These 11 Homes Show What Contemporary Style Is (and Why It’s So Cool)

published Jan 27, 2024
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View into modern minimal white kitchen and dining room with dark brown kitchen island and cabinets
Credit: Lula Poggi

While some design styles are fairly straightforward (minimal design of course, being design with minimal objects and decorations), others can cause some level of confusion. Modern design and contemporary design, for instance, are terms that tend to be used interchangeably, but are actually quite distinct (most of the time).

What is the difference between contemporary and modern houses?

“Modern design actually refers to the early to mid-20th century, while contemporary is more current,” explains designer Renee DiSanto, co-founder of Park & Oak Interior Design, in this post all about contemporary design. In other words, during the early to mid-20th century, when modern design was all the rage, modern and contemporary were one and the same. But as the popularity of modern design made way for other styles, the “contemporary” moniker has shifted, too. 

What is a contemporary style home?

“Contemporary design is forever evolving,” says designer Mikel Welch in the same contemporary design article. Unfortunately, this means it’s hard to pin down descriptions of the style. You see, contemporary design is all about what’s trendy at the moment. It’s about what’s cool and popular in the design-sphere currently. Because of this, as soon as the design world has moved on to the next cool trend, so too will the look of contemporary design shift again. 

So how is someone supposed to make a roundup of contemporary-style homes if the definition is always changing? Well, it’s by rounding up homes that are currently exhibiting some of the hallmarks of today’s hottest decor trends. And right now that’s Scandi-inspired spaces; organic, rounded furniture; checkerboard patterns; and bouclé textures. It’s a sprinkling of retro-inspired throwbacks (who could have seen the return of glass blocks?). Plus, plenty of other trendy elements that will likely be around for a while. 

Read on to see a spattering of extremely hip spaces that embody today’s “contemporary-style” look and get inspiration for your own cool home. 

Credit: Leela Cyd

1. The Only Thing Cooler than This LA Loft’s Glass Blocks Is the Decor

Sometimes, the architecture of a home dictates the furniture. In Juliana’s case, in her sunny Los Angeles loft, it’s contemporary style. “The windows and glass bricks in the apartment are just incredible. I can’t say I have a constant favorite thing about the apartment, but they are definitely noteworthy,” Juliana said at the time of the tour. To complement the aesthetics, she chose curved furniture and pieces with personality. 

Visit the full home tour to see more of Juliana’s gorgeous space. 

Credit: Layne Dixon

2. Renters Painted Every Room of This Chicago Apartment — Even the Floors

Rounded furniture is a hallmark of contemporary style, and Brigette Haulenbeek’s Parisian-inspired apartment in Chicago is full of those details. Just take the light fixture above the dining table, for example. The rounded chandelier is modern, spherical, and stands out against the white walls and floors. 

Explore more of Haulenbeek’s contemporary apartment in the full home tour

3. This NYC Rental in a 100-Year-Old Building Has Tons of Old World Charm

One of the best things about Jake Poser and August Laska’s New York City apartment in a 100-year-old building is the seamless blending of modern and vintage details. “I live for a rhinestone and neutral, contemporary art, while August is more interested in realism and colorful paintings — you’ll see a smattering of both throughout,” Poser explained at the time of the tour.

See how the couple’s individual styles come together in the full home tour

Credit: Lula Poggi

4. A Small but Stylish Spanish Apartment Is an Oasis for Humans and Cats

When a space is described as “contemporary,” visions of cozy furniture and aesthetics might not spring to mind. However, Miquel’s modern apartment in Barcelona proves that spaces with minimal furnishings and clean lines can also have a feeling of coziness. “It is homey, cozy to the max. That’s what we were looking for, and that’s what I feel in it,” Miquel said at the time of the tour. 

Peek inside Miquel’s cozy space in the full home tour

5. A 377-Square-Foot Berlin Studio Apartment Feels Larger, Thanks to a Clever Curtain

Malon Kraaijvanger’s studio apartment in Berlin might be small, but it’d be expansive if contemporary style and chic design could be measured in square footage. The professional thrifter has filled her home with eye-catching pieces, like rounded furniture, a textured rug, and bright colors. 

Visit the full home tour to see more of Kraaijvanger’s gorgeous furnishings. 

6. A Modern Barcelona Studio Apartment Has the Sexiest Archway

Currently curves are all the rage in home decor, and the ultimate way to add curviness to an interior is with a giant, eye-catching archway, which is exactly what you can find in Creative Director and Animation Director Pol Solà‘s stunning studio apartment in Barcelona, Spain. The archway not only adds lots of contemporary style to the space, but also helps visually divide the living areas from the bed area. 

Visit the full home tour to see more of this stunning studio.

7. This Renovated Loft Has Brilliant Built-in Storage and Plywood Shelves

When it comes to wood tones, no other finish feels as contemporary right now as unfinished, light-colored plywood. Its soft simplicity invokes a Scandinavian sensibility, while it’s no-frills design mimics a modern industrial look. In the home of Lauren Bruce and her wife, Hannah McNéill, custom plywood shelves add not only a ton of storage, but also a cool, contemporary vibe. 

See more of this plywood palace in the full house tour

8. This “Worn to Bits” Brooklyn House Is Now Beautiful After a Gut Reno

The fabulous furniture in this home plays a big role in giving it such strong contemporary style. Rosemary, a creative strategist and copywriter, hired Amy Pigliacampo of Amy Pigliacampo Interiors to turn this “worn-to-bits” house into a home for their family. She accomplished this by using soft textures, subtle color, and lots of curves, and creating lots of places to relax.

See all of this contemporary home in the full tour

9. See Cool Furniture and Textures in This Urban Outfitters Design Director’s Home

Some stores stay on the cutting edge of what’s cool, knowing just what to stock to quench the thirst of those who are looking for the most contemporary furniture stylings, and Urban Outfitters is one such retailer. So, it comes as no surprise that Heather Davis, the design director of concept, print & color at Urban Outfitters, has a hip home. She says she’s always been “drawn to eclectic, playful styles that mix unexpected elements and I’m grateful to have a career that allows me to express that passion every day and a home where I can explore my love of contrasting textures and color clashes.” 

See all of Heather Davis’ home in the full home tour

10. This Artist Undertook a Two-Year Restoration of a “Tear-Down” 1960 Mid-Century Modern Michigan House

In the intro paragraphs we made a point to point out that modern and contemporary aren’t synonymous. But that doesn’t mean that modern design can’t also feel contemporary, as it does in John Neary’s home, a mid-century modern house he painstakingly restored and then decked out with hip and organic modern furnishings and his own art. 

See all of this modern contemporary home in the full house tour.

Credit: Erin Derby

11. This 425-Square-Foot Brooklyn Studio Apartment Feels Larger

Let it be known that you can have a small studio apartment and still achieve a very cool, contemporary look. It’s evidenced by the 425-square-foot home of Leecy Li, a  UX designer at Google. She’s filled her small space with bold colors, soft, curvy furnishings, and very hip patterns like checkerboard. The result is wall-to-wall cool. 

See all of Leecy Li’s studio apartment in the full home tour

Need more contemporary-style home inspiration? Browse through even more gorgeous real-life homes with our house tour filter.