Contemporary Design Principles

contemporary living room with concrete fireplace and natural tones

Getting a fresh, modern feel in your home starts with an awareness of contemporary design ideas. You don't have to completely redo your entire house to freshen things up. Start with what you have and work with one element or surface at a time. Before long, you'll have that sleek, nouveau look you've been craving. You might earn some compliments from your friends and family, but the real reward will be a sense of peace and pleasure in your place.

Neutral Tones

Modern designs tend to have a neutral base. This creates a calming baseline to a space, and gives you the freedom you need to express your style with bright accents that delight you. If you have a space in your home that feels chaotic, give your walls a nice, neutral paint job. Painting the walls is an affordable way to take a space from stimulating to simple and get that nice, neutral feel. You can also use neutral colors for flooring and furniture if you want your space to feel gentle and soothing.

neutral paint tones


At the core of all great design is functionality. While it may be tempting to live in an all-white, Instagramable house, it’s really not realistic because it’s not functional. Go from room to room in your house and ask yourself what the purpose of the room is. Then ask yourself if the design supports or hinders that purpose. You’ll be surprised at what needs to change to make your house more functional.

Now functional doesn’t mean ugly. You can still have a beautiful, functional home when you start with how space is used and add in pieces that you love.


One of the most popular trends in home decor right now is minimalism. Minimalism allows the people and energy in your house to flow naturally from space to space by eliminating clutter and keeping things simple. If you want to minimize your home, you either need to get rid of a lot of your stuff or organize it somewhere out of sight.

Minimalism strives to keep spaces free and open. Try moving furniture against the wall or clearing a space for walking around a room. Minimalism also tries to create smooth lines throughout the home. Try a structured gallery wall using the same frame six times in two rows, perfectly lined up. The effect is instantly elevating.

minimalist living room with stylish lamp and small couch


Modern design also brings elements of the outside world, inside. Add wood elements to your home, like a raw wood coffee table or wood floors. You can also add plants as decor. Houseplants aren’t as intimidating as they sound, and they make really lovely simple decoration. Pick a few pretty pots and start planting!

You can also bring the soothing colors of nature into your home with furniture, paint, and art. Nature looks different all over the world, so look out your window and see what colors are around you. If you live in the desert, bring in the burnt orange of sand or the sage green of cactus. If you live by the ocean, go for tans and blues.

Personal Touches

Make sure you add ample amounts of you to the space. Bring in elements that make you happy. Art, especially wall art, is a wonderful place to start. Get on a site like Etsy and find art that feels unique and personal before you head to a chain store and buy whatever's on clearance. If you're feeling extra ambitious, try creating some of your own art. When you add elements to your home that feel like you, you'll feel more personally connected to your space.

Great designers know when to follow the rules and when to break them. Your home is your oasis, and you know it better than anyone. The most amazing thing about modern design is that pretty much anything goes when you do it right. Think about what your want your house to feel like as a guide for how you want it to look.