The floral skirted couch and sponge-painted walls are tell-tale signs that your living room is in dire need of a makeover. You long for something more en vogue, but shopping for furniture feels less than inspiring when you get overwhelmed by just how much is out there.
A home filled with intentional, beautiful pieces inspires an intentional and beautiful life; at least that’s what the team of designers and architects at Modloft believes. We make luxury accessible to all (especially those with skirted sofas).
Creating a living room that is contemporary in design can be effortless if you understand basic concepts of style and design. We’ll discover the basics of contemporary furniture design, suggest five pieces of popular contemporary living room furniture, and give you some helpful tips to begin creating a serene and inviting living space.
What Is Contemporary Style Furniture?
Contemporary style furniture takes its cues from basic contemporary interior design. Contemporary style builds on the popularity of particular styles and finishes of the current time. As such, contemporary style is ever-changing and evolving.
Contemporary style furniture is usually highly functional, easily cared for, and features simplistic beauty.
When shopping for contemporary style furniture, look for the following hallmarks that are most notable in contemporary pieces.
- Minimalistic. Contemporary style furniture is minimal. You won’t find ornate designs, carved images or flourishes, ruffles, or disorganized patterns. Contemporary furniture features sleek designs and clean lines that promote open space and encourage a natural flow of energy from one piece to the next.
Less is more; however, contemporary furniture never lends the feeling of emptiness to a space. Instead, it offers a serene sense of order and structure.
What Is Not Minimalistic
Furniture that has ruffles, skirts, ornate trims, or is heavily patterned is not considered minimalistic. Structure and architectural design trump kitsch and trend.
- Functional. With contemporary style furniture, form follows function. Pieces are crafted for usability, sustainability, and functionality. They are intentional and purposeful. Sectional sofas allow for individuality and accommodation of space. Couches are sleek and inviting at the same time. Furniture performs and has been crafted to function first.
What Is Not Functional
Sofas covered with accent pillows, coffee and accent tables that don’t accommodate the surrounding room, and media consoles that don’t allow for storage can all be examples of furniture that isn’t functional.
- Polished and clean. Contemporary furniture features finishes in multiple wood and metal tones ranging from light to dark. Traditional materials like wood and leather can be used along with non-traditional materials like galvanized steel and copper.
The look of contemporary furniture creates bold statements that are aesthetically appealing yet never overstated. Many textiles are used and often combined, and new concepts and materials are explored.
What Is Not Polished and Clean
Cluttered, decorative, overly patterned, and the use of older styled finishes (like polished maple and/or oak) are not considered polished and clean in a contemporary design style.
- Use of Color. Contemporary color pallets are usually neutral (black, white, taupe, etc.), with calculated pops of fully saturated color used sparsely. An upholstered piece of furniture will often expose natural wood or steel legs and will offer seating on natural fibers (cotton, silk, wool, and leather).
What Color Palettes Are Not Contemporary
Highly intricate patterns and prints, pastels, use of multiple highlight colors, and floral patterns are not considered contemporary style.
5 Contemporary Living Room Furniture Pieces
You know what to look for in terms of contemporary style, so now it will be helpful to determine what pieces of furniture you need to build a living room that is functional and creates a feeling of serenity and calm sophistication.
If your room will feature media of any type, like a television, projection monitor, or the like, you’ll want to use that as the focal point around which you’ll build the remainder of the room. You can also use a fireplace or other dominant built-in as the reference point.
Here are five contemporary living room furniture pieces that can help you create a living room that encourages gathering.
1. The Sofa
The sofa is the first item to place in your room. The sofa is likely the largest and most used piece you’ll place, so it’s important to get it right.
Look for styles that are elegant, modern, and comfortable. Remember that form follows function. Your sofa should be comfortable, a place that invites you to open a bottle of wine and escape for an evening in plush comfort.
- One to try: The Essex Sofa combines low profile design and premium leather atop exposed stainless steel legs. This sofa makes a statement while offering you the cushiony comfort you expect from a luxury sofa, but without a luxury sofa price tag.
2. The Coffee Table
The second item to place in your living room should be your coffee table. When designing a room with contemporary pieces, you never have to sacrifice functionality for aesthetics or vice versa. Your coffee table should accommodate your room by offering a space to sit a stack of favorite reading material, your famous charcuterie tray, or your first cup of coffee in the morning.
- One to try: The Leyton Coffee Table defines the marriage of beauty and function. The glass top doesn’t disrupt the flow of light and energy in the room, creating space even where it sits. This geometrically designed table is even buildable with the Leyton Coffee Table II, which creates a multi-level table that operates as both an artistic centerpiece and much-needed surface space.
3. Entertainment and Media Storage
Even if you are using a projection screen, you’ll likely still want something under the projection area to anchor the room and store other items, gaming systems, and devices, or just add decorative style to the space.
A media console is a great way to store media items without sacrificing the contemporary feel of your space.
- One to try: The Gramercy Media Console offers an alternative to standard media storage and consoles. Featuring a wooden base and steel leg, the pull-out drawer offers enough space for storage and looks stunning and contemporary with its chrome handles and simplistic, elegant design.
4. The Lounge Chair
Lounge chairs not only add design and style to a space, but they are also functional in that they offer additional seating for guests.
Contemporary loungers offer angles and edges that can be asymmetrical and eye-catching. Using a lounger is a great way to add artistic design to a room without sacrificing the space needed for seating.
- One to try: The Kent Lounge Chair is compact and comfortable, allowing for additional seating in any area and giving minimalist design cues to your space. The comfortability of this chair is provided by plush tweed and leather set against a solid wood frame.
5. The Side Table
Look to the side table once again for the combination of form and function with elegance and style. The side table offers a place for you to rest your book, or aged whisky, within comfortable reach.
- One to try: The Adelphi round nesting occasional side tables adds visual impact to your living room. These tables offer a beautiful design and add depth to your room by creating depth. Crafted from steel and glass, these tables are the ultimate in contemporary design.
Redesigning and redecorating can be intimidating and overwhelming. Don’t get caught up in the details and allow yourself to be drawn into placing pieces in your space that don’t elicit the feelings you want to create in your room.
Whether you’ve just moved into a new space or are thinking of redesigning your room, it can be hard to get started and figure out how to navigate creating a space that feels inviting and serene at the same time. Here are some hints to help you get started.
- Determine your color palette. If your style is contemporary, look for wood and metal finishes that mix pops of intentional color. In terms of furniture, elegance and clean lines are a must. Pieces should be functional, uncomplicated, sturdy, and aesthetic.
You need not avoid bright color, but use it wisely and sparingly. Adding too many bold colors can overpower a room and make it feel more intimidating than inviting.
- Decide what the room will provide. Is this a room you’ll use for conversation or for viewing media? Is this a formal living room or the place where you relax and sink into a comfortable sofa with a glass of wine after a long day?
The usage of the room can help you determine what stylistic touches you’ll need and what furniture items are most important.
- Keep furniture unencumbered by using wall space for art and additional decor. Allowing furniture to remain clean slates allows them to be used as art themselves.
Contemporary furniture design is minimalistic, structured, and tailored to meet the needs of a space and add beauty and sophistication. The pieces you select should help your living room feel inviting and unencumbered.
Basics of Decorating in Contemporary Style | The Spruce
10 Living Room Design Tips | Better Homes & Gardens
Characteristics of Contemporary Furniture | Hunker