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What Is Contemporary Design?

The term contemporary can seem like a buzzword thrown around these days, especially in the design world. Contemporary? What does that even mean? Is it any different from modern? And how does it differ from traditional design?


It may seem like the term “contemporary” to describe design styles has been around for a while, because, well, it has. Contemporary design is ever-changing, encompassing the trends of the moment.


Contemporary and modern are terms that can often seem interchangeable; the words have such similar meanings! However in terms of design styles, modern refers to a very specific time period - roughly the 1920s-1960s - think those mid-century modern furniture pieces I mentioned above. Modern design is its own defined style, and has what we may think of as a “retro” feel.


While contemporary kitchen cabinetry design continues to evolve and change, there are some trends that define contemporary design today. As you collect images of favorite kitchens and baths, you may run across these elements, and find that you love these aspects of contemporary design.


Mix of natural materials. A popular look right now is to mix different, natural materials: think neutral wood tones matched with dark metal and cream-colored tile. These materials achieve a layered look and can feel chic and classic while also being contemporary.


Traditional materials used unexpectedly. Think concrete countertops, oversized backsplash tiles, or whitewashed wood flooring.


Clean lines. Most contemporary looks today will incorporate linear, clean, crisp lines. There is little decorative ornamentation and most cabinetry will incorporate a flat slab or shaker-style door panel free of carving.


Updated appliances and accessories. Sleek, high-functioning appliances are definitely of the moment. Think refrigerators with built-in touchscreens, induction cooktops, and built-in luxuries such as espresso machines and pop-up outlets.


Neutral color palette. While pops of color may be used to accent, the trend right now is the mixing of a variety of neutrals. Gray is having a big moment, along with white, black, navy, cream, and rich wood stains.


Painted trim. White or dark charcoal gray trim has become the most popular choice in new construction. Both feel very clean; white brightens while charcoal gray deepens. Incorporating these colors into cabinetry can create a clean, fluid feel from room to room.


Contemporary kitchen cabinetry design may not be your favorite right now - though wait a few years and it may come around to something you truly enjoy! You can incorporate elements of contemporary design into your own space to truly make it your own. Use white-painted trim with traditional raised-panel kitchen cabinetry, add a concrete countertop to a craftsman-style design, and use a mix of materials no matter your favorite design style. Since contemporary design really is so eclectic, virtually anything goes!


Still not sure what your personal style is, but ready to move forward with your own remodel? Contact Bella Domicile to meet with one of our talented designers today! Call (608) 271-8241 or fill out an appointment request form here.

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