Want to bring your house, or even just a room, up to style speed? It can feel a little intimidating, trying to navigate figuring out just what you want to change, let actually doing it successfully. It never hurts to get some photographic inspiration, though, so this article aims to do just that. You’ll find 35 fantastic modern decorating ideas that, hopefully, will start those wheels spinning so you can create a space you truly love.
Mismatched Sets – The modern home wants to look and feel as unique as its inhabitants. This is much easier to accomplish without the use of pre-packaged furniture sets. Mix and match pieces for a delightful vibe. It can, but certainly doesn’t have to, feel eclectic. A natural wood table pairs nicely and unexpectedly with a black upholstered bench, for example. And chances are, you’ll be the only one on the block with that particular combo.
The Dark Side – Modern decorating doesn’t shy away from deep, dark, moody hues in any space. These can be, and probably should be, tempered with some softer shades and textures to lessen their harsh visual blow, but the truth is, dark colors belong in light spaces.
Mixed Materials – Pieces made up of a variety of materials are interesting and unique, which is why they’re so appealing for a modern space. Why use a chair that’s just your typical wood chair when you can go for a one-of-a-kind seat out of acrylic, wood, and some mustard cable-knit goodness? Modern decorating ideas are all about expressing your individuality, and mixed materials definitely help to do just that.
Animal Print – Animal prints can be found in large and small doses in the styled modern home. A simple throw pillow on the sofa or bed might be sufficient for your taste and style. If not, consider incorporating the natural patterns in on a larger scale – wrapping your floating stairs, for example, to be admired and visible in the front entryway.
Kitchen Chrome – A glossy, decked-out kitchen is one of many popular modern decorating ideas, and for good reasons. With shiny surfaces such as marble or granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and chrome detailing on hardware and bar stools, it’s no wonder that the chrome-temporary kitchen is an attractive place to be.
Potted Plants – This decorating idea isn’t contained to just the modern space, but it certainly adds warmth to lots of clean lines and spare spaces. From giant fiddle leaf trees in the corner of a room to small terrariums, potted plants soften edges and add fresh life.
Abstract Lighting – Taking a more abstract approach to lighting a home’s interior (and exterior) is a design concept that has been gaining in popularity for years. There’s something airy and luxurious, not to mention sophisticated, about the white space contained in and through abstract and branched lighting in any space.
Natural Light – Where heavy draperies once signified opulence and sophistication, the ability to douse an interior in natural light is one of today’s greatest design luxuries. Keeping window treatments minimal, or altogether absent when appropriate, is one of the simplest modern decorating ideas that has complex payoffs in almost every space.
Metallurgy – Some decades have their defining metal of choice, but today’s interiors involve any metal, or a mix of metals, with confidence. From the smallest of metal details, such as hardware or nail head trim, to large expanses of metal, such as entire frames of furniture, metal is a key element of modern decorating.
Quirky Details – One trendy modern decorating idea is one that is perhaps a bit more abstract in concept but tangible in its execution, and that is the use of quirky details in décor. From a giant stuffed kangaroo standing in the corner of a living room to an upholstered bench boasting a lineup of consecutive tiger throw pillows, we are able to get a sense of the playful as much as the styled.
Warm Colors – Something about the ways of modern living is making us crave, and thus trend toward, warmer colors in our homes. White looks beautiful in photographs, but it’s not actually realistic in many homes, either due to lifestyle or architecture. When it comes to real life, many people today are gravitating toward soft, warm earth tones – browns and greens.
Natural Lighting Fixtures – Large woven pendant lights are becoming a staple of the cool, contemporary kitchen because of their inherently textural, warm qualities. They soften a sleek space and gently guide our eyes upward without making a fuss about anything. This style of lighting might be something you could easily swap for your existing lighting and would make all the difference in the world in your kitchen.
Open Concept – Open concept living is probably here to stay in our fast-paced, multi-tasking world. Visually, an open floor plan allows you to “be” in three or four places at once – in the kitchen, at the dining table, in the living room, and perhaps even at the front door. For decorating this type of space, it’s best to keep a tight color palette and a well-edited display of accessories and add-ons. For sure, clutter should be nonexistent whenever possible.
Less = More. While large gallery walls and other displays are still a popular way to display artwork, the current trend is toward less accessory in the display of art and more of the art itself. Bare, frameless photographs are commonly hung on the wall, for example, exhibiting the beauty of simplicity and appreciation for content over context in the visual realm.
Opulent + Humble – Many modern homes thrive off the sweet juxtaposition of opposites. Mixing raw elements, such as roughened wood as ceiling beams and vintage picture frames and art, with more high-end elements, such as marble countertops and brass cabinet hardware, creates a gorgeously all-encompassing atmosphere of elevated groundedness. If that’s even a thing. I think it is now.
Flexible Furniture – As our lifestyles start to acquire more demands, it makes sense that our homes will follow suit, including furniture. Flexible furniture is key for both form and function in the contemporary space. A huge sectional (on beautiful epoxied concrete floors, no less) can be contained to create a giant bed of sorts, or its pieces can float to accommodate seating needs throughout the large space.
Patterned Tiles – From floors to walls to ceilings, and from living rooms to entryways to bathrooms, patterned tiles are one of the hottest modern decorating ideas for sprucing up a home’s décor. Mosaic patterned glass tiles, like those shown here, whether on walls or floors, give a stylish contemporary nod to a retro era.
