When we buy a property (be it a Condo or a HDB), 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 interior design is one of the most popular choices in the city!

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

What Is Contemporary Interior Design?

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Clean lines and a subtle colour palette

A home with clean lines and a subtle colour palette defines contemporary interior design. The prioirty in this type of design is natural light. Sophistication in simplicity is also very important. Moreover, there usually is a seamless vibe as most surfaces are flat and handleless. In a larger context, contemporary interior design also includes connected technologies used for smart homes. Energy efficiency is also something that figures in this type of design. 

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

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It’s not a style but a macro trend

In the context of style, the word contemporary gets used rather loosely. It is not really 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. 10 years from now, what makes a home contemporary will be completely different from what we mean today. 

What Makes A Home Contemporary?

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Features of contemporary design
  • It’s obvious that the shell of a contemporary home would reflect the architecture 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 with 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 bare and raw 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 contemporary homes. These materials are symbolic of the urban nature of this design movement.

What Are The Elements of Contemporary Design?

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

#1: Colour Palette

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

#2: Patterns

Look out for geometric, including zig-zags, stripes and checks. These patterns could come in the form of wallpapers, decor items or soft furnishings like rugs and cushion covers.

#3: Materials

  • Wood, tiles and vinyl are popular choices for flooring. 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

  • An intentional use of textures is one of the common threads holding this style together
  • Textured surfaces include wall trims, PU or layer-cut sheets
  • You will also spot panelling with grooves and strong architectural lines

#5: Forms

  • Functional furniture that adheres to straight lines
  • Sofas, chairs and tables tend to have exposed legs 

How Is Contemporary Different From Modern Interior Design?

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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, this style is sometimes referred to as mid-century modern. Design ideas like ‘less is more’ or ‘form follows function,’ which came into being with modern design are still in vogue today. That is probably why sometimes it’s easy to get confused between contemporary and modern interior design. 

The difference between the two is the very fact that contemporary is not a defined interior design style but an amalgam of design elements (including those of modern design) that are currently in fashion. But 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 Singapore

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

#1: See Zhibin and Tong Shuyi’s 5 Room BTO

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A seamless kitchen that fits contemporary standards

Shuyi and Zhibin are a young, soon-to-be married couple, who wanted a home that was ideal for entertaining guests. They wanted to renovate their home to open up space and make their 92 sqm home look a bit more spacious. Thanks to seamless contemporary design, they had their wish!

Take a complete visual tour here.

#2: We Redesigned This 17-year-old HDB

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In built storage and surfaces devoid of ornamentation

This young family with a dog and a toddler wanted a home that sports pastels and neutral shades. Our design team ensured that they have a spacious home with clean lines and unobtrusive furniture. Not only is this home peppy and child-friendly, it is also packed with storage.

Get more details here

#3: Peek Into This Elder-friendly Condo

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Clean and contemporary bathroom in white

Amy and Marcus’s resale condo was designed using their Feng Shui master’s advice. It has already dictated certain sections of the layout. Using these as the starting point, the Livspace design team went on to create a simple, uncluttered design that’s completely wheelchair accessible. This edler-friendly home has several aspects of contemporary interior design. 

Get a full-fledged look at this home here

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

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