“Modern” is an odd way to describe a design trend that started in the late 1800s. It was modern in the literal sense when the term was used to describe the Scandinavian-inspired style years ago. Since it describes a defined style, not an era, it’s the same word we use today.
Despite being over 100 years old, modern interior design still feels as current and fresh now as it did then. And that has a lot to do with the core principles of modern style: simplicity, minimalism, and practicality.
Defining features of modern interior design
Post-modernism, mid-century modernism, contemporary design — there are many offshoots of modern style. The styles share similar names and characteristics, but each is unique. After more than a century, modern design is still defined by these features:
- Strong, straight lines – There are no ornate details or decoration in modern style. Everything is simple and angular with clean horizontal and vertical lines.
- Natural and industrial textures – Wood is one of the major design elements of modern style. Wood floors, furniture and exposed beams bestow natural beauty. Contrasting stains and types of wood bring out different colors and textures. Decor is made up of wood, leather, linen and other natural materials. The plastics and industrial metals of mid-century modern design are still common.
- Neutral and natural colors – Modern spaces are warm and inviting. Soft, washed shades of gray, white and beige with earthy undertones create a light neutral color palette. This simple color scheme allows the natural shapes and textures of the room and decor to stand out.
- Simple, unadorned windows – Natural light is an important feature of modern style. Large, unobstructed panes of glass with no window treatments bring in as much sunlight as possible. Window trim is simple and is either unpainted, natural wood or a neutral shade.
- Shiny objects – Reflective surfaces take all that natural light and brighten the space in what could otherwise look dark and wooden. Mirrors, glass and metals like steel or chrome add to the industrial aesthetic.
See modern style in action. Check out how these homeowners incorporated modern interior design into their homes.