Unique Tile Designs – Maybe you don’t want to go for tile that is in and of itself patterned. No problem. You can definitely express yourself with mosaic tiles in custom designs, as was done with these gorgeous Bisazza bathroom mosaic tiles in gold and white. This type of tiling is perfect for a backsplash or a bathroom, where you have room to show off your tile design but it doesn’t take over your life.
Back to Browns – Grey is still a favorite neutral for the contemporary decorator, but browns are having a major comeback. Its soothing, tolerant, and laid-back nature makes brown once again a wonderful neutral of choice in any space, particularly the modern one. Better yet – mix your browns and greys for the ultimate in neutral chic.
Feminine + Masculine – Once upon a time, the parlour and the man-cave were decidedly separate spaces. Okay, they still probably are. But what’s interesting in modern decorating now is the trend toward seamlessly blending masculine and feminine elements in every space. Any space, from the bedroom to the living room, the dining room to the den. A beautiful, welcoming balance in style benefits everyone.
Clean-Lined Furniture – This decorating idea has been around since mid-century, maybe even before, but it’s just as applicable today as in years past. Furniture doesn’t have to take up an entire room in massively overstuffed ways to be comfortable. In fact, clean, comfortable furniture that is in proportion to the space and that adheres to an intuitive layout is more appealing than a massive plush sofa. Just saying.
Abstract Paint Splatter – Mixing a bit of abstract watercolory paint-splatter into an otherwise chic and styled space is a way to tone down the stuffiness and make a place feel real. Modern decorating ideas involving this idea including splattered upholstery, textiles such as throw pillows, and artwork. There are plenty of DIY tutorials available for modern abstract art.
Beautiful Private Spaces – Function-driven spaces, such as the laundry room, bathroom, and kitchen, should, when possible, be more than just utilitarian rooms. When you spend time in them, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy beautiful finishes. Area rugs underfoot, beautiful lighting overhead, and a few odds and ends just sitting there looking pretty are wonderful modern decorating ideas to create revitalizing private spaces.
Open Shelving – Whether it’s open shelving in the contemporary kitchen or a stand-alone bookshelf in the family room, open shelving is a great addition to modern décor. “White” space, or the blank air between objects, abounds with open shelving, giving the entire thing a sense of luxurious spaciousness.
Geometric Patterns – Many modern spaces benefit from the structure and repetition of geometric patterns because this type of visual cue tends to bring order to its surroundings. Fortunately, the possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to geometric additions into a contemporary space – area rugs, artwork, textiles, furniture, wallpaper, etc.
Bold Color – While neutrals still play a very important role in decorating today, the contemporary trend is more toward a bolder palette. This doesn’t mean color cacophony, of course. The bolder the colors, the tighter your color scheme must be to maintain a pleasing aesthetic.
Cool Kitchen – A cool, updated kitchen is a hallmark of modern design, but it isn’t always in the budget to do a full-scale kitchen remodel. Pick the components of your kitchen that you can update to give it a fresh, cool vibe. A great paint color, for example, or new lighting and bar stools may be just the things needed to instantly transform your kitchen and give it a fresh, contemporary vibe.
Structured Nature. A modern decorating idea that probably has its roots in the popularity of geometric design and pattern of decades past involves the use of natural materials in structured form. Wood, for example, maintains its visible grain and coloring but can be formed into a structured geometric side table for an unexpected yin and yang.
Asymmetry – The modern design world thrives on unexpected asymmetry. Balance is central to asymmetry on a comfortable level, though. So an off-centered mirror above a larger piece of furniture, such as a table, sofa, or credenza, looks well when balanced with another object of equal yet dissimilar visual weight.
Pop of Color – It doesn’t particularly matter what the specific color is, as long as it makes sense in your space and makes your eyes and heart happy, but modern design often thrives on a pop of a single color in a neutral space. It adds energy and excitement without throwing the balance of grounding forces askew.
Sleek & Natural – Modern décor sometimes gets a bad rap for being cold, sterile, and heartless. But that’s not quite fair. Modern decorating ideas abound for helping bridge the gap between sleek and natural in a contemporary space. Polished wood elements, for example, bring out the natural experience without sacrificing an ounce of sleek sophistication.
One Thing Different – A favorite decorating tactic of several designers is to include one thing different in a space. Examples of this modern decorating idea might be hanging rounded mirror with square-framed photos, or placing a single pink chair at the dining table amid a set of white. A move like this has the benefit of adding just a pinch of color and personality while not throwing the entire space into chaos.
Hidden Electronics – That’s right. We’ve all got them. Electronics all over the place. But that doesn’t make them any more appealing or aesthetic. One of the best modern decorating ideas with regard to technology is to make it look like you don’t have it around. Cupboards, shelves, doors, or other creative coverings and hideaways keep your space feeling and looking inherently more comfortably intimate and inviting.
Visual Shelf Backs – Having a contrasting back wall for shelving really has the capacity to make the items stand out. Depending on how varied your displayed pieces are, you can choose the backing that makes the most sense. Patterned wallpaper, for example, might be too busy behind an eclectic collection of framed art and pottery. Paint the back the same color as the wall for an instantaneous custom-built look (whether or not it’s actually built in).
Invisible Storage – We all have our baggage, but it’s not often that we want it out, displayed for all the world to see and comment upon. That sort of mentality is parallel to the modern decorating idea of building in a sort of storage that’s invisible. In this bedroom, for example, plenty of storage is available inside the doors on the left, but you probably didn’t even notice the tiny handles for the view. Of course, with a view like that, we’d probably hardly notice an enormous pink armoire, but that’s hardly the point.