house. A Victorian home would benefit from inside furniture with carved wooden details and high-end finishes. A home with Colonial-style features would benefit from more traditional furniture.
There are many ways to modernize your house, including adding architectural accents, painting walls, replacing old furniture, updating fixtures, or creating a cohesive feel between the inside and the outside of your home. What will you start with?