What is contemporary style? If you love bold colors and graphic artwork and mixing patterns, this is the style for you and your contemporary self.
Welcome to Style Week day 5
And now it’s Friday.
The end of the week.
Today is all about bold and graphic and color and pattern and painting your ceilings the color of the sky and finding artwork that makes a statement and decorating with plants that have better haircuts than you.
Welcome to colorful contemporary style.
And now? This is the part of the journey where you might turn away. I get it. I understand. Most of you are probably farmhouse or transitional. I can hear you thinking—what does contemporary have to do with me? It’s not my style. It’s too bold. It’s so much random color mixed with random pattern. But before you click away here’s the thing.
There might be a design idea here for you.
Truth? I’m not really all about contemporary. I’m more of a classic and timeless girl myself. But when we went to photograph Carmel from Our Fifth House’s home, I discovered something about myself. There were ideas here. And sometimes—just sometimes—adding a single element of contemporary style can freshen all the other designs up.
Are you ready to find fresh?
If this is your first day with us, I wrote a book all about style and how to find it called The DIY Style Finder. We traveled all over the country photographing different houses with different styles—like this amazing living outdoor space from my friend Carmel. I thought it might be fun if we took a style a day and talked about it and how to create it and what you can buy to get it and how it looks in pictures.
I wanted to feature some of the pictures from her home that we took.
Especially all the photos that didn’t make the book.
Are you ready to talk contemporary style?
Elements of contemporary style
Before we get started—I have to explain something. There are so many different types of contemporary (actually there are so many versions of all the design styles—way too many to get into in a five-day series). For sake of this discussion, I wanted to embrace Carmel’s style of contemporary. It’s not too stark or distant or plain or monochromatic. It’s colorful. It’s bold. It’s liveable contemporary. It’s the type of contemporary that can fit into a home and still leave room for LIVING.
Here are a few of my favorite elements of contemporary style:
- bold color choices
- black and white stripes
- mix of design styles
- heavily patterned accessories
- graphic prints
- contemporary art
- shiny metals
- architectural greenery
- contrast with paint choices
Contemporary style is all about being bold
(total aside: aren’t these pictures beautiful? These are some of the ones that we didn’t include in the book)
Contemporary style isn’t for the faint of heart. If this is your design style, you are following the beat of your own design drummer. There’s an instinctive flow with contemporary style that gives it vision and personality.
Contemporary style is all about being bold—and then? Being bolder.
Here are a few ways to bring boldness into your contemporary design:
- mix patterns like leopard and stripes and polka dots
- paint a wall black and contrast it with a single color accessory
- add black stripes to every room
- juxtapose another design style with modern, like mid-century or traditional to create design harmony
- add a vivid color to the ceiling
- choose light fixtures that are over-sized and architectural
- add greenery to every room
- introduce sculptural organic elements to the space
- use at least four patterns on your dining room table
- red makes the boldest of statments
How to set a contemporary style table
Sometimes it’s easy to talk about a style with specific examples. I think the way we set and styled Carmel’s dining table is the perfect example of all of the elements of contemporary style. It’s bold and colorful and graphic and starts a conversation. Want to see the elements of how to set a contemporary style table?
Come sit by me.
Here are a few suggestions on how to set a contemporary style table.
- Set the tone of the table with a bold runner. Here, we used a red and white striped runner.
- Next start designing the place setting. Anchor the place setting with a neutral charger.
- Build a foundation with white dishes.
- Next, introduce pattern. Here we layered in patterned dishes with different patterns with a bold leopard plate.
- Change it up. Notice that every place setting is different.
- Choose linens that are bold and colorful. We used pink and gold polka dot napkins for this place setting.
- Don’t forget about the whimsy. These butterfly napkin rings are the perfect accent.
- Choose colorful flowers.
- Using a glass vase instead of a patterned one, allowed the flowers to be the star of the table.
Add a contemporary paint color
One of the easiest ways to add a little contemporary style to a room is with paint. You can transform a room in a weekend with a new coat of paint in a contemporary color. When choosing a paint color for your space, think of color. Layer in color with painted furniture and painted floors and painted rooms.
Here are some of my favorite contemporary paint colors:
- SW Real Red (the perfect red to add drama to a space)
- SW Exuberant Pink (this reminds me of confetti)
- SW Oceanside (a brilliant almost blue/almost turquoise)
- SW Sunny Veranda (brilliant yellow)
- SW Slate Violet (almost gray—good neutral for contemporary homes)
- SW Extra White (perfect for trim with all this color
Add contemporary style with painted wall treatments
One of the simplest, most inexpensive way to add a little contemporary style to a space is with a painted wall treatment. All you need is a can of paint, some painter’s tape and a little imagination. If you choose to go bold with a colorful painted wall treatment, you can keep the rest of the accessories and furniture in the space relatively simple.
(total aside: this is one of the best ways to save decorating money that I know of)
Here are some ideas for painting your space with a graphic design.
- Cube wall—paint your walls with this dramatic painted wall treatment that looks like a piece of contemporary art. You can find the entire how-to here.
- Herringbone wall—if math is your friend, this is the painted wall treatment for you. Go bold or go home. You can find the entire how-to here. (total aside: Here’s the cutest math love story EVER.)
- Ombre hexagon wall—this painted wall treatment combines bold, graphic design with graduated color. You can find the entire how-to here.
- Raised panel wall—this painted wall treament uses bold color and architectural features to make a one-of-a-kind wall. You can find the entire how-to here.
If you like the contemporary look, here’s a little inspiration to get you started
Click the photos below to shop the look
If you are all about contemporary I celebrate you and your wonderful style.
You are the life of the party.
You grab every minute of this wonderful journey and never let it go.
You are funny and witty and creative and bold and you use every crayon in the box and you paint in all the colors of the rainbow.
I love your style.
Let’s be friends. 🙂
PS Be sure and check out the rest of the styles and how to get them in my new book, The DIY Style Finder.