When we buy a property (be it a condo or an apartment), it is a house. It becomes a home only after we do the renovation and move in. But a renovation is not just about wardrobes, flooring and all other functional aspects of design; it is also about the style. In fact, the design style, which is an innately personal choice, is what differentiates a home from a house. And among styles, contemporary design is one of the most popular choices amongst homeowners.

So let us explore what we actually mean when we say contemporary interior design. 

What Is Contemporary Design?

Clean lines and a subtle colour palette are inherent to contemporary design

A home with clean lines and a subtle colour palette defines contemporary interior design. The priority in a contemporary home is to focus on the natural light. Sophistication and simplicity is also very important. Moreover, there usually is a seamless vibe as most surfaces are flat and, in case of furniture pieces like cabinets and closets, they are also handleless. In a larger context, contemporary design also includes connected technologies used for smart homes. Energy efficiency is also something that figures in these homes.

But Did You Know Contemporary Is Not an Interior Design Style?

It’s not a style but a macro trend

In the context of style, however, it is important to know that the word contemporary gets used rather loosely. It is not really a style but a design movement. ‘Contemporary’ roughly translates into ‘here and now.’ 

What is considered to be contemporary today may transform completely in less than a decade. 

So it is more of a macro trend that keeps evolving with the times. Ten years from now, what makes a home contemporary will probably be completely different from what we mean today.

What Makes a Home Contemporary?

Features of contemporary design
  • It’s obvious that a contemporary home should reflect the architecture and interior decor of today. Hence, one can expect a simple layout with an open floor plan, straight lines and large windows 
  • One of the most distinctive elements of contemporary design is the use or prominence given to the line
  • Devoid of any decoration, furniture sports smooth surfaces and sleek silhouettes that stick to clean lines. Though most of the furniture in a room tends to be simple, there is often one statement piece with a bold colour or form 
  • The lighting is more inclined towards bare and raw rather than ornamental. Straight-cut floor lamps and pendant lights in geometric shapes are popular. Recessed or track lighting helps to draw attention to well-placed art and accessories
  • Metal accent pieces made of nickel, chrome and steel make frequent appearances in such homes. These materials are symbolic of the urban nature of the contemporary design movement

What Are the Elements of Contemporary Design?

Patterns used in contemporary homes
A perfect mix of contemporary interior design elements

#1: Colour Palette

The base colour palette for a contemporary interior design is neutral — think greys, blacks, browns and whites. This basic colour palette is spruced up by introducing occasional pops of bright colours.

#2: Patterns

When it comes to patterns, look out for geometric ones, including zig-zags, stripes and checks. You will be able to see these patterns on wallpapers, decor items or soft furnishings like rugs and cushion covers.

#3: Materials

  • Wood, tiles and vinyl are popular choices for flooring in contemporary design. Low-pile rugs also make an appearance
  • Metal, stone and glass (opaque or clear) are used to create some architectural drama
  • Fabrics are usually natural such as silk, wool, linen and cotton
  • Furniture is made of light-coloured woods such as maple and birch, frosted and clear glass, stainless steel, nickel and chrome

#4: Textures and Surfaces

  • In a contemporary home, there is an intentional use of textures
  • Textured surfaces include wall trims, PU or laser-cut sheets
  • You will also spot panelling with grooves and strong architectural lines

#5: Forms

  • Functional furniture that adheres to straight lines is characteristic of contemporary interior design
  • Sofas, chairs and tables tend to have exposed legs

How Is Contemporary Design Different From Modern Interior Design?

Contemporary, unlike modern, is a mix of design elements that are in vogue

When we say modern interior design, we are referring to a specific time period from the 1950s to the 1960s. As this time is bang in the middle of the 20th century, it is actually called the mid-century modern style. Design ideas like ‘less is more’ or ‘form follows function’, which were introduced during the modern era, are still in vogue today. That is probably why sometimes it’s easy to get confused between modern and contemporary interior design. 

The difference between the two is the very fact that contemporary is not a defined interior design style but rather an amalgam of design elements (including those of modern design) that are currently in fashion. More than just being a style, contemporary design is a design movement. The definition of contemporary will change and when it does, it might be completely different from what we see in modern interior design. 

Contemporary #LivspaceHomes in Malaysia

As we have mentioned, contemporary is a popular style in Malaysia. So it is no surprise that many of our clients specifically ask us to design contemporary homes for them. So we picked our favourites when it came to Livspace homes that best embody contemporary design.

#1: A Chic 3-Room Condo Design

There is a refreshing mix of grey and muted blue in this contemporary design bedroom

Storage is a mandate in all our homes. And IKEA furniture ensures you can get maximum storage without compromising on aesthetics. To help you picture an IKEA-inspired home designed by Livspace, our designers put together this 3-room condo design. This home boasts light wooden-toned finishes and pops of muted blues, giving it a fresh and contemporary look. 

Take a complete visual tour here.

#2: A Contemporary Condo Designed Using IKEA Furniture

This clutter-free living room is designed using IKEA furniture

For most millennials, a home needs to be low-maintenance as none of us have the time to clean regularly. Conceptualised by Livspace designers, this 2-room condo is clutter-free, contemporary and so easy-to-maintain! This home boasts ergonomic furniture by IKEA and a neutral colour palette of blacks, browns and greys. 

Get more details here

#3: A Clean and Cosy Renovation

This is a clean and contemporary IKEA-inspired living room

Warmth and cosiness are trademarks of homes that are furnished with IKEA furniture. To give you a peek into how a Livspace-IKEA home would look like, our designers conceptualised this contemporary design renovation. This stunning home features a spacious design and a neutral colour palette. The functional furniture is the focal point here to keep the overall look clutter-free.

Get a full-fledged look at this home here

If you enjoyed reading about contemporary design characteristics, also explore this one-stop renovation guide for first-time homeowners.

How can Livspace Help You?

We hope you could borrow some ideas for home and kitchen renovation from this IKEA-inspired home design. If you are looking to apply these ideas in your home, then Livspace is here to help. All you have to do is book an online consultation by filling out this form. If you want to meet in person, you can also find Livspace designers at the IKEA Damansara store. Hurry up and get quality home interiors from the best in the industry! 

Send in your thoughts and suggestions at editor.sg@livspace.com.