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Interior Design and You: Modern Design | Blog Post #27

A modern interior design theme employs crisp clean lines, minimal clutter, and modern materials such as glass and steel. If you’ve read last week’s post, modern may sound really close to minimalism, except that the modern design is perfect for the homeowner who enjoys the simplicity and neatness of minimalism, but prioritises variety over hard utility. Today’s post explores modernism and its nuances, largely in the context of minimalism.

Modernism and Art

Owing to its more liberal nature than minimalism, modern design has far more variations and is difficult to pin down. However, it has some key characteristics that help define it. Like minimalism, modernism began as a revolution against the opulent and ornate designs of Victorian and Gothic designs and was reflected by the modern art revolution.

Modern art can take many forms, from the complex but conventionally beautiful The Starry Night by Vincent Van Goph to the abstract and unconventional Guernica by Pablo Picasso. (Images © WikiCommons)
Guernica by Pablo Picasso (Images © Wikicommons)

Modernism was an extremely broad intellectual movement that branched off into many forms in society such as art, literature, and design. Examples of modern art include abstract or pop art, like Picasso or Warhol, while modern design forms include or relate to minimalist and Scandinavian designs.

Modernism and Interior Design

The modern design employs the use of bold primary colours to offset neutrals or accent them. As a consequence, it is often less monochrome than minimalism. This can come in the form of furniture like a red leather sofa, colourful but simple throw pillows – think IKEA, but that’s Scandinavian design and a matter for another day – and bright but simple wall art like abstract pieces.

Modern and Scandinavian design share many core concepts with minimalist design, but are more liberal in their use of bold colours. (Image © lamenta3/Flickr)

Living Room

The living room is the face and body of your home. It greets guests as they arrive and provides the living space for bonding and relaxing. In modernism, open space is a very core concept. An open floor plan minimalises clutter and gives room for movement, so spare elements like long large counters to separate the kitchen or dining area from the living room are preferred over hard elements like walls. You’ll want to see a large combined space, but have clear defining lines to mark the transition between parts of the house that serve different purposes.

Besides the crisp lines and monochrome theme, note the addition of colourful art and a fluffy rug.

However, modernism does include more ‘futuristic’ elements of design than minimalism, such as chrome or steel, and a single bold colour accent repeated throughout the space to give contrast. Be careful of employing multiple colours, since it may give rise to a messy and overly complex appearance that defeats the simplicity of the modern design.

Multiple bold colours can be used tastefully provided you have a large space to keep them evenly separated.

Go for neutral colour floor rugs, stainless steel barstools for your counter – which should be a monochrome material like epoxy or another synthetic – and a leather or fabric couch without any patterns. A glass and steel coffee table would be a perfect addition, as well as LED showroom lights. Go for large floor tiles or a seamless flooring material such as epoxy.


The core concepts here would not vary too much from the living room, but you may wish to use a darker theme for a soothing and restful environment. Choose colours such as black or dark brown for walls and bed frames, while keeping accents more earth-toned than bright or bold. Elements of wood can be used more liberally here for wall paneling, book shelves, or table counters, alongside steel wall lamps.

Simple and boring don't have to be synonyms. Spruce up your bedroom with soothing and tasteful art pieces. (Image © Khiem Tran/Pixabay)


Open space may seem hard in a space as small as a bathroom, but on the contrary, it is a little simpler because of the straightforward purpose of a bathroom. A simple glass partition can separate your shower from your main bathroom, while a steel rainfall shower is perfect for the modern and decluttered look. Dark greys work as well as whites for your floors and walls, but make sure to break it up with wood or chrome accents – nothing as bold as the living room. Toilet bowls, bathtubs, and sinks should be simple glass or monochrome porcelain.

Bolder designs with bright colours can achieve an airier look in the bathroom.


The kitchen offers more options than the bedroom or bathroom. Depending on your needs – big family or party hosts – you may wish for a bigger kitchen with more counter space for appliances, or a simple kitchen with more utility for storage and more breathing room. The same rule of straight lines applies for shelves, try to keep them level without any abrupt placement.

An excellent example of a compact, modern kitchen with tasteful use of a bold colour. (Image © Wiccahwang/Flickr)

A monochrome black or white counter material would be easier to keep clean – think epoxy – while chrome accents on your fridge, light fixtures, or even back-splash can stave off a boring, homogeneous look. A bigger kitchen may suffer an island counter for more counter space, but a smaller kitchen could start feeling crammed.

The Modern Family

Regardless of your take on modern design – there are many good ways to go about it and few wrong ones – the most important aspect is function preceding form. What does your household need more – storage space for toys and tools, or display space for collector’s items and tasteful décor? That may be the difference between extensive floor to wall shelves and in-wall recesses for display purposes.

We hope that today’s post has given you a good idea of what modern design is and how you can go about implementing it. If you liked it, stay tuned for our upcoming posts on other interior design themes!