Contemporary or Traditional. What’s Your Decorating Style? 

It’s time for you to redecorate your home. How do you know what style you prefer? Some styles are pretty self-explanatory and specific: rustic, French country, coastal, eclectic, or industrial.

But how can you tell if you prefer traditional versus contemporary? These two styles seem to be the most popular, and yet have the broadest range of options. Here is an overview of the difference between contemporary and traditional.

Contemporary style is often interchanged with “modern” which isn’t accurate. Contemporary architecture can be identified by its open floor plans, solid walls, a flat roof and a boxy feel. 

Contemporary decorating is about the “here and now.” It can best be characterized by: less is more, clean lines, minimal clutter, neutral and tonal colors paired with bold pops of color, open spaces, and an abundance of natural light that allows the rooms to feel airy and comfortable. The most obvious and distinctive element of a contemporary style interior design is line. It’s found in architectural details, use high ceilings and geometric shapes in wall art and sculpture.

Contemporary style is meant to reflect the current trends in design. However, keep in mind that something considered Contemporary in the 1960s, 70s or 80s would be considered retro today. Contemporary décor has evolved to encompass specific design elements that hold steady through the decades and can be accessorized with items that signify today’s décor idea.

Contemporary furniture has clean lines with soft edges. Chair legs and arms are simple, either square or round. Upholstery fabrics are either one solid color or have a subtle pattern. Contemporary tables have little if any ornate carvings. Inlaid patterns, if used, are geometric. Upholstered furniture is low to the ground with squared arms. The backs may be tufted with large, fabric-covered buttons.

Contemporary art, used as a focal point in your home, portrays the new modernized issues and ideas like feminism, multiculturalism, globalization, or awareness. 

Contemporary design basics include:

Colors—neutral colors of cream, white, tan, beige, gray and brown are the background to the Contemporary color scheme. Brighter color accents are allowed, but kept to a minimum.

Furnishings—smooth surfaces in light-colored woods, glass, nickel, stainless steel or chrome are featured in Contemporary furnishings. Textiles are natural fabrics (silk, cotton, linen, and wool) in neutral colors, with the occasional bold color or pattern used as an accent piece.

Walls—neutral paint colors on the walls, with the occasional accent wall in a brighter color, work for this style. Tone-on-tone patterned wallpaper also works as long as the pattern in not too dominate.

Flooring—bare floors are done in wood, cement, stone or laminate, with the occasional addition of an area rug in a simple pattern. Wall-to-wall carpeting should be in a solid, neutral color with a low pile.

Window Treatments—as with Modern, the preferred window treatment is none. However, if necessary for privacy, keep the treatment simple and a solid, neutral color.

Lighting—is used as an artistic statement in a contemporary interior. Floor and table lamps have straight lines and sleek metallic finishes; color might be introduced with a special shade. Recessed or track lighting draws attention to well-placed art and accessories.

Traditional decorating is about comfort, coziness, rounded sofa arms, elegance, symmetrical arrangements, rich moldings and attention to woodwork. Classic traditional conjures up images rooted in old-English style—dripping in dark woods, heavy draperies, hunter green, and persian rugs. NEW traditional however is different. It is classic and comfortable, with graceful lines the allow for some fun and youthfulness to be interjected.

Traditional chairs boast such features as turned or cabriole legs, ball-and-claw feet or bun feet, arched backs and rolled arms. Table legs resemble matching chair legs, and tabletops often have ornately trimmed edges. Motifs such as pineapples or seashells may be included in carvings in the backs of chairs or tabletop inlays. Upholstered furnishings, such as sofas, often have wood trim and large, dominant footings. 

Traditional art for your wall are of a historical era that comprise of anything done with the hands, such as the painting, printmaking and sculpture among others.

Traditional design basics include:

Colors—neutral colors, such as beige, cream, ivory, with splashes of crimson, Wedgwood blue, olive green or chocolate brown.

Furnishings—styles include Chippendale, Queen Anne and Sheraton. Upholstered wood pieces have formal solid, stripes and floral patterns. Soft accent pillows give the furniture a comfortable, sumptuous feel.

Walls—painted walls in ivory, beige or cream are common, but bolder colors are allowed to add a bit of drama to a room.

Flooring—wood floors with Oriental rugs first come to mind with the Traditional style, as do marble and slate floors.

Window Treatments—drapes are the customary window treatment in the Traditional style, with heavy fabrics and classic tiebacks.

Accessories—Still-life oil paintings, gilt frames and an emphasis on pairs lend a room a proper traditional feeling. To further the look, bring in a crystal chandelier, some silver candlesticks, and fresh or silk flowers in a grand vase.

For more about adding an addition, visit these websites:

Traditional Style 101 by HGTV

A Designer’s Guide to Decorating in the Traditional Style by The Spruce

Modern or Contemporary: What’s the Difference? by Houzz

Contemporary Decorating for Real Life by Better Homes & Gardens

Here at Michael Roberts Construction, we make people’s home dreams come true in the Coastal Georgia area. All it takes is a phone call to start the road to a custom home, addition, or remodel. (912) 663-3141

I offer helpful hints, tricks, and other information about the home industry, pictures to provide you with inspiration for your next project, large or small, indoors or out, as well as examples of my work on my Facebook Page, Pinterest and Google Plus!

Michael Roberts artfully combines the latest trends in home construction with classic elements to create an exquisite space for real families to enjoy. Licensed by the State of Georgia as a residential home builder, he thoroughly enjoys every aspect of the home building process. He offers an exemplary hands-on approach to his craft and insists upon working with his customers on a personal level to ensure complete satisfaction. Michael Roberts is a name synonymous with integrity, notable reliability, enthusiastic creativity, and award-winning design in the Coastal Georgia area. With high standards, and a detail oriented approach to home building, Roberts builds functional living spaces that make elegant southern opulence an affordable luxury.

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