Defining Styles: Contemporary, Modern, Mid-Century Modern

The world of architecture and design uses many terms that sound general but are actually specific. Contemporary and modern are two of these terms that are often confused. They sound like they could mean the same thing, but they do not. So, what is the difference between contemporary and modern home decor, and what, exactly, is mid-century modern? A quick explanation may clear up some of the confusion.


Of the three terms discussed here, contemporary is the one that is basically just what it sounds like something from the present time, whatever that time may be. Contemporary design does not have a specific set of traits to set it apart from other design periods, because it encompasses everything that is being done at present, in all styles. However, at any point in time, you may hear designers using the phrase to describe whatever is most popular at the moment.


Modern home decor sounds like it would be the same thing as contemporary, but it is not. This style of architecture and design was modern in its time, starting around the turn of the 20th century. It was a big change from the highly decorative trends that had preceded it for generations. The modernist period covers several decades and many smaller movements, but its overarching themes are simplicity and function. Ornamentation is not a feature of this style. Unframed windows, cantilevered upper stories and utilitarian furniture are all hallmarks of this movement.

Mid-Century Modern

There was a huge resurgence in the popularity of mid-century modern home decor in the early part of the 21st century. This style, as made clear by its name, is the style of modernist design that was popular in the middle of the 20th century, somewhere between the 1930s and 1960s. The Bauhaus and International movements strongly influenced American designers and architects during this time, and the style emerged to feature clean, simple lines, glass elements and oneness with nature.

Decorating your home according to one particular style can be fun, but incorporating different styles may be just as rewarding. If you have eclectic tastes, try combining contemporary and modern home decor elements to attain the desired effect.

Modern home decor features clean, simple lines and function over form. It can be found in the Classic Palm Springs style if mid-century is what you are looking for. There are many other styles of modern home decor that are similar, but not identical to mid-century designs. Explore the entire period to decide what you prefer. Visit the website of Dyag East for more details.


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