Modern & Contemporary Design: Is There a Difference?

It’s the age-old question – what really IS the difference between Modern vs. Contemporary as far as design? SECRET: There’s a LOT. While there are differences when it comes to colors and materials, we’re here to break down all of the differences between Modern Design & Contemporary Design as well as some similarities to look for when it comes to designing your new kitchen, bedroom or space.

Modern vs. Contemporary Design: What is the MAIN difference?

Modern design can be described as the style of the early to mid 20th century but, in reality, it’s more of a mix between different mid-century styles. While modern design is tied to a specific time, the main thing to note with contemporary design is that it changes with the trends of the times. Think simple & minimalistic – in other words, clutter is GONE!

Differences: Colors


The typical colors that are used in modern design consist of naturals or neutrals that tend to have a warmer feel. If you do choose to add color, the color is often a variation of a pure, saturated tone like red, indigo or orange colors. What to look for: A neutral color scheme and crisp, symmetrical lines.


The color palette of modern design leans more toward naturals or neutrals that have an inviting feel. Contemporary design often sticks to colors that are of black, grey or white -If color is added. What to look for: Heavy contrast in design with a surplus of black and white undertones/hues.

Differences: Materials


Natural materials like wood, such as beams, or exposed brick are used almost all throughout. The furniture that is used in modern design is often made of plastic, glass or metal materials. What to look for: These materials along with geometric patterns or colorful accents that give a retro feeling while playing off of the future.


This type of design uses sustainable materials such as wood, cork or stone. Contemporary design also incorporates large, open windows and white walls. What to look for: These materials as well as monochromatic furniture. This can make spaces appear larger more open.


Both modern & contemporary designs are meant to include the most basic, but essential, elements for your home, office or space. Both types of design go more towards the simplistic, neutral color palette with open concept criteria. MAKE SURE to keeping clutter out of modern and contemporary spaces – this will only keep your aesthetic flowing the way that it is intended to.

If you’re looking to give your kitchen or bathroom a REFRESH and want help designing your new Modern, Contemporary or other style, give our Stone Squad a call at (941) 795-2800 and we’ll help you turn your vision into a REALITY!